#1
OK, so decided to start modding this bass I've had since highschool that I'd ruined the paintjob with stickers and sharpies, and I also just hate the huge p-bass body and feel to it, and just started going with it, mostly winging it as this is my first true customization.

First, Heres a Pic of the bass before anything:


First thing I did was Remove All the Hardware and Neck and Stored it all in a baggy to be put away safely while I mutilate this bass (well, considering it's condition its more like plastic surgery I suppose)

Next I took a Putty Knife and Pried out all of the Frets Slowly and Carefully. I then went to walmart and bought some wood filler for like $4. I then Sanded the Fretboard to smooth out any flaked wood where the frets had been pulled out, and then packed the filler in the cracks where the frets went making sure to cake it up high so It would completely fill them.
I then Let it dry for about 3 Hours then Sanded it Down with 100 grit sand paper and the end result may not be exactly pretty, but it's smooth and the frets are filled.

Heres a Pic of the neck now, but keep in mind I am planning on dying or painting the neck an opaque black as soon as I can find some kind of affordable way to seal it up and protect the fretboard from Roundwound strings as best as possible. If you have suggestions and tips please let me know, but anyways heres the pic so far:



Next of course I went to Sand the paint off of the body, but unfortunately my square palm sander broke before being able to get off the outer layer of wood that has that nasty filler on it, so paint dust stuck to the filler and is leaving this ugly pinkish coloration to the areas, hoping to get a random orbital sander soon, but heres a pic or two:




So then the artist in me takes over and Since I Don't have a sander now, so I whip out the dremel tool and start eating away at the wood, unfortunately this was before I dug through my father in laws garage and found a jigsaw, so i wasted alot of dremel attachments when i should've been using them more toward the end shaping of the body, but here's dremel work before finding the jigsaw:



and now here's after it getting attacked by the jigsawnote: I only was able to find one clam so i had the body vibrating everywhere, and having to hold it with my elbow as I cut, and well, not gonna lie, my planning wasn't very thought out, so My shape at this point looks a little funny, but i think i have a few ways I can Even it out and make it a little less lopsided.




Thinking of cutting a slight angle to fix the jutting lump off of the bottom, and I'm also rounding out all the edges to get rid of the squarish fell of the original bass. Only problems are that I can't do too much to the side the electronics pit is on, so I"m gonna try and bevel the back on the side of the electronics and bevel the front on the upper side of the bass.

Also I"m gonna have to cut and reshape the pickguard (god i hate pickguards on basses, wish i had a carved top....)

if you have any suggestions and tips on cutting the pickguard let me know, although i assume i can just use the dremel attachment for cutting to reshape it and file the edge down to give it that angle back and redrill the screw holes if neccassary.

now, the image i have in my head (notice i say in my head, as I'm not looking directly at nor at a picture or any reference of) a mixture of a spector NS bass or warwick corvette bodystyle.

Thinking if this project goes well and It comes out in good condition and finally feels smooth to play after the body is finished and I lower the action of the jacked up strings, I may just go buy some EMG's and rout out the room for them in that stupid p-bass pickup spot, and fix up the pickguard to fit them.

also have to buy some replacement volume/tone knobs and may just replace the whole pot if i get new pickups, as well as get some screws for the pickguards so i don't resort to duct tape again lol

anyways, just thought I'd share my project with you, let me know if you have any critisisms, comments, or tips and suggestions.


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#2
bass humbucker is all i'm going to say at this point. looking good for a rough cut btw, i always liked warwick corvettes :P
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#3
yeah, a bass humbucker sounds about right, I just want something that isn't showing the little round poles on it, I had put electrical tape over the p-bass pickups on this before to hide those things lol

my wife seems to think the horns don't really look different lol
she's also picking on the lopsidedness, but like i said, once the body is rounded out and painted it will look like a whole new guitar. can't wait to put it together and play it especially due to the fretless, i'd thought about wiring up the rough cut just to jam out on it and see how it plays lol, but i think i'll finish up the body first.

oh, and I'm also thinking of painting it an opaque medium to dark grey, possibly do a black, dark grey, medium grey sunburst, but I"m not sure if i wanna go through the trouble.

another possiblity is giving it some faux binding on the middle of the rounded out sides of the body if i can get it looking right, have a feeling that won't work though.

or possibly just paint on faux neck through lines on the back, also thinking about after getting this done and making sure i'm satisfied with everything possibly glueing in the neck to make it a set neck rather than bolt on to give it more sustain.


