Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

6-string short-scale fretless bass (Serial 13B058)
Neck-through

Call
951-468-4004. or email us here!

   
Materials: Top: Curly Walnut Neck: Wenge, Padouk and Maple
  Body: Alder center pieces and Walnut front and back
Fingerboard: Gabon Ebony
Pickups: Watson + Piezo
Hardware: Hipshot Tuners
Options: Possible LED/Fiber optic side dots
Finish: Satin finish
Other: 30" scale length. Chambered body with customer specified f-holes.

We're building another 6-string 30" scale bass, but this time it will be a fretless with some very unusual features. We're basing the geometry of the bass on the customer's previous fretted bass (see it here)


Highslide JS
Top plate halves have been bookmatched together.
(1/30/17) Getting back to work on this project and evaluating where we are. I need to get internal chambering done but first the extra core material on the top of the body will need cleaning up and leveling off. That will give me a flat surface from which to machine the areas that will be the internal chambers after the Koa top plate goes on. Fingerboard work will be happening soon too - we hve a possible plan for LED powered side dots. More soon!

Highslide JS
Top plate halves have been bookmatched together.
(4/27/15) I have a final plan and profile for the outlines of the chambering work I will be doing to the body of the bass. One important consideration is the belly cut on the back which is necessary for a comfortable fit but requires that the chambering compensates for that angle on the inside. In the past I have machined out the maximum material and finished the angled area on the inside by hand since it allows me to monitor thickness.

Highslide JS
Top plate halves have been bookmatched together.
(3/15/15) This is the top plate after the assembly process. I managed to get a beautiful jont between the two bookmatched plates and the top looks great. I will be doing some cleanup and rough fitting to the body profile next. Following that I want to start looking at what's involved with the chambering of the body so that I can write a couple of programs that will accurately remove the internal material. Also need to fine tune the body shape.

Highslide JS
Gluing the two top plates together.
(3/9/15) I'm clamping and gluing the two halves of the top plate together so that we have one bookmatched piece to work with. This will give me a chance to clean up and resove the outer perimeter of the body profile and do some work on the actual design and geometry of the "soundholes on the top plate too. I am writing a milling program to cut out a good amount of the material insed the bass but want to wait till the outer profile is completed.

Highslide JS
Top plate joints machined and ready for assembly.
(2/27/15) Just a quick note on this bass to say that I have machined the two joint faces of the top plate in preparation for gluing the bookmatched to together. This will give me the opportunity to design and apply the hoe or holes through the top plate and also the material I will want to remove for the top of the continuous wood pickup cover. I will get this glued together soon so that I don't risk damaging the edges I just machined!

Highslide JS
Plotting out the areas in the bass to be chambered.
(1/20/15) I had this bass out on my bench today to plot out the areas where I plan to do the chambering for the inside of the instrumant body. I have to take account of the location of the bridge - belly cut, pickup position and a few other factors. I'm planning to write up a program and get this material machined out so that we are one step further towards completion. I have also been working on top plate material and rough carving back of the bass.

Highslide JS
Machining the back of the headstock.
(12/11/14) In this photo I am clamping the oversize headstock against the flat surface of my machine table and machining the thickness of the headstock down to a size that will allow me to continue work on this area. The headstock will have a veneer of material on the front to match the top material. In the meantime I have to now carve the back of the headstock to create the smooth transition between the flat surface and the back of the neck.

Highslide JS
Doing some carving on the back of the instrument.
(12/6/14) This photo shows some of the rough carving on the back of the instrument. I haven't yet finished the outer perimeter although it's probably only about 1/8 oversize all round. I took this photo just after I rough ground some of the neck relief where the neck and body meet. This gets me a little closer to the finished shape of the instrument and certainly reduces some of the net weight. I will continue shaping and hope to start chambering soon!

Highslide JS
Just wanted to show the nice figured walnut top for this bass.
(10/8/14) This is a very nice bass so far and it has all the ingredients to be a lightweight, comfortable tone monster. I want to keep it moving while my customer and I discuss some technical details and hopefully get it back into full gear again. In the meantime I am working on it as time permits so that it keeps moving closer to a finished instrument. I have a few more photos to post and I will add them very soon.

Highslide JS
Doing some carving on the back of the bass to bring it closer to finished dimensions.
(9/10/14) Did some weight/mass reduction on this bass today. The blanks I used to assemble the core were oversize but now that we have a more complete assembly I can cut the features of the instrument a little closer to target sizes. I removed a lot of material from the back of the neck and the headstock which will facilitate further work I will have to do. Bass feels a lot lighter already! Next will be f-hole geometry.

