Short scale bass prototype


This is basically a test instrument built to answer a few questions I have about 30" scale basses. Namely:

The Design

The body wood and shape, and the premade (SX brand) neck were chosen due to convenience. The body is designed to accept multiple different pickup types and locations.

The Body

I am building this bass using what has become a fairly standard procedure for me. It's a simple way to build a flat-top, bolt-on instrument, and it goes like this:

Step 1: Prep and glue the body blank.

The body is 2-piece mahogany. I bought this as a S2E1 board from Clark's hardwood more because it would fit in my car than because I needed them to do the jointing and planing. I had to run it through the jointing setup on my router table anyway, though I did get out of surfacing the blank with my router planing jig.

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Step 2: Draw the body shape and cut it.

After sanding out the blank a bit, I marked the shape with a sharpie and cut along the outside edge of the line with my bandsaw. Cutting this close takes a bit more time, but it makes routing much easier later. This template is one I had lying around (it's from my Variax project). All I did was make the neck pocket a little wider.

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Step 3: Rout to shape and do the roundovers.

Next, I routed it to shape and did the roundovers. This is a 3-flute pattern bit with a 2" cutting length from MLCS. It made routing the shape a breeze.

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Step 4: Place the bridge and rout the neck pocket.

The pictures don't show the whole process, but I placed the bridge first then placed the neck with strings attached. This helps make sure that everything is lined up correctly.

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Step 5: Test fit.

The test fit provides a good opportuinty make sure everything fits and is aligned right. I also checked the balance and marked the forearm and belly contours.

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Step 6: Carve the forearm and belly contours.

Carving the contours. I used the bandsaw to rough everything out. I've never done that before, but it worked quite well. A few minutes with my microplane rasps and some sanding with a block was all I needed to finish the contours off.

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Step 7: Rout the pickup and electronics cavities.

I routed a big "swimming pool" in order to be able to test many different pickup types and locations. Whatever thoughts I may have had about turning this into a "real" project are definitely out the window now.

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Step 8: Installing the jack.

The jack requires a 7/8" hole.

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Step 9: Fine sanding and finishing

I sanded through progressively finer grits until I got to 320 grit. Then I wet it down with water to raise the grain, and sanded it smooth. After doing this twice. I sprayed 3 coats of semi-gloss polyurethane varnish. The pictures below of the body before and after the first coat of finish.

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The Neck

Pressing the tuner bushings in -- one of the few uses I've found for my arbor press aside from pressing frets.



Here is the bass with everything assembled and strung up. No electronics yet.

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The main point of this instrument is to try a whole bunch of different strings and pickup combinations to see what kinds of sounds I can get from a short scale. To facilitate that, I drilled mounting holes for several different pickup types and locations.

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I tried a few pickup combinations, recording and making notes for each combination.

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