Watson Guitars
California, USA

5-string HEADLESS bass (Serial 08B020) MSRP $4995.00
or email 951 659-8616

Materials: Curly Myrtle top, local Idyllwild Cedar back. Maple core.
Fingerboard: Gabon Ebony - red Paua shell block inlay on neck, pickups and knobs.
Pickups: Watson high-output dual coils each switchable between series, parallel and single-coil.
Electronics: Watson 3-band active/passive 18v electronics system
Bridge: ABM headless
Hardware: Chrome 
Finish: High Gloss Polyester Resin on body - Satin on neck - Crimson Sunburst

This is our second headless bass, meaning that there are only two of them on the entire planet. The first one was very successful and sounded awesome. Here we are using the same design but to experiment a little further with some lightweight woods. End result sounds awesome.

The bass is 34" scale but it feels like a much shorter scale due to the body design. Very comfortable both sitting and standing. All 24 frets are easily accessed due to the lower cutaway.

This bass has some great attributes. It is relatively light and the core section is very rigid. It has a very punchy sound. It is very comfortable to wear and play, and there's something cool about playing a headless! The matching top, inlay and knobs really get peoples' attention! And to top it all off - it fits in a guitar gig bag/case!!!!

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This photo shows the recent upgrade we made to the pickup covers. They now have our logo inlayed in red shell
(3/13/09) This bass was recently upgraded. I had enough red shell left over from the project to add inlay to the pickup covers. To do this I made custome covers from Gabon Ebony and then inlayed the top of each pickup with our logo in red shell. we decided to also change the blend control to a second volume. This offers more tonal adjustment.
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Another shot showing the new inlayed pickup covers.

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Finally the bass is complete. The red tint - red inlay and even the red topped knobs all look good together.
(1/12/09) We have now added all the hardware to this bass and wired it up with its Watson 3-band preamp system. As anticipated, it is a bright and punchy sounding instrument. It is also well balanced and relatively lightweight. Great bass for someone who wants to make a statement with something different than the rest of the pack!
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Here's a colse-up of the knobs. The two switches select serial. parallel and seingle-coil for each of the two pickups.

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This photo shows the nice contrast between the red stain and the chrome hardware. We should be playing this one soon!
(1/8/09) Although I haven't had much time to post updates on this page, I have been working on this bass and things are moving along. All cavities have been shielded and electronics are in but not connected. Hardware is on and the neck is attached. I still have to install pickups and covers for the cavities and we neeed to do all the wiring.
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Still working on the battery cavity but otherwise things are progressing well. Liking the continuous tapered stringers running through the body and the neck.

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This pic shows the beautiful red tint and Polyester resin finish that matches the shell inlay in the neck.
(11/5/08) Here we are in the post-finishing stage. We have applied a cherry red stain to the myrtle top and cedar back, to create a subtle sunburst which perfectly matches the shell inlay in the neck. The finish really brings out some of the figure in the top. We will now proceed to fit the neck onto the body so that we have a complete bass. Then we'll add copper shielding to all the cavities and start attaching the hardware.

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We are trying out a new inlay material - colored paua shell, on this bass. I'm hoping the end results justify the amount of work!
(10/29/08) I have been looking forward to trying out a new type of inlay on this bass. It's actually genuine Paua shell but it has been tinted (in this case red). The shell had a great color and depth and, since this bass is going to be a red sunburst, it's a perfect candidate to try this out. It's quite fragile, so I had to develop a method of inlaying this stuff into a curved fingerboard surface. The shell in the photo is not yet inlayed into the neck.

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Here we see the bass body set up on the CNC. We are machining a 15 degree angle on which the five tuners will be located.
(10/23/08) We just had the body of this bass back up on one of the CNC machines today in order to cut a 15 degree angle on the back of the body where the string tensioner block will sit. Placing the tuners on an angle slightly reduces the amount these knobs stick up over the top surface of the body, which I think is a more pleasing layout for the player. Nexxt up for this bass is a quick operation to cut the correct recess for the Neutrik locking jack socket.

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This is a computer-altered representation of the colors we ar planning to use on this bass.
(10/20/08) This is no more than a guide. I altered the colors on a previous headless bass we made in order to approximate the look of this upcoming bass. Our plan is to tint the bass to have a cherry sunburst and reflect the body colors in the inlay we will use on the neck. Should look great. I am just about to start the inlay work on the Ebony neck so that will help to get the actual color scheme established.

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I am now able to fit the neck to the body. You can see how the tapered laminates in both line up nicely.
(10/17/08) Finally got the neck pocket machined into the body so I can test fit the neck and make sure everything important lines up correctly. We are now ready for some final shaping of the body and the neck and whilw we are doing that I will be cutting inlay for the neck. We're looking at red shell inlay which we will them color co-ordinate with the red tint on the body. That should look impressive on the black Gabon Ebony fingerboard.

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This is a photo of the completed control cavity after the body of the bass came off the CNC mill.
(10/14/08) The cavity recess has now been machined into the lower bout of the body. We are now ready to fit the control nd battery covers into their respective recesses. Next we will work on the body establishing the corner radii around the body so that it feels comfortable to wear. This includes a relief at the back of the upper bout. Once that's done we'll work on fitting the neck to the body. We also have some inlay to do to the fingerboard!

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We machined the battery compartment into the back of the bass today. Slightly closer to th erear of the bass than previous models due to some minor engineering changes.
(10/12/08) After a few days out of the shop I got back into the machining work again. One of the things I worked on today was the machining of the recess for the 18-volt battery compartment. The rectangular recess s for the two 9v batteries and the surrounding recess will accommodate the matching wood lid for the battery compartment. Now that we have done that, we can proceed to machining the control cavity on the lower bout.