Highslide JS
Outer perimeter of bass close to finished size, getting ready for more shaping work.
(8/18/14) As you can see in this photo the excess core material has been removed and the perimeter of the bass body has been cleaned up. We are now pretty close to the finished outer perimeter. There are some tricky procedures coming up where we have to make neck relief, belly cut and internal chambering all work happily together. I think it will all go fine - just need careful planning on this one. Going to be very light!

Highslide JS
Both body halves have been attached.
(7/26/14) I am in the middle of doing some spindle sanding to work on the preimeter of the body and bring it a little closer to the actual template dimensions. I will also go ahead and saw off the extra core material protruding from the back. The instrument feels good and I'm liking it so far. I will do some drawing to plan out the areas I will machine out to chamber the body. I'll also review where the f-holes are goint to be located.

Highslide JS
The upper bout for the back of the bass is being glued on.
(7/9/14) And here we are gluing the second body half onto the core of the bass. Now we have something that looks like a bass guitar! I glue these body parts on with pressure on two planed. Obviously one is lateral, hlding the two joint faces together. The other is a downward pressure on a flat surface that does not become stuck to any of the glue that squeezes out. This guarantees me a flat suface on the back of the instrument.

Highslide JS
First of the two back bouts has been glued onto the core.
(6/28/14) This is the core of the bass with the lower bout already glued in position. It checks out correctly for scale length and I am now able to get a few things cleaned up and sanded and attach the other body half. The woods look really nice together so I am looking forward to seeing the other body half attached. That will allow me to finish up the contouring of the body and consider what I have to do to create some effective chambering.

Highslide JS
Setting things up to glue the body halves onto core.
(6/7/14) I spent some time today measuring out the placement of the features on this bass. I have to take the scale length and hence the location of the bridge into consideration when establishing the exact placement of the two body halves. I use the body template to help with this and then mark the reference points on the wood so that I can use that when I'm gluing the pieces together. I made the core section a little long just for safety!

Highslide JS
Cleaning up the back surface of the core section.
(5/19/14) In this machining operation I flipped the core section onver to locate against the body surface that was machined with the neck-to-body angle incorporated. I can now use that surface to established what will be the finished surface on the back side of the core section. This bass is a little thicker in body width than most of my instruments by request of my customer. We will be chambering a lot of the inside of teh bass so weight will not be an issue.

Highslide JS
Body halves ready for assembly onto the center core of the bass.
(5/4/14) The back plates have been veneered and also glued onto their Alder center core pieces so we now have two complete body halves. I also have run each one of these on the CNC to machine the joint faces ready for assembly onto the core section. Most recently I glued decorative veneer (maple) onto the two joint faces and they are now ready to be assembled together to make the body of the instrument!

Highslide JS
Back plates in the vacuum press having maple veneered glued on.
(4/11/14) Since we have contrasting woods in our assembly I need to attach contrasting veneers onto the joint faces of the component parts. Here I am gluing maple veneer onto the walnut back plates. This will allow be to glue up the rear body parts and get them ready for assembly onto the instrument core. The body is going to be chambered so i have some unusual details to plan for. I will double check everything on my vector program before cutting.

Highslide JS
Just glued veneer onto the two body blanks.
(4/3/14) This photo shows the alder center pieces of the body assembly after having a Lavoa veneer attached to the underside of each. This is to facilitate the assembly of the now complete back plates onto these body blanks. Once that task has been completed these sub-assemblies can be machined and attached to the core piece. This bass will now come together pertty quickly since a lot of the detail work has now been done!

Highslide JS
Gluing plugs into the recesses caused by harvesting the control and battery cavity covers.
(3/14/14) After having machined out the two back covers I machined plugs from the same material which fit snugly into the back recesses I machined to release the lids. I the phot I am gluing these plugs back into the two back plates so that I have solid material to machine into when I mill out the actual cavities. Once these plugs are securely glued in I will level the plug material and they will be ready for veneer and subsequent assembly.

Highslide JS
Machining out the battery cavity cover.
(3/2/14) If we want to have beautiful continuous grain covers on the back of the instrument this is really the only reliable way to achieve that. The profile of the cover is cut from the outer side and I then reverse the geometry, write another program and machine out the cover from the back side of the plate. I then have to make a plug to replace the material at the back. Once all that is done for both lids I can assemble the body!

