6

Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

5-string VERY custom bass (Serial 14B067)

Call
951-240-1666. or email us here!

   
Materials: Top: TBA Neck/Core: Wenge w Padouk Stringers - 5pc
  Body: Padouk or Mahogany
Fingerboard: Wenge - Scale Length 34" - 24 frets - possible flame inlay!
Pickups: Lace Alumitone
Hardware: Hipshot headless - Chrome
Options: LED/Fiber side dots - matching colors to body
Finish: Oiled natural finish
Other: Customer Body design. Headless. Neck-Thru.
  Upper horn extends to 12th fret
  Front face will have an array of crystals installed.
  Custom inlay using proprietary shell product
  16.5mm (.656) string spacing at bridge, 10mm at nut

This is going to be a very unique and unusual bass guitar! Customer body design. Wood choices for the core of the instrument have been established. The front of the body will be getting a very unusual surface treatment of highly reflective Swarovski Crystals!

Highslide JS
Fingerboard off CNC and looking really nice. I need to now cut some substrate pieces on the CNC.
(6/15/17) Left: Text and picture coming. (6/20/17) Right: Text and picture coming
Highslide JS
Fingerboard off CNC and looking really nice. I need to now cut some substrate pieces on the CNC.

Highslide JS
Fingerboard off CNC and looking really nice. I need to now cut some substrate pieces on the CNC.
(6/4/17) Left: I'm now cutting a pattern of substrate pieces that will be fitted into the fingerboard recess and sanded to conform to the compound radius of the fingerboard. (6/9/17) Right: Text and picture coming.
Highslide JS
Fingerboard off CNC and looking really nice. I need to now cut some substrate pieces on the CNC.

Highslide JS
Recess machining on the fingerboard almost complete. Took a while!.
(5/26/17) Left: I now have a recess all the way up the fingerboard and I will be cutting a substrate piece to fit into this. I'll use that to match the radius of the fingerboard. (5/29/17) Right: Get the fingerboard off the machine and cleaned up. I'm thinking this is going to look pretty good when the inlay is done! Now for substrate.
Highslide JS
Fingerboard off CNC and looking really nice. I need to now cut some substrate pieces on the CNC.

Highslide JS
Working on the setup on the CNC machine.
(5/21/17) Left: This is the fingerboard secured to the CNC table as I am setting things up to do the top surface machining. (5/22/17) Right: Now set up on the CNC and will be cutting the recess for the flame inlay along the fingerboard length. I'll use a set of three small cutters to yield the best level of detail
Highslide JS
Got started on the recsess machining.

Highslide JS
I prepared the fingerboard for further machining bt adding some pieces I need to use for clamping it in place.
(5/14/17) Left: Attaching the fingerboard onto a base as part of the setup for machining purposes. Just don't want it to move during machining! (5/18/17) Right: My goal now is to carefully refine the artwork for the fingerboard inlay to overlap the areas where I had originally cut recesses for crystal dot style installation.
Highslide JS
Artwork complete for out flame concept.

Highslide JS
I'm working in my programming environment trying to get some programs together for inlay.
(5/4/17) Left: This is the resulting artwork that I drew up after carefully making it fit on the existing fingerboard. I'm now setting up to cut the board surface! (5/9/17) Right: This stuff in amazing - a great and visually stunning solution for the fingerboard inlay. Custom made to match the crystals!!!
Highslide JS
Custom hand made shell product for the inlay.

Highslide JS
This is the hand matched chell composite I had made to match the crystals.
(4/26/17) Left: Text and picture comming! (5/1/17) Right:
Highslide JS
I think we are using a flamed inlay theme on the fingerboard - should look really good

Highslide JS
Pickup recess established, I now have a couple more machining operations to do..
(3/9/17) Left: Text and image coming! (3/17/17) Right: Worki
Highslide JS
Pickup recess established, I now have a couple more machining operations to do..

Highslide JS
Marking out some reference point on the fingerboard - want to get this ready to put on.
(2/18/17) Left: Just matching up the fingerboard to the other features of the neck as I need an accurate relationship before I machine work on the FB surface. (2/26/17) Right: Working
Highslide JS
Just finished designing a custom flame inlay for the fingerboard.

Highslide JS
Pickup recess established, I now have a couple more machining operations to do..
(2/1/17) Left: Doing some more shaping and sanding work to the headstock area, mostly on the back, so that I get the right feel for the player's hand. (2/11/17) Right: Text and picture coming.
Highslide JS
Pickup recess established, I now have a couple more machining operations to do..

Highslide JS
Wiring holes have all been completed and prepped so that the top can be fitted.
(1/15/17) Left: Wiring holes (for pickups, and grounding) have now been machined into the top joint surface of the instrument. (1/21/17) Right: More work done on shaping the back of the neck and refining the neck/body transition. I will finalize both once everything is assembled. Starting to feel good so I will move to sanding.
Highslide JS
Pickup recess established, I now have a couple more machining operations to do..

Highslide JS
Settig up he puckup location prior to machining.
(12/23/16) Left: Time to get the pickup recess machined. In this particular bass, since it's rather unusual, I will need to machine the cover and body together in one setup. (1/9/1) Right: The pickup recess for our Alumitone is now established both in the top plate and in the guitar body itself. I will now cut a few wiring holes below the top plate.
Highslide JS
Pickup recess established, I now have a couple more machining operations to do..

