The V Bass – part one

I was thinking about some new build ideas for this year, and I posted a poll on the Rob Chapman forum. I had several ideas, and in the end I decided to combine two of them for this build, and make a flying V, 5-string bass.

I started out by making a through neck to be the basis of this build. This was a bit tricky because I wanted to taper the central strip, and getting a consistent taper along a piece that was about 120cm long was not an easy job. That central piece is padauk, bounded by maple and then ovangkol, with thin purpleheart strips on either side of each of the maple strips. If you think that I was just using up whatever I had that was long enough, you might not be wrong! 🙂

I added some more padauk and purpleheart strips at the body end to make it thick enough for the bridge and pickups, and then I made the body wings out of sapele.

An early version of the back of this bass

The top of the body will be a nice flamed maple cap. This was originally a very thick cap which I cut into two thinner ones, and because my bandsaw skills are not very good, the caps ended up being thinner than I wanted, at about 6mm. I therefore decided to make a double cap, using a second layer of padauk. Finally, the fretboard is ebony.

The next picture was quite a bit further along, after the body had been glued together and all of the cavities and weight relief had been drilled & routed out. This picture shows the padauk and maple cap too.

The body and cap, with a glimpse of the ebony fretboard!

I spent quite a lot of time shaping the cap where it fits around the end of the fretboard and the neck of the bass, since I didn’t want any gaps there. The fretboard overhangs the neck by a few millimetres to hide any possible gap there but the sides had to fit tightly.

I took a tip from John Ambler and cut pieces of sponge to fill the cavities – apparently this helps to prevent feedback.

You can also see the channel for the cables, going through where the pickup cavities will be routed.

Once everything was ready, the top was glued on and then I shaped the sides. I decided to make a tapering chamfer down the sides of the wings, and the bottom part, inside the V, is chamfered to show the body and neck.

Planing the chamfer down the side

Now the top looks like this – it’s a bit messy because it’s been very hot over the summer and I’ve been dripping sweat all over it! That should sand out quite easily, though.

The body, ready for….whatever the next step will be!

I have carved the neck and worked on the headstock, which also has a veneer of the maple. My biggest quandary is what colour to stain the top. For the moment, however, this build has been set aside while I finish off some other current projects, but I hope to be back working on this one in September.

Continue to Part Two…