Watson Guitars
California, USA

4-string 31" scale bass (Serial 11B043S)
Neck through construction, Tulipwood top

951-468-4004 or email us here!

Materials: Top: Bookmatched Tulipwood Neck: Curly Maple and Chakte-Kok
Fingerboard: TBA
Pickups: Watson Dual Coil
Hardware: Black or Gold


Finish: Polyester Resin - with color tint

We're building a similar version of our very successful bass 09B027 which did very well at the last NAMM show. We're at the very early stages right now where we are discussion options with our customer in Australia. On this bass we're going to push the envelope even further on the goals of creating a comfortable and lightweight bass.

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(1/22/12) The bass has been assembled and strung up - tested and adjusted. This photo doesn't even do justice to this beautiful bass. I have a few minor adjustments to make - re-string it and fit it into its custom case. That done it will be ready to travel to its customer in Australia. It has a great feel, great sound and looks very impressive. Can't wait to get it in the hands of our customer!

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Installing pickups and bridge on the finished instrument.
(12/27/11) We now need to go over the entire instrument to clean up any areas of overspray and make sure our covers fit after being coated with the finish. That done - we apply copper shielding to all the cavities and proceed to install the pickup assemblies into the body. This work all has to be done very carefully in order to preserve the surface finish on the instrument. The blue tape allows us to accurately mark features for hardware installation.

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The instrument right after the poly-resin finish was applied. Beautiful!
(12/15/11) Our bass has been carefully sanded and has now gone through the finishing process. This is one of the first photos we took of the instrument after the polyester resin was applied. We were inspired to match the sunburst tint with the exact color of the Tulipwood grain. This resulted in one of the most impressive finishes I have seen on an instrument. The bass looks refined and complete from one end to the other and we LOVE it. More photos to come.

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Frets are now in the fingerboard.
(11/22/11) Now that the fingerboard has been shaped and sanded it is ready for assembly. The board is removed from its support material, cleaned up and we use the vacuum press to securely glue the fingerboard onto the joint surface of the neck. That runs overnight and in the morning we remove the assembly and clean up the residual glue. We now have a complete looking bass guitar. We'll move on to cutting out the holes for the knobs and switches.

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FCavities on the back of the instrument have now been machined.
(11/15/11) We have just machined the the two cavities for the 18v battery system and the preamp module and other controls. We have also machined the recesses for the two lids that will cover these cavities. The lids are being cut and shaped separately from the same piece of wood we used fopr the back of the body. This guarantees that the grain matches when the covers are in place. We have also cut the "belly cut" on the back of the body.

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Tulipwood top being glued onto the rest of the instrument.
(11/5/11) Next step in our process is to glue the top plate onto the body of the instrument. This is done in the vaccuum press so that we guarantee a perfect joint. The press runs overnight to be 100% sure the glue is cured. We then remove it and clean up all the joint edges. This gives us a chance to establish the final body dimensions before final sanding. We now have to get the body onto the cnc machine to machine out the pickup recesses.

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Frets are now in the fingerboard.
(10/26/11) Fretwire was ordered and bent and pre-cut in the shop the other day. The fret slots were cleaned out and the frets were installed. We're using a standard jumbo bass fretwire on this bass. Should be perfect for comfortable playing. Now that the frets have been installed I have to trim and clean up the edges. When that's done the fingerboard will be glued onto the neck having also installed the truss rod.

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Fingerboard inlay complete.
(10/18/11) The inlay pieces of Tulipwood (which are all continuous from the same piece of wood) have now been sanded down flush with the compound radius of the fingerboard. This results in a very impressive fingerboard that will blend beautifully with the body and headstock of the bass. I am very happy with the results so far. next we will insert red side dots on the fingerboard and once they are trimmed we're ready for installing frets!

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Fingerboard being fitted with inlay.
(10/15/11) The fingerboard has been on the CNC for several operations including cutting a compound radius and cutting the fret slots and inlay recesses. I kept some of the nicer grain tulipwood and sanded that down so that I can cut inlay pieces. These rectangular inlay pieces are carefully fitted into the recesses in the fingerboard. Once I am satisfied with the fit I glue them into the board so they can be sanded flush.

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The instrument top is now ready for assembly.
(9/12/11) We have removed the two pickup tops from the parent material and cut the joint which will fit the top into the end of the neck. At this point I will do some sanding and cleanup to the top assembly and as soon as that is done I will carefully fit the top onto the body and glue the two pieces together. The grain on the Tulipwood looks really nice - I know this is going to be a spectacular bass. We just wound pickups for it, very exciting!!

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Harvesting the continuous grain pickup covers.
(9/11/11) The top plate has been set up on the CNC machine and our objective here is to use a very small diameter carbide cutting tool to carefully cut out the two pickup tops from the parent material. I will hold these two pieces aside and use them when I make the wooden pickup covers. Ultimately they will go back into the top to create continuous grain pickup covers. Quite a bit of extra work but well worth it for the end result!!

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Both body halves are now attached.
(9/8/11) We have now glued both mahogany body halves onto the core of the instrument. We will now do some machining on the front face on the bass. This involves some careful machining around the area where the neck joins the body. We them machine the top face in preparation for gluing the top onto the rest of the body. Before that is done there is one extra operation where I machine the channels into the body to accommodate the internal wiring.

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Adding veneer to the body joint faces.
(9/6/11) Next major step in construction is to assemble the two mahogany body halves onto the core of the instrument. Before we can do this I have to veneer the joint faces of both the core and the body halves. In the photo, I am gluing maple veneer to the mahogany pieces. Once this is done I will be able to assemble the body onto the core and it will look like a real instrument for the first time! Always nice to get that step done.

