Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

5-string bass (Serial 12B047)
J-Style Bolt-on

Call
951-468-4004 or email us here!

   
Materials: Top: Bubinga Neck: Maple with Bubinga Body: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Birdseye Maple 20 fret
Pickups: Watson Custom
Hardware: Tuners and Bridge etc. Hipshot Black
Options: Strings through body. Birdseye Maple pickguard
Finish: Oil finish

This bass is our first Jazz-style bass. Althought it has much of the external appearance of the "industry standard" J-Bass, it boasts many of the refinements that only exist on our products. The bass is lightweight, has a very punchy sound from deep growl to sparkling highs. I mahe them in 4, 5 and 6-string models in several different wood combinations. Click on thumbnails for larger images.


Highslide JS
Completed headstock.
(11/3/12) Left: This is the back of the bass which shows the ferrules for stringing through the body. You can also see the tapered bubinga and maple laminates that make up the core of the body and the neck. This makes for a very rigid instrument and great tone. Right: back of the headstock with the serial number inset.
Highslide JS
Completed headstock.

Highslide JS
Dressing up the stainless steel frets.
(10/29/12) Left: One of the final operations to a new instrument is the little adjustments to the nut and fret leveling and dressing. I always want to make sure these basses are well set up and play really easily with a low action. Right: just added the string tree to complete the work on the headstock.
Highslide JS
Completed headstock.

Highslide JS
Almost done.
(10/27/12) Instrument is finally assembled. It's always nice to get the strings on so that you can really evaluate the complete instrument. Everyone who has seen it so far loves the matcking fingerboard/pickguard, the wood pickup covers and the fact that the bass is noticeably lighter than its counterparts out there in the industry.
Highslide JS
Looking kinda cool now.

Highslide JS
Installing the pickups.
(10/26/12) Now we are working on the wiring. Both pickups have been custom wound and we're very excited to hear what results we get from those. Now it's just a question of hooking everything up and testing. Hoping the bass will make its first notes today if all goes well! If I can get all the electronics working perfectly I will assemble and put strings on the bass so I can do the final truss rods, bridge and nut adjustments.

Highslide JS
pickguard going on - controls ready to wire up.
(10/25/12) We're getting through the final stages of assembly here. I put the potentiometers and the output jack in the control plate and they are now all ready to wire up. I'm attaching the pickguard to the body. I have a custom pickup cover with the same birdseye maple on the top which is going to look nice on the finished instrument. I rough cut and installed the nut - I'll finish that when the strings go on. Looking good so far!

Highslide JS
Bridge and ground wire have been attached.
(10/25/12) All cavities have been shielded and I have run a ground wire from the bridge to the control cavity. Next I used the markings I had made yesterday for the bridge location and marked and drilled for the bridge mounting screws. I attached and secured the bridge. While this is going on I am mounting the controls onto the control plate so that those components are ready for final wiring. Also working on the nut which is a little time consuming!

Highslide JS
String ferrules are inserted into the body.
(10/24/12) Left: String ferrules for the string-through-body option have beenpressed into the back of the body. This is a great feature that Hipshot bridges allow as an option. Right: I need to add copper shielding tape to all the cavities on the instrument. Here I have just finished shielding the cavity for the bridge pickup,
Highslide JS
Lining cavities with copper shielding.

Highslide JS
Putting the tuners on the headstock.
(10/22/12) Here we are adding the Hipshot tuners to the headstock. The decorative rings are pressed in from the front side and then the tuners are mounted and the retaining screw holes are marked. I then remove the tuners, pre-drill the screw holes, and finally mount and secure the tuners in place. The black hardware looks great on the bass. Once these are attached I will need to cut and mount a nut in the neck.

Highslide JS
Getting the parts ready to assemble.
(10/20/12) Now that the body and the neck have had the finish applied I can reassemble the the two pieces and check everything for final assembly. I need to mark out the exact location for the bridge and drilling my ground wire hole for the bridge. I worked on the two pickup covers, both of which match the wood they are next to. The neck pickup has a veneer of birdseye maple on the top just as an added feature!

