Semi-hollow Body Bass Guitar - new long term project

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CrealBilly

Jeff
Senior User
Well a few years ago at the NCWoodWorker annual picnic, I won a book entitled Make your own electric guitar & bass. Steve Coles handed me the book and said do you plan on making a guitar anytime soon? I said no, but I'll take the book anyways. After reading it cover to cover, I got inspired and came up with a full size drawing of the bass I always wanted but no one ever made. Building this bass will be a long term project, with a huge learning curve... Although the book is pretty good, it really just scratches the surface on the subject, and I'm comfortable with the wood working involved. There are lots of other aspects to building a guitar that I've never done before. So I've been doing a lot of on-line studying trying to find answers to questions that pop up. Any pointers to good books or further study material would be greatly appreciated.

Semi-hollow bass, 33.5" scale 20 frets, 45 1/2" x 14" x 2" thick body. It's work in progress full scale drawing, everything is to scale, if you DL the image and print it without any boarders. I'm not happy with the modern bridge at this point, that's one thing that will change. I think I may go with wooden tailpiece and old school bridge instead, just need to find the right tailpiece design.



Thanks
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
Re: New Long Term Project

Sorry, Jeff. Only bass I ever had any dealings with were caught on a rubber worm and Carolina rig.

As you can tell, I am musically challenged, especially when it comes to making my own. Squirrels ran me out of the woods last time I tried to play a harmonica (LOML won't allow it in the house when she's home). They called the ASPCA on me!!

Go:gar-La;
 

JackLeg

New User
Reggie
Re: New Long Term Project

Mills, I am impressed! :eusa_clap Good luck with this project!! :icon_thum I wouldn't know where to start!! :nah:
 

leftoflefty

New User
Ricky
Re: New Long Term Project

I wish you the best of luck. This is one thing I want to learn how to do, but I've got a long way to go before I can tackle that. Please post some pics of your progress. I would love to see how it's going.:icon_thum
 

kanguy8

New User
JMc
Re: New Long Term Project

On the Norse Woodsmith site he is just now making 3 guitars and has lots of pictures.
 

ScottM

Scott
Staff member
Corporate Member
Re: New Long Term Project

Jeff, good Luck with the project. Please keep us posted on your progress.
 

CrealBilly

Jeff
Senior User
Bass Guitar - New Long Term Project

I pretty much settled in on "the design" It was tough getting the picture out of my head and into Visio, but I get that part done... This is a full scale drawing (14 1/4 x 45 1/2) prints on 10 sheets of 8 1/2 x 11, just remember to set your printer to not print a boarder, if you want to tape the pages together. Send me a PM if you would like the .vsd

I sure would be interested in any feed back from those who have built guitars.

 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
Re: New Long Term Project

:thumbs_up:thumbs_up
..........thus the need for the triangles. :eusa_danc
 

Mt. Gomer

New User
Travis
Very nice looking design Jeff, I really like it! What are you planning to do with the electronics? Looks like a pretty interestig design given the pickup and control layout.

Travis
 

sawduster

New User
Robert
very kewl man :icon_thum I do not see a selector switch(s) for the pick ups :eusa_thin Do you plan to have all 3 hot all the time ? More versatility in being able to select pick up combinations for different sounds
IE: a Chile Pepper's " slap " versus the liquid feel of Pink Floyd's " Breathe "
 

CrealBilly

Jeff
Senior User
Re electronics… I have thought a little about how I’m going to wire up the electronics.

This is a bass guitar, not a six string guitar. So I’m not interested in some hot screaming, over wound, over sized magnet, over driven, dual coil active pickup design like you would see in modern a 6 string guitars. Instead I’m opting for a fuller mellow old school passive pickup sound. I plan on making my own pickups, so I’ll wind the pickup to around 7k ohms and use a soft rubber magnet under the poles, instead of 12+ k ohms and high strength ceramic magnets, like what’s in a modern electric screaming 6 string guitar. Around 7k ohm shouldn’t increase the impedance thereby muddying up higher frequencies. 7k ohm should ring pretty clear. The softer magnets should lesson the pull on the string and allow the string to resonate longer.