Highslide JS
Serial number now part of the bass.
(12/8/16) Left: This is the serial number installed in the batery compartment of the bass. Nice to give the bass an "identity" as we move onto some of the final machining operations. (12/19/16) Right: I'm making the commitment to establishing the hole positions for the controls on the instrument. I will also work on the crystal distribution.
Highslide JS
Well through the seating of the side dot fiber optics.

Highslide JS
Machining the control cavity first.
(11/21/16) Left: I'm starting to machine the two cavities (battery and control cav) into the back of the instrument. Have to temporarily attach top to do this. (11/28/16) Right: Both cavities have been successfully machined and I also machined a slot that will house the serial number plate and holes for magnets that will retain the lid.
Highslide JS
Both cavities on the back have been established.

Highslide JS
Making sure top is on centerline before machining cavities.
(11/7/16) Left: I decided to extend wiring holes after cavities cut. Fitting the top on so that I can machine both pieces together. (11/13/16) Right: I am setting up to cut the two back cavities. The control cavity is deep enough to enter into the bottom side of the top plate so I will be machining with them clamped together.
Highslide JS
Body about to have the cavities machined.

Highslide JS
Well through the seating of the side dot fiber optics.
(10/21/16) Left: This is the bass body after the installation and re-leveling of the filler plugs. You can see how they leave just the right recess for the two covers to fit back in perfectly. (10/27/16) Right: Everything now complete on the harvesting of the cavity covers. I will extend the fiber optic and wiring channels a little.
Highslide JS
Cavity covers just about done now.

Highslide JS
The two covers have been freed and I will now get the material back in behind the two recesses.
(10/8/16) Left: The top of the body has been machined to release the cavity covers. I will now machine a couple of plugs that will re-fill the area behind the lids. (10/15/16) Right: I have cut filler plugs the exact shape of the cavity cutouts and these are now going to be pressed into their repective cavities and glued firmly in place!
Highslide JS
Well through the seating of the side dot fiber optics.

Highslide JS
Setting up the bass to cut out the material that will free up the cavity covers. Will be in two different operations.
(9/25/16) Left: Setting up to machine the cavity lids free from the back of the instrument. I will then plug the holes with mahogany after cutting. (9/29/16) Right: I received my custom made shell which I will be using on at least part of the fingerboard. Very good match with crystals so anything is possible for inlay now!
Highslide JS
Well through the seating of the side dot fiber optics.

Highslide JS
Setting up to cut cavity covers.
(9/11/16) Left: First task on the back is to cut the perimeters of the cavity lids to a prescribed lid depth. In order to harvest them out I have to machine them next from the other side! (9/16/16) Right: This is the back of the bass after I machined out the covers. I now need to cut from the other side to release them.
Highslide JS
The cavity covers have been cut out - now I have to cut from the opposite side to release them.

Highslide JS
Working on pickup recess plans and cavities from the back of the body.
(8/27/16) Left: There are a few machining jobs I have to do, one is to cut out the recess for the Lace pickup. (9/2/16) Right: In this photo I have to lay out sizes and locations for the cavity covers which I need to cut out before the top is attached to the body. I want the covers to be continuous grain because they will look great!
Highslide JS
I will be cutting out the continuous grain cvity covers. Added a battery compartment for the fiber optics.

Highslide JS
I was very excited to finish up crystal inlay on the fingerboard but in my final test I potted the crystal with a hard setting clear filling compound to achieve the flat surface necessary on the fingerboard and to my surprise it completely disabled the crystal's light emmissions. Disappointing, and they look OK, but we can do better. More to come.
(8/11/16) Left: I have been doing many different fingerboard inlay tests - enbedded crystals with clear filler didn't work - the crystal disappears! (8/19/16) Right: My backup plan after looking at many options is to order a very special custom shell which matches the crystal colors and do a custom inlay with that. Actual geometry TBD!
Highslide JS
I am having a custom shell made for the inlay. Not the cheaperst option but it gives me tons of creative possibilities.

Highslide JS
Aleays good to get the fiber optics done!.
(7/27/16) Left: The fiber optic work is done and so far so good. I'm now working on filling remaining voids so that the back of the fingerboard is "solid-state"! (8/3/16) Right: This is a photo of end of the fingerboard where the fiber optics exit. Right now there's extra material on the side dots and on the length of the fibers.
Highslide JS
Fiberoptics at the end of the fingerboard. They will all be trimmed after the board is installed on the neck.

Highslide JS
Well through the seating of the side dot fiber optics.
(7/22/16) I am welll through the process of adding fiber optic cables into the channels under the fingerboard. I am still experimenting with the feasibility of illuminating the crystal inlay pieces but in the meantime I want to get the side dot cables taken care of so that I can scratch that task off my list! I am almost done with this phase and will spenmd a little time working on a few ideas I have for the front fingerboard inlays.

Highslide JS
Running fiber optic cable to the side dits of the fingerboard.
(7/17/16) I am running fiber optic cable through all the channels that feed the side dots. I have done some experiments with the plastic insert system described below but so far, despite trying several variations with test materials, the crystals stubbornly only respond to light from the front, which is then reflected off the back surface of the crystal. The same reason they are so dazzing to look at is why they are so hard to illuminate!

Highslide JS
Drawing not to scale - but I will make a set of small plastic discs in which the crystals will sit. Will have to carefully countervore the back of the fingerboard.
(7/10/16) OK, I think I may have figured out the best way to get something out of the front facing fiber optic feed. My goal is to use some of my reflective plastic as inserts installed on the back of the fingerboard. I will feed the fiber optic light into the insert and , because of its molecular properties, it should cause the plastic to glow a little - thereby adding a little light to the area in which the crystal is set. I will have to be very careful about setting depth......

