Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

Wishbass Conversion Project


This is an interesting challenge - my customer needs a Wishbass instrument converted to fretless and headless! I'm working on making this happen using the available features on the instrument and some new parts.

Features: Fretless - 24 fret lines - bass clef inlay
  Modified body shape
 

Fiber optic illuminated side dots on upper edge of fingerboard

  New custom wound pickup and Audere 4-band preamp
  Added 18v battery compartment

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(1/10/18) Left: Text and picture coming. (1/13/18) Right: Text and picture coming.
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(1/5/18) Left: The new cavity has been machined and cleaned up. I also had to fill a couple of areas from the original cavity to yield a nice flat surface. (1/8/18) Right: I am now cutting the brass sleeves that will be inserted into the upper edge of the fingerboard. They will support the outer ends of the fiber optic cables.
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(12/27/17) Left: Instrument is now set up on the CNC and ready for me to cut the control cavity and lid recess. We will make a new lid separately once this is done. (1/1/187) Right: Lid recess has been machined successfully and I'm now cutting the control cavity itself inlcuding bosses for the neo magnets to hold cover on.
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(12/21/17) Left: Getting the programming all set up so that I can start cutting out the larger control cavity on the back of the instrument. (12/23/17) Right: I have the cavity and the cover recess programmed so I will be securing the bass onto the CNC machine as soon as possible to get this feature machined out.
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(12/12/17) Left: I have removed a significant amount of body mass on this bass. Doing the refinements now and blending things in. (12/16/17) Right: This is the slleve material I will use. I have cut a set of sleeves that will be inserted into the side dot holes on the edge of the fingerboard. Once they are glued in I'll start on fibers.
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(12/7/17) Left: I sawed and sanded off most of the substrate material so that I can get access to the back of the fingerboard again. I'll do a final cleanup before fiber optic installation. (12/8/17) Right: This is the cleaned up botton of the fingerboard. I now have to cut a number of little sleeves and insert them in the side holes.
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(12/5/17) Left: This was a tricky setup to get going but I am now machining the pattern and it looks like it is going to work out fine. Just need to cut it to the required depth then I will have some manual cleanup to do. (12/6/17) Right: Everything is now machined into the back of the fingerboard and ready for fitting the side dot sleeves.
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(12/2/17) Left: Taking more meat off the body of the bass and I have to say it's already a lot lighter. Just want it to look sleek and clean and feel nice. (12/3/17) Right: I am adding a few features to the fixture for cutting fiber optic channels so that it's easier to retain the board while machining is being done.
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(11/29/17) Left: This is my vector drawing that I created which will become my toolpath fopr the channels for the fiber optic cabling under the fingerboard. (12/3/17) Right: More cutting and carving on the back - there is a LOT of material that needs to be removed to achieve our goals! Much closer now and may wait till fingerboard is on.
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(11/24/17) Left: This is the fingerboard with the original substrate removed. I now have to add different support pieces so that I can hold it upside down. (11/26/17) Right: I have now added some support pieces so that I can retain the fingerboard bottom side up on the CNC and get the slots for fiber optics cut.
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(11/18/17) Left: Busy carving away at the back of the neck and body to create a more playable neck profile. I will finish this after fingerboard is attached. (11/22/17) Right: This is the bass with the initial body modifications roughed out. I need to get in there with the drum sander and get the profile completed.
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(11/10/17) Left: One of my next tasks will be the machining of a larger control cavity which will be designed to hold preamp, battery, fiber optic cables and LEDs. (11/14/17) Right: Starting to modify the back of the body - I need to gring out a LOT of material behind the neck, then I will reduce the thickness of the neck.
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(11/5/17) Left: I'm currently drilling the holes for the fiber optic sleeves in the upper edge of the fingerboard. Since it's a fretless they need to be placed on the lines rather than between. (11/7/17) Right: I placed the fingerboard on the bass to establish the modifications needed for the body contours which I am getting ready to cut.
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(11/1/17) Left: Next task on the fingerboard is establishing all the side dot positions and holes for the sleeves that will be inserted in each for the fiber optic cabling. (11/4/17) Right: Locations marked and I will be using a special cutter to establish these holes deep enough to connect with the chamber machined on other side.
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(10/24/17) Left: I have my fiber optic cabling and I'm ready to start machining the back of the fingerboard to establish the channeling. (10/27/17) Right: I have also been marking out the body of the bass to define the cut lines for our modified profile. Once I have this done I will know what space I have for cavity/batteries.
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(10/18/17) Left: I got all the shell carefully installed in the fingerboard and now I need to add a protective finish to seal all the inlay areas. (10/20/17) Right: Shell inlay installed and sealed and looking really nice. Looks like this bass will get some attention! Next I have to machine the channels for the fiber optic cabling.
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(10/13/17) Left: I am now cutting the shell pieces for both the dots and the bass clef inlay on the top of the fingerboard. I am using a gold colored shell. (10/16/17) Right: The fingerboard is now on another bench in my cleanroom getting the various components of the inlay secured into the fingerboard recesses.