I also like the old school sound of single coil pickups verse modern hum buckling pickups (to me there is just some tonal aspects lost when you play through a hum bucker or PAF pickup). I have an idea of how to shield a single coil pickup from stray electronic magnetic interface (ie… 60 hz hum). I won’t mention my thoughts here, if it works and know one has thought of it before, it’s a potential patent opportunity.

My plan is also to make my own pickup covers out of a white colored wood like holly, instead of metal; Metal interrupts the magnetic field coming off the pickup pole and again contributes to some degree of tonal quality loss, of course the amount of magnetic field interruption depends on the type of metal used. I never really liked open pickup designs very much. Especially when a string hits a pickup pole and plastic covers are, well plastic.

I haven’t completed the wiring diagram; I’ll post it when I’m done, So you guys can comment on it. I'll try and explain my thoughts in the remainder of this post

It’s going to be a simple wire. I’m not going to using a pickup selector switch or a pickup blender pot, like on modern basses. Instead I’m opting for less electronic wizardly and a more common sense approach, again old school thinking.

The wiring allows for any combination of pickups to be on or off. Each pickup will have it’s own volume and tone via a concentric (stacked) pot (top knob). Several low pass filter (high cut off) ranges will be selectable via a rotary switch (bottom knob) The first switch position will be open thus killing the stacked volume/tone stacked pot and killing the output from that pickup. The remaining switch positions will vary in a range (range not yet decided) of different value capacitors, thus bleeding off higher frequencies to ground via the tone control and passing lower frequencies to the output. Depending on which cap is selected via the rotary switch and how much resistance is dialed in on the tone part of the stacked pot will either increase or decrease the amount of cut off frequencies that make it to the output. So with each of the three pickups having it’s own stacked pot and rotary switch design, It should allow for a wide range of tones and it should be able to dial in just about any electric non effect bass tonal sound out there today.

I also have another idea on how to isolate each of the pickups wiring at the output so a pickup that dialed into a higher volume than any of the others won’t bleed back into the lower volume pickup and increase its volume (inadvertent blending). Anyone who has played a modern multi-pickup electric guitar knows what I’m talking about, it’s pretty dang annoying… Again if my idea works it’s another potential patent opportunity, so I will not mention it here or including it in my diagram...

I read a patent on a sliding placement pickup which I thought was very cool but don't know how practical it would be. Since pickup placement has much to do with tone heard from the strings. You’ll notice I went real aggressive on the pick up placements. A 1/8” off the bridge (treble tone), 1/8 off the neck (bass tone) and smack dab in the middle for (mid range tones). By monky’ing with the knobs, it’s should be able to dial in just about any bass tone.

Lastly I plan on a mono and stereo jack. The treble (bridge) pickup will go to the right side, bass (neck) pickup will go to the left side, and the middle pickup will go to both. That way with a Stereo to dual channel mono Y adapter, I could run two heads (Guitar and Bass) and have the clangy treble pickup go to the guitar amp and the bass pickup go to the bass amp further increasing tonal/effect possibilities at each amp head.

Like I said, it’s the bass I always wanted but no one ever built. Bet your sorry you asked - hu?
 

sawduster

New User
Robert
Since pickup placement has much to do with tone heard from the strings. You’ll notice I went real aggressive on the pick up placements. A 1/8” off the bridge (treble tone), 1/8 off the neck (bass tone) and smack dab in the middle for (mid range tones). By monky’ing with the knobs, it’s should be able to dial in just about any bass tone.

Lastly I plan on a mono and stereo jack. The treble (bridge) pickup will go to the right side, bass (neck) pickup will go to the left side, and the middle pickup will go to both. That way I could run two heads (Guitar and Bass) and have the clangy treble pickup go to the guitar amp and the bass pickup go to the bass amp further increasing tonal/effect possibilities at each amp head.