Highslide JS
I'm now appliying the finishing oil.
(10/18/12) Pore filling is complete and I am now able to start applying the finishing oil. This is the first of probably 3 coats that I will have to rub on, allow to dry and buff to a finish. I like the color and the grain of the Bubinga - also the back is beautiful, I will add a photo of that soon too! As soon as all these coats are dry I can start assembling hardware and electronics. So far I am very happy with it and can't wait to get it into the customer's hands!

Highslide JS
Working on pore filling on the body of the bass.
(10/16/12) Here I am part way through prepping the woods in the body section. Pore filler is being applied and then sanded back down and this takes quite a bit of time to do. Still a lot more sending but then I can start putting on the final finish. All these applications also need their time to dry completely, so it's not the kind of process you can artificially hurry up either! No doubt it will all be worth it when it's done.

Highslide JS
First couple of finish coats have been applied.
(10/13/12) The various surfaces on the body and neck now require a lot of my attention. Firstly they have to be sanded so that every surface and corner is smooth ann free of machining marks. Once that is achieved, which i slaborious, all the wood except the maple get a pore filler applied. When that dries it is then resanded and that process is repeated twice! When I'm happy with the results I apply the finishing oil. Neck is now done except for final buffing.

Highslide JS
Back of the headstock with the serial number.
(10/6/12) Moving along on the last few operations of this bass. One of the last things I do to a bass before finishing is applied is to add a serial number tp the body. It made sense in this instrument to put it on the back of the headstock. The big challenge now is sanding the entire instrument to a smooth finish so that I can do the grain filling and the final finish. The bubunga is very hard and takes a lot of work so sand all the details by hand.

Highslide JS
All cavities in the body have now been machined.
(10/3/12) This is the body just after it came off the CNC machine. Everything appears to be correctly placed and ready for action. Some of the rough sanding has already been done but I now have to attach the body and neck with finer paper so that the entire instrument is an even smooth finish. The Bubinga is hard wood and takes a lot of work to sand but I expect it will look very nice after the finish is applied.

Highslide JS
Just machined the neck pickup cavity and the control cavity.
(10/1/12) With the pickguard already established I can start cutting the cavities for the two pickups and the controls. First I cut the J-Bass neck pickup cavity, then the recess for the controls behind the black plate - and lastly the recess for the Music Man style pickup next to the bridge. there are all new programs since this is the first J style bass I have done - so i was a little cautious getting everything set in the right place!!!

Highslide JS
Birdsyey maple pickguard being fitted.
(9/20/12) I have cut the birds-eye maple pick guard on the laser and it came out just the way I wanted it to. Fits just right. Now I have to clean it up and apply a few coats of finishing epoxy to the wood surface so that it is adequately protected. It also colors the maple to make it match the color of the fingerboard. These two featires are going to look amazing together! It's a lot of detail work but the end result will definitely be worth the effort!!!

Highslide JS
Making sure all the parts are going to fit.
(9/19/12) I have to make sure that the template for the pickguard is correct so i have cut one out of cardstock on the laser. This lets me guarantee that there will be no mistakes on the final cut on the real pickguard material. I'm also adding reference lines on the body to establish the locations of the bridge and the pickup and control cavities. We'll be cutting those into the body soon. Everything lis lining up nicely so far!

Highslide JS
Doing some final shaping on the body and neck.
(9/17/12) I attached the neck so that I could evaluate the complete instrument. It's at this stage that I refine the neck raduis, the blend between the neck and the body, edge treatments on the body and the overall feel and fit of the bass. Feels nice so far - comfortable and well-balanced. I'll make a few adjustments and launch into the final sanding in the next 24 hours. While this is happening I am also making a very custom pickguard!

Highslide JS
Making a custom wood cover for the MM pickup.
(9/14/12) In the case of this instrument we are making a matching custom pickup cover out of the same Bubinga as the top of the bass. It is difficult to obtain normal plastic covers for MM pickups without the traditional exposed magnet holes, so the best choice is to make a custom cover. Beyond that - the cover will look very nice on the bass - there are many unique features on this instrument which will make it a one-of-a-kind!