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#4
Hah, I like the original. The ducttape gives it some PERSONALITY.


How about these for pickups?

http://accessories.musiciansfriend.com/product/DiMarzio-DP127-Split-P-Replacement-Pickup-for-Fender-P-Bass?sku=302265

Save you the trouble of having to reroute. Otherwise, I'd suggest trying some Q-tuner pickups, they're neodymium, and kinda pricey, but they have a lot of sustain & look unique too.
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#5
1) Wood filler is probably insufficient to stop fretboard compression.
2) 100 grit paper is rough when it comes to guitar. I'd sand my fretboard up to at least 600.
3) As you mentioned, roundwounds will be rough on the fret(less)board. An epoxy that dries hard could be very beneficial.
4) Just my opinion, but your bass is kinda fugly right now.

Best of luck.
#6
1) What do you mean by fretboard compression? and if i used epoxy over the fretboard would that not seep into the wood filler some and strengthen it more?

3) it's smooth enough for me to play on as is, but once i cover the fretboard i will work on smoothing it with a finer sand paper, and i meant 150 not 100 anyways lol

4) I agree, quite fugly, but it IS a work in PROGRESS, and is a rough cut, but i think it has the potential of going either way, looking great or looking terrible.

also, does anyone have a solution to cutting the pickguard or was my method of using dremel tool to cut it and then file the edge smooth a good solution?


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#7
The tension in your strings pulls the headstock towards the bridge. When you remove the frets, you create gaps in the surface of the fretboard. Unless you fill them with something strong, they basically act as relief cuts, which means the neck now has less resistance to the tension of the strings. Your fretboard can potentially compress and/or crack. It is better to fill the gaps left by the frets with strips of wood than wood filler.

I think your pickguard cutting method should work fine.
#8
wouldn't the truss rod negate that though? is that not what it's for? could i not just adjust the truss rod to make up for the lack of frets along with what strength the filler does give?

I was originally gonna put plastic from an old pickguard into the frets but i couldn't find the pickguard since i'd just moved and everythings packed up.

this was a cheap bass anyways and the reason i'm modding is to learn stuff like this.


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#9
oh and besides, if the fretboard is the only thing that cracks then i think i'll be okay anyways, I could just remove it and replace it with a solid piece of wood that has no slots i'd think, as long as that the fretboard is the only thing that is at stake i think i'll leave it til it breaks, also just to test and see how long it will work as well, as i play hardcore on my freboard and slap bass and such, so really want to see how it reacts to that wear and tear.


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#10
When I reshaped my P-bass(thread coming soon), I found that a jigsaw worked well on the pickguard. Just be careful not to break the guard by turning too sharply too quickly. Make a less sharp corner on several cuts working up to the curve you want. Also, I cut a slot in across mine so that I could access the electronics without taking those god forsaken strings off again

Jake
Luna Phoenix, Kustom II bass amp, generic 15" PA speaker
"Magic Man", unknown old bass, mid 70`s Jap import

It`s my guitar, and if you don`t like it, well I don`t care if you like it now do I?
Last edited by Valkyrie_Design at Aug 22, 2010,
#11
yeah, i'm weary of using jigsaw on the pickguard, i think the dremel will be more reliable and accurate, think thats the way i'm leaning on that.

oh and why couldn't you just unscrew the pickguard and slide it out from underneath the strings? how are your pots held in like that?


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#12
Test your particular jig-saw with some random plastic first, yours might react differently. If it feels good, fine. If not, use the dremel. However you want to do it.

Too much pulling on the pickup wires for me. I much prefer not putting any tension on them if possible. Maybe I`m paranoid. Also, I like my action fairly low.