Like I said, it’s the bass I always wanted but no one ever built. Bet your sorry you asked - hu?
Not sorry at all, I like the way you think and understood a great deal of it :mrgreen: i did notice your aggressiveness on your pickups which is why I wondered if/how you were going to control it :icon_thum
i'm with you ..........I'll take a single-wound pick up and a nice warm tube amp any day. it's a simple beauty that has been lost for awhile i'm afraid :5sigh:
As a young rocker I fell head-over-heels for Dimarzio super-distort pick ups but when I got older and more blues-ey I found myself really enthralled with the cleaner sound and a little cry baby wah for those special riffs :gar-Bi
good explanation bro ......thanx for the insight :icon_thum
 

CrealBilly

Jeff
Senior User
Not sorry at all, I like the way you think and understood a great deal of it :mrgreen: i did notice your aggressiveness on your pickups which is why I wondered if/how you were going to control it :icon_thum
i'm with you ..........I'll take a single-wound pick up and a nice warm tube amp any day. it's a simple beauty that has been lost for awhile i'm afraid :5sigh:
As a young rocker I fell head-over-heels for Dimarzio super-distort pick ups but when I got older and more blues-ey I found myself really enthralled with the cleaner sound and a little cry baby wah for those special riffs :gar-Bi
good explanation bro ......thanx for the insight :icon_thum
Yeah the funny thing is; they make a box for overdrive, with the stomp of a foot you can be screaming... but if you got screaming pickups mounted, there is no way back except to change em out for something mellower.

I'm with you the warm melodic tone of single wound pickups and warm tube amps are a thing of beauty. It's a shame that beauty is missing from today's music. BTW I heard from someone that there is only one vacuum tube manufacturer left in the world, they are made in a single factory in germany. I don't know if that's true or not, but makes a guy wonder about where music has been and where it's headed...

Anyways I'm wondering off topic and stand the chance of having this thread shut down. So we'll have to get back on topic...
 

Touchwood

Don
Corporate Member
Jeff,

I have a mono vacuum tube amp I built many moons ago. It's a Williamson design uses an English massive Partridge transformer and two big bottle pentodes on the output..like the old Macintosh amps. You would probably want EL84s (6BQ5) today if these ones go bad. I was driving Wharfdale speakers with it which are darn efficient so didn't need bruising power out..I think it's about 75 watts.
If you can use it, you can have it.:gar-Bi
...but not the Wharfdales..bought them in 1965 and they're still sounding great.

PS: I'm thinking about building a harp :rotflm:
Don

Yeah the funny thing is; they make a box for overdrive, with the stomp of a foot you can be screaming... but if you got screaming pickups mounted, there is no way back except to change em out for something mellower.

I'm with you the warm melodic tone of single wound pickups and warm tube amps are a thing of beauty. It's a shame that beauty is missing from today's music. BTW I heard from someone that there is only one vacuum tube manufacturer left in the world, they are made in a single factory in germany. I don't know if that's true or not, but makes a guy wonder about where music has been and where it's headed...

Anyways I'm wondering off topic and stand the chance of having this thread shut down. So we'll have to get back on topic...
 

CrealBilly

Jeff
Senior User
Jeff,

I have a mono vacuum tube amp I built many moons ago. It's a Williamson design uses an English massive Partridge transformer and two big bottle pentodes on the output..like the old Macintosh amps. You would probably want EL84s (6BQ5) today if these ones go bad. I was driving Wharfdale speakers with it which are darn efficient so didn't need bruising power out..I think it's about 75 watts.
If you can use it, you can have it.:gar-Bi
...but not the Wharfdales..bought them in 1965 and they're still sounding great.

PS: I'm thinking about building a harp :rotflm:
Don
I'll take it :)
 

Mt. Gomer

New User
Travis
Wow, you've really put a lot of thought into this! I love it! Especially the classic passive pickups and the flexibility of the controls.

I know very little about this but taught myself the basics by rebuilding a Mexican Fat Strat's electronics. I went totally passive and bought some handmade pickups from Bill Lawrence. He's a pickup wizard/guru and responsible for many of the breakthrough pickup technologies from both Gibson and Fender so I figured I'd not be able to do better myself (and the prices are insanely reasonable). I did go a bit crazy with the controls and used a wiring scheme that would allow both HH and SSS configurations. I also included a solo circuit (cuts out all pots/filters for direct pickup to output sound) and Bill's "Q-Filter" on the tone pot both on push/pull switches. Yeah, I went a bit crazy but like I said it was a learning experience and I now have an incredibly flexible guitar. Here's a before/after and a wiring diagram.

