Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

5 String Single-Cut neck-through active bass. (Serial 07B008)
Call for Pricing 951 659-8616

Materials: Hawaiian Koa and Mahogany. 5-piece neck has tapered Osage Orange stringers with Hawaiian Koa veneers, dual acting truss rod and 2 carbon fiber rods. Graph-Tech Nut. 34 inch scale.
Fingerboard: Macassar Ebony
Pickups: Carey Nordstrand Dual Coils with split-coil switching capability.
Electronics: Audere 4-band.
Bridge: Hipshot 19mm spacing
Hardware: Satin Gold
Tuners: Hipshot Ultra Light.
Finish: High Gloss Polyester Resin

The body style is our new single-cut configuration, and this bass has a spectacular Koa top! This was a pretty exciting project as this bass has the best of everything. It is a visually stunning instrument and sounds awesome.

Another unique option on this instrument is that it incorporates the capability to string the bass through the back of the body. Theoretically this enhances the transfer of energy from the strings to the body of the bass. We have incorporated a number of such features that combine to give this bass the best sound possible. The dual-coil pickups have the capability of switching to single-coil mode. The Audere electronics package include 4-band equalization and is swichable from active to passive mode.

Since it was our first single-cut model the instrument has a special commemorative inlay on the rear cavity cover.

Below: (7/23/07) Here are a few photos we took of this awesome bass guitar recently.

Left: (7/22/07) Since we have been working very hard to get a couple of basses completed (including this one) I have been somewhat behind on updates to this page.

As of this date we have completed this bass, and I will now hurry to get some more recent photographs posted.

The image on the left shows the assembled bass complete with matching pickup covers and control knobs. The bass has a very good tonal range and plenty of punch (how could it not!)

Left and Below: (7/9/07) We received this bass back from the finisher and now you can see the true beauty of the Koa top. Time to get busy and get this bass cleaned up, assembled and tested! More pictures soon!

Right: (6/18/07) Two major steps have been accomplished today. The pickup cavities have been machined into the body and the headstock has been drilled for tuners and shaped to its final configuration. Work continues on the neck shaping and hand filing and sanding the ergonomic features of the bass for the player's comfort.

Things are moving along quite quickly - remaining work boils down to drilling and countersinking control holes, drilling holes through the body below the bridge for the strings and hours of final sanding before the instrument is ready to go out for Polyester Resin finishing. After that we will assemble the hardware and electronics. Can't wait to see and hear it when it is complete!

Left: (6/14/07) Frets are installed, dressed and polished, and the fingerboard has been attached to the rest of the instrument. This allows me to finish the bookmatched headplate and cut out the truss rod cover. In the photo to the left you can see the truss rod cover being cut from the headplate material. One the truss rod cover was removed, I glued the remaining part to the head of the instrument. (photos to follow).

I will clean up the completed head of the instrument to its final shape and then drill the five holes for the tuners.

The truss rod cover will be engraved with our logo on it and ultimately sent to finishing along with the bass and it's other parts (battery and control cavity covers).

Right: (6/4/07) This photo shows our new location for the serial number in our second-generation instruments. It will be easily accessed under the cover for the 18v battery system and obviously since it is engraved into the wood it will always be a permqanent part of the instrument.

We are now in the process of installing the frets, which sould be complete today. There will be a good amount of cleanup and fret dressing to follow that.

Right behind that operation is the bookmatched headplate and truss rod cover. More photos to follow.

Left: (6/2/07) Here is a close-up photo showing the Osage Orange fret markers on the side and front of the fingerboard. They leave an untinterrupted fretboard grain but stand out just enough for the player's ease. Everyone who has seen this bass so far has been truly impressed by its impact and appearance.

The frets are now cut and ready to be intsalled in the fretboard. We also inscribed the serial number in the 18v battery compartment today - don't have a photo of that yet but hope to get that posted very soon.

We also decided today to make custom wood pickup covers for this bass. Not originally on the options list but it will add a further touch of class.

Right: (6/1/07) Much of the body shaping has now been done. The neck/body intersection has been carved and semi-finished.

The fretboard has been slotted and now the fret markers have been put into the neck. In order to have an elegant blend with the colors of the instrument we made the markers out of Osage Orange - they look awesome against the rest of the instrument and further enhance the truly unique look of this bass.

We are now ready to install the frets and when that has been done we will attach the fretboard to the neck of the instrument. Pickups are also in, so we will be cutting pickup cavities very soon.

Left: (5/22/07) Here you can see that the fretboard has been slotted and fits nicely into its place on the neck and body. Our customer asked for gold frets (which are actually harder than their nickel counterparts) and this will look great with the gold hardware on the instrument.

We will be putting the frets in very soon which will then allow us to glue the fretboard onto the neck.

We are currently busy carving the back of the neck withing about 1/16" of its finished profile. The neck will not be finished until the fretboard is on, since it is easier to get a good feel for the neck profile with the fretboard in place. Were also working on cavity covers and a bookmatched headstock plate which will match the body top.

