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Old 08-16-2012, 10:30 AM   #21
BirdRiverCustom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsss guitars
looking good so far.........i've never made a bass guitar.....i really should one day.

Looking forward to seeing the paint job.

sharp tools to ya

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/foru...d.php?t=1493900


Thanks man, ive only built from kits before so this is my first bass, but thats my primary instrument so i figured, why not? I had about 3 builds i had designed up and had to pick one between this build, a PRS inspired bass, and a custom tele. A couple of guys were already doing tele's (which are looking awesome) and i figured this would be way out there as far as the finish so i should try it out.

As far as the finish goes, ive been doing a lot of reading and research about the swirl and decided to buy one of these bad boys.

It only cost $9 for a 200w fish tank heater so i can now get the correct 78 degree temp in the water that seems so critical to the swirl. When doing my pre-render:

I based the rendering on 2 separate swirl sites, one being near the horn and one near the bridge position so with my two test blanks im going to try a double dip on one (one for each swirl pattern with will create the layered effect, and one as a single dip. The heater should come in by next Wednesday so im hoping to do the test blanks next week at some point.

Last edited by BirdRiverCustom : 08-16-2012 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 09-10-2012, 10:10 AM   #22
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Sooooo, life gets in the way sometimes. Finally got the neck roughed out and ready for shaping over the weekend. I trimmed the fretboard close to size and then hit it with a bearing router bit to trim it flush. I also got a new shinto rasp to aid in shaping the neck, so im looking forward to using that.

Unfortunately i haave a job interview Thursday so much of this week will be spent working on that, but im hoping to start hitting this project full tilt starting this weekend. Saturday is Experience PRS at the Paul Reed Smith Factory on Kent Island, and im very much looking forward to checking that out again this year, several of the clinics are focused on design and building as well. Its always a good time, i highly recommend it.

Enough talk, heres some pictures



The relief in the board is really starting to be evident, im hoping i can get a real three-dimensionality out of it since im going fretless with no surface markers.
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:50 AM   #23
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Practice Practice Practice.....thats what ive learned so far. Last night i finally had time to test the borax process, which was a learning process in itself. Unfortunately i decided to do it in the darkest corner of my garage so i dont have many photos of the process. The next test batch i plan on taping so i can look back at it to figure out what works best. The next test will have to wait til Wednesday since i foolishly broke my submersible heater by taking it out to stir without shutting it off. When i put it back in the glass cracked. Rookie mistake. Luckily they are cheap and i ordered another, higher wattage one this morning.

The initial test worked really well, i took a smaller sample out of the main tub. I purchased a 38 gallon rubbermade plastic tub to do the body dip in, which i discovered had to be reinforced on the sides with 2x4s and ratchet straps. 1 gallon is equivalent to 8 pounds, heavy stuff folks, lest we forget. Heres the initial test done with just blue paint on a scrap 2x3 square.


Because i broke the heater after stirring the borax a second time i paniced somewhat and decided to dip without waiting the prescribed 30 minutes since i was afraid it was going to cool off and fail for that reason. I had 2 blanks made and then at the end i decided to also dip the template carve, which wasnt pretreated.

The first one was a hideous sight to behold and i'm not gonna post that one cause it was, well, hideous.

Heres the second dip, the paint was very runny once it got up on the body. It also had air bubbling due to the borax not being settled in the water i think.


And the third (which turned out the best of the three, but its hard to tell since it didnt get the undercoating of green) was a thin skim layer on the body, had no running or drips in the paint once it was out of the tub.


So, what have we learned?

Firstly, the paint is shipped in a vacuum, which means it had separated since it had been sitting. The orange essentially fell right to the bottom as did a lot of the blue. Getting the pour correct was also difficult, although by the third color i realized, duh, just put the container in the water so you can get the lip right at the surface. Second: you dont need to add very much paint, especially since im using 5 colors. Third: i rushed this process too much first time around, i need to really take my time. It seemed to work better when the paint had time to sit on the surface, plus i didnt wait long enough after adding the borax, which was very clear in the larger tub.

