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Thread: Building yet another bass guitar kit

  1. #1
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    Default Building yet another bass guitar kit

    The j-bass build was successful... but I don't like the result.

    It actually sounds quite good!

    However, I was disappointed in the quality of the kit. The Paulownia body was not a very good material; large open pores in the end grain became especially obvious, after filling and being finished clear... and the lightweight body, combined with the very heavy neck, make the instrument poorly balanced. Finally, this was a 34" scale bass, which is just too big for comfort. I don't regret building it... for $105, it was cheap entertainment.

    So, I've bought a 'Beatle Bass' kit... an imitation of the Hofner violin-style bass, with a short 30" scale:



    On initial examination, I am VERY impressed with the quality... it's heads and tails over that j-bass kit, especially the neck, which looks exceptionally well done. The nicely narrow neck has a white binding along the edges of the fingerboard, with indicator dots, and the fret ends are smoothly finished.

    The body was advertised as having a flame-grained maple top... and this is true, although the flame-grain is somewhat faint, and the top halves are not book-matched. Nonetheless, there are no obvious defects. The sides and bottom look to be made of mahogany, of some variety... looking a bit like the smooth grain of a luan doorskin, not a lot of 'figure' in the grain, but at least, it's defect-free. There is a cream-colored binding along the edges.

    The hardware looks good, as well... the tuners are of a closed type, smoothly operating, and the pickups have a sensible height adjustment. The bridge is like a Hofner, which doesn't offer individual intonation adjustment, but then again, neither does the real Hofner. This kit didn't come with any instructions.

    This particular kit is offered both on Amazon, as well as eBay, at a wide variety of prices... I paid $129 for it, from an eBay seller, with free shipping, and it came shipped from California with proper packaging, unlike the j-bass kit, which seemed to be crudely wrapped and tossed into a generic box. Some photos of this kit show the body pre-drilled for the pickups and mounting screws for the controls, but this was not the case, when I received it.

    I will give this one the same Tru-Oil finish, as the previous one, although I might go 9-10 coats, instead of the 6 coats I did on the j-bass; 6 coats very nearly filled the grain, but not quite.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  2. #2
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Nice! I look forward to seeing the finished product.
    There is nothing quite as permanent as a good temporary repair.

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    I've got two coats of Tru-Oil on today... and it's really soaking up that oil... gonna take a LOT of coats, for sure.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    I'm looking forward to following the progress on this build. Good luck, Norman!

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    So, if'n someone else went to Ebay, is there a particular name to look for?

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    That really is an awfully good looking kit for the money. If the action is decent and it will generate tone similar to the thumpy, kinda' woody Hofner tone with flats it will be a winner.

    Thumpy Hofner music:
    http://webpages.charter.net/tbradsha...20TB%20mix.mp3
    (An experimental arrangement of a demo one of our guys did. The voice and guitar are his. I added my Hofner bass and the other stuff.)

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    That really is an awfully good looking kit for the money. If the action is decent and it will generate tone similar to the thumpy, kinda' woody Hofner tone with flats it will be a winner.
    Well, I'm certainly hoping. I happen to like the McCartney/Beatles bass style... a little thump, but with lots of depth behind it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    Thumpy Hofner music:
    http://webpages.charter.net/tbradsha...20TB%20mix.mp3
    (An experimental arrangement of a demo one of our guys did. The voice and guitar are his. I added my Hofner bass and the other stuff.)
    Nice tune... sort of reminiscent of some formerly popular song, but I just can't think of what song.

    Speaking of tattoos: I don't have one... but I always wanted to get one... on my arm... saying, "Born to be Mild"

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bow
    So, if'n someone else went to Ebay, is there a particular name to look for?
    Nope, no name.. these imported kits (undoubtedly from China) don't seem to have any brand names associated with them... but you'll recognize it from the pictures. I've seen it both on eBay, as well as Amazon, and being sold for a wide range of prices. I bought this one on eBay, and the vendor's name, I think, was 'Fivestarprod'.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  8. #8
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    I'm up to seven coats of Tru-Oil on the body of the bass... and it's leveling nicely, with some sanding between every few coats. The sides and back actually look even nicer... a pleasant copper-colored, fine grain surface:



    Along the way, I found an excellent product... hadn't seen it before, although I'm sure some of you are familiar with it. It's a sanding sponge, but instead of a kitchen-shaped sponge, it's a thin sheet of foam with one surface covered with abrasive. The beauty of the design is that it makes reaching into concave surfaces, like the 'waist' indentations of the body, FAR easier. It is also easier and more effective on the top and bottom, where the arched surface goes nearly flat, at the edges. Finally, it can be washed, clearing out any clogging of the abrasive... and can probably be used multiple times before the abrasive wears away. The finest grit they offer is 220, but that seems to work well, for a Tru-Oil finish.