Highslide JS
The crystals don't create any reflected light - I'm going to try a sealed one to see if it makes a difference. If it does I will connect fibers to the front dots, if it doesn't make any difference these should look awesome enough on their own!.
(7/4/16) The Crystals are going to look great in the fingeboard no matter what. The down side is that they are so crystal clear that they do not reflect any light or light up at all from an external light source. I have done many experiments to try to maximize this. I'm currently running fibers to the side dots and if the clear sealer I use to seal the front crystals gives me better results I will still run fibers to these also. Either way - moving forward!

Highslide JS
Doing a little manual customizing of some of the fiber optic slots for the crystals on the front face.
(6/26/16) I wanted to do some manual adjustment to the fiber optic channels as I realized that the ends of those cables that go to the front of the fingerboard need to be fairly accurately set for depth. I am customizing theses forward facing fiber channels by hand so that I can get the best outcome since the crystals do not glow when lit (although the clear filler might). My objective is to add some reflected light which should at least project a little light!

Highslide JS
Getting the fiber optic cables for the side dits installed.
(6/18/16) I am getting started on the installation of the fiber optic cables. In the photo you can see the first of the fiber optic cables installed. My other task while this is going on is to carefully route the fibers to the crystal front dots. Working on all of this simultaneously and I will be posting more photos of the outcome very soon. I have also been charting out crystal distribution on my computer so that I get the best possible coverage and neatest edges.

Highslide JS
Sealing up the Wenge wood before I add some reflective coating to the recesses for the crystals.
(6/15/16) Before all the fiber optic work begins I am sealing the wood grain on the top of the fingerboard. The reason I am foing this at this stae is that I will be adding some reflective material inside the little recesses for the crystals in the expectation that it will enhance the illumination of the inlay a little bit since the crystals themselves are so clear they don't radiate much incoming light. I want to give the lighting the best chance it can get!

Highslide JS
Done with FO sleeves - lets of detail work so happy this is behind me!!.
(6/10/16) This is the fingerboard with all the sleeve inserts completed and ready for fiber optic cables. I chose to add a brass sleeve to each location to further match the diameter of the fiber optics. This will also add a little more decorative look to the side dots when the lights aren't on. Everything has been filed and sanded down flush to the fingerboard edge so I am now going to start at the nut end and get the fibe optic cables secured in.

Highslide JS
Sleeves are being glued in.
(6/4/16) I'm now in the process of gluing the metal sleeves into the side dot holes. For handling purposes it's easier to use longer pieces and cut them once the adhesive is set. When this is all complete the metal sleeves will provide contrasting and visible side dots since the fiber optics themselves would not contrast with the wenge or any dark wood. It is also a very structurally solid assembly and good support for the fiber cables.

Highslide JS
Adding metal sleeves for the fiber optic side dots.
(6/1/16) The back of the fingerboard has been cleaned up and I am now gluing in the sleeves (which will be shortened to be flush with the fingerboard)that will ultimately hold and support thr ends of the fiber optic cables. Once I get these glued in, cut and files flush I can start dropping in the fiber optic cables from the front of the board all the way to the back. Once they are in the fingerboard, it will be ready for subsequent assembly onto the neck.

Highslide JS
Ready for installation of some sleeves and then the fiber optic cables.
(5/28/16) I have now removed the support pieces that I had attached around the perimeter of the fingerboard (I will sand off the last traces before fibers go in). I am now cutting metal sleeves that I will be installing aling the edge of the fingerboard into the side dot holes that I have previously drilled. once these are all in and sanded flush it gives a solid starting point for each of the side dot fibers. The center dots get a slightly different treatment.

Highslide JS
Done with the fiber optic channels - onto the next task!
(5/24/16) This operation is now complete. I set up and ran the second operation with the smaller cutter which added the connecting recesses to the side dots and crystal inlay positions. I'm happy with the depth and layout of everything so I can now get started on the work that will get the fiber optic cables installed. I'll need to start by installing bushings in the side dot positions that act as sleeves for the fiber cables to sit snugly inside.

Highslide JS
First of two operations went well - looking good so far!
(5/21/16) I have now run the first of two programs for the fiber optic recess. This one removed most of the material but there are some narrow channels I will need a much smaller cutter for so I am going to run that as a second operation. So far so good though - everything looks clean and well aligned. I'm running one fiber optic to each crystal inlay. My hope is that I can create a reflective enough environment in each to allow them to light up a bit!

Highslide JS
Fixtre is now fully set up on CNC and I'm ready to cut!
(5/18/16) This is the revised setup for cutting the fiber optic channels. I had to do some minor modifications to the recent setup because it didn't allow enough cutter access to all the areas under he fingerboard. The setup is now complete and squared up to the table and I have the programs in the machine. I will go ahead and get the recess cut so that I can start the fiber optic work and in doing so get the fingerboard ready for neck assembly.

Highslide JS
Slightly revised fiber optic layout to avoid conflict with other features on the fingerboard.
(5/14/16) I had to revise the collective paths of the fiber optics to make room for everything to pass cleanly from one end to the other. I realized when I was on the machine that certain areas needed to be avoided and that I really needed most or all of the fibers to end up leaving the figerboard as close to the center as possible. This configuration should allow everything to work out fine so I am going to get it cut and see how we do!

