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Thread: Building a bass guitar from a kit

  1. #36
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post

    I'd love to know what the circuit logic for that would be... since I can't think of a good reason... and I'm a circuit geek
    it's a protective device for folks using vintage amps with two prongs on the AC cord. You wire a .001 mfd 500v capacitor in parallel with a 220v resistor and connect that between your guitar bridge and the ground on the back of one of the guitar's pots. This act a as a fuse in case your amp is messed up and sending high voltage through your guitar cable. It lets 30-40 volts through so you know that something is wrong but it prevents you from getting killed. the downside is that it can increase the noise/hum from your guitar.

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    Screw ups on extension cables can lead to the chassis on an amp being at line voltage while the mic stand - grounded through a different system, is at earth - guitar player touches mic and BANG!.

    Seen it happen once. - -It's what killed Les Harvey.
    That's a big problem best prevented by the use of a voltmeter to check the voltage between instruments and mics before you start playing.

    BTW- The bass is looking great, Norman.
    Last edited by BrianY; 11-25-2017 at 10:46 PM.

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  2. #37
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Nice project. Careful though, I started TV avoidance (not that I was much a television watcher to start with) projects and it hasn't been on since 10/16. Something about paying good money to be perpetually advertised to just rubs me the wrong way. That has to be the biggest joke among ad industry scammers.

    Oddly enough, the quality of my life and possessions has gone way up, while the my cost of living has gone down.

    Good on you for taking on a project. If the bilge was filled with this instead of the incessant crapolitics, there'd be a whole lot more inspiration and things to look at here.

  3. #38
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY View Post
    it's a protective device for folks using vintage amps with two prongs on the AC cord. You wire a .001 mfd 500v capacitor in parallel with a 220v resistor...
    Interesting device? I've never seen a '220V resistor'

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY View Post
    ...and connect that between your guitar bridge and the ground on the back of one of the guitar's pots. This act a as a fuse in case your amp is messed up and sending high voltage through your guitar cable. It lets 30-40 volts through so you know that something is wrong but it prevents you from getting killed. the downside is that it can increase the noise/hum from your guitar.
    Uhhhh, sorry, I'm not going to buy that. I do agree that a cap/resistor between the bridge and signal ground, on the guitar, can be as effective as a straight piece of wire, in suppressing hum... but it's certainly no 'fuse'.

    Back in 'the day' (say, the 50's through the 70's), it was common for amps to have a 'ground switch' on the back of the chassis. What that switch actually did was to connect a capacitor from one side of the line voltage (presumably, from a simple two prong plug), to chassis ground... the idea was to suppress 60 cycle hum; since the two prong plug in those days could be inserted either way, one side would be 'hot', and the other 'neutral'.... or, at least, as 'neutral' as can be. Selecting the correct side would help insure that chassis ground was, in an AC sense, much closer to actual ground... and there would be less hum as a consequence.

    These switches went away, when electrical systems switch to consistent phasing and 3-prong plugs. The most recent Fender amp schematics I've seen (for tube amps) don't have the switch anymore.

    Regardless of the switch, ALL of those amps were primarily isolated, galvanically, from the line, via the power transformer. Bear in mind that there were electrical appliances back then which were NOT galvanically isolated... a good example being televisions, which often didn't employ a power transformer, but ran the tube heaters in a series string straight off the 120V line. THOSE things had the potential to be dangerous, because their chassis could actually be 'live' with 120V, depending on how the plug was inserted in the wall socket... the manufacturers depended on insulating anything that could be touched by the consumer.

    Yes, occasionally, you could detect some voltage between grounds of one piece of gear, from another... usually due to poor insulation in a power transformer. It doesn't take much voltage to feel a 'shock', when the voltage is AC (DC is far harder to detect). The standards for insulation are much better now, and 3 prong plugs eliminate the hazard.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY View Post
    BTW- The bass is looking great, Norman.
    Thanks. On close inspection, it's not all that impressive... I had to do a lot of pore filling on end grain (inside the horns of the body, and at the rear) which is very obvious.... but from a reasonable distance, it looks OK, I guess.
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  4. #39
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Assuming the 220 is 220 kohms - is acts - on UK mains voltage - to limit the shock current to 1ma - you'd feel it but it won't kill - it's a reasonable precaution any place where there is a chance that the wiring is dodgy - or the cabling may have been done by an amateur.

