Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

5 String Single-Cut neck-through active bass. (Serial 07B011)
Call for pricing: 951 659-8616

Materials: Hawaiian Flamed Koa and Mahogany. 7-piece Maple neck with tapered East Indian Rosewood stringers, dual acting truss rod and 2 carbon fiber rods. Graph-Tech Nut. 34 inch scale.
Fingerboard: Macassar Ebony with Gold Mother of Pearl block inlays
Pickups: Carey Nordstrand Dual; Coil pickups (both switchable to single coil).
Electronics: Audere 4-band 3ZB.
Bridge: Hipshot 19mm spacing
Hardware: Gold
Tuners: Hipshot Ultra Light.
Finish: High-Gloss Polyester Resin

This custom order is for Luthiers Access Group in Chicago. The body style is our new single-cut configuration, and this bass has a beautiful flamed Koa top!

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. With the Nordstrand dual-coil pickups and the Audere preamp system, the bass has a lot of control over its sound.

Below: (7/22/07) I have been so busy finishing up this and other basses that I have been unable to keep this page updated. As of this date the bass is finished and looks, plays and sounds great.

As you can see in the photos, the neck laminates look awesome, our custom matching pickups and knobs look great together, you can see the string retaining ferrules on the back of the instrument. The Mother-of-Pearl inlays come out very nice and a beautiful contrast to the highly figured ebony fingerboard.

Control cavity and battery compartment covers are secured by magnets so no ugly screws interrupt the flow of woodgrain at the back of the bass.

Right: (7/12/07) The process of adding the copper shielding is a real pain. Especially when you have to apply it to complex shapes such as the interior of the control cavity on this bass. Care has to be taken to guarantee continuity between the separate pieces of copper in order to achieve the best possible shielding. There are copper content aerosol sprays out there but as yet, nothing can beat the old fashioned method.

This bass is now ready for its wiring and electronic components. I will install the selector switches first and then start work on the electronics installation.

As you can see from this photo, the mahogany back and maple/east indian rosewood stringers look great after the finishing process.

Left: (7/10/07) Here's another shot showing the awesome figure in the Koa top of this bass. The lacquer really brings out the beautiful grain of the wood. We will post other photos of this soon-to-be-complete bass in the next couple of days as we continue to assemble it.

We are currently working on getting the electronics installed into the control cavity. This involves copper shielding the pickup and control cavities first, then making sure all the potentiometers, switches and wiring fit correctly.

While this is going on I am also making Macassar Ebony control knobs and matching pickup covers and cleaning up the spraying and buffing residue from the finishing process.

Below: (7/9/07) Here is the bass right after it came back from our finisher. The finish is beautiful as expected from All Wood Finishes. The mahogany on the back of the body came out really nice.You can see he five holes for the through-body strings. Below: (7/10/07) Here is a shot showing the maple and East Indian Rosewood laminations of the neck through portion. Also visible - the counterbores for the recessed control knobs. Lots of work to do now to get it ready for shipping!

Right: (7/8/07) The customer for his bass has requested that we fabricate cutom picklup covers from Macassar Ebony, and also that there should be a 'ramp' between the two pickups, also made from Macassar Ebony.

In this photo you can see that we have used continuous grain Macassar Ebony for the two pickups and the ramp.

Also - upon request from our customer, the control knobs on the bass will also be made from matching Macassar Ebony. I will add some photos to illustrate this in the next few days. Knobs are somewhat work-intensive to make, but we have completed that part of the process. One of the knobs has to be 'stacked' meaning that it will have two functions one upper and one lower .

Left: (6/18/07) For this particulat bass we have a special task of inlaying the customer's name into the truss rod cover. We will be using the same gold Mother-of-Pearl for this as we used for the neck inlays.

Below Left: We just completed the cutting of the pickup cavities today. We have been selective about the actual pickup placement as we want to get the best sound but at the same time leave enough space behind the neck for 'slapping'.

Below Right: A shot of the Audere electronics package which will be installed in this bass. Lots of wires, plus we will have to add a few more for the pickup coil-splitting feature. The big wiring task will happen after the finishing is done.

Right: (6/13/07) I though this photo was worth posting as it shows off the beautiful grain of the Koa top on this bass. It's a really nice piece of wood and should be very impressive when the finish is applied.

