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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:08 pm 
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Location: Cleveland, OH
Hey All!

So I bought an electric p-bass kit off of ebay and dove in. Wanted to walk you all through some of my experience so far and see if anyone had any tips/comments/suggestions in case I'm going down the wrong path on a few things...

First thing I noticed was the neck and body fit was semi-sloppy... so needless to say I was a little weary about attaching the neck to the body purely based on the pocket fit. So.. I attempted to find the center of the body/neck to hopefully help line things up accurately so I could feel better about where I was going to fasten the neck to the body.. yikes! With the smallness of a p-bass pickup route there wasn't much to go off of.. I drew all sorts of lines on the body to hopefully come close to a center line I could match up with the neck.. but I wasn't satisfied that I had found it. I resorted to see if I could use the neck, a few strings and the bridge to get a better idea of where everything went. So I put the E and G string tuners in the head stock, clamped the bridge to the body where I thought it might go (based on my other attempts to find center) and strung the E and G strings through the bridge and tuners.. Then I eye-balled the string spacing on either side of the neck to see how close I had come to center (I attached a picture). I figured if the spacing from each string to the side of the neck looked fairly even all the way down I must be pretty darn close to a good neck-to-body fit, bridge placement and overall center.

My biggest concern is that the neck pocket has some visible space in it. I've attached a picture of it. It's not horrible, but big enough to look a little ugly and to cause my concern.

Lemme know what you think!

-Scott


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:55 pm 
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Location: Hegins, Pa
you don't have finish on it yes so I would glue on a thin shim to snug the pocket joint

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:27 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
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Your kit looks like the P-bass version of the Strat kit I've been working on. The construction of the body is practically identical, and so is the unfinished headstock shape. I also have posted in the linked thread some modified circuits that may interest you, if you have (or want to squeeze in) three pots on your pick guard. You'll have to reduce the capacitor values, probably by a factor of two since bass is an octave lower, but the basic setup of the filter networks won't change. The result is volume, bass, and treble controls rather than just volume and treble.

The neck pocket being a bit sloppy is unfortunately pretty common. As already stated, you'll have to make a shim to fit in the gap if it is sufficient to bother you. I'd suggest also test-fitting the pick guard to see if it's even going to be visible before making your decision, because it's not going to change the playing characteristics any. If you think the shim might improve the stability of the joint, it might -- but if you're exerting enough sideways force on the joint to move the neck, your shim would probably just compress over time anyhow. Don't think of it as a structural element, just a visual one. Four screws are plenty to hold the neck in place. The neck joint on my Strat kit has been completely able to withstand my full body weight bouncing up and down on it when trying to straighten out the back bow in the neck. (I don't recommend doing so though, using weights left in place for hours seems to lock in better than bending with heat, and you don't need 200 pounds for the time method.)

Assuming the screws just go straight into wood and not into fitted receivers in the neck, bear in mind that every time you remove and reset the neck, your action adjustments are going to be completely changed. Even though the straight-to-wood construction is sufficiently sturdy, it's not particularly consistent from one set to the next. I avoid removing the neck from my build unless it is absolutely necessary, because an entire setup is certain to follow. It's far from a deal-breaker, but it is an inconvenience you probably want to bear in mind. I also think the joint is likely to get sloppier with repeated assembly, since the screws are just biting on wood, but I have deliberately chosen not to find out. This means you probably should get your action within shouting distance of correct now, so you don't have to disassemble to shim the neck pocket later.

When you check to make sure the distance to the bridge is good, recognize that you have the intonation set up completely backward at present. The low E bridge piece should be furthest from the nut, and the G string's bridge piece should be nearest the nut. If you can get both of those two strings to behave at the 12th fret, the other two will almost certainly fall somewhere in between. That would be my only concern at this point, making sure that the distance is good and that the low E's bridge piece isn't retracted so far that it makes stringing up a chore. Likewise, the piece for the G shouldn't be at maximum extension. You want some space at either end to accommodate different string types, and/or shifts in dimensions as the weather changes and the wood continues to dry.