So im gonna re-coat my test blanks and build a little wood box frame to go around the tub to help reinforce the sides for the next test dip this week. Also, im getting some gloves, it took a lot of scrubbing to get the paint of my hands, which i inadvertently 'swirled' during this process as well.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:44 PM   #24
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That third one is really nice!
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Old 09-20-2012, 03:39 PM   #25
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That third one is really nice!


I was actually pretty happy with the third one too, i think i may go for that instead of trying to do the isolated swirls. I think it will look good with the final shape of the instrument and the chrome hardware. I think i may go crazy with it and get a set of these crazy strings, as long as they dont sound like turds:


Thats a little ways down the road though. I have been repeatedly delayed thanks to car issues but im hopeful that tonight i can finally get it squared away and work on carving the neck up. I got one of those shinto rasps so im eager to see how well they work.
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Old 09-21-2012, 02:48 AM   #26
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My old bassist had those strings. Can't tell you what the tone was like though, as his were red! Seriously though I think they were half decent strings. They lasted quite a while but the colour does wear off.

The shinto rasps are fantastic. Use the rough side for most of the work, and give it a quick tidy up with the fine side before you feel the shape each time.
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:01 PM   #27
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Progress in two parts yesterday, ill shut up and let the pictures do the talking

Somewhere in there is a neck. Side by side with the neck im using as a template


I split the neck into zones to get some semblance of order to the shaping progress. Put a center line on the neck and so i would know where the truss rod was. I then split the difference on either side of the center line and marked that. I then angled in from the edge of the neck to the outer line and rasped that uniformly. I then worked in from there to the center line so that the rough shape was pretty even.


I then took about a 1/4 of an inch off the top of the whole neck. I was super paranoid i was gonna hit the truss rod cavity, but luckily i didnt bottom out anywhere.

The heel and neck taper were incredibly challenging to shape, i wasnt expecting that at all. The heel took a good bit of time to work in to my satisfaction. Everything is a tool! I have a piece of 3/4 trim shoe mold that i used on the headstock and also proved its mettle again to get a nice round at the heel. I also wrapped a pencil with 60 grit sandpaper to get in the detail areas.

Heres the view Head to heel


...and heel to head


This probably took around 4 hours (easily) to the point where it is now, base sanded at 60 grit. Heres a profile shot so you can see the relief in the neck and curve


Even with just doing a quick sand down, i started to see some nice grain figure showing. (Neck is rift sawn maple)


Despite the amount of physical labor and time, it really is rewarding to see it take shape before your eyes, it must be what sculptors feel like when the rough figure emerges from the marble.

Also tested the swirling again, so ill post about that in a little bit.

Last edited by BirdRiverCustom : 09-24-2012 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 10-18-2012, 11:08 AM   #28
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Radius-ed the fretboard up to 600 grit yesterday. I thought about building the jig everyone else has been using, but i was concerned about tear out with the birds eye from the router. I think ill definitely be building one for the next build though cause it took forever by hand. I built a crude jig to keep the 6" radius block (from stew mac) square so it wont get all weeble wobbly on me. This method would probably work best with some really dense wood or metal so it doesnt sand away at the edges like it did in my case. I originally built a trough for the initial rough sanding so i think it was okay since the shape had already been cut. Heres a quick shot.



The fret board feels incredibly smooth at 600, im wondering how much higher i should go, any thoughts? There is a small spot i discovered that needs to be patched by the end of the fretboard, but i have to get some super thin super glue for that. I made sure to collect a bunch of the sawdust to patch in there.



The grain and birds eye figure is showing really 3d now



The plan is to route the body to shape this weekend, ive been working on getting the schematics drafted up. Fingers crossed
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:35 PM   #29
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Good work on the neck shaping

As for the fretboard, I sanded my 100 entry to 600 grit as well:



Looks shiny enough to me
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Old 10-22-2012, 02:36 PM   #30
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The ever popular question when it comes to fretless necks, to mark or not to mark.
-Green oblong side dots for traditional markers only
-Traditional side dots with additional dots for every fret in a secondary color
-dots at every marker in one color only

For illustration this is the 12th fret (+ looking symbol)



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Old 10-22-2012, 03:01 PM   #31
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Coming down to the wire on this one, hopefully im gonna make it. I had a slight lull in work due to out of town company. Anyway, here we go.

