Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

4-string E-Series Watson J-Bass (Serial 14B065)
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951-240-1666. or email us here!

   
Materials: Top: Quilted Maple Neck and Body Core: Maple and Walnut
  Body: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Curly maple (some of the best I have seen!) Inlay Walnut
Pickups: Watson
Hardware: Hipshot/Gotoh Tuners - bridge Hipshot (Chrome)
Options: Audere 4-band active circuitry
Finish: Satin / Matte Natural
Other: Matching curly maple fingerboard and pick guard!
  Scale length 33"
  String spacing at bridge 19mm
  String spacing at nut 10mm

This is a beautiful and technically advanced J-bass. I am keeping all the woods on the light colored side, so it will be a blonde. The fingerboard is curly maple and I'm pcreating a matching pick guard.


Highslide JS
Doing some final adjustments to the assembled bass.
(7/15/15) This is the bass with all of its parts assembled. I still need to make adjustments so that everything plays the way I would want it to but I really like the blonde look of the instrument. The back also looks really nice as the tapers in the neck laminates match the tapers in the core of the body as it it were a neck-through instrument. The chrome hardware was a good choice also since it blends well with the maples.

Highslide JS
SComponents for the pickguard being glued together.
(7/8/15) I am now testing the fit for the pickups and the pickguard so I can get some of these parts assembled. The pickguard, neck and body all look great together and I think we will end up with a beautiful instrument. The maple of the top of this bass has a lot of depth and nice grain in it so it will end up being a very pretty blonde instrument. Now to get the neck fitted and get some strings on this bass so I can test it and set it up!

Highslide JS
Pickguard complete and surface finish has been applied.
(7/1/15) In this photo you can see the difference in the maple after I have started the surface finishing process. The grain in the maple is really nice and the surface finish makes it stand out much more. I have also assembled the pickguard material and cut it out. I am putting Nordstrand pickups in this bass which are as good as any pickups on the marketplace. It's all looking good and coming together nicely - should look really nice!

Highslide JS
SComponents for the pickguard being glued together.
(6/21/15) This photo shows the components of the pickguard. On he left is the substrate material that keeps everything stable and flat, and on the right is the much more organic piece of curly maple. I am just about to glue these tow pieces together. This will give me a stable blank 'sandwich' which I can then cut on the laser to create the finished pickguard. At that point i just have to sand and treat it with some finishing products!

Highslide JS
Setting up locations for pickups and bridge mounting.
(6/19/15) I am now making sure that our final version of the pickguard shape fits the profile of the bass and the other hardware it has to connect with. I'm also establishing the bridge position based on scale length and in doing so mapping out the locations of the holes that will bolt the bridge to the body and also the holes that run through the body to provide the string-through-body feature. Also bridge pickup location.

Highslide JS
Sanding process is about halfway through - lots of work!.
(6/10/15) This is the back of the body after I had spend quite a bit of time filing and sanding. Starting to look really nice. I still have some tricky sanding to get done on the inner curves and then I will move to finer paper and go over it all again until I have a really smooth surface all over both the body and the neck. The only remaining machining I need to do is the pickup cavities and a set of four holes for the string ferrules.

Highslide JS
This is the curly maple I will be using for the pickguard.
(6/6/15) This beautiful material is the curly maple I have been saving for the pick guard. My objective was to match the fingerboard and the pickguard and I believe the two woods will look great together. I need to finalize the outline of the pickguard so that I know it fits the body profile and also the area where it meets the control plate. Once I have cut a test piece and I am happy with the fit I will cut the final pickguard.

Highslide JS
The serial number has been added to the neck.
(6/2/15) I wanted to give the bass it's identity today so I machined a small slot in the back of the heastock and lasered out an insert to fit containing the serial number. This was then glued into the slot and sanded to blend in. The neck is basically complete now although I have a lot of sanding to do to it and the body. It's nice to see the final product coming together. I will post more complete photos soon.