    OTOH - it can be omitted if you are confident about ALL the wiring.
    Someday, I'm going to settle down and be a grumpy old man.

  5. #40
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    Assuming the 220 is 220 kohms - is acts - on UK mains voltage - to limit the shock current to 1ma - you'd feel it but it won't kill - it's a reasonable precaution any place where there is a chance that the wiring is dodgy - or the cabling may have been done by an amateur.

    OTOH - it can be omitted if you are confident about ALL the wiring.
    It MIGHT protect against a shock from the strings... but then again, there's all sorts of exposed chassis/signal ground elsewhere... the shell of the 1/4" phone plug, the jack you plug it into, and so on. If you're running an old tube amp with a 2 prong plug, plugged in the wrong way (based on the positions of the 'anti-hum' switch), and there's an insulation fault, protecting the strings while doing nothing about all those other hazards doesn't help much.

    I repeat: nature abhors a vacuum tube
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  6. #41
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    I follow your reasoning, Norman--I think. So how did those guitarists get electrocuted?
    Well, Mr. Botard, do you still deny all rhinocerotic evidence?

  7. #42
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Perfectly earthed guitar - and a live mic stand.

    Touch just the guitar - no issue.
    Touch just the mic - no problem,

    Touch both - .....

    In fairness - none of my guitars have shock-stop resistors fitted - I don't sing worth tuppence and play only at home for my own amusement - reckon I'm reasonably safe.
    Last edited by P.I. Stazzer-Newt; 11-26-2017 at 12:27 PM.
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  8. #43
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Yes...220k ohms not volts... Not my circuit design, just reporting what is out there on guitar discussion boards and in books about guitar mods.

    I'm not an electrical engineer and I don't play on on TV, but I understand the touch-the-mic-while-playing-your-guitar-and-get-shocked thing is that it happens when the two devices are connected to different electrical circuits that are at different ground levels (whatever that means). The amount of electricity you feel when you get shocked is the voltage difference between the two grounds.

    All I know is that where I work, we have special outlets on stage that are grounded to the same ground as the audio system so that guitar amps and such can plug in and the musicians don't have to worry about getting zapped. Our audio services people check the ground connections every year to make sure that they're solid and consistent.

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  9. #44
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Norman is the EE pro here of, course, but as far as I know, if the microphone was grounded and a musician touched it, it would not shock him. However, if the mic's ground failed, the electricity would seek another path to ground, and a human being might make a good path in that scenario.



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  10. #45
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post
    After 6 coats of Tru-Oil... the pickguard, control panel, and bridge are just temporarily placed to get an idea of what it will look like:



    The finish isn't bad... not truly flat and glossy, but decent. I haven't decided if I'll do more coats, or stop here.

    One problem: the body wasn't routed for a ground connection to the bridge. I don't see a way to do it easily... I MIGHT be able to drill at a shallow angle into the wall of the rear pickup pocket, towards the bridge... but doing the same, under the bridge, towards that hole, would be very difficult.

    One possible alternative: drill a long hole, from the rear edge of the guitar, all the way into the rear pickup pocket... and then drill down, under the bridge, to intercept the long hole. I'd have to plug the hole at the rear edge of the guitar somehow.

    By the way... the finish on the neck is far better. The neck was machined from hard maple, and was remarkably smooth and clean, as delivered... much better than the body.
    Norman, Dude, someone has to say it.

    That fish looks kinda weird, to me.

    Nice looking guitar though, dude. Canít wait for the road test and report on how it sounds.

    Peace,
    Robert

  11. #46
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Norman, Dude, someone has to say it.

    That fish looks kinda weird, to me.


    Peace,
    Robert
    Samantha's Fish'o'caster


  12. #47
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy W View Post
    Samantha's Fish'o'caster

    That is awesome. My son calls his (bass) guitars Large Man Basses (a take on the fish) because he thinks he’s funny like I am.
    Ha! To be fair, he IS a large man. Hehe.

    He is wrong about one thing, though. I’m way more funnier.

    Peace,
    Robert

  13. #48
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY View Post
    Yes...220k ohms not volts... Not my circuit design, just reporting what is out there on guitar discussion boards and in books about guitar mods.

    I'm not an electrical engineer and I don't play on on TV, but I understand the touch-the-mic-while-playing-your-guitar-and-get-shocked thing is that it happens when the two devices are connected to different electrical circuits that are at different ground levels (whatever that means). The amount of electricity you feel when you get shocked is the voltage difference between the two grounds.