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(10/9/17) Left: Just got finished with the third operation of cutting recesses in the fingerboard. Took a little more work than I figured but it's done - now on to inlay!. (10/10/17) Right: Recesses done and I'm now setting up substrate pieces to allow me to inlay the shell and conform to the compound radius of the top the board.
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(10/7/17) Left: This is our new fingerboard back up on CNC and this time we are cutting recesses into which we will be locating the bass clef inlay. (10/8/17) Right: We are part of the way through the inlay recess work - I have tw0 more cutting tools to run and then I can take the whole thing off the CNC machine.
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(10/4/17) Left: Getting some technical drawing done for the custom pickup we have to make to suit the new geometry of this bass. (10/6/17) Right: I wanted to show a photo of the end result of the fretslot work. I think the color came out just right and a good contrast with the wood. I now have to machine and inlay the bass clefs.
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(10/1/17) Left: Truss rod slot and slots for carbon fiber now established. I can only go about 3/8 deep as I want to thin the neck out when we are done. I think this will add some good strength. (10/2/17) Right: This is the end result of all the work that I did on the top surface of the neck. Truss rod and CF rods all in and secured.
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(9/30/17) Left: Neck has been machined and I am now getting everything ready to install the truss rod and two carbon fiber re-inforcing rods. (9/30/17) Right: I'm setting everything up for not only the truss rod slot but the carbon fiber slots too. Need to give this neck some inner strength and that's the best way to do it.
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(9/28/17) Left: I'm cutting off the old fingerboard taking great care to generate a surface that will work with the ABM tuners. Didn't look like the WB had a neck angle. (9/29/17) Right: This is a very delicate operation. ABM bridges are different from the standard WB bridge and I need a neck angle. Took just enough material off.
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(9/25/17) Left: Last application of filler on the fngerboard and all the slots are done - just have to wait till it is fully cured and I wil then sand and scrape everything nice and flat!. (9/27/17) Right: Getting the instrument set up on my CNC for a few upcoming machining operations on the fingerboard/neck area.
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(9/21/17) Left: Third application of dyed filler but we're moving forward and getting it done! I think it will look nice and clean. As soon as this is completed I will do the inlay work for the bass clefs. (9/23/17) Right: I'm now looking at the geometry for the custom pickup we will be installing. Have to make this one from scratch!
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(9/17/17) Left: Edges of the fingerboard have been taped off so that I can get started on the gold colord filler. Will probably need a few applications. (9/18/17) Right: I'm getting started on potting the fret slots with a base layer of epoxy and I am just going to keep this process going while I do other tasks to this project.
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(9/13/17) Left: I did a test for my customer to see if I could give us a fret markers in the color he wanted. This one was done with and epoxy filler and dye. (9/15/17) Right: The fingerboard has had a generous coat of sealer so that I can go ahead and get the fret slots filled with our colored filler. Should look good!
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(9/9/17) Left: This is my layout of bass clef artwork for the fingerboard. I want the clefs to be pretty bold so that the shell shows up. (9/11/17) Right: Text and picture coming.
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(9/6/17) Left: Moving along woth the string retainer - I have all the string holes established and now have to cross drill and then thread for the set screws. (9/7/17) Right: I have sanded down the top of the fingerboard to remove the machining marks. It's now nice and smooth. The lines are the fret slots full of dust!
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(8/31/17) Left: Did some initial surgery to the headstock area of the bass. I'm leaving a little spare material right now until I know how things are coming together. (9/4/17) Right: More work being done on the string retainer - I started it early because they are always a lot of time and work to manufacture this part.
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(8/27/17) Left: Machining of the compound radius on the top of the fingerboard has been done. In the interest of speed I will sand later when board is off machine. Next is fret lines. (8/29/17) Right: This is the fingerboard with the compound radius machined onto the upper surface. I will need to do some sanding to remove machining marks.
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(8/25/17) Left: The assembly for the fingerboard is up on the CNC and I have started by thicknessing the entire board and cover piece to just over final size. (8/26/17) Right: Just completed the machining of the external profile of the fingerboard. I adjusted the dimensions to suit the Wishbass neck width so everything should work out.
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(8/21/17) Left: I have lot of calculations to do in order to guarantee that this bass can be converted to multi-scale and that everything will work! (8/23/17) Right: Got started on making a custom string retainer which we will need once the neck has been completed. I cut it from solid brass bar and will machine it to size and drill and tap holes.
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(8/19/17) Left: I cut a piece of 3/4 MDF which I will use to support the fingerboard during machining. Lower side of board has been sanded flat and I will glue it to the MDF. (8/20/17) Right: I have the fingerboard and end piece being glued onto the MDF in the vacuum press. This will give me a very stable assembly for machining.
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(8/14/17) Left: First job is to inspect the instrument and then strip off most of the hardware so that I can start taking critical measurements. (8/17/17) Right: This is a piece of very straight grained Bocote which will work really well as a fretless fingerboard. I will use this to create the new multi-scale fingerboard and cover over fiber cables.

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Last update Agust 18, 2017