Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

Custom 5-string bass (Serials 15B073)

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

   
Materials: Top & Back: Matching Highly Figured Walnut Neck/Core: Wenge Padouk and Curly Maple
  Body Center: Curly Maple
Fingerboard: 33" Scale Length, Material: Macassar Ebony 24 frets
Pickups: Watson - Hot Singles powered by Audere 18v 4-band EQ
Hardware: Hipshot - Gold - standard WG headstock
Options: LED lit side dots along fingerboard edge colors TBD
Finish: Gloss on body - Satin on neck. Some custom inlay on fingerboard.
Other: String spacing - 17.5 at bridge, 9mm at nut
  Custom inlay on fingerboard plus gold frets

This bass will be a very high-end deluxe model. We will be using very exotic woods and enhancing that with a high gloss polyester resin finish. 7-piece laminated neck! We also have some custom inlay involved.


Highslide JS
Working on finalizing the body contour.
(7/14/17) Left: Text and pictures coming. (7/18/17) Right: Text and pictures coming.
Highslide JS
Working on finalizing the body contour.

Highslide JS
I'm aligning the inner curve of the two horns to appear as one continuous line.
(7/5/17) Left: My customer requested a straight line from the lower contour of the upper horn to the upper end of the lower cutout. I marked that out but need to establish by hand. (7/10/17) Right: A lot of carving going on to get the nice straight transition between the body curves on the back of the bass. Pretty much there now.
Highslide JS
Working on finalizing the body contour.

Highslide JS
Working on finalizing the body contour.
(6/26/17) Left: These are the two continuous wood pickup covers with their lower halves glued on. They will be sanded and then machined internally. (6/30/17) Right: More work on the belly cut to get it to the right curve and depth. Best gage is to 'wear' the guitar and judge what feels best. Now to get it sanded smooth!
Highslide JS
Working on finalizing the body contour.

Highslide JS
Tuner holes have now been drilled through the headstock.
(6/15/17) Left: Got the holes drilled through the headstock for the tuners. I drill from both sides to avoid damage to either surface. (6/23/17) Right: It's now time for the belly cut on the back of the bass. This will expose the core material and the decorative pinstriping from the veneers and will look really nice!
Highslide JS
Roughing out the belly cut - I will be cutting a little more based on fit and comfort and then sanding it to a nice smooth finish.

Highslide JS
Working on finalizing the body contour.
(6/7/17) Left: Back to final shaping and getting all the transitions and surfaces in a condition where final sanding can get underway. (6/11/17) Right: Time to break out the gold Hipshot hardware I purchased for this project. I will be using the bridge fo finalize some body dimensions and I'll test the tuners on the headstock for clearance.
Highslide JS
Some of the awesome product from Hipshot that I will be suing on this bass.

Highslide JS
Headplate is now on the instrument.
(5/29/17) Left: This is the headstock with the walnut overlay attached. I have cleaned up the outer shape on the spindle sander. (6/3/17) Right: I got the headstock set up on a special dill press fixture I have for this purpose and drilled out the five holes for the Hipshot tuners. I will now probably add my logo on the truss rod cover.
Highslide JS
Set up to drill the tuner holes in the headstock.

Highslide JS
Attaching the walnut headplate onto the headstock.
(5/18/17) Left: The headplate is now bing glued onto the headstock which will allow me to get the headstock finished and tuner holed drilled. (5/23/17) Right: I spent more time working on the body contour and it id now pretty much sanded down to the final outer profile. There is still some filing and sanding to do to refine some areas.
Highslide JS
Working on finalizing the body contour.

Highslide JS
Very nice looking bookmatched headstock plate.

(5/7/17) Left: The headplate is ready to go onto the headstock. I'm going to cut the outer edges closer to the headstock profile then get this piece attached. (5/11/17) Right: I have trimmed the headstock and the headplate close to final dimensions . I need to create and angle on the back joint face and the plate can be attached.

Highslide JS
Headlate and headstock roughed in to close to final shape and I'm ready to attach the headplate.

Highslide JS
Time to get the two pickup recesses cut to their final depth.
(4/24/17) Left: Body of bass is up on the CNC to get the two pickup recesses cut to their final depth. Previously they were only as deep as the top plate. (4/26/17) Right: Pickup recesses successfully cut to depth. Takes a little care to make sure alignment is accurate but all went well. Will now get pickup covers completed.
Highslide JS
Nice to get this machining job out of the way. Pickup recesses are now complete.

Highslide JS
Doing some cleanup work after the gluing to even out the edge conditions.
(4/12/17) Left: I got started on cleaning up around the perimeter of the body. Initial goal is to remove any overlap and work on the two recesses under the horns. (4/18/17) Right: Working on the headplate getting it squared up and ready for machining of the truss rod cover. When that's removed I will attach the headplate on headstock.
Highslide JS
Headplate up on cnc for some machining work.

Highslide JS
Big step towared completion here as I get the top attached top the body of the bass. When it comes out it will get some cleanup time and I'll work to bring the body to template profile.
(4/1/17) Left: The top have been carefully adjusted and fitted to the neck joint and I can now get the top glued onto the body of the instrument. (4/7/17) Right: Top is glued on and I now need to mark body perimeter for cleanup around the edges to bring the instrument to its final size and shape. Looking good so far!
Highslide JS
Using my template to mark out the final body perimeter after which I will rough and finish the edges.

Highslide JS
Akmost have the top fitted - once I get it under the end of the fingerboard it's ready to be glued on.
(3/12/17) Left: I'm now testing fitting the top plate to make sure everything aligns properly. I will then get the top glued on to the rest of the body. (3/22/17) Right: It took a little work but I now have the top fitted including the necessary clearance for the fiber optic cables. I can now get set up for gluing the top onto the body!
Highslide JS
Top has been fitted to slide under the fingerboard and also clear the fiber optic cabling.

Highslide JS
Getting some neck carving done.
(2/26/17) Left: I'm outside and using one of my wood removal abrasive tools to rough out the back of the neck profile closer to finished dimensions. (3/2/17) Right: Potting of channel is complete and the surface has been leveled back down to match the rest of the top. Top is now ready for the application of the top plate.
Highslide JS
Potted area of fibers has been completed.