    All I know is that where I work, we have special outlets on stage that are grounded to the same ground as the audio system so that guitar amps and such can plug in and the musicians don't have to worry about getting zapped. Our audio services people check the ground connections every year to make sure that they're solid and consistent.
    I'm not unfamiliar to the effect!

    My 'heyday' of rock and roll was the late 60's, playing lead guitar in a band, and I certainly remember getting shocked, when my lips touched a microphone....

    ...but that was back in the days of almost exclusively tube equipment (or very nearly so... my band had one of the first solid state PA systems, made by Ampeg, whose plant was in my home town of Linden, NJ.. and we won it by coming in first at a 100 band 'battle of the bands').

    The problem of getting shocked was simply related to faulty grounding... and endemic to the tube equipment of old... some of which is still around. Back in those days, engineers didn't really expend much effort or money on galvanic isolation, so the power transformers of the day were 'leaky'... and the need for the infamous 'grounding' switch on the back of many amplifiers (mainly, Fender) made the problem worse. Combined with the fact that three prong plugs were rare, and outlets weren't required to follow a convention as to which blade of the plug was tied to 'hot', and which was tied to 'neutral', it's not all that surprising.

    If it happens these days, the problem can only be attributed to either a) ancient equipment with two prong plugs that are not phased properly, or b) incorrectly wired outlets. Nowadays, electricians use simple ground phase testers to insure that outlets are properly wired. Even with a fault, the voltage differential would be unlikely to be all that large... but when it's AC, it doesn't take much voltage to feel an unpleasant shock... not strong enough to hurt you, but certainly disagreeable.

    The inclusion of an RC circuit between the bridge and the ground of the amplifier doesn't hurt, at all... but I suspect it's really no longer necessary.
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  14. #49
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Assembly starts.



    It's not without some problems. The pattern for the screws that attach the neck to the body were pre-drilled on a weird angle... the result is that the plate which reinforces the screws, on the back, is 'cocked' around 5 degrees or so... unsightly, but since the holes were pre-drilled, there's not much I can do about it. The long straight edge was used to establish the position of the bridge; I set up the screws that adjust intonation so that there would be sufficient adjustment range, and used the long straight edge to set things precisely 34" from the nut (the octave fret was, of course, at 17"). The green tape temporarily marks the positions, before screwing down the bridge itself. I still need to get an extra long drill bit, so I can drill a pathway for a bridge grounding wire... as was previously suggested, I'll drill in from the end of the body (near the position of the strap button) through to the rear pickup pocket... and then drill a vertical hole, under the bridge, so I can snake a ground wire into the pocket, and then into the controls.

    I did check the frets... they are quite level, although the ends of the fretwires need a little emery paper work.. the cuts are a bit sharp.
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  15. #50
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Now the problems begin.



    At least one of the problems is solved. The body blank didn't include a passage for a ground wire from the bridge. I managed to drill a shallow angle hole from a spot beneath the bridge, into the rear pickup pocket... and routed a 26 ga. busswire into the control pocket, from there. The pickup is tight, within the pocket, so it had to be a very skinny wire... but it will work.

    At this point, some of the shortcomings of the kit are evident. The first is the fact that the pocket for the forward pickup, which is defined by the pickguard hole, is somewhat off-center from the position it should be... it's not perfectly in line with the other pickup and the string path. There's nothing I can easily do about this... to fix it would require hacking up the pickguard. I've decided to leave it be.

    A more serious problem, however, is now obvious. The machined pocket for the neck was apparently not done very well... with the neck perfectly seated in the pocket, it appears that the bridge will be too high for a nice low action on the strings. With the bridge pieces adjusted to their lowest position, it looks like the strings will be way too high (as estimated via my straight edge).

    I can think of only a couple of ways to fix this. I could raise the neck in the pocket with a shim... perhaps 3/16" to 1/4" would raise the keyboard, relative to the bridge, enough to put the bridge adjustment in the middle of the range. The downside of this approach is that it will be pretty obvious, and not especially pretty, when looking at the neck-to-body joint.

    The other way would be to put a tapered shim in the pocket, which would alter the angle of the neck very slightly, bringing the strings closer to the fingerboard, high up on the neck. The liability of this approach is that the bridge adjustment would still be extremely low.

    I'm going to have to think about this, for a bit.
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  16. #51
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Relatively common problem.