    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Following!




    Kevin
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    I think you are developing a problem. Well, if you start a Building ANOTHER Bass, weíll know for sure.

    That does look lovely.

    You know, you can wrap some super fine wet/dry around that sponge, and the 220 will do a decent job holding it in place. Same effect, essentially, with a little care.

    Enjoy the rest of the project. Iíll enjoy watching.

    Peace,
    All About That Treble

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Yup. Ol' Norman might need 'an intervention'!

    I decided to try building a kayak several years back.

    I"m on #6 now.
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    I think you are developing a problem. Well, if you start a Building ANOTHER Bass, we’ll know for sure.
    Nahhh, I don't think I'll build yet another, if this one turns out as advertised. I'll find a home for the J-bass... maybe a donation to some worthy teenager.

    I might, however, try my hand at a six string (even though I can't play a 6 string anymore, worth a damn). I've always liked the SG shape, and Guitarfetish has a kit with a mahogany body. I definitely wouldn't do another Paulownia body, though... it's a bad choice, for a clear finish, and definitely too light in weight.

    These kits are good for me, because I'm a wood-butcher, not a craftsman... and they require only finish and assembly. A mahogany SG body would look good with a red semitransparent stain, followed by a nice clear finish.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  13. #13
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Looks like a bookmatched top to me. That's a good looking kit. Enjoy.
    Tom

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post
    Nahhh, I don't think I'll build yet another, if this one turns out as advertised. I'll find a home for the J-bass... maybe a donation to some worthy teenager.

    I might, however, try my hand at a six string (even though I can't play a 6 string anymore, worth a damn). I've always liked the SG shape, and Guitarfetish has a kit with a mahogany body. I definitely wouldn't do another Paulownia body, though... it's a bad choice, for a clear finish, and definitely too light in weight.

    These kits are good for me, because I'm a wood-butcher, not a craftsman... and they require only finish and assembly. A mahogany SG body would look good with a red semitransparent stain, followed by a nice clear finish.
    Haha! Youíve got a REAL problem. Hey, at least you found that retirement hobby. You could do worse than make instruments to donate to needy, talented kids.
    That might be a nice way to feed your soul, Sir.

    And have lots of fun. Shoot, maybe even get together a jam session of instruments you built.
    Amplifiers, too...
    Hehe. I have it all planned out for you.

    Peace,
    Robert

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wilkinson View Post
    Looks like a book-matched top to me.
    It's really not... OR, it was made from book-matched halves, but not properly aligned. It's hard to tell.

    Whaddaya want for $129?
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Haha! You’ve got a REAL problem. Hey, at least you found that retirement hobby. You could do worse than make instruments to donate to needy, talented kids.
    That might be a nice way to feed your soul, Sir.

    And have lots of fun. Shoot, maybe even get together a jam session of instruments you built.
    Amplifiers, too...
    Hehe. I have it all planned out for you.
    I've been thinking about building a new bass amp, from scratch. Four 10" drivers. For an amp, I'd use one of the automotive subwoofer amps; they're very inexpensive, and run off a 12 volt power supply.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by George Jung View Post
    Yup. Ol' Norman might need 'an intervention'!

    I decided to try building a kayak several years back.

    I"m on #6 now.
    I cannot paddle anymore, and I will make a kayak at the drop of a hat. My favorite method is sof, mostly because I like steaming all those little ribs and cutting all those little mortises.

    Peace,
    Robert

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    I cannot paddle anymore, and I will make a kayak at the drop of a hat. My favorite method is sof, mostly because I like steaming all those little ribs and cutting all those little mortises.

    Peace,
    Robert
    I enjoy the strippers; but a SOF is appealing. Different process!
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by George Jung View Post
    I enjoy the strippers; but a SOF is appealing. Different process!
    Night and day. I like strip building, too. But the sof boat can be designed with some sticks and a pencil, and just made without prior prep.
    Of course, you canít slash a strip kayak, or shoot an arrow through it. Yes, that happened to me. No, not while I was in it.