Highslide JS
Machining out the control cavity for the Audere system.
(5/29/15) I have the body set up on the CNC machine - this time to cut out the control cavity for the Audere 4-band EQ system. Because there is a battery in the cavity it has to be a little deeper than the standard depth, but all went well and I test fitted the unit in there to be sure. I have a little contouring to do to the body after this. Following that it's a case of final shaping and sanding to blend neck and body together.

Highslide JS
testing out a pickguard template to make sure all the components will end up fitting together.
(5/23/15) In this photo I am preparing a template for the pickguard which I will use to cut the curly maple pieces. At the same time I need to accurately position the control plate relative to the body and the pickguard since all these pieces need to fit snugly together. When this is all done - I will be able to cut the control cavity and the two recesses for the pickus. Next will be a little further body shape refining and then machining cavities.

Highslide JS
Belly cut established on the back of the body.
(5/18/15) Before I get busy finishing up the body profile i went ahead and cut the belly cut out of the back of the instrument. Removing this material creates a much better and more comfortable fit between the instrument and the player. Right now it is roughed out but I will move on to filing and sanding so that the shape is geometrically correct and it blends nicely with the rest of the body contours. It also reduces body weight!

Highslide JS
Got the neck fitted to the body - now to get bridge and control plsate located.
(5/15/15) I now have the neck and the body fitted together and I have done most of the shaping and carving at the neck intersection so that the two pieces fit elegantly together. I will now go ahead and bolt the neck onto the body so that I can make an accurate scale length measurement for the bridge placement. I'll also make sure my pick guard profile is compatible and then mark out the location for the control plate.

Highslide JS
Setting up to machine neck retainer holes.
(5/12/15) Left: Body is on machine being set up for the machining of the neck retainer ring holes. I want to get these established and bolt the neck on so that I can work on the instrument as one piece. Right: The four holes are now established and we can move for ward with other work. Next is final body and neck shaping.
Highslide JS
Neck retainer holes complete - now we can attach the neck.

Highslide JS
Neck pocket established, now time to carve the body.
(5/8/15) The neck pocket has been machined out and the neck fit nicely into the recess. This is a significant step as it now permits me to finish the outside profiling of the body which in turn lets me plan the pickuard and pickup and bridge placement. A good amount of the remaining work is on the body as we clean everything up ready for the finishing process. Next will be machining of retaining holes for the neck and some body carving.

Highslide JS
Doing the setup for neck pocket machining.
(5/4/15) The body is now up on the CNC so that I can machine out the neck pocket and get the neck attached to the body. I have to set it up in such a way as to generate the correct neck-to-body angle. It is also carefullt squared and leveled to the table so that everything should come out exactly as expected. Once I get the neck fitted I can finish all the shaping and get this thing ready for finishing!

Highslide JS
Getting body ready for neck pocket.
(4/29/15) I spent some time today cleaning up the body profile. I need do do some cutting and shaping at the neck joint area but firstly I want to cut the pocket in the body for the heel of the neck. That will allow me to match the two parts together and get the joint area shaped, cleaned up and sanded. I want to get this bass complete as soon as possible and we really don't have a lot more to do. Just keeping the ball rolling!

Highslide JS
Neck is now ready for final shaping.
(4/22/15) I removed all the rubber bands and the joint between the neck and the fingerboard is very solid. I left the neck profile oversize so now the next task is going to be removing excess material and shaping the neck to its finished profile. That will not take long. Next big objective is to cut the neck pocket in the body so that I can fit the neck and the body together. At that point we have a complete instrument and i can see the finish line!!!

Highslide JS
Fingerboard is being glued onto the neck.
(4/18/15) This is the moment of truth, where we glue the fingerboard onto the neck blank. Everything is set up correctly and the fingerboard is carefully aligned with the neck perimeter. The rubber bands apply a surprisingly strong downward pressure when combined together so I shoudl yield a good solid joint from this procedure. I am using avery high grade aerospace epoxy tp hold the fingerboard onto the neck. Will leave overnight.