Highslide JS
Getting started on the potting of the fibers in the body area.
(2/15/17) Left: Installation of fibers complete and I am now add special filler to that area that area so that I can pot the loose fibers and re-establish a flat surface. (2/19/17) Right: Potting needs to be done in stages so that I can control the layering and order of the fiber optics. This is a few applications in, and almost there.
Highslide JS
Potting the channel is easy but I need a few separate applications to carefully fill the area behind the fibers and below fingerboard!.

Highslide JS
Removed all the fixturing and rubber bands and everything looks pretty good!.
(1/21/17) Left: The clamping has been removed from the fingerboard assembly and everything looks good. There's a but of clean-up to do around the edges but that is typical. (2/1/17) Right: Now that the fingerboard is cleaned up I need to get all of these fiber optics cleanly glued into the body of the bass and fed through to the control cavity.
Highslide JS
getting started on gluing the cables down in to the slot - typically 2 at a time as they are hard to control!.

Highslide JS
Getting set up to glue on the fingerboard.
(1/9/17) Left: Potting of FO cables is now complete and I am moving on to fitting the fingerboard assembly onto the neck and cutting suitable relief for the exiting cables. (1/14/17) Right: This is the fingerboard being glued on. I use special boards and many many rubber bands to apply even pressure all over the joint area - can't use too many!
Highslide JS
Fingerboard is now being glued onto the neck.

Highslide JS
Potting the back of the fingerbopard so that the whole thing is solid-state.
(12/23/16) Left: In this photo I am adding a special exoxy which is much more viscous and its job is to fill all th voids between the wood and the FO cables. (1/2/17) Right: Body is up on CNC and I cut a channel for the fiber optic cables to get from neck to control cavity. I also cut the wiring channels for battery, grounding and pickups.
Highslide JS
In anticipation of the upcoming assembly of top and fingerboard I got all the machining done on the top of the body.

Highslide JS
Almost done with installing the fiber optic cables.
(12/16/16) Left: I'm now working on the last of the fiber optic cables towards the 24th fret. They get securely glued in except for the last 1.5 inches or so. (12/21/16) Right: Happy to say last two fiber optic cables are glued in and I can now concentrate on getting the fingerboard finished up and ready to glue onto the instrument!
Highslide JS
Finished with the fiber optic installation.

Highslide JS
Installing fiber optic cables.
(12/11/16) Fiber optic installation well on the way and I should have this done very soon. I typically do a couple at a time to make sure nothing accidentally rises above the lower surface of the fingerboard and compromises our fit to the neck itself. The little curves from the brass sleeves to running the length of the board usually require a light amount of heat bending using an airgun in order to take any stress out of the fiber itself. So far so good!

Highslide JS
Fiber optic sleeves are in and ready for the cables.
(12/2/16) This is the fingerboard with all the brass sleeves installed and filed and sanded flush with the edge of the board. I am now testing each one to make sure I have passage for the fiber optic cables. That done, I will begin installing the cables starting from the nut end and gluing them in place progressively until complete. I will then pot the remaining space between the cables and the wood with a special filler and the fingerboard is done!

Highslide JS
Fitting and marking for fingerboard and upcoming fiber optic cables.
(11/26/16) Brass tubing sections are being glued into the side of the fingerboard and they have all been cut just a little oversize. I will be filing and sanding these ends flush with the edge of the fingerboard and that will get everything set up for the installation of the fiber optic cables. I will glue the FO cables in starting from fret 1 backwards towards the 24th fret. I am also about to cut a channel in the body to run cables to the control cavity.

Highslide JS
Side dot sleeves will be made from miniature brass tubing.
(11/21/16) These are the brass tubing pieces that I am about to use to insert into the side dot holes on the fingerboard. Because an unlit fiber optic looks dark I need to highlight the side dots in the event that the lighted option is not used and this brass material perfectly matches the gold hardware and will stand out in good contrast against the Macassar Ebony fingernoard material. I will be gluing these in each side dot and cutting off slightly oversize at each location.

Highslide JS
Fitting and marking for fingerboard and upcoming fiber optic cables.
(11/21/16) The channeling for the fiber optics has been completed and I have also done the wood removal required to connect the relative depths of the FO channels to the side dot holes. I am now doing some preliminary fitting of the fingerboard and I will be marking out our fiber optic channel in the body through which the fibers go from the fingerboard to the control cavity. Next task is to insert sleeves in the side dot holes and get the fiber glued in.

Highslide JS
In the middle of machining fiber slots.
(11/9/16) I'm part-way through the machining of the fiber optic channels. Everything looks good so far, slots are nicely aligned with the side dot holes and I have three tools I have to run to complete the job. Once the work is done I can remove all these fixturing pieces and deal with a normal fingerboard again. My CNC is always booked up with jobs so it will be good to get this one done so I can move towards attaching this fingerboard to the bass!

Highslide JS
Set up on CNC to cut FO channels.
(11/7/16) The fixture is now set up and squared and leveled on the CNC machine. I have a program ready and I am going to get all the fiber optic channels cut so that can move this project forward and get the fingerboard glued onto the neck! As a builder I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel - fiber optics demand some pretty intense and exacting work but the end result is a great feature for the player!

Highslide JS
Finished fixture for fiber optic channels.
(11/4/16) This is the rather fixture that's going on the CNC to allow me to cut the fiber optic channels. It looks complicated but the hardest part is just making sure all the areas I need to cut are exposed and the rest is area that I can use for clamping! As soon as my machine is free this will b set up and I will get the channels cut. Once they are cut I will have to do some manual grinding and shaping to connect those channels to the side dot holes.

Highslide JS
Hand fitted the top plate onmto the rest of the body.
(10/26/16) I spent a little time working on the fit of the top plate and neck. I had deliberately cut it a few thousandths small in order to custom fit it so that I achieved a really nice tight joint between the two parts. Now that I have these two snugly together I need to mark out the pickup and bridge locations and plan for cutting wiring channels in the top of the instrument core (below top plate). We also will be having fiber optic cables in the formula!