Highslide JS
Vector drawings at 100% scale always help.
(5/9/16) I created a file specifically for the layout of the fiber optic cables. I need to know quite accurately where all the features of the fingerboard are relative to centerline and the zero fret position (nut). Once these are laid out I can manipulate the fibers in the vector program so that I can get them all to fit without interfering with each other or any of the existing parts of the fingerboard. It's also reversed because I'm working underneath the board!

Highslide JS
Nice new batch of fiber optic cable ordered for this instrument.
(5/6/16) I ordered a complete new batch of fiber optic cabling for this bass. I will be using a good amount of it under the fingerboard as soon as the channels have been machined. I will be sending light not only to the side dot locations but to the crystals that will be embedded in the fingerboard also. I will be doing a little more R&D on separate pieces of Wenge to get the best illumination possible through the Crystals we are using - will know more soon.

Highslide JS
Making sure dimensions are set for bridge and pickup.
(5/1/16) I have now created all the paths and programming necessary to get the fiber optic cabling nested in the back of the fingerboard. In this photo I am setting the fingerboard up on the CNC so that I can get this geometry cut accurately and cleanly. It needs to be just a tiny bit deeper than the diameter of the fiber optic cables but it has to very accurately align with all the holes I have already drilled in the board as exit points.

Highslide JS
Making sure dimensions are set for bridge and pickup.
(4/20/16) I wasn't sure initially which of the two possible Alumitone pickups sizes would best fit this bass. I have checked over all the dimensions and it appears that the 4 inch pickup will be more than wide enough to cover the string center-to-center distance. The other option was a 4.5 inch which is also considered suitable for a 5-string, but in this case that would be unnecessarily wide. Pickup has been ordered and I have marked out location.

Highslide JS
Lace alumitone pickup.
(4/12/16) I thought I would add (for interest at least) a photo of the pickup we are using in this bass. I used them before in a bass for the same customer and I was very impressed with them. Quiet, good tone, and they added VERY little weight to the instrument itself. PLus - at least in my opinion - they look kinda cool! Anyway this will look nice against the other colors of the bass combined with our chrome bridge, knobs and string retainer!

Highslide JS
Creating a temporary fixture so I can hold the fingerboard upside down.
(4/11/16) Fiber optic cables are the next challenge and I want to get the back of the fingerboard ready for the installation of these cables. We will have side dots plus a number of other cables running to the individual inlay locations on the front face of the fingerboard. I need to account for the space needed and get that section of the board machine out. I have the cabling waiting to go in so I am anxious to get fixturing done so I can get this done.

Highslide JS
I machined the fiber optic channel and some of the internal wiring channels.
(3/27/16) This is the top of the bass body after all the machining for wiring and fiber optics has been done. I also machined out the channels that will allow me to thread wiring from the battery compartment and ground leads from the bridge both to the control cavity. Now that this has been done I will tremporarily assemble the top plate onto the body and machine the control and battery cavities from the back of the instrument.

Highslide JS
Doing some careful calculations to make sure I have the features on the top of the instrument mapped out correctly.
(3/20/16) The bass is back up on the CNC machine where I have to cut a channel to contain the fiber optic cables from the point where they exit the back of the neck to the control cavity. While I am doing this I will also machine out the battery power channel and the channel that will contain the ground wire from the brige unit. I will also cut a channel for the pickup wire so that I have that all established before the top plate is attached.

Highslide JS
The side dot holes into which I will be inserting metal tubing.
(3/11/16) This is a close up of the holes I have machined for the fiber optic side dots for the small sleeves I will be inserting to hold and support the ends of the individual fiber optic cables. Since a non-illuminated fiber optic looks very dark, this allows also for the side dots to be clearly visible when the light source is switched off. I need to get the fingerboard attahed before the top plate is assembled because all these fibers run under the top to the control cavity.

Highslide JS
Doing some careful calculations to make sure I have the features on the top of the instrument mapped out correctly.
(3/5/16) Based on some vector planning I recently did I am now machining the side dot holes along the edge of the fingerboard into which I will be installing sleeves that will hold the ends of the fiber optic cables. When these are all established I will then machine the channels that will house the length of fiber optic cables along the underside of the fingerboard. Then i will need to machine a second set of slots that will feed fiber optic light to the front dot recesses.

Highslide JS
Starting teh fiber optic work on the fingerboard.
(2/21/16) I have now trimmed and removed the substrate material from the back of the fingerboard. The goal here is to build a small fixture to hold the fingerboard upside down so that can machine out the channels for the fiber optic cables that will light up the crystals on the front of the fingerboard. I will be creating side dot lights and also illuminating the fret marker crystals on the front of the board. These can be plain white or colored.

Highslide JS
Doing some careful calculations to make sure I have the features on the top of the instrument mapped out correctly.
(2/9/16) In this photo you can see the plan for the channel which will be cut into the top of the instrument body to allow passage of fiber optics from the back of the fingerboard to the control cavity. Thanks to several experiments I have a theoretically solid plan to illuminate the neck crystals by embedding a reflective coating on the recesses, also using a color-coordinated LED so that we get as much light as possible from front of fingerboard.

Highslide JS
Doing some careful calculations to make sure I have the features on the top of the instrument mapped out correctly.
(2/1/16) I have all the measurements for the pickup in my 100% vector file and I am now establishing the best overall sonic location on the top plate. While I'm doing that I'm also marking out where the bridge assembly will be positioned based on the scale length of the instrument. I'm going to have to be careful about the edges of the hardware and the distribution of the crystals so that everything looks right when we're done! So far so good.