Also, if you're thinking about carving the heel of the neck pocket to make upper fret access easier, this is probably the time to do it. You'll need some sort of metal washer for under the screw that is no longer going to have the back plate beneath it, and of course you'll have to shorten the screw itself to make sure it doesn't reach the fingerboard.

Finally, I wanted to share my notes on finishing the neck. I used wipe-on polyurethane (with an old sock turned inside out as my applicator) and got very nice results that are easy to replicate by applying two coats with about an hour between them, letting it set up overnight, and then sanding with 800 grit paper with a splash of water (mostly just to catch dust). Then two more coats of poly, allowing time for that to set, and another sanding. It feels almost like bare wood, but should be much more resistant to damage and stains. You could tape off the fingerboard, but I didn't. The poly simply doesn't stick to the wood of the fingerboard, so I scraped it off the sides with a thumbnail as it dried. Whatever you do, don't paint or stain the neck and then hope to change your mind. You won't be able to get all of the color out without heavy sanding you probably don't want to be doing on a neck. As a consequence, my neck has blue paint in the deepest of the grain lines that I just have to live with.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:16 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Cleveland, OH
Hi Mal.. Thanks for checking out my post and for the helpful suggestions!

Mal-2 wrote:
Your kit looks like the P-bass version of the Strat kit I've been working on. The construction of the body is practically identical, and so is the unfinished headstock shape. I also have posted in the linked thread some modified circuits that may interest you, if you have (or want to squeeze in) three pots on your pick guard. You'll have to reduce the capacitor values, probably by a factor of two since bass is an octave lower, but the basic setup of the filter networks won't change. The result is volume, bass, and treble controls rather than just volume and treble.


Cool! I'll have to check those out when the time comes. I'm open to modifying the circuit - get something a little different that the standard p-bass sound. I'll probably change out the pick-ups but I'll check out how they sound first.

Mal-2 wrote:
The neck pocket being a bit sloppy is unfortunately pretty common. As already stated, you'll have to make a shim to fit in the gap if it is sufficient to bother you. I'd suggest also test-fitting the pick guard to see if it's even going to be visible before making your decision, because it's not going to change the playing characteristics any. If you think the shim might improve the stability of the joint, it might -- but if you're exerting enough sideways force on the joint to move the neck, your shim would probably just compress over time anyhow. Don't think of it as a structural element, just a visual one. Four screws are plenty to hold the neck in place. The neck joint on my Strat kit has been completely able to withstand my full body weight bouncing up and down on it when trying to straighten out the back bow in the neck. (I don't recommend doing so though, using weights left in place for hours seems to lock in better than bending with heat, and you don't need 200 pounds for the time method.)


I shimmed it last night and it turned out well. I had to spot sand a few areas of the shim after it was installed as to allow the neck to fall in line better.. but other than that it went really smooth.

Mal-2 wrote:
When you check to make sure the distance to the bridge is good, recognize that you have the intonation set up completely backward at present. The low E bridge piece should be furthest from the nut, and the G string's bridge piece should be nearest the nut. If you can get both of those two strings to behave at the 12th fret, the other two will almost certainly fall somewhere in between. That would be my only concern at this point, making sure that the distance is good and that the low E's bridge piece isn't retracted so far that it makes stringing up a chore. Likewise, the piece for the G shouldn't be at maximum extension. You want some space at either end to accommodate different string types, and/or shifts in dimensions as the weather changes and the wood continues to dry.


Yeah, the reason for the extention of the saddle on the left (E) and retraction of the one on the right (G) was to find the middle ground of the bridge for the saddles. I plan on putting the 34" mark right in-between where the saddle can extend the furthest and where it can retract the most. That way I'll have room to play the intonation.

Mal-2 wrote:
Also, if you're thinking about carving the heel of the neck pocket to make upper fret access easier, this is probably the time to do it. You'll need some sort of metal washer for under the screw that is no longer going to have the back plate beneath it, and of course you'll have to shorten the screw itself to make sure it doesn't reach the fingerboard.