Highslide JS
Gluing on a decorative veneer between neck and fingerboard.
(4/12/15) Truss rod is installed and before I glue on the fingerboard I am adding a small walnut veneer between the two just to maintain consistency though the instrument. Once this is set and dry I will add the fingerboard and we will have a more or less complete neck assembly. After that is done, I will be working on the final details of the body, neck pocket and retainers, control cavity and the custom pickguard.

Highslide JS
Neck has been rough shaped to prepare for fingerboard attachment.
(4/4/15) Before I attach the fingerboard to the neck I wanted to get the back of the neck shaped to close to the finished size. I'm about half way through that process in the photo. The final shaping will occur after the fingerboard is on and after the neck pocket in the body has been cut. That way I can make sure everything blends nicely together. Right now I just want to remove any material that might interfere with the process of attaching the fingerboard.

Highslide JS
Gluing the carbon fiber rods into the neck.
(3/29/15) Time to get the two CF rods glued into the slots in the neck. It's a messy job as the epoxy has to be carefully measured and mixed then applied to the three joint sufaces of the rod. I need to make sure I get adhesive on all the surfaces as I work the rods into their slots. There's always overspill and cleanup but a roll of paper towels always comes in handy! I use a few spring clamps just to make sure the rods are fully seated in the slots.

Highslide JS
Frets done - carbon Fiber rods going in.
(3/21/15) All the frets have been securely installed and trimmed, sanded and filed flush so the fingerboard is about as ready as it can be to go on the neck. I now have to glue in two carbon fiber rods into the previously machined slots. These rods are glued in with a very tough aerospace epoxy and become an integral part of the neck construction and strength. I good string and rigid neck will always perform well on a bass!

Highslide JS
Getting the frets installed.
(3/14/15) I am now in the process of installing the 24 frets into the fingerboard. Sometimes maple can be a more difficult wood in terms of the frets binding nicely in the slots but since I pre-bent the fretwire it all went very well. Looks like they are going in nice and solid. I will probably wick a little adhesive in the fret ends just in case. Looks very nice with the frets and the inlay together. Can't wait to get this board on the neck!

Highslide JS
Frets are cut and ready to be installed.
(3/6/15) I have now cut all the fret wire for the fingerboard. They atre typically a little bit oversize at this stage because of the distortion caused by the clipping process. I will install them and after they are securely seated in the fingerboard I will trim off the ends and dress then for a perfect fit. At that point I can get the fingerboard glued onto the neck itself. I'm anxious to get this instrument wrapped up soon.

Highslide JS
Blocks are in fingerboard and sanded flush - side dots are installed.
(3/1/15) All of the walnut inserts have been glued in and sanded flush with the top surface of the finngerboard. The end result looks great and will really pop when the finish is applied. All the side dots have been inserted along the upper edge of the fingerboard and they will be sanded down flush once the frets are installed. Next task is to select the right fret wire and get that cut for the fingerboard. Looking good.

Highslide JS
Inlay blocks are cut and set into the fingerboard.
(2/21/15) Not a great photo here but I wanted to show that I had found some nice curly walnut and cut the inlay pieces on the laser and fitted them into the recesses I recently cut in the fingerboard. My next job is to glue these pieces in and once that is done I can sand them down flush with the compound radius of the board itself. I wanted to use a material that was already in the bass (two of the neck/body laminates are walnut.

Highslide JS
Cutting the recesses for the inlay blocks into the fingerboard surface.
(2/21/15) I am in the process of machining recesses into which my block inlay will fit. I have to be a little careful to make sure the machined geometry is very accurately aligned with the profile of the fingerboard. Looks like everything wen well and I will move on to getting the inlay taken care of. I have a few options on inlay materials but my first choice would be the same walnut I used in the neck laminates. I have some very pretty curly stuff.