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This is the Gabon Ebony fingerboard set up on the CNC. We have machined a compund radius along its length, Next: fret slots.
(10/4/08) I got started on the fingerboard today. The blank is secured onto a flat piece of material and firstly I cut the entire outer profile to the full depth. Then I use a ball end mill to cut the compound radius along the length of the fingerboard. Finally I will sand the surface to a smooth finish in preparation for the cutting of the fret slots. The material is Gabon Ebony. I decided to cut it about 20mm long so that I can inlay our logo at the body end of the fingerboard.

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Pickup holes have been machined out of the body section. Next we flip it over and cut the battery and control cavities.
(10/2/08) We set up the body of the bass on the CNC today and machined out the recesses for the two pickups.The pickup locations are very carefully calculated so that they maximize the tonal capabilities of the instrument and at the same time leave enough room between the end of the neck and the neck pickup for players who use a slapping style. Next we will cut the control cavity and battery recesses. (Lids for those have already been machined).

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This photo gives us an idea what the bass will look like with its hardware and pickups attached. The final color will be a cherry or sienna sunburst which will look great.
(9/29/08) We decided it might be a good idea to show what this bass might look like with its hardware attached. In the photo to the left we added the pickups and the bridge and tuners for a better glimpse of what might be the end result. Note though, that the finish we are planning on this bass will be a cherry or sienna sunburst and the figure in the grain will be more apparent in the end result. We will have more updates on this bass very soon.

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The back of the bass will look nice when the control and battery lids are in place. The lids were cut out of the same Cedar block I used for the body halves.
(9/25/08) We have now glued the Myrtle top onto the body. In the photo to the left you can also see that we have machined cavity covers for the control and battery recesses. Next up for this instrument is some cleanup around the edges to finalize the body shape, then we will cut out the control and battery cavities and the recesses for the two pickups.
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Myrtle top has now been glued onto the body. There is a lot of interesting figure in the Myrtle which will only become apparent when we stain and finish the wood.

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The bass has been machined to its final thickness and is awaiting wiring slots. I will them move on to gluing the top onto the body.
(9/17/08) I just finished machining the body thickness in preparation for assembly with the Myrtle top. Before that happens I need to machine channels for the internal wiring connecting batteries, bridge and pickups to the control cavity. At this stage I will also remove any non-critical material from the inside of the instrument to reduce weight. Next task is to prep and glue the two bookmatched halves of the top together so that everything is ready to assemble.

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The body has been glued together and we're ready to glue on the Myrtle top. This bass will look very different once it is tinted to its final color scheme!
(9/8/08) We have cut the laminated center section of the body to its finished size and glued the top and bottom body wings on. Now we have a complete body to work with. We'll have to machine the channles for the wiring and then glue on the Myrtle top. The body shape is still slightly oversize, so I will also have to clean that up. Time to get back to the neck and get that shaped, plus I still have the fingerboard to cut and shape!

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Here we see the neck of the headless bass bing shaped on the CNC. In this operation we also cut the truss and carbon fiber slots.
(8/28/08) The laminated neck blank was cleaned up and mounted on on of our CNC machines. We cleaned up the fingerboard joint surface and then cut the exact profile of the neck out of the oversized blank. Next. we will cut the truss rod slot and the two slots for carbon firber reinforcing rods. Once that is complete the neck blank is ready for rough shaping. We are also going to be cutting the laminated center of the body section to its finished size.

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The two halves of the bookmatched top are in the vacuum press having a veneer of Koa glued onto the underside. This will show up as a decorative pinstripe whan the bass is complete.
(8/20/08) Time to start thinking about the body parts of this bass. First thing we need to do is get the decorative veneer stuck onto the underside of the top plates. We do this using our vacuum press. In this case we are using a veneer of Koa to add a golden colored stripe to accent the top when the instrument is finished. There will also be a lighter pinstripe of maple veneer below this one. It's a lot of extra work to do this but it's all worth it in the end!!

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here we see the early stages of gluing the body laminates together. They need to be glued onto a flat surface with even pressure along the entire length.
(8/6/08) We're now at the stage where we can glue some of these laminate strips together. I always glue them together one at a time from the center out. This allows me more control over the accurate alignment of the laminates and also guarantees the end result will remain straight and undistorted. The laminates pictured are those which combine to create the center section of the body of the bass. Three done, four to go!

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Both the dark and the light neck and body laminated get contrasting veneers. These combine to create an elegant effect when the parts are finally glued together.
(8/1/08) The woods for the core of the body and the neck have been sawn into strips, sanded to thickness and cut to specific taper in the ornamental mill. All the tapered laminates are now in the process of having contrasting veneers glued onto their sides. The dark strips get light colored veneers and the light strips have darker veneer applied. The photo on the left shows some of the darker tapered laminates after they have been cleaned up on the spindle sander.

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This is all the raw material laid out for this bass. Cedar back, Myrtle top, neck and body core Curly Maple.
(7/11/08) I chose some woods for the center section laminates of the body and neck today. The white wood at the bottom of the picture is Flamed Maple. I'm only going to use thin strips of this along the body and neck as this wood is quite dense and will add weight. Next we will cut up this material for body and neck laminates and choose some veneer which we will be using as decorative pinstriping.

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This is the two halves of the Myrtle top rough cut. We'll shape them closer to final size before gluing up the body.
(7/10/08) For this bass we chose a nice curly figured piece of Myrtle for the top. It will work well with a tint and perhaps a nice sunburst finish. The bookmatched pieces have been rough cut. We are planning to use local Idyllwild cedar for the back of the body. I have some very nice colorful tight-grained cedar on the shelf and it will work perfectly for this bass. The goal is to create a very lightweight but well balanced instrument.
Last update March 13, 2009