Highslide JS
Awesome Birdseye for the pickguard.
(9/11/12) I cut a section of beautiful Birds Eye Maple veneer and I am getting this material ready to be glued onto a substrate of black pickguard material which will serve to keep the wood flat. When I have successfully stuck the maple to the baseplate I will cut the pickguard out using the laser. Then break the edges a little and apply a finishing epoxy to the top surface to protect the wood (it is a pickguard after all).

Highslide JS
Pickguard template has been established.
(9/8/12) On of the unusual fatures of this bass will be its Birds Eye Maple pickguard. I have to fabricate a special pickguard like this from scratch, so the first critical thing is to get an accurate pattern established for the pickguard shape. This is now done and I can glue a sheet of Birds Eys veneer onto a sheet of stable composite. Once that's done I will be able to use this template to cut the actual pickguard on the laser.

Highslide JS
Ready to cut cavities in the body.
(8/31/12) We're at the stage where we have to look at the final details. I am planning the areas where I will need to route out material for the two puckups and the cavity below the black plate which will house the controls and jack socket. While this is going on I am creating the template for the pickguard. This will becom ethe standard shape for pickguards for all J-type basses I make. In this particular case - it's a very custom pickguard.

Highslide JS
Placing the bridge accurately on the body.
(8/13/12) Time to get the bridge in place and also mark out the holes that will have to be drilled through the body. All 5 strings will be able to be threaded through busings in the back of the body, or they can be attached to the bridge in the traditional manner. I'll drill through the body and machine the counterbores for the bushings on the other side using the CNC machine. The busings will be installed after we apply the finish.

Highslide JS
Testing the tuners on the headstock.
(8/3/12) As always I am impressed with the quality of the Hipshot tuners. I wanted to make sure these fit together well on the back of the headstock since these are the closest to standard Fender geometry. They also don't seem too heavy so I think they will work really well on this bass. I'm plotting out the locations for the peg holes so that I can drill and counterbore them through the headstock. One more job closer to the finish line!!!

Highslide JS
Frets have been installed.
(7/30/12) I cut and installed the frets today. The fretwire is a medium/heavy gauge very suitable for a bass neck. They are all installed slightly oversize, so the next task I have is to cut the ends as close to the edges as i can and then gring the ends flush with the edges of the fingerboard. I then check to make sure every fret is properly seated, and if so, I will cut the fingerboard from the support material it is attached to and it will be ready for assembly.

Highslide JS
Neck pocket has been machined into body.
(7/17/12) The body has been trimmed very close to finish dimensions. We put the body up on our CNC machine and cut the neck pocket. This has to be dome carefully since this establishes the relative angle of the body and neck. It has to be just right so that the strings meet the bridge at the right height. Everything fits fine so next step is to get the frets into the fingerboard so we can finish the neck. We also need to design a pickguard!

Highslide JS
Gluing the top onto the body.
(7/1/12) We are now gluing the bubinga top onto the rest of the body. This is done in the vacuum press which provides even pressure all over the object we are gluing - always does a nice job. You can see on the body blank that we have also rough-cut the belly cut on the upper bout. That will be finished when we finish shaping the body. When the glue is set we'll finish shaping the body outline and set up for the neck pocket.

Highslide JS
Fingerboard is ready for side dots.
(6/26/12) The birds-eye maple fingerboard has been completely machined to size and slotted ready for frets. The next operation will be to drill holes for the side dots along the edge of the fingerboard. Once these are established we'll do some final cleanup and get apply a protective finish onto the maple surface to provide wear and dirt resistance. When that has fully cured we'll polish it to a smooth finish. After that we install the frets.

Highslide JS
Bubinga veneer applied to headstock.
(6/14/12) I wanted the whole instrument to look complete so I decided to apply a bubinga veneer to the front face of the headstock. This is always very effective in bringing the entire instrument together visually and giving it a truly custom look. I'll refine the final shape when my tuners arrive - want to make sure we leave enough room for the open gear fender-style Hipshot tuners. I'll be carving and shaping the neck over the next few days.