    Peace,
    Robert

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Looking really good Norm! I'm still amazed that they can sell something with that much production labor in it for that price. I built a bass speaker cabinet a while back and it was also a fun project. Baltic birch plywood is really nice to work with and the Tolex vinyl cladding will hide most sins. Using the new water-based contact cement to glue the covering on was wonderful. With no horrible glue fumes, I could cover it right in my living room.

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    Looking really good Norm! I'm still amazed that they can sell something with that much production labor in it for that price.
    I agree... but it's really not that much less money than a pre-built Chinese Hofner clone, which I've seen going for less than $200. Of course, the merit of the result isn't the point of building a kit... it's the satisfaction in having done so.

    Yes, the quality is good... but if you look closely, you can see where some corners have been cut. The neck, for example, is pieced, up near the headstock... something a name brand guitar maker would never so. Similarly, the 'book-matched' top isn't matched particularly well. Regardless, as I indicated earlier, the quality is far better than that J-bass kit I built.

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    I built a bass speaker cabinet a while back and it was also a fun project. Baltic birch plywood is really nice to work with and the Tolex vinyl cladding will hide most sins. Using the new water-based contact cement to glue the covering on was wonderful. With no horrible glue fumes, I could cover it right in my living room.
    Yes, I've done that sort of construction, as well... and it's fun to do. I've already plotted out a cabinet that would fit four 10" speakers, 24" x 34" x 20", cut from a single 4 x 8 sheet.

    The joinery is an issue. To do it well, it should all be finger-jointed, but I don't have the jigs needed to do that (I do have a router), and doing it by hand would be far too tedious. Instead, I'd use 1' x 1" cleats at all the joints. I'm not sure I'd go with Tolex, though... many years ago, I re-finished a tan Fender Bassman cabinet with Naugahyde... and it was really beautiful.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    many years ago, I re-finished a tan Fender Bassman cabinet with Naugahyde... and it was really beautiful.
    No way! Was it one of the one's that had a little kickstand that allowed it to be leaned backwards? Those were cool, man.

    Kevin
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Instead, I'd use 1' x 1" cleats at all the joints.
    That's basically what I did, as I don't have any means for finger joining the pieces either. With 3/4" Baltic birch it worked just fine and with all that glue surface area at the joints, the end result is bombproof.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    That's basically what I did, as I don't have any means for finger joining the pieces either. With 3/4" Baltic birch it worked just fine and with all that glue surface area at the joints, the end result is bombproof.
    Nicely done, Todd... roughly the size and shape of the venerable Ampeg B-15, which the bass player in my band used.




    At the time (65-69 or so), Ampeg's factory was in my home town of Linden, NJ. We used to go over there and play around in the showroom until they threw us out. My first amplifier was an Ampeg Gemini IV... not a good lead amp (a single 15" speaker wasn't an ideal lead guitar setup), but I traded it in for a classic tan Fender Bandmaster, which was cool, even then.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  25. #25
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    No way! Was it one of the one's that had a little kickstand that allowed it to be leaned backwards? Those were cool, man.
    Yup... two 12" speakers, side by side, and a separate amplifier head... back in 1968, considered the coolest thing to have, although by that time, the earlier tan ones hadn't yet appreciated like they are now... most friends and competing bands had black ones, with a black control panel face.... the CBS-era ones with the reflective silver control panels were looked down on, as inferior.

    These days, an original tan Bandmaster like I had would fetch $3,000 easily, and probably a lot more, depending on condition.

    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  26. #26
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    ^ That's great!

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    I had a B15N just like that, but with the stock speaker back around 1970 and used it until it got too small for the concert halls we were playing. I loved that amp, but that was before folks started mixing instrument amps into the PA system, so what your amp would put out was all you had. The 140 watt Acoustic head shown above is what I ended up with, as my fretless Gibson used two cords and needed two channels. I paired it up with a Sunn folded horn cab with an 18" Cerwin-Vega speaker pointed upward and toward the back inside the cabinet. That combination would blow down walls.

