Good afternoon and happy new year to you all!
After a protracted break from guitar making I have decided that I really do need to produce an electric bass to further my ambition of seeing an entire band play with instruments that I have built. I've got the acoustic and electric 6 strings and all bar the kick drum of a drum kit, so the bass is the one important thing missing.
I will be using the same (although possibly slightly larger) outline as I did for my electric build (shown below), which is derived from the shape of the Maccaferri acoustics, and I would quite like to incorporate a tail piece on this build a bit similar to that on the Hoffner violin bass, purely to echo the original Maccaferri construction.
What I am looking for is advice on whether this is a good idea or if it would be better to go with a more standard bridge set up. Any down sides to a tailpiece on a bass?
I don't know much about bass guitars, I've never played one, but there does seem to be a vast difference in the bridge positions. Are the guitars with the bridge almost falling of the bottom doing so simply because they have a very long scale length and this is necessary to bring the nut end of the fretboard within reach or is there some other reason? Clearly, with a tailpiece, the bridge would have to more central to the body but does this have any effect other than making the headstock further away? The guitar will probably be either 30" or 32" scale length so I don't think this is going to matter from a practical point of view.
Lastly I would like opinions on body/neck materials. I have some of the same plank of khaya that I used for the six string electric or a lovely big lump of ash, which I guess would end up being considerably heavier. For the neck I was thinking of laminating maple with either khaya or walnut and, if I can find a piece big enough, I will probably use some of my late uncle's Rio rosewood for the fretboard (just to make sure that I can never be forced into selling it 🤣 🤣) or, failing that, some nice variegated ebony. I quite like the continuity of using the khaya but maybe this isn't a species especially suited to bass construction, I just don't know.
Ok peeps, over to you, all comments and observations very gratefully received.
Doesn't sound like a bad idea to me, but generally I don't know until I *uck about, then I find out.
For what it's worth, I really like a trapeze on a guitar or something like a bigsby as I find the longer string length gives more of a slinky feel. I prefer heavy stings, so it all contributes to a nice feel for me.
I do find that with lengths of string behind the bridge you will get overtones. Not necessarily a bad thing, but can be disconcerting if you're not expecting it.
From memory the hofner bass has a floating bridge, which isn't great for accurate intonation and a pain off you forget when changing strings. As Mark would say, ask me how I know.
I've not built a bass, but have it in my to do list and have also been struck by the range in scale lengths and body designs. My one thought on it is with the longer neck, getting the balance right to prevent headstock drop, which might be why some makers place the bridge right at the back?
I would go with the khaya and with the laminated neck as you have it to hand. it would be lighter then the ash and it would look cool. With electrics, build quality aside, I think pickups make the biggest impact on sound anyway.
Short answer, I don't know what I'm talking about, but go for it!
Now THAT is commitment! 🤣 🤣
My one thought on it is with the longer neck, getting the balance right to prevent headstock drop, which might be why some makers place the bridge right at the back?
I guess it also allows for a greater distance between the pick ups and I think with a longer neck it would make sense to go for a heavier body material just to maintain balance.
I may go to 33.25" or 34", simply due to the availability of truss rods, but the khaya neck is fairly light and the body will have a figured ash cap (I'd forgotten I had this material, it must have been bought nearly 20 years ago!) so hopefully the balance will be ok. You get a lot of bang for your buck with figured ash as the ripple grain is pretty common and so the price is usually fairly good compared to similarly figured maple or sycamore. The plank is wide enough to chop out the heart wood but I think I'll include this down the centre of the body as the contrast looks pretty cool especially from the wilder end.
I'm going to abandon the idea of the tailpiece as I just can't find one that I like (not that there was much choice). It was also going to limit the distance between the pick ups (pair of Dimarzio DP305N Sixties J wired as per Fender Jazz, two volume controls and 1 tone), as previously mentioned.
I'd love to hear from any bass players with their thoughts on bridge position and/or scale length. Does having the bridge closer to the end of the body allow for a more comfortable playing position or additional playing styles?
Here's a question that I am sure must also come up with 6 string pick ups.
The bridge that I have ordered has 19mm string spacing ie 57mm in total but the pitch of the bridge pickup poles is 19.76mm meaning that the strings aren't exactly central to them. Similarly, the neck pick poles are 18.69mm apart so they don't exactly align either. I can't find a bass bridge with any other spacing which begs the question whether this matters, or should I rotate the mounting of the pick ups so that the string passes directly over the centre of the poles?