Highslide JS
Machining the neck on the CNC machine.
(6/7/12) Time to get some serious work done on the neck of this bass. Here we have the neck section set up on the CNC machine. I have machined the fingerboard perimeter, the headstock relief, the joint face for the fingerboard, and the slots for the truss rod and the carbon fiber rods. This adds up to quite a lot of work on one operation - now I can get the fingerboard machined! I'll start carving the back of the neck in the next couple of days.

Highslide JS
Gluing the two top halves together in the vacuum press.
(6/1/12) The two halves of the top plate have been machines and sanded to the correct thickness and I machined the joint faces carefully on one of my machines so that the edges are straight and square. The two pieces are then glued and placed inside the vacuum press where it will remain clamped overnight. The vacuum press applies a nice even pressure while clamping so we get a very flat end result.

Highslide JS
Neck before machining starts.
(5/17/12) Here we are preparing the neck for machining on the CNC. The rough blank seen here will be set up on this machine in two vices and I will do several machining operations to prepare the neck. I will be machining all the critical neck width dimensions and cutting slots for trus rod and carbon fiber reinforcing rods. I'll also machine the headstock surface and when the necj comes off the machine it will be almost ready for assembly.

Highslide JS
Top material has been cut - sanded and prepared for gluing.
(5/12/12) The top of this bass will be waterfall bubinga - a very pretty dark wood. I have rough cut and sanded the two bookmatched halves for the top and I will be getting these ready to glue together into one piece. We have a couple of ideas about how we might incorporate a similar pickguard of bubinga to maintain the Jazz Bass look on thsi instrument. This will be something I will highlight in a later post on this page.

Highslide JS
Body has been glued together.
(4/30/12) All the components of the body have been glued together. The outer shape of the body has been sanded to close to the finished dimensions. Now that we have this assembly complete we have to start work on the top material. We have a beautiful piece of Bubinga which we have to cut and resaw into two bookmatched pieces. We're working on that right now and will have pictures very soon.

Highslide JS
Gluing the first body half onto the core.
(4/26/12) Here we are in the process of gluing one of the body halves to the center core section of the body. Care has to be taken to keep all the parts secured to a non-stick surface while the lateral clamping compresses the two pieces together. Everything looks good and we should get a very clean joint from this setup. We will then repeat the operation to attach the second body half to complete the assembly.

Highslide JS
Body parts ready for assembly.
(4/20/12) I have cut the body halves from some old mahogany stock I had on hand. Next I have to machine the joint faces so that they are perfectly flat and square. That will allow me to glue the body parts together. Right now the body shape is slightly oversize. Once it's all glued together I will cut it back to its final shape. I am very happy with this bass so far. Well get the body glued together very soon ans start machining on the neck.

Highslide JS
Core laminates have been glued together.
(4/9/12) Here we have the neck and the body core glued up into solid laminated pieces. These are not only very strong but will yield a very bright and full sound for the bass. Beyond that - they will look awesome on the finished instrument! I have some mahogany stock that I will use for the body halves, and once the body is ready we'll create the bookmatched bubinga top. This will be a very beautiful instrument!

Highslide JS
Neck and body core material already rough sawn and sanded.
(4/1/12) We have been busy rough-sawing the material for the neck and body opf this bass. These are the component parts of the neck and the core of the body of the bass. The light wood is Curly Maple, the dark wood is Bubinga. These will combine very well to yield a very rigid instrument with great tone. Now that these are cut it's time for me to do some machining on the center laminates/ We'll be gluing together very soon!

Highslide JS
Sawing up some of the components for the neck.
(3/29/12) First stage in the work is to rough saw the component pieces for the neck and the body. These are three of the maple pieces that will be used to create the neck. There will be similar parts for the body as soon as I get time to cut them up. I want to get these pieces glued together as soon as possible so that the the machining can get started. This bass is on a relatively tight schedule so have to keep it moving!

Highslide JS
Curly and birdseye maple and bubinga ready to be cut.
(3/19/12) We're ready to get this project underway. Formula right now is for a bubinga top and maple fingerboard. First step will be to rough saw some of the blanks that we will use to make neck and body parts. I have the required woods in stock so I can get things moving very quickly. This will be a beautiful and great sounding bass. Looking forward to seeing the first Watson J-Bass take shape. More updates very soon.
Last update April 30, 2012