Anyways... I'll be following your progress closely!!!!

Thanks!

Travis
 

CrealBilly

Jeff
Senior User
Wow, you've really put a lot of thought into this! I love it! Especially the classic passive pickups and the flexibility of the controls.

I know very little about this but taught myself the basics by rebuilding a Mexican Fat Strat's electronics. I went totally passive and bought some handmade pickups from Bill Lawrence. He's a pickup wizard/guru and responsible for many of the breakthrough pickup technologies from both Gibson and Fender so I figured I'd not be able to do better myself (and the prices are insanely reasonable). I did go a bit crazy with the controls and used a wiring scheme that would allow both HH and SSS configurations. I also included a solo circuit (cuts out all pots/filters for direct pickup to output sound) and Bill's "Q-Filter" on the tone pot both on push/pull switches. Yeah, I went a bit crazy but like I said it was a learning experience and I now have an incredibly flexible guitar. Here's a before/after and a wiring diagram.

Anyways... I'll be following your progress closely!!!!

Thanks!

Travis

Man those are some hot pickups, that Tele's gotta be smoking now. Did those pickups come with a coil tap to cool em off a little bit?
 

Mt. Gomer

New User
Travis
They're not actually that hot. I didn't get the XL that's generally seen in the speed metal guitars. I have an L-500C in the neck position at 2.8 Henry and an l-500L in the bridge position at 6.8 henry. They do coil tap which is what the 4pdt switch does. In one position it deactivates the middle pickup and allows full humbucking on the bridge/neck so it acts more like a Les Paul and in the other position it activates the middle pickup and taps the bridge/neck so you've got a three single coil configuration like a Strat. Yes, technically the middle pickup is a dual coil pickup but it's tuned to sound and behave like a noiseless single coil (and it really sounds awesome,Great demo of the 45's, you can really hear them quack). I used the SSS configuration to set pickup heights so all the 'buckers don't over power the middle pickup. It actually worked out much better than I'd hoped. Especially with the solo circuit and the tone filter. It's real easy to set about 5 different sounds on the guitar and switch back and forth with little trouble....

Here's Bill's site if you're interested: http://www.wildepickups.com. He's also got a lot of information on pickup design and engineering that might help if you're making your own.

Trav
 

CrealBilly

Jeff
Senior User
They're not actually that hot. I didn't get the XL that's generally seen in the speed metal guitars. I have an L-500C in the neck position at 2.8 Henry and an l-500L in the bridge position at 6.8 henry. They do coil tap which is what the 4pdt switch does. In one position it deactivates the middle pickup and allows full humbucking on the bridge/neck so it acts more like a Les Paul and in the other position it activates the middle pickup and taps the bridge/neck so you've got a three single coil configuration like a Strat. Yes, technically the middle pickup is a dual coil pickup but it's tuned to sound and behave like a noiseless single coil (and it really sounds awesome,Great demo of the 45's, you can really hear them quack). I used the SSS configuration to set pickup heights so all the 'buckers don't over power the middle pickup. It actually worked out much better than I'd hoped. Especially with the solo circuit and the tone filter. It's real easy to set about 5 different sounds on the guitar and switch back and forth with little trouble....

Here's Bill's site if you're interested: http://www.wildepickups.com. He's also got a lot of information on pickup design and engineering that might help if you're making your own.

Trav
Trav thanks for all the info - that's a great site, I'll be reading it over the next few days.


Here's my first crack at wiring - please poke holes in it...



Thanks
 

rcflyer23

Kevin
Corporate Member
Are you going to do a bolt on/set/ or through neck. I started a build earlier this year after reading the same book(s) and tons of sites and pretty much ruined some good mahogany. However I have more and I am going to start my second attempt after the first of the year. Good luck I can't wait to see the progress. The biggest thing I can say is take your time and practice on scrap. I got in a rush and that's what lead to my killing the wood.
 
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