Right: (5/13/07) This photo shows the back of the bass after the control cavity and the 18v battery compartment have been machined.

This bass is now ready for its fingerboard. We have rough shaped the back of the neck, but the final shaping will be done after the fingerboard hs been attached to the instrument. This allows us to more accurately shape the final neck profile.

We'll also shape the belly cut and create a radius around the edge of the back and front of the body. We also have to cut out the covers for the two cavities.

Left: (5/3/07) Here we see the top of the bass being glued to the body in the vacuum press. We chambered parts of the body to reduce weight and cut channels below the top to accommodate the instrument wiring before the top was glued to the body.

Now the body and the top are one piece and ready for final shaping and the cutting of the control cavity, battery cavity and pickup holes. This is the most exciting part of the instrument's contruction, when it starts to look like a real guitar.
Macassar ebony fingerboard is now in stock so we will soon be cutting the fingerboard and fret slots.

Below and Right: (4/25/07) The Koa top was accurately machined to fit the heel area of the neck. Not yet glued on as we have some porting and wiring channels to cut.

Right: (4/16/07) This is a photo of the bookmatched Koa top pieces after they have been cut out from our resawn board.

This is only a teste of what's to come as the Koa has a very pronounced 3D effect due to the large curl in the grain. What this instrument is finished it will be a real eyecatcher!

After sanding them and making sure they were flat I glued a maple accent veneer to the back of each piece. This will be part of a very cool double-veneer highlight between the top and the body.

Left: Here we are gluing veneer onto to the joint face of the upper bout of the bass. In this case there are two veneers. A Maple veneer is glued to the Mahogany and then a Koa veneer is gued onto the Maple.

The only reason for this is aesthetic. When the back of the instrument is carved out to its finished shape, these veneers will create a very nice accent line in these joint areas.

Next we will glue the body halves onto the center section and then get the whole thing back up on the CNC for some chambering and to create the joint surface for the bookmatched Koa top.


Above: Things are taking shape. Truss rod and carbon fiber slots are now cut into the neck. I also recessed the upper and lower sides of the core where the upper and lower body bouts will attach. This was necessary because of the longer than usual contact surface between the upper bout and the center core. I felt it was important for these pieces to join along the fingerboard edge and also at the same angle as the neck taper. The mahogany pieces for the back of the body are rough cut and will now be assembled to the center section.

Right: The laminated core of the bass has been up on the CNC for two operations.

First - the slot for the truss rod is cut down the center of the neck. It is also widened slightly at the open end to allow for the larger diameter of the adjustment nut which is exposed at the head end of the neck. In the same operation we machine two slots either side of the truss rod slot for the carbon fiber reimforcing rods.

Then we cut the finished profile of the neck from the nut all the way back to the end of the neck. This assures that the neck geometry is exactly centered on the laminates, plus having the edges of the neck established at this stage makes it easier for later operations.

Left: We received the Hawaiian Koa today for this bass. As you can see from our own photo it is every bit as stunning as we hoped it would be. This will make a beautiful instrument!

Next step will be to accurately resaw this Koa board and sand it down to create a spectacular bookmatched top for the bass.

Right: Today we took the glued-up core of the bass and trued up both sides of the blank to give us an accurate datum from which to machine other parts of the basse's geometry.

The back and front faces of the core section were machined flat on our ornamental mill (see photo) and this will allow us to proceed to the CNC machine where we will machine the neck angle, truss rod slot, carbon fiber insert slots and the outside neck dimensions all in one operation.

The CNC will make a very accurate job of machining all these critical neck dimensions and we will then proceed to cutting our the material for the body halves and the bookmatched top of the bass.

Left: Here you can see we are in the process of gluing our tapered laminates and veneer together to create the core of the instrument. I use the vacuum press for gluing the veneer onto the smaller stringers and while that is gluing, I clamp the larger sub-assemblies together in a separate area.

This has to be done on good clean and flat surfaces as we don't want to introduce any strain into the glued assembly. There's no way to do this effectively without a good supply of clamps!!

In this particular case there are 5 laminates of wood and four pieces of Koa veneer between them. The center three pieces are tapered.

Right: This is the Macassar Ebony we plan to use for the fingerboard of this instument. Our plan is to make the pickup covers and knobs from a matching section of Macassar Ebony.

Above: here's the neck section in infant stage. Birdseye Maple core with Osage Orange stringers which have been milled to a specific taper angle on our Ornamental Mill. These are designed to follow the taper of the fingerboard and neck for a more pleasing effect on the back of the finished neck.

Left: After having looked extensively for just the right piece of Hawaiian Koa, containing the ideal figured grain and characteristic colors we were looking for, we purchased this piece of Koa from Hawaii for the bookmatched top of this bass. The photo on the left shows the highly figured and colorful grain in this beautiful piece of wood.

We will resaw this board down the center to create two matching top pieces for the top of the bass.

This will create a very impressive bookmatched effect.

Below is a photo of the 2" thick Mahogany we just bought for this bass and a couple of other upcoming instruments.

Last update July 23, 2007