    The nice folk at crimson guitars have a good video on YouTube

    Search for crimson guitars shimming
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  17. #52
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    Relatively common problem.

    The nice folk at crimson guitars have a good video on YouTube

    Search for crimson guitars shimming
    Thanks for the tip!

    Actually, the video made me realize that I can buy pre-made shims... and making the shims was going to be a real pain. They're sold by StewMac, but I was able to order a set of three shims from Amazon... rather expensive, I think ($36) but it will make life a lot easier. Hopefully, a combination of one or more of the three shims will give me a proper neck angle.

    Edited to add: won't get the shims until next week
    Last edited by Norman Bernstein; 11-28-2017 at 11:30 AM.
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  18. #53
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    How goes it?
    Someday, I'm going to settle down and be a grumpy old man.

  19. #54
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    How goes it?
    The shims just arrived yesterday... I hope to try them out sometime today, and figure out how much the neck needs to be 'tilted' in order to put the strings into proper alignment.

    In examining things, I can see many other shortcomings of this kit. The pockets for the pickups, for example, are not properly aligned with the path of the strings... and there's no easy way to correct this problem. With the pickguard installed, the neck pickup is slightly off-center... and the only way to fix this would be to hack up the pickguard to enlarge the clearance hole, which wouldn't be easy, or neat. The bridge pickup is similarly not exactly in line with the neck and strings... but the pocket for this pickup is just barely large enough for the pickup itself... I'd have to enlarge the hole with a router, and then, there would be obvious gaps, at the ends, as well as a messy opening.

    Well, considering that the entire kit was only $105, I suppose I can't complain... it might actually be playable, when I'm finished... and it doesn't look half-bad, after the Tru-Oil finish.

    What I'd really like to build, would be a 'short scale' bass... and there's a 'Beatle Bass' kit (like a Hofner) available on eBay for $129... hollow body, glued-in neck, and from the photos, it looks like the quality of the wood might be nicer, for natural finishing.

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  20. #55
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post
    What I'd really like to build, would be a 'short scale' bass... and there's a 'Beatle Bass' kit (like a Hofner) available on eBay for $129... hollow body, glued-in neck, and from the photos, it looks like the quality of the wood might be nicer, for natural finishing.
    It looks great, but doesn't the glued-in neck worry you a little? At least a classical guitar has a heel (is that what it's called?) to provide stability. That glue joint looks like it would rely too much on glue and not enough on mechanical structure.

  21. #56
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by CWSmith View Post
    It looks great, but doesn't the glued-in neck worry you a little? At least a classical guitar has a heel (is that what it's called?) to provide stability. That glue joint looks like it would rely too much on glue and not enough on mechanical structure.
    Actually, based on the photo, I would think that this kit would have even MORE neck stability, since there's so much surface area for gluing. I don't know how 'real' Hofners are built, but I suspect they're not all that different.

    Anyhow, all of this is just 'playing around'... little projects that might be enjoyable, regardless of the outcome. I don't have the energy to do boats anymore, so I have to 'scale down' somehow!
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  22. #57
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post
    Anyhow, all of this is just 'playing around'... little projects that might be enjoyable, regardless of the outcome. I don't have the energy to do boats anymore, so I have to 'scale down' somehow!
    I understand that and I admire what you're doing. Go for it and I hope you have a blast!

  23. #58
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Actually, based on the photo, I would think that this kit would have even MORE neck stability, since there's so much surface area for gluing.
    That kit actually has a lot more surface area there for the glue joint than a real Hofner does. This is my Hofner 5001V63, built the way they were done when upgraded in 1963. They were made with a pretty small neck block and the bottom end of the fingerboard actually floats above the body without touching the top.

    neck1.jpg

    Old ones tend to occasionally be in need of a neck re-set, but I think an awful lot of that is due to them being strung with Pyramid strings from Germany, which tend to be very high tension - and for no good reason. You can substitute other strings, make them much easier to play, and save your neck joint without losing sound quality. Thomastic Infeld Jazz Flats for example are probably the best low tension strings on the market with a combination of sounding great and not tearing up your instruments. I use them on my Hofner, my 1969 Hagstrom 8-string bass and both of my Ric twelves, and one of the main reasons is that they're easy on the necks.

    One curious thing about the original Hofners was the lack of a forward strap button. The strap is actually looped around the forward end of the body and through that gap under the fingerboard.

    neck2.jpg

    That kit looks like another fun one. In addition to their rather thumpy, woody tone, Hofners are fun (especially for us old people) because they weigh nothing. You tend to gravitate toward them as the one to pick up and play without even consciously thinking about it because they're so light.