Highslide JS
Adding fixturing components to the fingerboard for FO channel machining.
(10/20/16) I now have a fixture attached to the fingerboard to allow me to hold the board upside down on the CNC machine. I have also created a vector file and associated program that I will use to machine out the fiber optic channels running from each side dot location to the back of the fingerboard. I'm getting things set up on the CNC so that I can get this operation out of the way and start on the fiber installation which is always a delicate job.

Highslide JS
Frets are all in.
(10/17/16) All the gold frets have now been seated in the fret slots of the fingerboard and although it's hard to see in the photo they look great! They are still oversize on width so I now have to trim them all to get them flush to the edges of the fingerboard. Since the gold material is very hard that will be a good amount of work - but fortunately there is not much to take off either side. Once that's done I will build the milling fixture.

Highslide JS
GFetting busy on the frets.
(10/15/16) I have bent the fretwire to the ideal radius and have cut all the frets to a little over the finished length for each fret location. While my fingerboard still has a solid lower surface and thereby a solid base to resist the pressure of fret installation, I need to install these frets. Once the fiber optic channels or the fibers are in it's much harder to get the frets in their slots! The gold fretwire looks really good along with the inlay!

Highslide JS
Preparing the fingerboard for frets.
(10/9/16) This is the fingerboard having been removed from the support material and prepped for fretting. I decided that it will be better and safer to proceed with fret work before the fiber optic cables are in so that will be my next schedules operation. I need to do some quick surface prep to the wood itself and then get my fretwire cut into the 24 pieces and install them. I imagine it will look pretty good when that's done!

Highslide JS
I'll be putting gold frets into this fingerboard soon!.
(10/3/16) Because this bass is mostly dark wood and has gold hardware, we decided that it would be a good idea to also use Gold EVO Fret wire on the fingerboard. This will match not only the hardware but the inlay on the fingerboard too. The gold wire is actually much harder than regular nickel frets and only a little less hard than stainless steel, so it will provide a great look against the dark fingerboard and will give us excellent wear resistance too.

Highslide JS
Side dots completed.
(9/23/16) I got all the holes drilled along the upper edge of the fingerboard and I can now get the board ready to fixture so that I can cut channels for the fiber optic cabling. To do that I will need to remove the board from its substrate and create a little holding fixture that will secure the fingerboard in an upside-down position giving me access to cut the required channels. Once that's done the board will be ready for assembly to the neck.

Highslide JS
Getting started on drilling holes for the fiber optic side dots.
(9/21/16) This is the fingerboard setup with the extra support material removed and set up for action on the cnc machine. I have to drill a series of holes on the upper edge of the fingerboard just large enough to insert small sections of brass tubing into each. That tubing becomes the support for the ends of the fiber optic cables. Right now I want to get them all accurately machined to a suitable and consistent depth.

Highslide JS
Fingerboard with most of its support substrate removed, ready for side dots.
(9/16/16) Since our fingerboard will have side dots that light up I need to get started on that by drilling a set of holes along the upper edge of the board which will hold metal sleeves. These sleeves support the ends of the fiber optic cables. I am getting things set up to get those holes established first of all, and after that I will be creating a little fixture that will hold the fingerboard upside down for the remaining machining that will be required.

Highslide JS
Sealing the upper surface of the fingerboard for protection.
(9/10/16) I got all the inlay established in the recesses of the fingerboard and since I will be doing a lot of handling of the board for the upcoming fiber optic slots, side dots and fret work, I thought it would be a good idea to add a few coats of sealer to the top surface. The next task I will do will probably to fixture the board on the CNC and machine out the side dot positions large enough for me to drop in small pieces of metal tubing that will act as sleeves.

Highslide JS
One of the larger inlays on the fingerboard.
(9/5/16) This is the end result of one of the inlays which actually seems to have worked out very well. I hasn't been completely cleaned up yet and will certainly look even more impressive when the fingerboard is finished. Nevertheless I am pleased with the way these are going in and anxious to get it all completed so that I can get started on fiber optic work and thereafter get the fingerboard fretted and attached to the instrument itself!

Highslide JS
About half way thought the inlay process - very detailed work.
(9/1/16) I have been cutting material for the inlay process and I'm about half way through getting the inlay done at this point. The shape of the inlay pieces make them extremely fragile and I'm having to do them one at a time so that if one breaks I can cut another until I see each location done. The shell looks very nice when it is installed so I think the end result will be pretty impressive. Once this is done I'll be cutting the back of the fingerboard for fiber optics.

Highslide JS
Doing some test work on the inlay to get the best I possibly can out of it. It breaks so easily so I have to be very careful.
(8/24/16) Back on the inlay again - it took most of the day to get this to work right but I now have what appears to be the right formula. I was able to etch the dividing lines between the two parts of the logo so that it looks much more like our artwork. I will now be able to move through the rest of the inlay locations and get this rather tricky operation out of the way! It will look nice on the finished instrument. I'll post a pic of the completed board.

Highslide JS
Have a test piece of inlay in the smallest inlay recess. Broke a few in the process until I got this one to cooperate but all the others will be easier.
(8/21/16) By way of experimenting I cut one of the smallest inlay pieces. Parts of this are so small that even careful handling will break them so I have to use special tools and magnifying glasses to see what's going on. If this one works out OK I will move ahead with the inlay process. I wanted to make sure that the process worked, that the piece would go in complete and that the color worked well against the fingerboard material. Looks promising so far.

Highslide JS
This is the basic geometry for the inlay although it will be one color of shell. I will try to etch the dividing lines.
(8/16/16) This is the basis for the design of the inlays on the fingerboard. I'm not yet sure if the two part will be workable on the smallest of the inlays (24th fret for example) as thise will be VERY small and very fragile, but for most of them I will try to etch the dividing lines or inlay the shell in two separate pieces. I will start on the smallest of the inlays and that will tell me what can be done with the geometry, and work from 24th fret down to 1st fret.

Highslide JS
fingerboard now prepped for inlay.
(8/10/16) This is the fingerboard with the top surface all cleaned up. I'm currently in the process of preparing the recesses for inlay as I need to get that all done before I start on the fiber optic work on the back of the fingerboard. I have some experimenting to do to see what the best results might be for the "M" logo that I will be using for inlay. I have some ideas that should yield good results and I will document that here. Also working on body!