    There are a couple nice old B15Ns currently listed on eBay. Lucky for me, they're running around $2,000-$2,500 if they're in really nice shape, so they're too expensive to seriously consider. Otherwise, it would be tempting, just for the nostalgia of it. For a while a few years ago you would even see B15s listed which had been restored by Jess Oliver, the man who originally designed them at Ampeg.

    Taking a nap in my Sunn cab around 1974 while the boys were working out some harmony parts.

    shipx4.jpg
    Last edited by Todd Bradshaw; 01-02-2018 at 10:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post
    It's really not... OR, it was made from book-matched halves, but not properly aligned. It's hard to tell.

    Whaddaya want for $129?

    Curly grain is tricky when book matched,because the uppies on one side can match the downies on the other side,but they reflect light differently.
    From here,it looks to me like the grain matches perfectly.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post
    I've been thinking about building a new bass amp, from scratch. Four 10" drivers. For an amp, I'd use one of the automotive subwoofer amps; they're very inexpensive, and run off a 12 volt power supply.
    Alternatively...
    Something with a water cooled anode..


    N.B. That's actually part of a magnetron but I've met water cooled triodes.
    Last edited by P.I. Stazzer-Newt; 01-03-2018 at 05:25 AM.
    Someday, I'm going to settle down and be a grumpy old man.

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    Alternatively...
    Something with a water cooled anode..

    N.B. That's actually part of a magnetron but I've met water cooled triodes.
    Don't you know that nature abhors a vacuum tube?
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  31. #31
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    I decided that 9 coats of Tru-Oil were sufficient. In the maple top, the finish is perfectly smooth, and reasonably glossy... more of a 'gun stock' gloss, not a high gloss.... which makes sense, since Tru-Oil is indeed marketed as a gun stock finish. The sides and back are different; the mahogany didn't start out as smooth as the maple top, so getting them smooth would probably entail another half-dozen coats. I decided to stop here, since it's really not a critical issue.

    Now, the neck got glued on... using Titebond III glue. I carefully masked the adjacent surfaces, to keep the squeeze-out off the finished surfaces. There's obviously no way to adjust the neck angle, so I guess it's a matter of faith that the angle machined into the body is correct.



    I have since discovered a couple of Youtube videos made by people who have built either this exact kit... or one very much like it. I wasn't too crazy about they way they did it.... one guy gave the body a red semitransparent stain... not exactly to my taste... and glued on the bridge. My understanding, as well as Todd Bradshaw's advice, was that the bridge of a 'Hofner' is intended to 'float', i.e., not specifically secured to the top, by anything other than string tension.

    Here are the other build videos:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chmo7qIzhcI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSpclRWz6Fc
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  32. #32
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    On the next one try sanding it to 400, that's what I do with low build oil and shellac finishes.

    DSC_0263.jpg

    This is Shellac rubbed out, could have used steel wool and wax for a satin result.

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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by delecta View Post
    On the next one try sanding it to 400, that's what I do with low build oil and shellac finishes.

    DSC_0263.jpg

    This is Shellac rubbed out, could have used steel wool and wax for a satin result.
    Nice job on those enclosures !!

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Quote Originally Posted by delecta View Post
    On the next one try sanding it to 400...
    I wasn't really trying for a high gloss finish; I prefer something more mellow and informal, especially since it's likely to get beat up, in the ensuing years. My 1965 Epiphone Cortez (steel string flat-top) is a good example; it hasn't been 'polished' in 40 years, and the finish is nicely funky
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  35. #35
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    Default Re: Building yet another bass guitar kit

    Wiring the pickups comes next.

    The 'control panel' for this bass was designed as a small circuit board, rather than just point-to-point wiring... with exposed pads for both pickups, as well as a bridge ground wire.




    I was a bit confused as to the proper orientation of the panel; Todd Bradshaw advised that the official 'Hoffner' orientation would be readable, to the player, when the lower edge of the bass was lifted, but upside-down to an observer standing in front of the bass. Accordingly, I installed it that way.



    Once wired, I tested it.... unfortunately, after I had already screwed the panel into place. It turns out that the pads for the pickup attachments were 'backwards', i.e., the neck pickup input was actually at the back edge of the PC board, and the bridge pickup, at the opposite end. Consequently, the switches are reversed, with respect to the pickups. I'll go back and change it, eventually.

    Meanwhile, I took a decent photo of the flame-grain on the top... it actually came out better than I originally expected.

    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







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