  24. #59
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post

    One curious thing about the original Hofners was the lack of a forward strap button. The strap is actually looped around the forward end of the body and through that gap under the fingerboard.
    I would imagine that a lot of owners simply put a strap button on. I remember 1965, when I bought my first 'quality' guitar (an Epiphone Cortez, steel string flattop, genuine Kalamazoo-made, $85 at the time), it didn't come with a forward strap button... I had the guitar shop put it on for me (too afraid to do it myself).

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    That kit looks like another fun one. In addition to their rather thumpy, woody tone, Hofners are fun (especially for us old people) because they weigh nothing. You tend to gravitate toward them as the one to pick up and play without even consciously thinking about it because they're so light.
    Actually, the key reason that kit appeals to me, is the short 30" scale. I'm not sophisticated enough to know what the downsides of a short scale bass are... but, as evidenced by the Early Beatles stuff, it clearly wasn't a disadvantage, in terms of sound... and I suspect it would be a lot easier for a bad player like me, to play. McCartney's bass work is precisely the sound I'd like to be able to achieve.
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  25. #60
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    I've never noticed any downsides to short scale basses at all. The magic is in the fingers, not the scale length. They can have drastically different tone qualities from one to the next, but from what I can tell, scale length certainly isn't what's doing it. Mine are all different, from a fretless rubber-stringed bass ukulele with a 20.25" scale all the way up to a full 34" model. They're all basses and they all gig and record well.

    Short sound sample clips, arranged as they sit in this photo, left to right.

    http://webpages.charter.net/tbradsha...%20samples.mp3

    bass-guitars.jpg

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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    I've never noticed any downsides to short scale basses at all. The magic is in the fingers, not the scale length. They can have drastically different tone qualities from one to the next, but from what I can tell, scale length certainly isn't what's doing it. Mine are all different, from a fretless rubber-stringed bass ukulele with a 20.25" scale all the way up to a full 34" model. They're all basses and they all gig and record well.
    Well, if so, then I suspect I'd enjoy playing a short scale bass a great deal more... and might actually build that Hofner clone kit, just for fun... it's cheap enough

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    Short sound sample clips, arranged as they sit in this photo, left to right.
    Thanks for the clips, and the photo. I hadn't seen a Hagstrom guitar in AGES... and I actually owned one, around 1965-66, before I sold it and bought an Epiphone Casino. Certainly, the 8 string bass version must be a VERY rare item!
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  27. #62
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    My first bass was a 4-string Hagstrom. Still the fastest bass necks I have ever seen. They built something like 250 of the Hagstrom eight string basses back 1n 1968 and 1969. I rented one to use on one tune of the Elektra album in the summer of 1971. There was a 24 hour instrument rental place in L.A. not far from the studio where you could walk in any time and rent just about any instrument. The eights are a bit more of a chore to play, so you tend to do more sustain stuff and less fast runs, but they can produce a lot of thick power when summoned. I found this one up for auction and underpriced about 12 years ago and grabbed it. It is nearly perfect and is in better condition that most of those which are in museums. This is also one of the later ones with adjustable bridge saddles for better intonation. Still has the funky grey semi-hard case with the orange fur in it, too!

    Hagstrom 8 on our last CD



    There is a newish big hollow body jazz guitar that Hagstrom makes now (I think they're all built in China instead of Sweeden now) that I tried and it was really nice and quite pretty. Sometimes you see cosmetic seconds of that model at a real bargain price. Unfortunately, I'm a lousy six-string player, so it wouldn't do me any good.

    http://www.hagstromguitars.com/elect...ars/hl550.html

  28. #63
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Another problem:

    Despite what I thought was careful measurement, I mis-mounted the bridge by about 3/16" of an inch. I had used a long rule, from the nut, to the bridge area, trying to insure that it was centered on the neck... but I didn't account for the errors in the position of the pocket for the bridge pickup, as well as the errors in the placement of the pickguard hole for the neck pickup. In retrospect, I should have mounted the pickups BEFORE mounting the bridge. I got the fore-aft position right (I had centered the longitudinal adjustments for the bridge saddles to their middle position, and used the rule to establish exactly 34" from the nut), but the lateral position is obviously wrong.