Highslide JS
Got started on the inlay process - this shoul dlook really nice!.
(8/5/16) My customer wanted a custom inlay all the way up the fingerboard so I have now done the initial machining that will allow that to bcome a reality. I'm going to get the inlay completed before machining for the fiber optics because I have the advantage right now of having the fingerboard on a solid base so working on it and handling it is a great deal easier. Next step here is some sanding and then cutting inserts and shell to inlay - more info coming!

Highslide JS
Pickup tops have been harvested out of the top plate.
(7/11/16) This is the top plate with the two pickup pieces removed so that I can build them into continuous grain covers. The top is now more or less ready for assembly onto the body but our next few tasks will be related to getting fiber optic cables installed under the fingerboard. Once they are in the fingerboard will be attached. I will then route and secure the fibers through the body top the control cavity and then the top will be attached.

Highslide JS
Clamping the headstock veneer pieces together.
(6/7/16) In this photo I am gluing the two halves of the headstock plate together. It's not an easy shape to clamp hence all the different methods employed! Once these pieces are solidly attached to each other I will finish sand the plate and start work on adding decorative veneers on the underside. Once that is done I will trim closer to finished size and at some point around when the fingerboard is attached I'll cut out the truss rod cover.

Highslide JS
Setting top plate up on CNC.
(6/1/16) Top plate is now up on the CNC so that I can machine out the two pieces that will ultimately become the tops of the continuous grain pickup covers. I can't glue the top onto the body till after the fiber optics are channeled through but everything will be prepped and ready to do so as soon as the fiber optic work is complete. At that point everything will come together quickly and we will have a complete looking instrument.

Highslide JS
Text Coming Soon.
(5/22/16) Headstock parts have been cut out and I am currently bringing them to a working thickness on the drum sander. I will then add the same decorative veneers as I did under the top plate and as soon as that is complete I'll machine a joint face and glue these two headstock pieces together. I will rough the sape down close to finished size and complete everthing when I glue it of right after the fingerboard gets attached to the neck.

Highslide JS
Ready to cut the bookmatched pieces for the headstock plate.
(5/14/16) Time to look at the creation of our headstock veneer. These pieces have been taken from the same piece of wood that we used for the top plate of the bass. I am trying to use the portion of the material that will look best on the profile of the headstock. I have marked out the pieces to cut (slightly oversize) and I will get these thicknessed and glued together. The resulting piece will have the same decorative veneers as the top plate.

Highslide JS
Battery cavity complete plus serial slot and magnet holes.
(5/9/16) I have now machined out the battery cavity and also cut the slot which will house the serial number. I have also drilled three holes which after finishing, will hose magnets to hold the battery cover in place. I'll do the same with the control cavity but will drill the holes in a separat operation. You can see the bottom faces of the two cuts on the underside of the top plate. Once the fiber optics are in the body the top plate can go on.

Highslide JS
Just cut out the very accurate relief into which the end of the neck will dovetail into the top plate.
(5/7/16) We are back on the fingerboard and I have just run a program to establish all the fret slots. I wanted to get this part of the machining done so that I can work on the artwork for the inlay that we will be adding to the fingerboard. I am going to leave this setup on the machine after the fret slots are cut in anticipation of getting the artwork established. Looking forward to getting everything done on this part of the instrument!

Highslide JS
Text Coming Soon.
(4/27/16) I now need to establish the exact locations of the pickups on the top plate so that I can harvest out the continuous grain wood covers that will become part of the pickup cover assemblies. This, and a couple of other upcoming operations, has to be done before the top is glued onto the body. I will be locating the pickups relative to the bridge to optimize the sound of each of them and still leave some finger space behind the fingerboard.

Highslide JS
A quick glimpse of the Hipshot Hardware for this bass.
(4/21/16) The hardware on this bass will be gold plated and I almost always use Hipshot product based on their overall quality and the negligble weight of their Ultralight tuners. The image shows one of the 3/8" post reversible Ultralight units and also one of their Type-A 5-string bass bridges. Other gold hardware will be strap buttons, knobs and switches so that everything will look spectacular on this instrument!

Highslide JS
Control cavity has been machined out.
(4/18/16) This is the control cavity after I machined it to depth. There will be a 4-band eq system in here plus a bundle of fiber optics powered by one or perhaps two LED lamps. My customer decided he'd like to add the lights along the upper edge of the fingerboard so I have to machine the control cavity before the top is attached because I will need access to the interior of the body to channel the fiber optics through!

Highslide JS
Setting up to cut the control cavity.
(4/15/16) Next task is to establish the rest of the control cavity. This involves temporarily attaching the top plate to the top of the body and then machining the cavity from the back to full depth. That machining process will not only cut through the maple center core of the body but also extend into the back of the top plate. This is necessary due to the fiber optic installation which have to be installed before the top finally goes on.

Highslide JS
Just cut out the very accurate relief into which the end of the neck will dovetail into the top plate.
(4/11/16) I set the top plate up on my machine and based on my measurements on the body, the scale length and the actual width of the neck at the contact points I carefully machined out the space into which the end of the neck will fit. This then allows me to do the rest of my measurements for feature placement with the top in its correct location. I will be working on the pickup covers soon and it will all come together!

Highslide JS
Ha;f way through machining the fingerboard.
(4/11/16) This is the fingerboard after the profile has been machined to its final dimensions and the compund radius on the top has also been machined. I will be cutting the fret slots soon but I may take the assembly off the machine in the interim just to sand off the machining marks to achieve a nice smooth final finish before I cut the fret slots. I will also be planning to cut teh recesses for the inlay at some point in the future too.

Highslide JS
Doing the prep on the top plate so that I can machine out the neck cutout and fit it to the body.
(4/8/16) I now need to fit the top plate onto the body and the first thing i need to do to acieve that is to machine out a recess in the top plate equal in size to the end of the neck. This recess has to be positioned such that the top plate sits on centerline and at the right linear position based on the scale length and existing body contours and therefore needs careful planning. Size and position of the cutout are critical.