How does carving the neck pocket make upper fret access easier?

Mal-2 wrote:
Finally, I wanted to share my notes on finishing the neck. I used wipe-on polyurethane (with an old sock turned inside out as my applicator) and got very nice results that are easy to replicate by applying two coats with about an hour between them, letting it set up overnight, and then sanding with 800 grit paper with a splash of water (mostly just to catch dust). Then two more coats of poly, allowing time for that to set, and another sanding. It feels almost like bare wood, but should be much more resistant to damage and stains. You could tape off the fingerboard, but I didn't. The poly simply doesn't stick to the wood of the fingerboard, so I scraped it off the sides with a thumbnail as it dried. Whatever you do, don't paint or stain the neck and then hope to change your mind. You won't be able to get all of the color out without heavy sanding you probably don't want to be doing on a neck. As a consequence, my neck has blue paint in the deepest of the grain lines that I just have to live with.


My current plan for finishing is to sand the body real smooth and take it to a local auto-body paint shop to have it painted a specific color. I plan to have the headstock painted the same color once I shape it. I'm not sure what I'm going to do for the neck. Thanks again for the ideas/suggestions!

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:02 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
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smklassen0977 wrote:
Yeah, the reason for the extention of the saddle on the left (E) and retraction of the one on the right (G) was to find the middle ground of the bridge for the saddles. I plan on putting the 34" mark right in-between where the saddle can extend the furthest and where it can retract the most. That way I'll have room to play the intonation.


I'd test it with the clamped-down bridge and the two strings you already have installed. I don't see how it could hurt any. It doesn't have to be perfect, it's just a sanity check.

smklassen0977 wrote:
How does carving the neck pocket make upper fret access easier?


A picture is worth a thousand words. See attachment. Note how it only requires relocating one of the four bolt-on screw holes.

smklassen0977 wrote:
My current plan for finishing is to sand the body real smooth and take it to a local auto-body paint shop to have it painted a specific color. I plan to have the headstock painted the same color once I shape it. I'm not sure what I'm going to do for the neck. Thanks again for the ideas/suggestions!


You will want to seal the ends of the grain on the body. The wood is cheap and the open grain all along the side is impossible to get smooth without applying something to fill it. Since you plan to use auto paint anyhow, auto-grade Bondo applied thinly may not be a bad idea. That said, if you go with a completely opaque coat, nobody will be able to tell the body is made of 2x6 boards glued together.

As for the headstock, veneer is actually pretty cheap. You might want to at least look at it. I used black acrylic paint, followed by black Sharpie marker, spread around with a rag dipped in alcohol and sealed in wipe-on poly. This worked great, but I can't really see it working for any color other than straight black.

I have found I have an issue with the overall weight of the body. You might want to check that yourself, so that if you decide to route out wood from the back (to be replaced with balsa, cork, or foam perhaps) you can do that before you commit to the paint job, and use the same filler you use to seal the sides to completely hide your "speed holes".


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:31 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:16 pm
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Location: Cleveland, OH
Mal-2 wrote:
I'd test it with the clamped-down bridge and the two strings you already have installed. I don't see how it could hurt any. It doesn't have to be perfect, it's just a sanity check.


Good idea.. That way I can be certain about the intonation.

Mal-2 wrote:
A picture is worth a thousand words. See attachment. Note how it only requires relocating one of the four bolt-on screw holes.

I see what you mean. Thanks for the pic.

Mal-2 wrote:
You will want to seal the ends of the grain on the body. The wood is cheap and the open grain all along the side is impossible to get smooth without applying something to fill it. Since you plan to use auto paint anyhow, auto-grade Bondo applied thinly may not be a bad idea. That said, if you go with a completely opaque coat, nobody will be able to tell the body is made of 2x6 boards glued together.

Grain filler .. ok.. Makes sense.