Highslide JS
Machining fret slots into the fingerboard.
(2/17/15) The frets slots are just being finished off and after these are done I will machine the slot that will house the nut. Next objective is to make a decision on whether we're going to have inlay on the fingerboard, and if so should it be block inlay or dots. Also we need to decide since this is going to be a light colored natural blonde instrument all over, whether inlay should be a contrasting dark color of a complimentary light color.

Highslide JS
Generating the compound radius on the top of the fingerboard.
(2/14/15) I'm working on the fingerboard and so far have cut the outer perimater to the finished size. I am now generating the compound radius on the board from end to end and when that is complete I will be ready to cut the fret slots The wood of this fingerboard is looking really nice as it gets shaped to it final profile - it's going to look awesome with a finish on it!When the radius is done I need to sand to remove machining marks.

Highslide JS
Truss rod slot and relief have now been machined into the neck.
(2/13/15) The neck is now set up on the CNC for a number of operations to get the inner features completed. Firstly I ran the program to clean up the headstock surface to yield just the right matching wood thickness. I then machined the preimeter of the neck to its finished widths and length. Next I cut the channel in the top surface for the truss rod plus two subsequent operations to create clearance for the front of the rod.

Highslide JS
Neck surfaces being machined so that heel and headstock are co-planar.
(2/11/15) I am getting things ready for a few CNC operations on the neck of this bass. Firstly I am locating on the flat upper surface of the neck in order to machine the heel and the back of the headstock. This gives me two nice flat surfaces which are parallel to the front of the neck. I can now flip the neck over to use those 2 surfaces to securely locate the neck in the fixture. This speeds up the setup process for the next operation.

Highslide JS
Body and top plate now one piece and I am cleaning up the body perimeter.
(2/7/15) Here we have the body after the top has been glued on. I spent a little time on the spindle sander cleaning up the edges around the perimeter just to get all the surfaces blended together. The body is still about 1/8" oversize all the way around so I will refine that a little later. Right now I want to make sure it is cleaned up and in a condition where I can set it up on the CNC to get the neck pocket cut out.

Highslide JS
Gluing the top plate onto the body.
(2/6/15) I aligned the top with the body very accurately and drilled a couple of very small location/alignment holes so that I could pin the tow pieces together after gluing and not have to worry about any slippage during the clamping process. At thet point the glued assembly went into the vacuum press and it will remain clamped in this position for several hours until I am certain the glue has fully cured. Moving along!

Highslide JS
I am marking out locations of critical features before th etop goes on.
(2/3/15) Today I had to lay the bass out with its components set in the correct locations and mark up the body and the neck with the critical features we will be machining in the near future. One of the most important is establishing the exact location of the bridge based on the instrument scale length and also the exact neck pocket location. Top is ready to be glued on so getting everything ready to do that.

Highslide JS
Gluing the two bookmatched top plate pieces together.
(1/29/15) I am now gluing the two top halves together. I have to hold the two pieces firmly against a flat non-stick surface to ensure that the pieces are going together nice and evenly. Once that is set, I apply lateral pressure to push the joint faces together as tightly as poaaible. Unfortunately because this causes the glue to bleed out you are more or less working blind until the glue has set and you can remove the clamps and inspect!

Highslide JS
Top plate ready for assembly.
(1/24/15) The two halves of the top plate have been carefully machined on the CNC to generate very straight and clean joint faces so that I can do a nice bookmatching job on the top. It is quite tricky with lighter woods to get a good looking joint so I am being very careful to make sure that these edges are accurate. Once I have them glued together and cleaned up the top can go on the body and we will have everything in one piece!

Highslide JS
Second veneer(maple) being glued onto the top plate halves.
(1/19/15) I trimmed off the walnut veneer from the edges of the top plates and now it's time to glue a contrasting layer of maple veneer onto the same lower surface of each. This will ultimately yield a double pinstrip all the way around the top plate when it is part of the body. Should look really nice when that is complete. When the glue is dry I will trim off the extra material and cleam up edges on the spindle sander.