Highslide JS
Setting up to cut fingerboard.
(4/2/16) The fingerboard is now being run on the CNC machine for a few operations that will cut the board to the exact size, machine a compound radius on the top surface and cut all the fret slots to the correct depth. I will also cut the slot for the nut in the same setup. This will allow me to use the scale length (33") to accurately locate the bridge on the top plate. I will also be doing some inlay for my customer on the fingerboard surface.

Highslide JS
Fingerboard on support plat waiting for time on CNC.
(3/27/16) This is the fingerboard which I have now attached to a substrate material so that it stays rigid and flat through all the upcoming operations and also so that I have a convenient surface to use for clamping. As soon as my current machining job is done on the CNC I will get this part up there and start work on the basic features. I do have inlay to consider also but I'm planning on that being a second operation when artwork is established.

Highslide JS
Fingerboard being prepared for machining operations.
(3/25/16) I have been so busy I forgot to add a photo of the Macassar Ebony I will be using for the fingerboard on this bass. It will have just the right contrast and color to blend very nicely with the rest of the woods on the bass. Our inlay will look good on thos too. I am getting programs and fixtures ready to run this fingerboard on the CNC soon so that I can get it completed. We have some custom inlat going on it which I will document very soon.

Highslide JS
Removing wood from top of body assembly.
(3/19/16) Making a bit of a mess here but basically I'm in the middle of a couple of operations designed to create a perfect fit for the top plate when it is jointed to the body. Since we decided to add fiber optics as side dots I will also look at cutting the fiber channel in the body which allows the fibers to reach the control cavity. I will post a photo when I am done with this so it look a lot cheaner! Onward and upward..

Highslide JS
Ready to do some machining on the CNC.
(3/17/16) I now have this bass set up on the CNC so that I can do a few machining operations. The main objective here is to carefully establish a nice flat and even machined surface so that I get a perfect joint with the top plate. When the top is added, the surface has to be cut to just the right level to allow for bridge height and neck angle. I will also machine around the end of the neck so that I have a good joint face in that area too.

Highslide JS
Removing more material at the body/neck transition area.
(3/8/16) While I am waiting for an opportunity to get on the CNC and cut the pickup covers from the top plate I decided to do some work on the back of the assembly to start the shaping of the area where the neck meets the body. I'm just roughing things out right now as I need to do some refining of the body perimeter, but it gets us a bit closer to the final shape. I'm also going to get started on a macassar ebony fingerboard very soon!

Highslide JS
Body and top plate ready for machining operations.
(2/26/16) I have two machining jobs needing done. One is to machine the top surface of the body to a common plane, and in doing so, I will machine carefully around the heel area of the neck and shorten that to the finished length. I then need to cut the recess in the top plate that will allow the top to fit snugly onto the top surface of the body and around the end of the neck. I also need to consider the placement of pickups so that I can harvest out the tops.

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Chris, one of my customers, stopped by at the shop today.
(2/18/16) My Customer's are my life's blood and more often that not I never get to meet them in person. In this case though, Chris happened to be in California and was able to stop by and see his touch his baby! We were able to discuss fingerboard materials and inlay and other aspects of the upcoming development of this instrument while he was here. We decided to put the fiber optic side dots into the fingerboard so I'll be busy!

Highslide JS
Gluing the bottom body half onto the core section.
(2/9/16) This is the clamping arrangement to attach the lower body bout to the core section of the bass. After gluing on the upper section - I cleaned up the coontour and did some additional shaping to the back of the bass that would have otherwise been restricted by the lower body half. Now I can go ahead and get this lower half attached and I'm looking forward to seeing this instrument look a little more like a bass guitar!!

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Gluing the top body half onto the core section.
(2/3/16) I want to keep the ball rolling on this project and I had an opportunity between other tasks to get the top half of the body glued onto the core section today. Sinve this is a 33" scale bass I has to be observant of where the body halves connect with the core so that the bridge and other hardware all end up located in the right place! I will let this joint cure overnight and then move on to getting the lower body half attached in the same way.

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Adding dark veneer in preparation of attaching body halves.
(1/26/16) I am now adding a dark veneer to both sides of the core section which will appear in the middle of the two maple veneers I added to the body halves and core respectively. Once this has been done to both sides i will be able to get the body halves attached to the core and we'll have something that looks a bit more like a bass guitar. I need to also plot out the locations of the two pickups so that I can get the pickup covers cut out.

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Top plate has now been sucessfully glued together.
(1/22/16) I have machined the joint faces and very carefully glued and clamped the top plates together so that I coul dyield the best joint quality possible for the bookmatched top plates. The top is now one piece and ready for me to move to the next operation which will be machining out the recess that will allow the top plate to fit snugly around the end of the neck. As soon as my machine is free I will get that done.

Highslide JS
Gluing maple veneer onto body half joint faces.
(1/22/16) I am now busy gluing the maple veneer to the joint faces of the two body halves so that I can get them in a condition where they can be attached to the body core. They are still a little oversize on the perimeter because I like to have a little material to play with once the top plate goes on. It's always better to finalize the body contour with all these parts assembled together. I will attach them one at a time to guarantee alignment.

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Machining a joint face on the two top plates.
(1/20/16) The two top plates have been veneered twice and cleaned up on the spindle sander so they are now ready to be joined together to create the bookmatched top plate. In this photo I am machining straight and square joint faces on each plate so that I have the best possible chance for a nice clean joint down the centerline of the top when they are bookmatched together. This is going to be a very attractive top plate!

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Machining joint faces of back body halves.
(1/17/16) In this photo I am machining the edges of the body halves so that they are clean, straight and square. I need a very accurate surface on these faces to ensure a good clean joint integrity to the core section. Because we are connecting dark wood (Walnut) to dark wood (Wenge) I will actually employ three decorative veneers for the best possible visual effect. The core already has maple on it so I will probably add dark veneer to that.