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Gluing the top together.
(8/30/11) The pieces of the top have been sanded to thickness, veneered on the back and carefully cut to produce good joint faces. We are now gluing these top pieces together so that we can work with the top as one single piece from which we will be cutting the continuous grain pickup covers. We have quite a bit of work to do before the top will go on, but it is helpful to hav ethis assembly ready as it will be needed fairly soon.

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Tulipwood to has been rough-cut.
(8/25/11) I located some nice Tulipwood from one of my trusted suppliers and that material has now been resawn and sanded to the correct thickness for the top plate. The body shape has been rough cut and now I have to work on adding the decorative veneers to the back of these pieces before I glue the top pieces together. I'll be adding two decorative veneers to match the theme on the rest of the instrument. Should look very nice!!

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Mahogany for the two body halves.
(8/6/11) I am now ready to create the body parts for this bass. I have Tulipwood for the top but my first task is to cut the two mahogany back pieces and drum sand them. This provides me with parts that are consistent in thickness and have square edges. I'll resaw these two pieces to the correct thickness for the back plates and I will use the left-over material to create the continuous grain cavity covers.

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Truss rod slot has been machined and test fit.
(7/15/11) Work continues on the core of the instrument. Here we have just finished cutting the slot for the double-acting truss rod. Fits very nicely. Next we have to cut two slots for the carbon fiber reinforcing rods which will become part of the construction of the neck section. I use them to add rigidity and mitigate movement sometimes caused by humidity changes. After that we will cut the body angle and the CNC operations will be complete.

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Machining the headstock angle.
(7/12/11) Next step in the machining process is to cut the top surface of the headstock so that we generate a nice flat surface. I use a ball end mill to cut the angle on the CNC. Once this is done I will use the same tool to generate the neck-to-body angle at the other end of the laminated blank. I will then cut the perimeter of the neck and also the slots for the truss rod and the two carbon fiber rods. Then we'll look at fingerboard materials.

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The laminated neck blank is now being machined on the CNC.
(7/10/11) The various veneers have been attached to the laminates and all the laminates have now been glued together to create the core section of the bass. I set the piece up on the CNC machine and cleaned up the top surface of the neck to create the surface onto which we will glue the fingerboard. That done, I glued two piese of matching maple onto the headstock to create the additional width required for the headstock geometry.

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Gluing lavoa veneer to maple nack laminates.
(7/4/11) We are now gluing veneer to the final two pieces that will be used to create the core section of the bass. These are the two outer pieces of curly maple which have a very nice grain structure - should look very pretty on the finished instrument. As soon as this process is complete I will glue these pieces together with the others and we will have one complet laminated neck with decorative pinstripe veneers between each tapered laminate.

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Starting to glue the laminates together.
(6/30/11) Now that all the laminate pieces that go together to form the body core have been veneered, we can start gluing them together. Here we see the first two laminates being clamped and bonded. We'll get all five neck laminates assembles as soon as possible so that we can start on machining some of the critical dimensions of this bass. The Chakte-Kok and the Maple will look really nice together and each piece will be separated by a double veneer pinstripe.

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Gluing maple veneer onto the tapered stringers.
(6/15/11) Here we are gluing maple veneer onto the darker wood laminates that will be used in the neck construction. We will glue light wood veneer on the dark wood laminates and light wood veneer on the light laminates. These will combine to create a very pleasing decorative effect on the finished neck/core of the bass. The Chakte-Kok has a nice bright color which will look good on the finished instrument.

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Cutting tapers on the Chakte-Kok laminates.
(6/12/11) We have cut two neck/body stringers from a material called Chakte-Kok - a very pretty wood from Yucatan. These will look really nice against the curly maple which we will be using for the rest of the neck. In the photo, we are cutting the two stringers on the ornamental mill to establish the correct tapers. The center three laminates will be tapered so that the follow the natural line of the neck taper on the finished instrument.

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All three of the maple pieces for the neck.
(6/4/11) Neck/core construction is under way. We have rough sawn and drum sanded the three main maple components. These are cut from selected Curly Maple which has a very beautiful figure. This will be very obvious in the finished product. In order to start gluing the neck pieces together we are planning to cut two stringers for the core section from some Bubinga stock. This will combine with the maple to make a beautiful combination of woods.

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The outer neck blanks have been rough-sawn.
(5/30/11) We have marked out maple boards and have now cut two of the neck blanks. These will be the outer two pieces of the neck-through section. They have also been sanded on both sides to establish straight and flat surfaces so that we achieve very tight bonds with the other woods we are going to glue to these pieces. My next move is to select some wood for the tapered stringers which will combine to make a strong and beautiful neck.

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ready to cut some of the maple of the neck.
(5/17/11) Using our template (below) we have marked out the perimeter of the two main maple laminates which will make up the larger part of the neck of the bass. I am using maple because it will impart a nice bright tome and keep the instrument sound very dynamic. For the laminate strips I still have to decide what to use but I will post something on that very soon. I consider sould and aesthetics when matching these core woods together.

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The template which allows us to cut the wood laminations.
(5/11/11) We always start with a template which is basically a cross-sectional view along the centerline of the instrument. This defines the length and with of the wood we need to cut allowing for the neck angle and the headstock material. We will use this template to cut out all the material for the various laminations of the neck. It also allwos me to position the cut lines for the best wood grain and to be as efficent on material as possible.

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This is some of the curly maple we will be using for this project.
(4/10/11) Our first objective on a new order is to check stock for suitable material for the instrument. I happen to have some very nice curly maple on hand which will allow me to get started on the core of the instrument. We will laminate this curly maple with at least one other hardwood to create the center core of the neck and body. Since we plan to use Tulipwood for the top I will use a hardwood that works well with that color.

Last update February 21, 2012