Blocks of wood falling away! its body rough cut time


The Rikon cut like a dream, only issue was due to it being a 10" bandsaw and not a 14" in that i had an issue cutting the right horn out. I just flipped it over and drew a revers of the template, problem solved.



Heres the rough cut next to the template. I had to order a new pattern bit to rout it out so that will have to wait til later in the week



On to the neck!
Discovered the radial arm saw blade was almost a perfect match for the nut slot, so i mounted the neck to a jig to keep it square, then cut it out. Since it was slightly too skinny i just got a set of square detail files and widened it out a 1/16th on an inch and got a perfect fit.


When i was sanding the fretboard, somehow this happened


So i drop filled it with sawdust from sanding and super glue and left it to cure overnight, we shall see how it worked tonight.
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Old 10-25-2012, 03:02 PM   #32
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Its mock up time! (I needed to figure out where i could drill mounting holes in the body). On that note, i keep forgetting this is getting an opaque finish so i shouldnt sweat the body so much.



Template mounted up to the body and ready for routing


Then i started to get that sinking feeling of "Holy crap what if this all goes horribly wrong?" Morale of the story is, dont try and cut 2 year kiln dried oak in one pass. I had a little bit of tear out and really had to baby the router along, probably jacked up the bit a bit as well.

After freaking out for a minute i realized i can just fill this since its getting painted (this was my mantra for the night). Obviously less damage is better so i tried to stack templates to get more clearance on the bit so it would take less material out.

This was mildly acceptable but not the answer. After some debate, i packed it in for the night and ordered a shorter pattern bit so i can pick it up today after work. Always gotta learn thing the hard way....At least the part that worked alright turned out fine.


This is the back (hence the pencil lines from a different design) but the upper top half has been routed already and i rasped over quick to flatten it out. Fingers crossed that tonight is much more successful.
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Old 10-26-2012, 12:31 PM   #33
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Ever have that moment where you're trying to drive a nail with the claw end of the hammer but aren't getting anywhere? I think that was my problem yesterday. I am trying out bits from a new supplier (MLCSwoodworking) and i think the issue is that they cut in an opposite direction than all the other bits i have. Pretty sure it was all user error. Anyway, did 3 passes with a shorter 1/2 pattern bit than came back and hit the whole thing with the 1 & 1/2" bit and it cut like a champ. Also picked up some Tung oil for the neck along with some minwax satin poly to spray on the neck.

This block has some really great figure, i would have liked to see a more carved top but no time for that now. (i accidentally scratched it bad by the screw hole when i tried to remove it with the screw not retracted all the way)


A little fuzz around the edge but its gonna get rounded over anyway


Template, body, swirl test blank


My next step is to add the round over on the edges and then route the nect pocket and electronics locations. For the cavity i think im gonna try and mirror the headstock shape. It may be slightly bigger than needed and probably wont get seen much if at all, but im interested to see it. Ill try to swirl with the cover installed so its seamless (im gonna make it out of the tail of the body and plane it down to size.
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:49 AM   #34
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Thanks to a little storm named Sandy, i dont think im gonna make the deadline. I needed about two days of good weather (and power) to finish up, and i didn't get that the last few days. Gonna keep going anyway, just unfortunately wont make the deadline.
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:50 AM   #35
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Old 10-31-2012, 02:35 PM   #36
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Yeah, im pretty disappointed. I missed two weekends of work time last month and i think that's what killed me. I worked for about 5 hours Friday and got the body rounded over, control cavity routed and rabbited for the the access panel. Got the knobs drilled out and the electronics wired as well. the neck is all marked up and ready for inlay side dot carving. Somehow i forgot to take any photos, i was just trying to truck through it and get as much done as possible. Neck is gonna be finished in tung oil with poly sprayed on the fretboard. Lost power in the workshop which prevented any tool progress, and its pouring outside the last 5 days which prevents any sort of spraying outside, plus its 40 degrees so its less than ideal for that anyway. Epic fail.

To be finished:
Neck and Pup pocket routed
tuner holes drilled
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Old 11-01-2012, 04:04 PM   #37
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Continuing on with my past due assignment....