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Gluing maple veneer onto the bottom of the two top plates.
(1/14/16) I have sanded to tops and bottoms of both of the plates for the top of the bass to guarantee their flatness and common thickness. Next step is to glue a couple of decorative veneers onto the underside of each. In this photo, I am gluing maple veneer onto the two pieces using the vacuum press. Once these have set I will clean up the excess veneer and then repeat the process using a dark veneer for contrast to the center core (Maple)

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The two halves of the top plate have been rough sawn from the parent material.
(1/11/16) The material for the top plate has been rough sawn from the blanks and I'm in the process of cleaning things uo around the edges. Next operation will be a quick run through the drum sander to make sure upper and lower surfaces are completely flat and exactly the same thickness. I will then glue two decorative veneers onto the back face of each plate. At that point they will be ready to be glued together to create a really beautiful bookmatched top!

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Back body halves glues but still rough - next is machining of joint faces.
(1/7/16) The two back body halves have been glued together and now require some machining to prepare the joint faces to the core so that we can assemble both pieces. Right now they are a little bit oversize all around. I will machine the joint faces next and when that's done I will add the same formula of decorative veneer onto both the body and the core before assembly. These wood combinations will look really nice together! More photos coming!

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Gluing the body half sub-assemblies together in the vacuum press.
(1/4/16) Since the last photo and update, I have created and fitted plugs into the cut recesses in the two Walnut body halves and made sure that they were securely glued in and cleaned up so that the back surfaces are perfectly flat for subsequent gluing. In this photo I am now gluing the walnut pieces into the maple center layers of the body assembly. When these are ready I will be able to machine joint faces and get thenm glued onto the instrument.

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Component parts cut out for battery cavity on teh back plate of the bass.
(12/24/15) In this photo you can see the upper back plate with the battery compartment cover removed from the parent material. I also cut a plug out of walnut which will be used to fill the recessed area behine where the cover was harvested. Most of this filler plug will be machined back out when the internal geometry of the battery cavity is machined. Same applies to the control cavity components. Now I glue then all together!

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Cutting to remove control cavity cover and create a step in the cavity.
(12/20/15) This is the end result of making a fixture to locate the initial cover cut, and then running another tool from the back side to release the piece that was cut from the front side (you can see it on the left of the photo). I now have to make a plug to fill the hole before I assemble the back plate onto the core but I'm happy that I have thi spart done. I do have to repeat this operation on the upper back plate to harvest out the battery cavity lid.

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Cutting out the control cavity cover.
(12/18/15) I'm on the CNC cutting on the first stage of cutting out the control cavity lid from the lower back plate. I use a very small end mill to make the cut and I cut deep enough so that I know I have exceeded the thickness of the intended cover plate. Once this is done I will remove the back plate, flip it over and machine the cover out from the back side. If I do all this right - I create a shelf for the cover plate to sit on in the process.

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Getting some programming doen for the control cavity.
(12/12/15) I was on the computer today evaluation the geometry of the battery and control cavities. Since I need to machine the two back plates I need programs for harvesting the continuous grain covers and also for creating recesses and plugs so that I can complete the body halves (this will be more evident as we document the process). Right now I am creating programs that will cut out the covers for me so that I can keep things moving!

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The veneered back plates and the center Maple core.
(12/7/15) Both veneers are now part of each of the back plates and the photo shows them paired up with their center Maple pieces. They are all quite a bit oversize at the moment, but after I create the cavity covers and recesses I will get them shaped a lot closer to final profiles. I am getting things ready for the two back plates to go on the CNC as soon as the machine is free so that I can get the covers cut out and prep them for assembly.

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Maple veneer already on, now adding some Lavoa veneer as a dark contrast.
(12/2/15) The back plates are now in the vacuum press again this time to secure some darker veneer onto them. Once this is done I will trim them up and get each plate ready for some CNC machining in order to harvest out the upper and lower cover pieces. I will retain the cover pieces for cavity covers and then do some additional machining to plug the resulting holes and get them both ready for assembly onto the maple body blanks.

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sanded back plates just about to have maple veneer attached.
(11/26/15) Now that the back plates have been cleaned up around the edges i can start applying the two layers of veneer. It the photo they are just about to be put into the vacuum press where the Maple veneer will be glued onto the underside of each plate. I will repeat this same process with a darker veneer and they will then be ready for further operations. Each piece will need a cavity lid harvested on the CNC machine.

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The two back plates have been rough sawn and sanded.
(11/22/15) Back plates have been rough sawn from the raw material and I have also run them through the drum sander to clean up the two surfaces on each. I now have nice clean and flat surfaces to add my veneer to. Before I glue these pieces onto the maple core I will forst add two layers of veneer (light then dark). I will also have to do some machining to the lower piece to harvest out the continuous grain control cavity cover.

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Have the top plate marked out so that I can rough saw the pieces and get them sanded.
(11/14/15) This is the body profile (again oversize at this point) drawn out on the top plate of the bass. This willallow me to get the tow halves of the top plate rough sawn and they will then be sanded flat and have some maple veneer added to the undersides. This will combine with the dark veneer on the maple center pieces to yield a double pinstripe all the way around the top plate. More photos of that as we proceed.

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Marking out the pieces of Walnut that will become the two back panels on the bass.
(11/9/15) I have the two Walnut playes for the back panels ready to cut. I wanted to make out the slightly oversize body profile on the material to get a good idea how the bopdy and the grain pattern will work together. I need to get these gut, sanded and veneered so that I can move things on to the next stage of construction. The bass will have a mirror image woodgrain pattern front and back - you don't often see that. Should be amazing.

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Body blanks have been rough sawn from Curly Maple board.
(11/4/15) These are the two center pieces for the upper and lower body halves which I have cut out of my curly maple stock. They are only rough sawn and oversize at this stage but I will clean everything up close to actual size as I start gluing pieces together. These two pieces now need to be drum sanded flat and they will have dar veneer applied to both surfaces in preparation for futher assembly. We will soon see a bass with a body!

Highslide JS
Gluing maple veneer onto the core assembly.
(10/26/15) This is the core section with the maple veneer attached to the joint faces where the body halves will be attached. The body halves will also have contrasting veneers attached so that the combination will look really nice when the joints are complete. While this is all happening I am working on the body half components. I will be cutting the center (Maple) pieces and drum sanding, then adding veneers to those pieces too!

