Custom Bass Guitar

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Project by Alex Lane posted 12-03-2007 03:37 PM 7780 views 3 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally got some pictures of the custom bass I made for myself. The body is locally harvested (Michigan) White Ash. The neck is Mahogany with a tiny bit of Cherry in the headstock, and the fingerboard is Striped Ebony. The rear coverplate is quartersawn Cherry. It is quite heavy because of the ash, but sounds GREAT! It sounds very much like a double (upright) bass. I love the strings—they are called “tape-wound”strings, and won’t corrode—I use GHS brand strings exclusively because they are excellent quality and are made in Battle Creek, MI—that’s pretty close to home. The pickups are dual-coil humbucker Jazz Bass pickups. I have a volume control for each pickup, and one tone control shared between both.


The headstock was possibly the hardest part of the instrument as far as design goes. I wanted it to be as small as possible, look good, and still fit my tuners and the cover plate for the truss rod. I carved the neck with wood rasps and spokeshaves. The neck was finished with pre-cat lacquer and the fingerboard was finished with—you won’t believe it…......OLIVE OIL rubbed in by hand. The body of the bass has four coats of 100% tung oil (imagine how long that took to dry!!) and four coats of clear gloss Polyurethane.

I am a true believer in showing the natural beauty of the wood that God gave us to enjoy. I rarely stain wood. Here are some Pictures of this gorgeous instrument…the Ash is really nicely figured.

Notice that the guitar body is made from ONE board of Ash. I planed and sanded the boards to thickness, cut the pieces to length, and glued two pairs of boards face-to-face to get the thickness, and then I edge glued each ‘half’ to get the width I needed (I made sure on the front of the bass, that the sapwood came together on the centerline of the guitar to give a nice blend from one side to the other, with no visible glue line). The end grain on the bottom of the bass has a cool Herringbone pattern from the rift-sawed part of the boards.

I will post a clip of one of my studio recordings with this bass later. The recording was made with standard stainless round-wound strings, but they were cutting into the Ebony fingerboard, so I changed them to tape-wounds.

Keep an eye out for my instruments to appear on Ebay. I’d like to try to get a market for these fine instruments going online. I’ll keep ya posted. Thanks for looking!!

-- Alex...builder of wooden wings for vintage sport biplanes...I'm your wingman :)

19 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16286 posts in 4987 days

#1 posted 12-03-2007 03:46 PM

Really sweet-looking bass!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4643 days

#2 posted 12-03-2007 04:20 PM

Very nice!

View mot's profile


4927 posts in 4805 days

#3 posted 12-03-2007 04:26 PM

You did a very nice job on the bass. Thanks for the construction detail. I feel the details really add to the project.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View itsme_timd's profile


690 posts in 4599 days

#4 posted 12-03-2007 04:58 PM

That looks great, awesome pics as well.

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 4670 days

#5 posted 12-03-2007 10:41 PM

Lovely body shape – your design? That headstock is a delight too – the small size really works well. And the fretless fingerboard looks, well, just cool!

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View Napaman's profile


5533 posts in 4846 days

#6 posted 12-04-2007 01:51 AM

amazing!!!! i love all the photos…turned out great!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Alex Lane's profile

Alex Lane

574 posts in 4659 days

#7 posted 12-04-2007 02:34 AM

Thanks for the kind words everyone! Yorkshire, I ‘eyeballed’ the basic body shape by looking at a Carvin catalog. Check them out!

I made sure I didn’t steal their design by just freehand sketching the shape on my wood blank and then cutting and sanding until it pleased my eye. I should have first made a plywood template, because now I have to sketch a new design (unless I take my finished bass back in the shop, and trace around it).

CHECK OUT MY FORUM TOPIC—hear me play my bass:

-- Alex...builder of wooden wings for vintage sport biplanes...I'm your wingman :)

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5068 days

#8 posted 12-04-2007 02:46 PM

Nice grain matching on the glue up, it looks like a solid piece.

Nice pictures, I think taking decent pictures of a guitar is very difficult.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14182 posts in 4751 days

#9 posted 12-08-2007 06:46 AM

nice ash. well done.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Bren's profile


35 posts in 4644 days

#10 posted 01-22-2008 06:01 AM

Beautiful Bass.
Sounds great!

Where in Michigan are you?

-- Bren Hartman, Battle Creek, Michigan

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4643 days

#11 posted 01-22-2008 11:16 AM

Good looking workmanship. Great sound.

View eViolinist's profile


18 posts in 4480 days

#12 posted 03-29-2008 10:16 PM

Looks great!

View Texasgaloot's profile


465 posts in 4469 days

#13 posted 04-21-2008 10:37 PM

Very sweet! I’m a big fan of two things you’ve done here: 1. Fretless. Now, that’s a REAL bass. 2. Clean. No pickguards, no funky graphics or racing strips. Excellent job—and I hope you get a great business going!

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View jeanmarc's profile


1899 posts in 4485 days

#14 posted 07-28-2008 10:30 PM

You did a very nice job on the bass.

-- jeanmarc manosque france

View Alex Lane's profile

Alex Lane

574 posts in 4659 days

#15 posted 07-28-2008 10:33 PM

Thanks!! I’m actually sitting here browsing the LJ site with the bass in my lap !! It’s my baby…

-- Alex...builder of wooden wings for vintage sport biplanes...I'm your wingman :)

showing 1 through 15 of 19 comments

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