It is cut straight across, so there are still four screws holding in the control section. Think almost like a jazz bass pickguard. Take a look at my thread if you`re still confused, you can see it in at least one picture.
Luna Phoenix, Kustom II bass amp, generic 15" PA speaker
"Magic Man", unknown old bass, mid 70`s Jap import

It`s my guitar, and if you don`t like it, well I don`t care if you like it now do I?
#13
well I've been stalled on this project due to breaking my sander and in fear of doing the same to my in laws dremel as well, but!

good news, hopefully tomorrow I'll be going to get some tools from harbor freight or at least ordering them online, hope i can get them at a good price in store so i can start working on it immediately rather than waiting for the tools to ship!


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#15
Well the whole body is gonna be sanded down a layer of wood so would it really need a filler if sanded smooth?

Got my tools at harbor freight today so will start working on this again tonight or tomorrow


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#16
Will post new pics tomorrow.

For now though, can anyone tell me if a spokeshave would be a good tool to round the edges of the body and get into the tight areas like the horns and in the contours on the sides?
What kind of spokeshave should I use for this or what other tool would be useful in tight areas other than a small rasp, and don't say files as I tried but they take so long to eat away the wood...


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#18
Would primer not fix that problem as well?
Plan on priming it, possibly spray painting unless I get the money fir an air brush before I finish molding, then using miniwax fast drying polyurethane superior durability clear gloss applied using one of those sponges on a stick (lol what's the actual name of those?)


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#20
How fine dd you go with sand paper? In going up to 500 so I'm hoping that fixes the problem


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#22
I guess that also depends n what wood the body is made of. This bass is laminate alder, and I'm not too concerned if it doesn't get a mirror finish


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#23
If you prime alder, it should be smooth without grain lines. Just prime until you can't see grain lines anymore.
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#25
New Pics!

got some of the awkwardness out so it isn't as fugly, used my new random orbital sander to shape it up and contour the body as well as to eat off some of the excess wood after i finally decided to plan out the shape this time before i started messing lol





theres still some contouring to do bringing down the dip on the upper horn, and bringing in the curve on the upper side of the body a little, then just smoothing everything over

let me know what you think


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#26
Almost finished with the body now just gotta round a few places out and sand over it before painting. Also have to replace the nut as it was platic and I hit it with my sander while doing the headstock and it broke so I tapped it out and now I'm either gonna make one or buy one.

Would I be able to use the scrap wood from this guitar to make a decent nut? It's laminate alder and I don't know if it will be strong enough. If not I'm gonna file down a screwdriver I thing and make the string grooves in it and use it but using wood just seems easier to carve out.

Anyways here's the latest pic


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#27
The reshape is looking better.

I say go for the screwdriver. It could help out like a brass nut, and it will be much shinier than the wood

Jake
Luna Phoenix, Kustom II bass amp, generic 15" PA speaker
"Magic Man", unknown old bass, mid 70`s Jap import

It`s my guitar, and if you don`t like it, well I don`t care if you like it now do I?
#28
Would using metal or wood or plastic as a nut produce a different tone or sound?


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#29
I am not entirely sure how much difference it would make, or if that difference would be discernible. I have heard that a brass nut will help your sustain, as will bone. So in this case I think that density = sustain. Screwdriver would be somewhere between brass and bone I think.

Not that I have done any research, so I may be way off base. This is just what I have heard/what makes sense to me. Hopefully if I am wrong that someone will correct me.....

Jake
Luna Phoenix, Kustom II bass amp, generic 15" PA speaker
"Magic Man", unknown old bass, mid 70`s Jap import

It`s my guitar, and if you don`t like it, well I don`t care if you like it now do I?
#30
I think I may go with wood because I've heard it gives that mwah tone that's associated with a fretless even on an open string but I'm just not sure what wood yet.
I an also considering saving all the bones out if the steaks and ribs we are cooking on the grill tomorrow and attempting to make nuts out of them and see how it works. If it goes good I may throw some extra ones on craigslist for $5 each lol

Anyways I spray painted the fretboard black (I put vasoline on the inlays so the paint won't stick to them) even after I swore I'd never spray paint a guitar again but I used actual wood spraypaint rather than automotive paint. And I'm wondering if I should bother doing a clearcoat if I'm gonna put epoxy on the board?
I figure clearcoat may protect the pAint when I sand to give the epoxy somewhere to grip, but I'm also worried it will leave those dreaded white scratches that happens when clearcoat is sanded.