Highslide JS
Gluing maple veneer onto the core assembly.
(10/22/15) While I'm preparing to work on the body parts I am also continung work on the core of the instrument. In this photo I am gluing some maple veneer onto the joint faces that will accept the body halves when they are ready. Doing this will create the same multiple pinstriping between the core and the body as we have between the neck laminates. This will create some additional continuity throughout the finished instrument.

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Ready to cut some Maple for part of the body half assemblies.
(10/13/15) I have been looking through the stock I have on hand for the center pieces of the body halves. I selected a piece that has good figure along the sides of the material since that will be the area visible in the final assembly. The body halves will be three layers (Walnut, Curly Maple and Walnut) separated by contrasting veneer layers. This maple will be the "meat" in the sandwich. The wood combinations weill yield very good sound properties.

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Doing some shaping to the back of the headstock.
(10/7/15) I set the core section up on the CNC recently and machined the headstock thickness down to a suitable size. After that was done I stared carving and grinding the back of the headstock to start creating the volute that adds strength to that transition area. This mostly involves grinding away at the wood to blend with the machined surface of the back of the headstock. In the photo I am about hallf-way through that process.

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Machining accurate surfaces to prepare for the addition of the body halves.
(9/26/15) In preparation for the attachment of the body sides I am machining the two joint faces of the core section to very accurate surfaces which are flat and square. This will give me perfect joint surfaces for the addition of the body halves. I will also be adding a decorative maple veneer onto each of these surfaces so that we keep the pinstriped theme throughout the instrument. I'm also working on the body halves and walnut back plates.

Highslide JS
Machining the back of the core section.
(9/18/15) In order to get moving on the body parts I need to eastablish a final thickness for the body section and machine the back surface of the core parallel to the front surface I generated which has the neck angle built in. Now that I have established this surface it will be sanded and end up being the final finished surface on the back of the instrument. My next task is to rough cut the back plates from my maple and Walnut stock.

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headstock area has been roughed out.
(9/11/15) This is the headstock of the instrument after I have glued on extra wenge to expand the width to accommodate the headstock profile. After attaching the extra material I cut off the extra material to leave a rough sawn profile which I will refine to shape after I have machined it to a suitable thickness. We are going to add a headplate to this headstock using the matching wood from the top of the body.

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Gluing the two carbon fiber rods into the neck section.
(9/6/15) It's time to get the two carbon fiber rods glued into the neck. I use a special grade of epoxy to do this. The rods are approximately 1/8 wide by 5/16 tall and fit snugly in the slots I machined. They do add a lot of the stability and rigidity of the neck assembly. The adhesive takes a while to fully cure so i always leave a setup like this overnight before I unclamp and do any cleanup. Next job is to add headstock material.

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The two slots for the carbon fiber rods have been machined into the neck area.
(8/29/15) The core section re-visited the CNC machine today so that I could get the two slots machined that will contain the carbon fiber rods. These will add strength and rigidity to an already strong neck assembly so that we get the very best out of the finished instrument. I will now saw off some of the excess material and get the headstock edges ready for a couple of extension pieces which will then be machined flush.

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Core section machined and ready fop the next few operations.
(8/21/15) This is the core of the bass with the truss rod machined into it. Right now it's waiting for some rough sawing to remove excess material after the previous operation and then I will prepare and glue additional Wenge material on the headstock area. This will cover the extra width requires for the headsock. When that is done I'll then re-machine the headstock andgle and while it's on the machine cut the two slots for carbon fiber rods.

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Roughing out the headstock angle.
(8/15/15) Having machined the top surface which becones a datum surface for many other machines areas, I then moved on to clean up the headstock angle. Main purpose for this was to create a flat and co-planar surface I could rely on while I machine out the truss rod access area (which I will be doing soon). I will run a sililar operation on the body end where I generate the very critical neck-to-body angle.

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Top surface of neck assembly has been machined to a flat datum surface.
(8/12/15) I have started some of the machining processes on the core section. My setup requires that I align the blank pretty close to horisontal (with respect to machine axes) and definitely squate to the table surface and x-axis of the machine. That in turn guarantees me predictable and accurate results. First step here was to remove enough material from the top surface so that we ended up with a nice clean top neck surface.

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Getting the core set up on the CNC for several upcoming machining operations.
(8/10/15) It's time to set up the core section of the bass for some CNC machining operations. I need to cut the top face of the neck onto which the fingerboard will be attached. I then have to machine the neck-to-body angle on the body section. Following that I will cut the neck perimieter to its finished dimensions. Then I will machine the headstock andgle and finally I will cut a truss rod slot and two carbon fiber rod slots.

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All seven core laminates are now assembled.
(7/30/15) This is the 7-piece laminated core now complete and ready to go to the next stage of production. I can tell from handling this sub-assembly that we will have a nice resonant center piece for our instrument. Next immediate step will be to get the core up on my CNC machine and establish a joint surface for the fingerboard, cut the neck profile, machine truss rod and carbon fiber channels, generate neck-to-body angle.

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Six out of seven laminates have been glued together.
(7/27/15) In this photo we are looking at the successful assembly of six of the seven core laminates. It's been a lot of intensive gluing of tapered lams and veneers but all this detail work at this stage of the game really pays off at the other end. I like to build these basses so that the back looks almost as awesome as the front of the instrument. Short term goal here is to get this neck/core assemble complete so that I can move on to machining operations.

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Highlighting the triple veneers between some of the laminates.
(7/24/15) I wanted to show how the different tapered laminates and veneers are coming together in the neck and this photo shows a little bit of what the end result will look like. There are three veneers between the wenge and padouk laminates (maple/lavoa/maple) and I filed down a little of the top so that the distinction between these contrasting veneers can be seen. It's hard to show on rough cut material like this but will be very obvious on the finished bass.

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Gluing veneer onto the two maple laminates.
(7/15/15) I am now gluing dark veneers onto both sides of the two maple laminates. Sometimes it feels like I am gluing veneers forever but it's just a repetitive task that has to be done before we get to the more exciting phase of assembling the core section. We are almost there! This should be a very nice looking assembly as I have double veneers on everything. I will be able to illustrate this in photos to come.