Highslide JS
Gluin walnut veneer onto the back of each of the top plate halves.
(1/14/15) In this photo we are setting up each of the two top plate halves in the vacuum press so that we can glue the appropriate decorative veneers onto the bottom of each plate. Firstly I gluue a walnut veneer to the back of each of the two plates. When that is dry and I have trimmed everything up we glue one more veneer (maple) onto the bottom of each plate. This gives us a nice contrasting set of veneers .

Highslide JS
Rough sawing a piece of Quilt for a headstock veneer.
(1/11/15) I separated a nice piece of the top material which will end up being the headstock veneer. I like to do this so that the body and the headstock match it color and grain thereby bringing the instrument together. I am sawing the material to a rough dimension that will allow me to custom fit it to the headstock profile. When that is achieved I will add a decorative veneer and glue everything together.

Highslide JS
Ready to cut out the headstock shape.
(1/4/15) The headstock has been marked out for rough cutting/shaping. I want to take the extra material off now so that I can match the headstock profile up with some material fron the top plate. I will be adding about 1/10th of an inch of quilted maple on the front surface of the headstock so that it matches the body top perfectly. Doing that always brings the whole instrument together and looks awesome!

Highslide JS
Maple successfully resawn and bookmatched!.
(12/28/14) I was able to get the big piece of maple resawn cleanly and accurately and I was happy with the way the cut went. Once I had successfully split the top it was necessary to spend some time on the drum sander cleaning up the two faces that were going to be the top surface, and once that was done, sanding both plates flat and to the same thickness. They are now where I want them and next step is getting some veneer attached.

Highslide JS
Working on sawing two pieces from one blank.
(12/24/14) I set the bandsaw up carefully so that I know the saw blade and the support fence are accurately parallel to each other. Cutting a piece like this is slow work due to the depth of the cut (probably 7" right now). Care needs to be taken to avoid the saw blade moving off center because the surfaces being sawn are going to be the top surfaces of the bass! The better the cut, the less cleanup and material loss will result.

Highslide JS
Quilted maple for the top has been marked and rough cut.
(12/22/14) I marked out the body contour for both sides of the top and rough cut the piece out to minimize the amount of material I will have to resaw to create the bookmatched pieces. I also drum sanded both sides again just to be sure everything had remained nice and flat. This to has a very nice quilted grain which will look great on the finished instrument. Next challenge will be to set this up on the bandsaw and create two matching pieces!

Highslide JS
Headstock ready for the Quilted Maple veneer.
(12/16/14) I ran the headstock area through a few cleanup passes in order to get the top surface and the curve that meets the fingerboard area cleaned up. I have now established the correct depth for the headstock joint surface which will have a matching veneer to the top plates when we're done. I will now do some sanding on the joint faces and probably mark out and cut the headstock geometry in preparation for the top plate.

Highslide JS
Neck and headstock surfaces are being established.
(12/11/14) The top surface of the neck has now been cleaned up and will become the plane onto which I will glue the fingerboard. I also roughed out the upper surface of the headstock in preparation for the next operation which will establish the final cut on the headstock and the radius that connects the headstock and the rest of the neck. I will probably aso cut the perimeter of the neck while I have the neck on the machine table.

Highslide JS
GStarting on the machining of the neck.
(12/9/14) I need to do sme machining on the neck of the bass. Firstly to establish a top reference surface from which most of my other dimensions are referenced. I will also machine the top surface of the headstock so that I have the guarantee that they are co-planar since they are both done in the same setup. Doing this will allow me to proceed with the headstock veneer and thickness of the neck at the heel end.