Highslide JS
Battery cover is now profiled for harvesting.
(2/18/14) Next operation was to profile cut the lid for the battery compartment so that it is also ready for harvesting. I'll flip this plate over and run a larger end mill round the same profile until the lid simply drops out. I will retain the lid material for later use. The battery compartment will house three 9v batteries since we will have an active EQ system and a set of LED powered fiber optic cables demanding current!

Highslide JS
Cutting out the profile of the control cavity cover.
(2/15/14) Working on the back plates of the bass here. I need to cut the profile of the cavity cover using a very small cutting tool. I machine this cut just deep enough to exceed the expected thickness of the plate. Positioning here is critical because the material is still oversize but I have to place this cut in exactly the right location. All went well and I will be able to create a setup soon tp machine from the other side to release the cover.

Highslide JS
Gluing veneer onto the back of the top plates.
(2/7/14) next step is to glue some of the decorative veneer onto the backs of the two top plate halves. Since the Walnit front and back will be assembled onto an Alder center core - I will use two contrasting veneers to highlight these joint areas. Should look REALLY nice! I will get the second veneer onto these soon and that will allow me to assemble the top plate. Once that is in one piece I will be able to define pickup locations.

Highslide JS
back plates are ready for harvesting cavity covers.
(1/26/14) These are the two plates that will eventually be bookmatched together to make the top plate of this bass. Right now I am making sure the raw material fits the template and calculating what I need to machine off from the joint faces to make everything fit just right. I have a lot of different pieces to work on and assemble to create the body of this bass so it's important at this stage to make sure there are no dimensional oversights!

Highslide JS
Trimming up the body core ready for further assembly.
(1/10/14) In order to start work on assembling the body halves to the core of the instrument I have to prepare the sides of the core so that they are perfectly square to the neck and top surfaces, and also follow the taper of the neck profile perfectly. I do this by setting the core up on an angle plate and using an indicator to guatantee that the surface I am going to cut is parallel with the neck profile.

Highslide JS
Back plates are rough cut and ready for machining.
(12/9/13) The two walnut plates for the back have now been marked out and rough cut to suit the blanks for the upper and lower bouts. Since we are planning to have continuous grain wood covers I need to prepare these two plates for the machining that will harvest out the covers from the parent material and then allow me to glue the back plates onto the other material that will then become the two back halves of the body.

Highslide JS
SBack plates for the body halves!
(11/22/13) The back plates have been resawn and sanded flat. They will become part of the back body halves when they are attached to the Alder we are using for the body core material. I will be doing some new things to this bass given that the body is a little thicker than our standard size and also it will be chambered which will result in a more or less hollow body. We will end up with a very lightweight instrument!

Highslide JS
Sawing the pieces for the back of the body!
(11/6/13) By our customer's request the body of this bass will be a little thicker than standard. To that end I cust the core laminates a little thicker and I plan to use curly walnut both on the top and the back of the instrument. This will achieve the thicker body profile we are looking for. I'm also going to chamber the body so that will significantly reduce the weight of the instrument. In the photo I am resawing back plates from a solid piece.

Highslide JS
Curly walnut bookmatched top and back on this bass!!
(10/2/13) I have two sets of bookmatched curly walnut for this bass, one set will go on the front and one on the back. The both have very nice figure, much of which cannot be seen here, but when a finish is applied there is some very nice cross-grain curl on both sets. This will make for an impressive looking instrument and very sppropriate for a fretless bass. I am getting ready to cut these tops and prep them for assembly.

Highslide JS
Machining the core of the instrument.
(9/6/13) I'm cutting some more details into the neck so that we have a machined top surface, and a body angle and headstock angle which are accurately relevant to each other. The perimeter of the neck is also machined to size. This gives me a core blank with reliable datum faces which I can now use as references for further work. I'll now go aheand and prepare the upper and lower body bouts so we can get those attached.

Highslide JS
Setting the core section up on the CNC.
(8/22/13) Next operation is to get this center core piece set up on the CNC so that I can machine some of the critical surfaces. I need to square up the blank to all three axes of the machine so that we start with reliable datum surfaces. I will start by machining the joint surface for the fingerboard and then cut the actual neck profile. I'll also cut the headstock and body angles and establish the channels for the carbon fiber rods and the truss rod.

Highslide JS
All 7 laminates assembled.
7/20/13) This is the center core of the bass. It's now ready for machining on the CNC. The blank is quite a bit larger than the finished producrt at this point, The next thing that I will do is set this piece up on the CNC and machine the profile of the neck, the joint face, headstock angle, body angle and several other significant features. Once those operations are complete we'll be able to attach the body parts.