Below Left: This is a photo of the fretboard after the inlay was completed and the frets were installed. I have to dress the fret ends tomorrow and then glue the fretboard onto the body

Below Right: This is a close up of one of the gold Mother of Pearl inlays. hard to capture with the camera - this shell has a deep iridescent gold color. Very nice!

Left: (6/9/07) Here we are in the process of cutting recesses in the fingerboard to accommodate the gold Mother-of-Pearl inlays which will be inserted next. There are eleven position markers along the 24-fret fingerboard.

Once the pearl inlays have been glued into the board, I will carefully sand them flush with the board surface and polish them to a shiny surface.

Next we will insert side dots along the edge of the fingerboard, these will also be pearl. Once that is done we will put in the frets and cut, dress and finish the fret ends.

After that, the fingerboard will be almost complete and ready to be glued onto the instrument.

(6/2/07) We just received the Gold Mother of Pearl block inlay material for this bass. The next step in its progress will be to inlay the Mother of Pearl along the fingerboard before the frets can be installed. Also - the body has been shaped and it now has a comfortable belly-cut on the back. Pickups are in so we will be starting on the Macassar Ebony pickup covers. Photos to follow.

Right: (5/22/07) We have reached an important point with this bass. The fretboard has been cut, radiused and slotted ready for the special gold frets. As you can see in the photo the fretboard is a beautiful piece of evenly striped Macassar Ebony.

Before we install the frets we are going to put some Gold Mother of Pearl inlay on the neck. This will reflect the golden color of the Koa.

After the inlay we put in the frets and then we can glue the fingerboard onto the body. With the neck components complete we can complete the final shaping of the neck profile. All very exciting stuff as this bass is shaping up to be a pretty impressive instrument.

Left: (5/13/07) The control cavity and the 18v battery cavitiy have been machined. The channels we machined into the top of the body for the wiring all line up nicely.

We will now make the matching mahogany covers for these cavities and carve in our new custom latch for easy removal. We are planning to locate the serial number of the instrument in that space running across the top of the battery hole inside the recess.

The outer edges of the body (top and bottom) will be radiused and the belly cut and other custom body work will be carved out leaviong final shaping until after the fretboard is attached.

Right: (5/9/07) Top plate has now been bookmatched and had two veneers applied to its back. Once it was trimmed up I cut the joint on the CNC so that it fit perfectly onto the contour of the neck.

We cut wiring channels into the body, chambered for weight reduction and glued the top onto the body using the vacuum press. End result is a very nice looking assembly well on its way to being an awesome bass guitar.

Next up is the control and battery cavities.

Left: (4/25/07) This photo shows the Koa top being glued together as a bookmatched pair. Tricky to clamp due to its irregular shape and the need to keep everything flat, but the net result of the bookmatched top will be worth all the elaborate clamping! The image below gives a rough idea of the Koa on this instrument.

Right: (4/20/07) Here we are gluing the carbon fiber rods into the neck. We use aerospace grade epoxy to make sure the carbon fiber rods are really securely bonded to the neck material to yield a really rigid neck.

Below: Back view of the rough shaped neck. I started shaping the neck profile but I will leave most of the final shaping till after the body halves are attached. The neck is made of alternate layers of flamed maple and east indian rosewood, separated by accent veneers of light and dark woods.

Left: (4/7/07) Here you can see two of the veneered laminations being glued together on the vacuum press.
I will glue these laminations together in pairs using the vacuum press then glue the sub-assemblies together using traditional clamping. Gluing these in stages is a much more controlled way to make sure the laminations line up properly under the clamping pressure. There's no going back once that glue takes hold!

I'll post some detailed shots of the joints between the laminates once the neck assemble has been cleaned up on the ornamental mill.

Right: (4/6/07) We are making the 7 laminations for the neck from flamed Maple and East Indian Rosewood. These individual layers are separated by a veneer of Koa against the Rosewood and a veneer of Louro Preto against the Maple, which will yield a very nice decorative effect when all the pieces are assembled together.

The neck should be completely glued up in the next couple of days. We use the vacuum press to glue the veneers onto the neck components.

The veneered pieces are then mechanically clamped together to achieve the most accurate alignment.

Last update July 22, 2007