Highslide JS
Doing some careful calculations to make sure I have the features on the top of the instrument mapped out correctly.
(1/22/16) This is a shot of the back of the bass as I refine some of the features on the back of the neck and body. I am also getting this instrument ready for several machining operations. Firstly I will plot out the ideal location for the pickup we are installing. I will then temporarily attach the top and flip the bass over and machine both the control and battery cavities. I will machine full depth into the back of the top plate.

Highslide JS
Doing some careful calculations to make sure I have the features on the top of the instrument mapped out correctly.
(1/15/16) Next necessary step is to figure out exactly where the Lace pickup will be located. I will need to accurately mark so that I can do a number of other related calculations. Because I will have fiber optic cables running from under the fingerboard through the body to the control cavity, I need to mark out and machine a channel to acommodate them. I need to know also where I am NOT putting crystals so that I can get the top surface planned out.

Highslide JS
Top plate complete and fitted to the body profile. Now working on the fingerboard.
(1/9/16) I'm a little behind on photo updates on this bass so I'm going to try and get a few up here in the next day or two so we can show off some of the developiong details of this instrument! In the photo the top plate is fitted and profiled to the body shape. This is the surface onto which I will be adding countless Swarovski crystals. From what I have already seen this is going to look spectacular. Also will have crystals in the fingerboard!

Highslide JS
Fret slots are now complete.
(12/22/15) Fret slots have been machined into the fingerboard so I now have a framework into which i can drop the pattern of holes for the inlay crystals. I may have to set up a separate time for the recesses because I need to retrofit a component in my CNC machine. In the meantime I will be doing the R&D work that will enable me to machine the fiber optic channels so that we can illuminate the inlays. Looking forward to seeing that become a reality!

Highslide JS
Setup complete for cutting fret slots.
(12/17/15) I now have the fingerboard set up on the cnc machine for cutting the fret slots and following that I will set up yo cut out all the recesses that will accommodate the crystals that will be ebedded in the fingerboard. As with everything else on this bass I'm being careful to plan my operations in the right sequence. I need to plan out how to route the fiber optic cables to the individual crystals before the crystals are installed.

Highslide JS
Getting ready to machine the fingerboard.

(11/26/15) Time to do some layout for the inlay pieces so that I can get the fingerboard back on the machine and get things cut for frets and inlay pieces. I want to cut the frets slots and the inlay recesses in the same operation so that I am certain they are positioned mathematically correctly. I'll be posting more photos of the fingerboard work as I move ahead. I'm prety sure this will all work and the end result will be beyond amazing!


Highslide JS
Doing some testing to see how the crystals will work embedded in a fingerboard.
(11/9/15) One of the many tests I need to do for this bass to explore the unknown is to firstly see how the crystals do in a normal fingerboard inlay situation. The actually look really good and reflect a lot of light so I was encouraged by that. My customer would however like to have them illuminated using fiber optic lighting sources and the reason I am doing the R&D on this is so that I can test an inlay that is lit by an LED light source!

Highslide JS
Some of the Swarovski crystals that will be implated in the top of this bass.
(10/22/15) These are some of the Swarovski crystals that I will be using on the top surface of the bass. I buy them by the gross and the picture shows what a gross (144 units) actually looks like - a lot smaller that you would imagine in area coverage. Each crystal is just over 7mm diameter but since they will be installed very close together, a gross will only cover just less than 3.5 square inches according to my calculations!

Highslide JS
A good amount of the machining done to the fingerboard - now getting it ready for inlay.
(10/16/15) Fingerboard has been machined to the point where the next operation would be cutting fret slots and suitable recesses for the crystals we hope to use as markers. I'm going to see how well the crystals light up using LED light through fiber optic cabling. I tried earlier but lighting from the bottom didn't yield the results I was hoping for (too directional). Next phase will be illuminating from the sides and hopefully that will work well with the crystal facets.

Highslide JS
Marking body for some careful triming to size.
(10/9/15) I want to get the body trimmed down pretty close to our template profile because I need to know the exact area based on the instrument shape that will require the coating of crystals. I have already laid out the crystal distribution on the computer and I know roughly what area I need to cover and how many crystals will be involved (a huge amount). We anticipate a one-crystal 45 degree angle around the top too - we will see...

Highslide JS
getting the fingerboard work underway.
(9/29/15) Now that I have figured out the fiber optic and inlay options (at least in theory and a little R&D in my shop) I am cutting the fingerboard so that I can have it in a condition where I can work on the fiber optic channels and get the crystals embedded in such a way that I can illuminate them. I tried lighting from the bottom but achieved better results from lighting from the side. We're also adding fiber optic side dots so it will be a busy fingerboard!

Highslide JS
Finishing up the top plate.
(9/24/15) The last component of the top plate is being machined in preparation for gluing into a complete top. As soon as I get this done I will be machining the assembly to fit the top of the bass (especially around the heel of the neck). That will give me a solid platform onto which I will be doing some very accurate machining. I'm moving along as fast as I can with other features of the bass body/neck because when the top is on handling will be delicate.

Highslide JS
Gluing top plate components together.
(9/15/15) I am gluing two of the top plate pieces together. When the glue cures I will do some trimming to get everything closer to the template size and shape and then machine joint edges for the 2nd glue joint. When we are done I will have a very flat and nicely sanded top that I can start preparing as the top of the instrument. I think the secret to success on this top is too maintain a very tight degree of dimensional accuracy. More to come!