Highslide JS
Gluing on one of the last two outer laminates.
7/10/13) Here we are getting the last two outside pieces of wenge attached to the core assembly. The wood combination should be great for a fretless instrument. The bass will look very impressive not only from the front but also from the back, thanks to the beautiful tapered laminates and the wood combinations. I am looking forward to seeing this bass come together. I can tell already that the neck has great resonance,

Highslide JS
Added the Padouk laminates to the assembly.
6/28/13) Moving along on the gluing of the core. I have now added the two tapered strips of Padouk. Ultimately this will be a core comprised of 7 laminate pieces instead of our usual 5 pieces. It's a little more work but in this particulat case it should serve to add a little bit more rigidity to the neck assembly which is something we want because we will be creating a very short scale neck for a 6-string bass. The more strength the better!

Highslide JS
Some of the tapered laminates have been glued together.
(6/22/13) Now that all of the tapered neck laminates have been cleaned up and veneered we can start gluing them together to make the core of the bass. The process always starts from the center section and works outward and I only glue one tapered laminate at a time to be sure everything lines exactly the way i want it to. This bass has a great formula for sound, you can't go wrong with Wenge, Maple and Padouk!

Highslide JS
Two of the maple laminated having veneer applied to the sides.
(6/13/13) I have been cutting all the component pieces of the neck on the CNC. While that is going on, the pieces that have been machined are moving to the vacuum press where I apply contrasting veneers to the laminates - dark veneer on light woods and light veneer on dark woods. End result will be a beautiful finish. I will be running all 7 neck laminaues through this process as the come off the CNC.

Highslide JS
Machining a taper on the center laminate of Wenge.
(6/8/13) All of the various pieces that will go together to make up the neck have to be individually tapered. The neck on this bass is comprised of seven individual laminates and these all have to be carefully prepped and finished so that they go together perfectly. In the photo I am cutting the center piece of wenge to a prescribed taper. Once this is done I can apply decorative veneer to the sides and get the other pieces machined.

Highslide JS
All the different laminates have been rough sawn and sanded.
(5/27/13) The core of the instrument is going to be mostly Wenge with stringers of Padauk and Curly Maple. At this point these have all been marked out and sawn from their respective boards. They have als been drum sanded so that I have a good flat reliable bearing surface from which I can machine the tapers on the internal laminates. These are all good woods for the core of any bass, the wenge will work well for fretless.

Highslide JS
First neck component has been rough sawn.
(5/20/13) This may not look like much, but we have double checked our template and cut the first of the various laminates that will go together to make the neck and core of this bass. This is one of two outer pieces of Wenge which will be the main material of the neck. We'll also be using Paduk and probably some curlu Maple to add to the mix. I'll continue rough sawing out the components, then we'll have to do some drum sanding.

Highslide JS
We decided to use a nicely figured Walnut for the top of the instrument.
(5/14/13) After exploring some options for the top material, my customer and I decided this curly Claro Walnut was the ideal choice for the look and feel of the bass we are building. The walnut has some beautiful color in the grain and it will be perfect for the fretless instrument we have planned. I'll also use this material on the headstock veneer so that we maintain a nice complete look to the final result. Now on to some sawing and sanding!

Highslide JS
I'll use Paduk for some of the neck components.
(4/11/13) I recently purchased this plank of Paduk for a couple of current projects. We were looking for a 3rd wood for this bass to complete the set of laminates that will go together to create the neck/core. Paduk seemed to be a great option because it is great for tone, plus it compliments the colors of the other woods we are using in our assembly. I'll use this material for a couple of the tapered stringers in the multi-laminate neck.

Highslide JS
Some nce curly maple for the core section.
(4/9/13) I have been shopping for woods I can use to create this bass. Here is one very nice piece of curly maple which i will use as a component to the neck and core section of this bass. The curly figure will definitely stand out on the back of the instrument! I will be combining this maple with Wenge which i will use as the main ingredient. There will also be another complimentary wood in the mix - I'm looking for something that will do the perfect job.

Highslide JS
We have some Alder which we are using for the back of the body.
(3/25/13) We are planning to use some Alder for the two back pieces on the body of this bass. Our recipe for woods on this instrument is geared for nice smooth round tone since it will be a fretless. We'll have a multi-laminate neck which will give us a nice rigid core. The core section will consist of Wenge, Cherry and Maple. Some of the wood we have in stock - some will be bought from outside sources. Will update very soon.
Last update March 12, 2013