Highslide JS
Getting this beautiful piece of quilted maple ready for the bass top!
(12/1/14) We are planning to use this very attractive piece of quilted maple for the top of the bass. I have been keeping the wood in my shop for just the right instrument and this may be it. I will orient the grain of the top to best suit the shape of the body and then get the pieces thicknessed and ready to be attached to the instrument body. I will probably also harvesr a piece for the headstock veneer too, that always looks amazing!

Highslide JS
Body components have all been glued together - moving ahead!
(8/6/14) The body of the instrument has been assembled and I need to trim it to the template size. I have yet to select a top wood for this bass but I do have some beautiful woods in my inventory so no matter what, it will look awesome. I also have to select a fingerboard so all of that will happen soon. I am certain it will be an awesome sounding and looking instrument. I will post more photos of this one as soon as I have trimmed up the body.

Highslide JS
Attaching extra material on the neck blank for the headstock area.
(7/12/14) Finally got back to working on this project - in the picture to the left I am gluing the two extra pieces of curly maple onto the headstock area so that I can cut the headstock profile. I'm goint to do a fairly compact headstock on this bass and will use ultra-light tuners. The goal is to make a relatively lightweight, well balanced and compact bass. I'll get to work on the rest of the neck and body work as soon as possible.

Highslide JS
The lower body bout is being glued onto the core section.
(6/18/14) The two back halves of the body have been sawn out and thicknessed. I also machined the joint faces square and applied a maple veneer to each so that we will have dark and light pinstriping between the woods. Now I am gluing the lower body half onto the core section of the body. Once it as set I will probably do some cleanup machining and sanding before I align and attach the second body half.

Highslide JS
Gluing veneer onto the sides of the body core.
(5/21/14) In order to prepare joint faces for body assembly I have to first glue decorative veneer on both the body halves and the core section of the body. This will yield double contrasting decorative veneer along the joit faces which looks really nice on the finished instrument. No expense spared here folks! Once I have done this to all four surfaces I will get the two back pieces glued onto the core section.

Highslide JS
These are the two pieces of mahogany I will be using for upper and lower body halves.
(5/10/14) I chose some old mahogany for the two back bouts of this bass. This is very mature material, has a nice grain structure and is relatively lightweight. First step is to rough machine the stock material so that I have flat faces that I can sand to thickness. I'm using the CNC to skim both sides so that I have something consistent to work with. Once this is done I will be able to clean both sides up on the drum sander.

Highslide JS
Neck and body core are noe ready for further work.
(5/29/14) These are out two core components for this upcoming bass. Both the neck and the body core have continuous tapered laminates which is rarely, if ever sen on a bolt-on instrument. I like to do the extra work to make this happen as it really does show beautifully on the finished instrument. We are now ready to start cutting the remaining body components - body sides and the top plate. Gonna be a nice one!

Highslide JS
Gluing tapered laminates together.
(5/23/14) All the various pieces for the 5-pc neck and body core have been rough cut, sanded, machined to tapers and veneered. I am now gluing successive laminates together to create the neck and the core of the body. Once all the core pieces are glued together I will start on work on the body. I am going to try to get this bass moved forward and completed as soon as possible. Looking good so far.

Highslide JS
Milling the tapers onto some of the core laminates.
Test.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(5/16/14) I have rough sawn most of the material needed for the core of this bass, now I have to sand each piece flat and then set them up on my CNC machine to cut each laminate to a precribed taper. On a typical bass this means machining 10 pieces of material to the correct taper, then veneering each and carefully gluing them together. This is more work than most builders will tolerate but I feel the end results are well worth the effort put in at this end.

Highslide JS
Raw materials ready for machining - maple and walnut
(5/9/14) We are getting started on what will be an awesome J-Bass. We have already rough cut some of the core blanks, veneered them and glued them together. I want to get this instrument moved ahead so that it can be in the hands of a loving and caring bass player out there. I don't build many production instruments so this will be a rare find for someone out there looking for an exceptional J-style bass
Last update April 8, 2014