Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

5 String Headless bolt-on active bass. (Serial 07B0010)
Call 951 659-8616 for pricing.

Materials: Neck and Center of Body: Padauk and Pernambuco laminates. Body will be Padauk and the top and back will be bookmatched Chakte-Kok.
Fingerboard: Gabon Ebony
Pickups: Carey Nordstrand Big Singles
Electronics: David McKeen 18v 3-band
Hardware: ABM Hardware (gloss black finish)
Finish: High Gloss Polyester Resin

This is a big first on several levels. It is our first headless bass guitar. It is also our first bolt-on neck configuration, and it proudly boasts a new body style for 2007.

The center section of the body and the neck is made up of laminates of Padauk and Pernambuco.These are both 5-piece laminates separated by a bold black hardwood veneer. This matches the black hardware used on the bass and add some impressive pinstriping on the neck and body sections.

The neck is very rigid thanks to the pernambuco stringers and the Gabon Ebony fingerboard. If you are looking for a truly one-of-a-kind punchy 5-string active bass, this has to be on your list. We will be exhibiting this instrument in our booth at NAMM 2008.

Right:(1/5/08) We are making pretty good progress with this bass. Several things have been done since the previous photo was posted. Neck was attached, frets were dressed and the nut was cut and installed.

I attached the bridge and tailpiece, copper lined the pickup cavities and installed the pickups. Our electronics wizard Don wired up the control cavity and the strap puttons were attached.

At this point the bass is playable but needs some adjustment to get everything in its proper place. I have to say I am impressed with the punchy sound. It is very bright and articulate. We will have this bass at the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA and I will be very interested in peoples' reactions to its design and sound.

Left: (12/15/07) It has been some considerable time since I did any work to this bass. This has been due to the number of instruments in the shop that have to be finished in time for the upcoming NAMM show. However, I found time to add copper shielding to the control cavity which helps move the project along. The two pickup cavities also require the same copper shielding.

Next task will be to fit the neck, install the bridge and tailpiece hardware and the Neutrix locking jack socket. I will post updates on this page when some of those things have been done.

Hopefully this bass will be making music in the next couple of weeks. It will also be displayed at the NAMM show in January, 2008

Below (Left and Right): (10/22/07) This bass has been finish sanded and through the Polyester Resin finishing process. It now has a very thick and glossy finish and I have to remove the overspray from the joint areas so that it can be bassembled and completed. The colors of the woods are beautifully vivid after finishing and we can't wait to get this instrument assembled.

Right: (9/26/07) Today we cut the recessed holes in the body of the bass for the control knobs. We will be installing a David McKeen preamp system so the controls will include Volume, Balance, Bass, Middle and Treble. Note how red the wood is after it is cut. The Chakte-Kok is a very bright plum/orange color but it will fade slightly over time. Our Polyester resin finish is a UV protectant so we are hoping we can capture most of this vivid color.

The counterbores for the neck-retaining screws have also been cut so we are just about ready to bolt the neck onto the body for the first time.

The neck is also progressing well. I will be installing frets in the next couple of days and will post pictures of the results.

Left: (9/16/07) Today I finally got back to working on this bass. It was an interesting experience because, now that we have two CNC machines in the shop, I was able to set up two different operations on this bass on separate machines. One if the CNCs was cutting pickup holes in the body, while I machines parts of the neck on the other CNC.

I was also able to set up the neck for machining the compound fingerboard radius, the fret slots and the fret markers. I expect to run those operations tomorrow.

In the next few days I hope to get this bass ready for final finishing. I'll finish shaping the body and see if I can get the perfect blend from body to neck.

Right: (5/8/07) As you can see from the photo - the cavities for the preamp and controls, and the 18-volt battery system have been cut into the body. We're well on our way to getting this instrument completed.

The body will require some shaping to achieve its final form. I will do this by hand. The top and bottom edges will have a radius and I plan to do some reliefe in the front and back of the body to make the instrument more comfortable against the player's body.

I also have to calculate and cut the pocket for the neck joint. This has to be done carefully as we have to achieve the correct neck-to-body angle so that the strings end up at the right height from the body at the bridge end.

Left: (4/26/07) Time to glue the body parts of this bass together.The body wings have been laminated and sanded close to finish size, the control cavity and 18v battery cavity have been machined so now we can assemble some of the major body parts together. The upper and lower body wings are being glued onto the center section using another black veneer to highlight the joint.

We'll machine the body to the correct thickness then cut some internal cavities to rduce weight as much as poissible. Also we will add wiring channels before we glue the bookmatched top piece to the assembled body.

After that's done - we'll machine the control cavity and the battery compartment on the CNC. At that poiint it will be ready for the neck to be joined to the body.

Right: (4/21/07) The Chakte-Kok material for the bookmatched top of this bass has been sanded to thickness, rough cut and glued together. This wood is an amazing red/orange color with a brown figure running through it. It should result in a very colorful and attractive instrument.

I will be laminating some black veneer onto the back of this piece and assembling it to the rest of the body parts in the next couple of days. At that point it will look much more like a real bass! Then the control and battery cavities will be machined into the back of the body.

Left: (4/16/07) Here we have the back pieces of the body halves on the CNC being set up to cut out the matching wood for the control cavity and battery compartment covers.

I cut round the edge of the two cover plates using a 1mm end mill. The cut is just a tiny bit deeper than the thickness of the desired cover. When this is done I will flip the wood over and machine the cover plates out from the other side.

This way I am able to use continuous grain wood for the covers which I think is a very classy look.

Right: (4/7/07) Here we see a piece of Pau Rosa on the ornamental mill ready to be machined flat. I need one side of this plank super flat and straight because I want to cut three fingerboards out of it on the bandsaw and that requires a good datum face to work from.

One of these three fingerboards will be going onto this bass. It's a very hard wood with a beautiful grain and color and I think it would look great on this bass. We'll try it and see how it looks. If it doesn't work out I have plenty of ebony for the same purpose!

Left: (3/31/07) Here's a photo of the body shape after the center pieces of the upper and lower bouts were rough cut.

We have a bit more work to do to the Chakte-Kok before these parts will be complete. Firstly, the control cavity cover will be cut. This will be carefully machined from parent material to create a continuous grain cover. Also we have to chamber some of the upper bout areas on the CNC to reduce weight.

This has to be done before any gluing of the body sides is done. That will come next.

Right: The neck for this bass is being cut to size on the CNC. In the same operation, the truss rod slot was cut and the two slots for the carbon fiber reinforcing rods were also completed.

This gives us a nice clean neck blank which can proceed to final shaping, which will be done by hand.

Below: We decided to make the top and back of this bass from bookmatched Chakte-Kok from Yucatan.

It is a very colorful hardwood and matches well with the other woods on this instrument. We're really looking forward to seeing the end result of this one!

Left: Here is the board on the bandsaw, bing resawn down the center. It's a pretty slow process and I discovered that this wood is also pretty smelly to cut!

Below: here is the result, a nice looking bookmatched top for our bass. We'll also cut and bookmatch a similar piece for the back of the bass. The center of the body halves will be Padauk. This will be a very colorful instrument!

Right: This is the German-made ABM hardware for our headless bass. It consists of a string retainer for the end of the neck, an adjustable bridge assembly and a combined tailpece/tuner assembly for the blunt end of the instrument.

We are going to measure these parts in order to determine neck dimensions and the angle of the neck relative to the top surface of the body. Then we can start cutting materials for the neck and body.

These components are quite difficult to get in a black finish.

Last update February 1, 2008