Highslide JS
Preparing the top plates for guling together.
(9/11/15) In this photo I am using the CNC to generate a nice clean joint edge on one of the top pieces so that I can yield an equally clean glue joint. I'm going to glue the top pieces into one complete piece and then joint in carefully to fit on top of the instrument and around the bottom end of the neck. I will then cet the top and the body shaped ito final profile so that te two pieces match perfectly. That will give me the best foundation for fitting crystals.

Highslide JS
This is the Hipshot headless hardware I will be using on the bass.
(9/6/15) I unpacked my "bass bling" bridge and string retainer today so that I could verify some dimensions on the body of the bass. This Hipshot hardware is very well made and it will look especially great on this bass as it will reflect some of the color of the crystals that will be covering the top of the instrument. I'm double checking the placement of the hardware as it relates to other features on the top surface of the bass.

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Getting some Black Limba ready for a top plate.
(8/27/15) Since we are going to be inlaying a large number of crystals in the top of the bass I spent a little time evaluating my material options for the top of the bass. I settled on Black Limba because it is very stable, quite lightweight and will respond well to the machining processes that I will be doing to prepare the top of the bass for the crystals. I want to keep weight to a minimum but the instrument's sound is still a big consideration.

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Hipshot 5-string headless bass hardware.
(8/11/15) I am going to use Hipshot's headless bass hardware on this bass. I have just ordered the unit but I wanted to show what ot looks like. The one we will be using will be chrome but will otherwise look just like the image shown here. Chrome will look better on the color scheme of this bass and will also reflect back some of the radiance of the crystals. The unit is also supplied with a string retainer for the end of the neck.

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Swarovski crystals which will cover the top surface of the bass.
(8/3/15) A note on the plans for the top of the instrument. I'm busy selecting a top material that will have the right qualities to tolerate the insertion of hundreds of these small crystals. (will post better photo soon). We hope to be able to evenly cover the top surface of the bass with these colorful little beauties. This involves som ecareful preparation so that the stay in place on a working instrument. I will have more details soon.

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Fingerboard prepped for upcoming CNC machining work.
(7/21/15) Fingerboard is now attached to a rigid support piece which will hold it right through the machining process, inlay, some of the fiber optic machining and even the fret work. This is now ready to be set up on the CNC machine where I will establish the outer perimeter of the board first, and then machine the compound radius which will in turn yield the correct thickness for the board. Wenge is a good choice for all of this because it is very rigid.

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Fingerboard cut and sanded.
(7/17/15) I now have the fingerboard blank rough sawn and drum sanded on both sides in preparation for a few machining operations. I will now attach this piece to a rigid base so that I can me clamping and machining process on the CNC much easier. I am looking forwars to seeing this fingerboard come together so that I can finish my experiments with the crystals I hope to light up with fiber optics and LEDs. Exciting stuff!

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Getting started on a really nice piece of wenge for the fingerboard.
(7/12/15) I'm getting busy in the fingerboard department. We are using a really nice tight-grained piece of wenge for the fingerboard which should work well with out color scheme. I will be doing my usual shaping and radiusing of the top surface but since we are planning to illuminate some crystals as fret markers, I will have to not only cut fiber optic channels for side dots but route some of the fiber optic cabling to the front-mounted crystals!

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Doing some rough shaping work on the back of the instrument.
(7/4/15) I'm in the process of shaping the back of the instrument, removing the excess material and carving things down to get much closer to the finished shape of the instrument. Right now I and carving the intersection of the neck and body to allow some comfortable room for the player's hand at the top end of the neck. Once this is done I'll finish up the body profile. I'm also working on a top plate at the moment.

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Machining around neck and top of body has now been completed.
(6/25/15) In this photo you can see that I have machined around the end of the neck and surfaced the entire top of the instrument. In the process of setting this operation up I had to re-visit all the calculations that needed to come together to make this bass work. Scale length, location of nut, size of bridge, and the alignment with the 12th fret and the upper horn. I think I have compensated for everything so far!

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Core and body are now one complete unit.
(6/22/15) I have done some sanding work round the body and at the back of the neck area but before I get too far shaping the back I need to get the top pf the body assembly machined so that we have a nice surface for the top plate. Given that we will be adding fiber optics I need to have a good flat and clean surface into which I can machine the channels that will house the fiber optic cables. So far so good!

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Core and body are now one complete unit.
(6/11/15) We now have a complete assembly of core section and body halves. Although the two body halves are left purposely oversize it gives me an idea of how the bass will balance. I can go ahead now and remove a good amount of the extra mahogany around the body profile so that we can work with a more complete shape. I'll do some sanding to make sure the back surface is completely flat and then we can move on to some machining.

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Second body half being glued onto core.
(6/9/15) In this photo the lower body bout is being glued onto the core section. The positioning of the two halves is fairly critical so I always take a lot of care in the gluing process to make sure everything is aligned and fits correctly together. I'm gluing against a flat melamine back plate which guarantees that the back surfaces will be pretty flush with each other when we are done which minimizes my clean-up time.

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First of two body halves being glued onto core.
(5/29/15) I have been doing a lot of background work on the core of the bass and since everything is now cleaned up and ready for assembly I am gluing the top body half onto the core section. I spent tome time making sure that all the components were correctly positioned along the length if the instrument. One special request on this bass was that the upper horn needed to extend out to the 12th fret. All looking good.