Also a little worried because I forgot I sanded the neck up to 500 grit smooth the other day and painted the smooth surface.


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#32
Why'd you paint it at all? I think the strings are just gonna scratch it all off pretty quickly.
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#33
Screwdriver will not work man. If it's a decent screwdriver it'll be hardened and tempered silver steel, which is a b**** to file, mostly because you're not meant to. So yeah if you want a brass nut... use brass. Your school may well have some scraps that are suitable, mine did, I made an acoustic saddle.
#34
Well I'm putting epoxy over the paint so I think it should be safe from being beaten off, as for the screwdriver i was gonna get would be from a dollar tree which are just a dollar so it shouldn't be too high of a grade steel

And I'm not a student so would be weird trying to get metal from a school lol

Oh and back to the neck I painted it because I didn't want the filler lines showing.


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#35
Ok I'm boiling some rib bones tonight to get off any bits of meat and gonna try and carve them into a nut for the bass. If I have no luck with the bone in gonna try finding a dried oak branch in the yard to carve. Anybody know how long to let oak dry out before using? Just say a branch is about 8 inches around and is about a foot long for reference.


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#36
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Ok I'm boiling some rib bones tonight to get off any bits of meat and gonna try and carve them into a nut for the bass. If I have no luck with the bone in gonna try finding a dried oak branch in the yard to carve. Anybody know how long to let oak dry out before using? Just say a branch is about 8 inches around and is about a foot long for reference.



if you're cutting bone, use nose plugs. it will smell like burnt ass.
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#38
Ok so I cut into a pork rib bone this morning to see what I had to work with and it looks like the majority is marrow. There's a very thin white layer around and then a kinda pliable dark center. Will this still work as a burble do I need to get a leg bone or something to work with? Oh and it definitely smelled like burnt ass. And was a bitch to cut through considering it's size.


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#39
ok, i'm gonna apologize if there are any redundancies on any small updates i've made on here, as i've just copied this from the post i made on project guitar so i don't have to retype everything, but anyways, here's the scoop:

Well I got a few coats of primer on the body and neck, minus the face of the headstock which i'm doing tomorrow. I'm gonna sand the body smooth tomorrow and put another coat of primer, and sand it smooth as well, then start spraying the color on. Same deal once the neck is completely primed. I started spraying the color on at first without primer and the grain was showing through way too much and didn't look good at all so i had to sand it back down and start with the primer, so the color you see in the neck pocket on the masking tape is the color i'm using. I meant to get a grey color but i accidently got a metallic silver color, but i think it will end up looking good either way. I sprayed the fretboard black the other day, put vasoline on the inlays so the paint didnt stick to them and it worked pretty well, just had to wipe off the vasoline and it came clean perfectly!

gonna wash the neck with a damp rag with soap on it to remove the oil from the vasoline and then I'm gonna coat it in 2 part 2 ton epoxy to protect the wood and the paint.

Here's some picks of the body and neck primed (forgot to take pics of the fretboard after i sprayed it and it's masked off at the moment so will post those as soon as i get done spraying the neck, but by then may be re assembling :P

heres a few pics tho:









Also, here's what i've cut out of the scrap laminate alder to use as the nut that was broke on the bass. Figure it's better than the plastic thats on there, and if it breaks i'm not out any cash, just gotta go try and make another out of some harder wood or just buy one if all else fails. was alot of fine cutting with the dremel, a little rasping, A LOT of filing, and a little evening it out on my random orbital sander flipped upside down between my legs lol, its about the right size, isn't perfect in shape, but i think it will work, just gotta measure out using the old nut for the spacings. Besides, i hear that using a wood nut gives a fretless that mwah tone on open notes anyways so i figured it was worth a shot to try and make one :P




anyways, any questions, comments, or concerns are welcome, this is my first real project so it's a learning expierience so all critisisms are welcome!


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