Routed the side dot markers last night. I'm modeling it after the side dot markers on the ExFactor basses by Phillip Kubicki, which use a sort of oval/rectangle instead of the standard dots most people use. (i cant seem to find a photo of them at the moment) Either way, im going with the Jason Lilliard method of inlay for this specific case (trying to honor the code of the 100GBP build, no expensive inlay material for me)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Jillard
its super glue mixed with ebony dust, then its spread around into the channels and engraved sections of the neck.. then sanded flush. works pretty well, but a black pigment and epoxy would be far easier to work with, and get similar results (just blacker and more uniform)

i like this method for the tree inlay.. because it gives it the look of texture, but is still flat. more lifelike,


I made a quick router guide with a metal straight edge to make sure that if the dots are slightly crooked, at least they're all crooked in the same line. I also used a 18: metal ruler to provide a spacer to create consistently thinkness'ed routs as i only had 1/32" wide router bits. (everything else i had was way to large)


Heres a quick shot of the routing before i hit it with a sanding block to clean it up quick.


This is horribly out of focus, but this is the neck in its current state. I did green for the large traditional inlay makers and then orange for the fret markers, which are probably only an 1/8" wide squares. This was just an epoxy/paint mixture so hopefully it will be cured and ready to sand tonight when i get home.

Last edited by BirdRiverCustom : 11-01-2012 at 04:06 PM. Reason: cant get first image to size correctly
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:02 PM   #38
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So close to finishing, i was just a couple work days shy of the deadline. Worked for about 6 hours friday late into the night (probably 230am). Would have gone later but had to get up early in the morning to clear more trees from the hurricane...its too bad i dont have a kiln, a huge cherry tree dropped along with some locusts and a random pine tree. Here we go with the update!

I cut two test pockets in a scrap cut from the body material to test the tightness of the joint. I fine tuned it a little bit from the first template cut and that helped it a bit. Its not a super tight pocket, but its a bolt on neck anyway so as much as it pained me, i would have had to reshape the neck heel slightly to get a perfect fit. I figure after paint the 1/32"-1/16" gap will close up.


Test fitting the neck in the template


After building a larger router base to prevent any router dips due to the differing horn sizes, i got the pocket routed to depth (just shy of a 1/2") I know a lot of pockets are 5/8", but i did the math multiple times to verify the dimensions, as well as the obvious test fitting. After cutting the pocket, i test fit it and discovered that having a blocky heel on the body sucked for playability, so i got some 80 grit sandpaper and shaped a 1/2" round-over. Feels much better already.


I then got to work with a ball peen hammer handle and some more sandpaper wrapped around it(in lieu of a pneumatic spindle sander) and shaped out a belly cut. While it took forever by hand, im really happy with the feel of it and the rounded edge transition flows really smoothly. I hit that area with some 160 grit sandpaper after the rough shaping to smooth everything out.

It was hard to show the depth so heres a straight edge to show the dip


Heres an unobstructed view


I then cut the recess for the ferrels and drilled the screws holes out and joined it together. The neck screws i got from Stew Mac were about 1/4" too long so i clipped them down with a pair of side cutters.


Heres a side shot of the pocket as well as the end result of the epoxy inlay. it didnt take as well as i hoped in a couple spots so i need to touch that up during the week. i think the issue where it didnt work as well was due to my poor applicator (a plastic spoon). Im gonna go pick up some cake decorating spatulas this week from the craft store which work really well for caulking, i just didn't have any at home which i didn't realize until i mixed the epoxy.


I started working up the positioning for the tuners before having to call it quits for the night and cut a test blank but im not happy with the tolerance for the ferrels so i scrapped it. I need to find a funky paddle bit size to cut it.

To do list:
-tuners drilled
-bridge installed
-PUP routed
-touch up side dots

Last edited by BirdRiverCustom : 11-07-2012 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 11-07-2012, 05:55 PM   #39
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like the side dots!
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Old 11-08-2012, 06:15 PM   #40
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Thanks man, the green is definitely visible, gotta clean up the orange fret markers still.

Thinking about doing this design as an inlay at the 12th fret


Any thoughts?


Gonna try the Recon Stone from Custom Luthier

Last edited by BirdRiverCustom : 11-08-2012 at 06:23 PM.
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