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Veneer is on core section and we're ready for body halves.
(5/14/15) I now have the maple veneer attached to both of the sides of the core section which now allows me to get the two body halves atached. I have trimmed the edges so that everything is ready for gluing. Next step is the upper body half so I have to find a suitable non-stick flat surface to use to clamp those pieces onto in order to get the perfect glue joint. I will illustrate that hopefully in the nexy picture I post!

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Gluing Maple veneer onto the sides of the core section.
(5/9/15) In order to get everything ready for assembly I am putting one more maple veneer into the joint area - this time applied to the two sides of the core section which I have previously machined flat. When the sides go on we'll have three nicely contrasting veneers in there. Once both sides are done I'll use the body template to accurately position and mark the two body pieces prior to gluing. Looking good so far.

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Preparing the core section so that I can attach the two body halves.
(5/2/15) It was necessary to machine the back face of the body core to a condition that was square and parallel to the opposing front face (previously machined) before I could go ahead and permanently attach the two body halves onto the core section. In this photo I have just finished cleaning up that surface. I will now be able to locate the body parts co-planar with this machined surface which always gives me the best results.

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Getting the second of three veneers attached to body joint faces.
(4/24/15) I decided it was best to apply three veneers on the body joints since the two woods we are attaching together are both darker woods. This will result in a very nice looking transition between the two woods. I will get this done not only to the two body halves but I will also apply maple veneer to the joint faces of the core. I do that to guarantee joint integrity and squareness. Should see this all go together soon!

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Gluing veneer onto the joint faces of the body halves.
(4/15/15) In this photo both the body halves are being clamped firml onto two pieces of maple veneer that will create part of a very nice joint treatment for the back of the bass. I'm not yet sure whether I will use 1, 2 or 3 vaneers, it will depend on what looks most appealing when I put the component parts together. Either way, I am looking forward to getting these body parts stuck onto the bass and moving ahead from there.

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Machining joint surfaces on body halves.
(4/7/15) Both the joint faces on the two body parts have been machined to size and are nice and flat level so that we can get a perfect joint on each. Next step will be to cut some veneer and apply that to each surface. I'm not sure yet if we will do 2 or three pinstripes, depends on how the woods look together but I will try it both ways and see what looks best. Once all that has been done we can glue body parts on and have something that looks like a bass!

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Preparing for milling flat faces on body halves.
(4/3/15) Just about to mill the joint face of each of these body halves so that I have a prefectly flat and square surface on both of them for veneer application. As soon as this is done I will glue decorative veneer onto both body halves and the center core before final assembly. This will result in a very attractive triple pinstripe effect. The back of this bass will have a lot to live up to based on our plans for the front!

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Top and bottom back bouts have been rough cut.
(3/23/15) The two mahogany body pieces have been rough sawn to shape. This is pretty old material and has a lot of good dark color. Also, for the purposes of this project it is fairly lightweight which is a good thing since we will be adding some material on the outside. Right now the objective is to get the joint faces of these pieces machined and add some decorative veneer to accent the joints. Should look really nice!

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Using my template to get the rough body contour on the mahogany.
(3/18/15) The mahogany is ready to be marked and cut for the back sections of the body. I'm using the template we recently created to mark the material slightly oversize. That allows me some finishing room and a little latitude if we want to refine the body shape once we see it on the instrument. I'm putting a separate top on this bass so that I can work on some chambering and fiber optics before we seal the body up!

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The two carbon fiber rods have been secured in the neck.
(3/11/15) I got the carbon fiber rods cut and fitted into the two slots that were previously machined into the neck. The process of gluing these in is slightly laborious and messy and you have to be careful not to get too much overspill of adhesive anywhere you don't want it! Lots of paper towels and harsh language later everything is right where it should be. This is a strong bonding adhesive and will cure overnight.

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Body design is established and I'm going to cut it out and use it for body halves and top.
(3/5/15) We have a body design we have pretty much settled on and I'm going to use this pattern (which is to scale) to define the profiles for the upper and lower body halves. I will cut this pattern out from the paper it's drawn on and mark the centerline so that I can use it when the complete body is assembled. When I cut the blanks I always make them about 1/8" oversize so that I have some latitude to adjust the shape a little.

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Just about to glue carbon fiber rods into the neck.
(2/25/15) I want to get the two carbon fiber rods secured into the neck assembly before too much else happens. I use a very high strength glue to assemble them into their respective slots and I usually have a little cleanup after the adhesive cures (which is good because I want the glue to fill any gape even although they are a tight fit. It's all about yielding a strong and rigid neck assembly - one of the most important objectives!

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Cut some nice mahogany for the two back body halves.
(2/17/15) I cut and sanded a couple of pieces of mahogany (from the same board) so that I could have blanks for the back body halves of the instrument. I have drum sanded them nice and flat so the next step will be to mark them out and rough saw the two halves to the shape of the body contour. Once I get them shaped I will machine the joint faces and apply some decorative veneer. When that's done i will attach the two halves to the core section.

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Cleaning up sides of the core section to be ready for body halves.
(2/2/15) I needed to get both sides of the core section machined to prepapre them for the veneers and the body halves that will be attached to each side. The machined faces have to be very accurately aligned to the neck taper that was previously machined and also square to the to surface of the core. I got both joint faces machined and the core is now ready to have some decorative veneer attached.