Mal-2 wrote:
As for the headstock, veneer is actually pretty cheap. You might want to at least look at it. I used black acrylic paint, followed by black Sharpie marker, spread around with a rag dipped in alcohol and sealed in wipe-on poly. This worked great, but I can't really see it working for any color other than straight black.


Thanks for the idea. I didn't know that was an option. I'd probably use the veneer if I was going to have a body that was showing a similar color grain. I'll just have it painted.

Mal-2 wrote:
I have found I have an issue with the overall weight of the body. You might want to check that yourself, so that if you decide to route out wood from the back (to be replaced with balsa, cork, or foam perhaps) you can do that before you commit to the paint job, and use the same filler you use to seal the sides to completely hide your "speed holes".


With the assembly in disarray I haven't gotten a good feel for the weight but I'll keep that in mind. I wouldn't guess that the basswood body would be that heavy, but who knows. Thanks!

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:31 pm 
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smklassen0977 wrote:
Mal-2 wrote:
A picture is worth a thousand words. See attachment. Note how it only requires relocating one of the four bolt-on screw holes.

I see what you mean. Thanks for the pic.


I didn't actually carve the neck pocket heel on mine, although I did carve away the unnecessarily blocky part of the neck itself that doesn't actually go into the neck pocket. (Why this isn't the way it's always done is a mystery to me.) But if I want to go back and alter the body, I don't have an expensive paint job to worry about. That's why I suggested thinking about it now, rather than after you get it painted.

smklassen0977 wrote:
Thanks for the idea. I didn't know that was an option. I'd probably use the veneer if I was going to have a body that was showing a similar color grain. I'll just have it painted.


Be aware that the edges of the headstock are going to be only moderately less ragged than the edges of the body. You might want to use filler there as well, if you're not just painting the front face of the headstock. If you are only painting the front face, then you're probably better off not filling the edges (or use something transparent) because you'd have to worry about the filler showing.

smklassen0977 wrote:
With the assembly in disarray I haven't gotten a good feel for the weight but I'll keep that in mind. I wouldn't guess that the basswood body would be that heavy, but who knows. Thanks!


That might just be me being unaccustomed to the weight of a guitar and the way that weight is distributed. All I know is that Gibson chambers their guitar bodies to reduce weight, and they make a marketing point out of it. They do this before they put the top on the body though, so they aren't concerned about having to take special steps to hide it. You and I are both dealing with pre-constructed solid bodies and would have to hide the holes, which is why I'd recommend making the holes from the back.

I found another possibly appropriate (and very cheap) filler material, if you do decide to chamber the body: Daiso soft clay. This is probably what I'll be using, since I have two and a half packs of it laying around. It works great as non-structural filler when I'm fabricobbling plastic parts together that were never meant to be combined (like the keyboard pictured). It has a weird, foamy consistency to it that probably accounts for its very light weight, and it is forever vulnerable to being dented, but that's why I suggested you'd want to hide it under a veneer of something more durable.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:04 pm 
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Location: Cleveland, OH
So.. I'm still fiddling with this thing. I haven't fastened the neck or bridge yet because I'm not quite satisfied with not-so-squareness of the way the strings are coming across the pickup routes. When I rig the neck and bridge placement the strings look good on spacing coming down the neck/fret board , but the strings don't appear to have a nice 90 degree look when compared to the line the pickup routes make across the body.. - if that makes sense. Maybe I'm being too picky? It's close, but still bothers me.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:05 am 
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Location: Hegins, Pa
when you buy these kits the tolerances are not as tight as I would like but you will find the will work. You can plug the holes of the bridge and slide that over a bit to help
it also may be in the pickup and how they are mounted so look close at what you can maneuver

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Blues Creek Guitars Inc
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center
president of Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans
http://www.bluescreekguitars.com


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:31 am 
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Location: Cleveland, OH
Thanks, John. I think I'll leave the bridge where I think it should go and play with the pick up location and pick guard to make up for the out-of-square location of the pickup routes.. I'll post my results! Thanks, again.

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