    I'll have to remove the bridge, and re-position it, about 3/16" of an inch, to the right (in this photo).

    At least, I was able to fix the neck angle... a 0.5 degree shim, bought from StewMac, resolved that problem (although the price was absurd: nearly $30 for just three little wooden shims!).


    Last edited by Norman Bernstein; 12-09-2017 at 02:28 PM.
    "Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it."
    --- Charles Pierce







  29. #64
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Before you move the bridge, look at how the strings lie on the neck and think about how moving the bridge will affect that. You don't want the high string moved too close to the edge because that will affect the playability. The mis-alignment with the poles of the pickup won't matter much. They'll still pick up the string vibrations although it is visually disturbing.

    What's so funny about peace love & understanding?

  30. #65
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY View Post
    Before you move the bridge, look at how the strings lie on the neck and think about how moving the bridge will affect that. You don't want the high string moved too close to the edge because that will affect the playability. The mis-alignment with the poles of the pickup won't matter much. They'll still pick up the string vibrations although it is visually disturbing.
    Actually, it is precisely why I need to move the bridge.... the strings are offset from the centerline of the neck, with the E string right at the edge, and the G string well inboard. Overall, the alignment problem is actually with the bridge pickup, which won't be precisely centered, after I move the bridge... but that error will be small.

    Unfortunately, one of the erroneous screwholes at the bridge will probably be exposed, after the move.... but, hey, I'm jes' playin' around here
    "Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it."
    --- Charles Pierce







  31. #66
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    OK, it's fully assembled, and working:



    I moved the bridge about 3/16" to the right, which corrected the alignment errors.

    There is still much to do, but I was able to play it... so far, it's good and bad.

    The bad: fixing the neck angle, with a 1 degree shim, helped, but it wasn't quite enough... the action isn't as low as I would like, with the bridge saddles almost at their lowest level... I'm a bit hesitant to remove the neck and add another shim, mostly because the neck attachment is screws, and I'm afraid too much removal/installation will loosen the holes too much... forcing me to go to larger screws. I'll fool around with it a bit, see if I can't get the saddles a bit lower. I haven't set up the intonation yet, either, although it appears to be close.

    The balance isn't great, either.... the paulownia body is indeed too light, and the maple neck is heavy, so it doesn't balance well. This guitar could use a pound or two, of ballast, in the body.

    The good: the pickups are nicely bright, which I like, in some situations. This is the first time I've played a bass with two pickups, so it might take a bit to decide the best adjustment, for any particular song. It is picking up a little bit of hum and noise, but not too bad, and frankly not any worse than my 'Bronco Bass'... perhaps shielding the control pocket might help.

    The string supplied with the kit are round-wound, which is hard on my fingers, as well as the frets... I'll be changing to flat-wounds eventually.

    It's really not 'done', by a long shot. I have to remove the strings and dress the ends of the frets, for one thing... the frets are nicely level, but the ends were cut off and not smoothed, so they need some attention. The intonation needs to be tweaked... and the string height needs some work.... but, in general, I think it sounds pretty good.

    Nonetheless, I still want to build that Hofner clone kit I described earlier... I really think I'd be happier with a short scale bass, and the kit is also pretty cheap... $129.

    Overall, was this a worthwhile thing? Yes... I had some fun with it. Economically, it was cheap, but really not THAT cheap, since assembled far-east bass guitar knockoffs aren't that much more expensive than the kit cost... but I did get to finish it natural, which the assembled knockoffs, by and large, don't offer as an option. The paulownia, as a wood for the body, is not a good choice, at all... aside from being too light, the end grain has a lot of very open pores which, after filling, are quite obvious... Guitarfetish.com offers six string kits with mahogany bodies, that might be a lot better. The neck quality, on the other hand, is impressive.... smooth clear hard maple, and the rosewood fingerboard is quite nice, with well-installed frets that are level. The components (tuners, pickups, bridge, etc.) are certainly cheap... but it wouldn't be worth adding cost by substituting better parts.

    Overall, I'd describe this kit as modestly priced entertainment... which was, frankly, all I was really looking for.
    "Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it."
    --- Charles Pierce







  32. #67
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Rock on, dude!

    What's so funny about peace love & understanding?

  33. #68
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    Default Re: Building a bass guitar from a kit

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY View Post
    Rock on, dude!
    Well, I can 'rock on' about as well as a 66 year old grandfather can, I suppose
    "Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it."
    --- Charles Pierce







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