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Most of the achining on the core section has been done.
(1/19/15) Slots for Carbon Fiber rods have been machined into the corse section. I have also done a few other machining operations on the core to facilitate other operations down the line. I want to get the sides of this assembly machined soon so that I can start working on adding the body halves onto the core. In the meantime I have been doing some experiments with the fiber optic lighting and illuminating our inlay options.

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Cutting the outer perimeter of the core section.
(1/11/15) The neck to body angle has been established, and I have also machined the perimeter of the core which establishes final dimensions for the neck. I now have a good amount of the critical surfaces established. I am now planning to cut the two clots for the carbon fiber rods so that I can get this component off the CNC and move onto further operations. I also have some body and top plate material separated for this project.

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Cutting the upper joint face on the core section.
(1/6/15) I machined the top surface of the core section. This will be the joint face onto which the fingerboard will be attached so it has to be a good quality surface. It will also remain a reference surface for all the other features of the instrument to follow such as neck-to-body angle and the back surface of the body. Next I will machine the profile of the fingerboard and extend that geometry through to the end of the body section.

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Getting set up for some machining.
(12/22/14) I'm setting up the core of the bass so that I can get several machining operations done in one setup. This will prep the core for further steps such as the assembly of the back plates of the body. Right now I am truing up the blank so that I am as close as possible to parallel with the machine guides and square to the table surface. The Wenge and Padouk look great together on this part of the bass - should have a great neck!

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Neck components ready for final assembly.
(12/6/14) This photo shows the components of the core together. I am getting things set up to get these all glued todether into one piece. Once I get that done there will be numerous machining operations to get the core section ready for body parts. Cutting tapers and getting them veneered is fairly time consuming but I always like the end results. The back of this bass will have to look pretty good as we are applying a pretty fancy finish to the front!

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Padouk has been milled and we are ready for sub-assembly.
(11/19/14) Here are the three tapered components of the core of this bass. The center Wenge laminate has been vereered with maple on both sides so it can now be assembled with its neighboring Padouk pieces. The remaining Wenge outer pieces are being veneered too, and they will be added to the assembly as soon as they are ready. We will then have a core section that we can start machining. I need to discuss body details next.

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In the middle of cutting tapers on padouk laminates.
(11/9/14) I'm in the middle of machining the padouk tapers for this bass. The padouk chips and dust get everywhere but at least it's a nice color! I'm machining these two laminates to a pre-determined taper and once I have completed this i will apply some decorative veneer to the joint edges. The Bass will have a really nice combination of Padouk and Wenge which is a very predictable and resonant formula for a core like this.

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Machining the tapers on the Padouk laminates.
(11/2/14) Right now I have machined the center taper and also veneered it with contrasting maple veneer. Now I am machining the two Padouk laminates to their specified tapers. I want to get these machined so that I can keep everything moving in the gluing department. As soon as they are ready I will glue them to the center laminate and we will have an instrument core almost complete. These woods are going to nbe nice together!

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Gluing decorative veneer onto the center core component.
(10/15/14) OK, you can't see very much in this photograph, but I am gluing maple veneer onto the center tapered laminate of the core section of the bass. I'm gluing onto a non-stick surface and using corian material to hel distribute the clamping load across the whole section. I will be repeating this process several times for the various laminates that go together to form the complete neck/core of the instrument.

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Drum sanding all the neck components.
(10/15/14) Before I start machining these laminates to their respective tapers on the CNC I have to clean up both sides of these blanks on the drum sander so that I have good reliable flat surfaces to locate upon. Also - the laminates will be receiving decorative veneers on both sides so it's nice to start off with clean surfaces before any of that happens. I'm a big fan pf Wenge and Padouk necks - they seem to always yield good results.

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All the core laminates ready to be drum sanded
(10/9/14) All the laminates for the neck/core construction have been rough sawn out of the materials I purchased. Next task is to get them all drum sanded so that I have nice flat edges to locate further operations upon. I will clean up both sides of each piece and then move back to the CNC where I have a fixture on the machine table which will allow me to generate the tapers on all of these pieces. So far so good!

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Ready to cut up the Wenge laminates.
(9/26/14) Time to start cutting up the Wenge material for the remainder of the core section of this project. I want to get all the components of the neck cut because I will soon have time on my CNC machine to start cutting the tapers on these laminates. I plan to put in some really nice detail work on the back of this bass so that it can compete with the visual impact of the front of the instrument! More on that very soon!

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Padouk core laminates have been cut.
(9/21/14) I made an updated template for the profile of this instrument and based on that geometry marked out the cutting lines on my Padouk board. The two Padouk core sections have now been sawn out and are ready for sanding and subsequent machining to establish the appropriate tapers within the core assembly. I will also be cutting three pieces of Wenge to the same geometry so that we have all the components for the center of the bass.

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This is our target body countour - looks nice!
(9/12/14) By way of general reference I thought I would post the rough sketch of the body contour we are working towards on this bass so that we can compare at the other end of the project. It will be a double cut with a suitable cutout at the back end so that the ends of the tuner knobs are not exposed to damage outside the coutour of the body. Should be a very nice looking profile. I will post more refined vector drawings soon.

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Wenge will be the maIn component of the core of this bass!
(9/1/14) We are currently exploring wood options for this bass. One thing we know is that we want wenge to feature as the main neck wood. I may put a couple of complimentary laminates into the construction to balance out the tone and for aesthetic reasons but i still need to establish that with my customer. Other wood options are maple, padouk, pau ferro and a few similar complimentary woods that would combine well.

Last update January 2, 2015