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RMaple veneer going on to the outer Wenge laminates.
(7/11/15) The only two core laminates that do not need to machined to tapers are the two outer strips. These I sand flat to make sure I have the best possible joint faces but they are assembled in the neck structure at full thickness because when I machine the neck profile their widths will be established in that process. Here I am applying maple veneer to the inside joint faces so that they are also ready for assembly.

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Ready to cut the two Maple laminates.
(6/25/15) In this photo I am setting up the machine to cut the appropriate taper onto both of the maple laminates. Once these are done I will have all the taper machining complete for this instrument and we can then finish up the veneering and get the pieces assembled into one beautiful multi-laminate neck. I have been getting these done as quickly as I can based on machine availability so I'm happy this is the last op on this machine!

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Laminates with maple veneer glued on both sides.
(6/18/15) I have been busy machining, sanding, gling and cutting. The objective right now is to get as many of the veneers as possible applied to the core laminates so that I can get to a point where I can start assembling these pieces together, In the picture you can see a wenge and a padouk laminate both with maple veneers applied. Once I have cleaned them up they will be ready for the first core sub-assembly.

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Gluing Maple veneer onto Wenge laminate.
(6/11/15) In this photo I am working with the central laminate and gluing maple veneer onto that. It needs maple on both sides and once that's done and cleaned up I will probably put a darker veneer on both sides (lavoa or walnut) which will give a third contrast to the back of the instrument. I have done this before in the past and it looks really nice! Once that's done I'll be able to glue the center Wenge laminate to its two Padouk neighbors.

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Gluing Maple veneer onto Padouk laminate.
(6/5/15) Now that I have some of the tapered components of the core of the bass cut I can start preparing them for assembly. They need a little surface cleanup on my sander and then I start gluing the appropriate veneers onto the woods. In the cases where I am treating darker colored woods I will use a maple veneer and in this case I am gluing the veneer onto one of the two Padouk laminates. I do this to both sides.

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Cutting the center Padouk laminates to their prescribed taper.
(5/30/15) Now I am busy machining the two Padouk tapers for the core of the bass. These are pertty much complete so I will be taking them off the CNC, cleaning them up and applying decorative veneer to the sides in preparation for gluing them together. Always exciting to see the core section come together. I glue from the center strip outwards so I will be starting with the Wenge center strip and gluing these padouk pieces on either side.

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Cutting the center Wenge laminate to its prescribed taper.
(5/22/15) This photo shows the machining process whee I take a laminate of wood and cut it to a tapered component of the neck assembly. In this case it is the center lamnate of the neck and needs to be about .150" at one end and .445" at the other. Once this piece is done I will run the pairs of maple and padouk laminates and start gluing the pieces together as I progress with the machining. 7pc neck so it requires some work!

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In the process of drum sanding the opposing faces of the wood laminates to generate good surfaces.
(5/16/15) Next process I have to do it get both sides of the laminates sanded to a condition where they are flat and co-planar. I need good quality surfaces to locate on the CNC machine and thereafter when I am applying layers of decorative veneer to accent the joints. This is the center core of the bass so it's the only piece that gets treated individually (the others are all pairs). I will get this piece cut to a taper and assemble from there.

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The Padouk laminates have now been cut and I'm moving everything to the drum sander to clean up joint edges.
(5/11/15) The Padouk laminates have been sawn to template sizes and I now have the complete set for the neck/core assembly. Next step is to get all these pieces sanded so that their sides are nice and clean and they are ready to be mounted on the cnc table for the machining of the tapers. I just ordered some veneer for the pinstriping that will exist between the individual laminate pieces. Will be cutting the body pieces soon!

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Getting some Padouk ready for the final two laminates.
(5/5/15) I have two more neck/body laminates to cut, this time out of Padouk. These will have a contribution to the overall tone and resonance of the neck and at the same time create a really nice aesthetic addition to the look of the back of the instrument.I will get these cut out and sanded on both sides so that they are ready for machining to their taper dimensions on the CNC. Following that we can start assembling the core section of the instrument.

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Top and back material came in - looks awesome.
(4/29/15) Just a quick glimpse of the material we will be using for not just the top of the bass but also the back of the instrument. In an unusual opportunity we purchased consecutive slices of Walnut from the same parent material so that the grain on the front and back will be almost identical! The wood is beautiful even in its dry condition so I know it will look awesome when it is lacquered. Good to have this stuff so early in the project!

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All 5 core laminates are ready for sanding and machining.
(4/10/15) I cut a 5th neck laminate from Wenge stock. I will also be adding two Padoul stringers to make a 7-piece assembly. I now have to get these run through my drum sander so that the sides are flat and consistent. Doing so will give me good reliable faces to use for mounting on the CNC machine in order to machine the tapers on each piece. The maple is nice and curly and that will look really nice on the finished instrument!

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The two curly maple laminates have now been rough sawn.
(4/4/15) I took the opportunity today to cut out two more laminates for the core of the instrument from curly maple I had purchased not long ago. I ned to get these up on my CNC machine so that I can machine the appropriate tapers on them. I also need to cut one more Wenge laminate for the center of the 5-piece neck. Once I get these machined I will be adding some decorative veneers to each face for a beautiful end result.

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Two of the wengd laminates have been rough-sawn.
(3/22/15) Work is under way. I have just rough cut two of the three Wenge laminates for the core section of the instrument. I will be cutting similar Curly Maple and Padouk components so that I can start making the "heart" of this instrument. The laminates will be a very nice combination of Wenge, Maple and Padouk - a very safe and reliable recipe for a bass neck! I have the other materials in teh shop so will be cutting more very soon.

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Wenge planks which will soon become neck components.
(3/15/15) One of the main components of the neck and core of this bass will be Wenge. I picked up some material for this project (both maple and wenge) and I will be cutting laminate blanks from these pieces. As always I was careful about selecting the wenge with just the right grain structure, since the grain orientation and "tightness" of the grain varies a lot in the material available. It's always a good idea to hand select wenge for that reason.
Last update March 18, 2015