Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

WATSON Signature Series Bass 5-string (Serial 12B049)
Neck-through bass
.
Call
951-468-4004 or email us here!

   
Materials: Top: Birdseye Maple w Custom core. Neck: Figured Sycamore and Bubinga
Fingerboard: Wenge
Pickups: Watson Singles
Electronics: Audere Classic Preamp
Hardware: Black
Bridge/Tuners

17.5mm spacing

Options: String spacing at nut 9mm
Finish: Satin Semi-Gloss
Other:

34" scale length, 22 frets.
Fiber optic side dots on fingerboard side - on front too

This bass will be 5-string beauty. Body shape is a customer design. The fingerboard inlay is a previously untried approach where I used a technique to make it look like I am exposing the neck laminates through the fingerboard. The bass will have a host of fiber optic lighting in the neck.


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Holes and countrbores done on body.
(9/15/17) Left: Text and pictures coming. (9/20/17) Right: Text and pictures coming.
Highslide JS
Holes and countrbores done on body.

Highslide JS
Holes and countrbores done on body.
(9/4/17) Left: Getting the pickups ready for final winding and potting so that I can get those permanently set into the instrument. (9/8/17) Right: In this photo I have added copper shielding into the two pickup cavities and soldering grounding wires from each recess to the contol cavity which is the common ground.
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Holes and countrbores done on body.

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I had shielded the fiber optic cables so carefully for the finishing process that I had a hell of a time getting that back off. Now prepping for cavity shielding and retaining magnets.

(8/28/17) Left: I'm now working on the fingerboard getting it cleaned up after which I will be coating it with a special sealer which will also make the colors pop! (8/30/17) Right: Working on the control cavity getting it cleaned out from overspray, cover fitted and both areas ready for the application of copper shielding.

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Back o fthe bass looks really classy - will get more photos posted!.

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First shot of the bass just back from finishing. He did a few cool extra touches on the instrument for me and I really like it!.
(8/22/17) Left: Just back from my finisher and he was done with this bass. Looks and feels awesome and I know it will make a really impressive instrument. (8/24/17) Right: I'm busy getting the covers to fit back into the recesses after spraying. When that is done I will be adding shielding to the cavities and adding hardware.
Highslide JS
Holes and countrbores done on body.

Highslide JS
Holes and countrbores done on body.
(6/1/17) Left: Text and picture coming. (7/5/17) Right: I now have the instrument ready to go to my trusted finishing expert. I know that it will be totally transformed when he's done with it - can't wait!!!
Highslide JS
Holes and countrbores done on body.

Highslide JS
Holes and countrbores done on body.
(5/22/17) Left: Working on the covers to make sure they sit right in their recesses. Also making sure they have correct edge breaks all around. (5/26/17) Right: Text and picture coming.
Highslide JS
Holes and countrbores done on body.

Highslide JS
Holes and countrbores done on body.
(5/10/17) Left: This is an area in teh bridge pickup recess where I have to carefully pot to secure the fibers and level the lower surface. Have to make sure the fibers are protected. (5/15/17) Right: Working on the covers to make sure they sit right in their recesses. Also making sure they have correct edge breaks all around.
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Holes and countrbores done on body.

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Pickups have been drilled and counterbored.
(4/20/17) Left: Sanding the remaining areas of the body neck and headstock and covers down to a fine grit so that everything is prepped for finishing. (4/28/17) Right: Finally got the holes and counterbored drilled into the pickup covers. I can't send those to finishing without the adjustment holes in place!
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Pickups have been drilled and counterbored.

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Setting up fpr control holes and counterbores.
(4/7/17) Left: The body is currently up on the cnc so that I can machine the three holes for the control knobs. Have to be careful to avoid fiber optics. (4/13/17) Right: This is the body after the holes were established and counterbored for the knobs. I have to drill adjustment holes in pickup covers and get a little more sanding done.
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Holes and countrbores done on body.

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Working on the body edge breaks and recesses.
(3/24/17) Left: Edges all around upper and lower body have been shaped and I'm in the process of final sanding these areas. (3/29/17) Right: I'm doing some final fiber optic potting in the area below the bridge pickup. This should now make the bass ready for the finishing process. I always need to protect the fibers during finishing.
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Cavit covers drum sanded down to finished thickness.

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In the process of shaping the neck I exposed a few wormhole voids in the Sycamore and I ne3eded to get those filled and ready for finishing. Also have been sanding my way around the body!.
(3/15/17) Left: I have been working on a few voids that were exposed on the lower half of the neck and getting them filled flush with neck contour - at the same time sanding the body nice and smooth!! (3/19/17) Right: Headstock and neck volute nicely sanded to finished condition. We're getting ready to go to finishing folks!
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Headstock sanding almost complete.

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Machining of the pickup covers has been done.
(3/5/17) Left: Pickups are now machined and I am now going to drill and counterbore the holes for the adjustment screws so that the covers are complete! (3/10/17) Right: I just got the two cavity covers sanded down to thickness and fitted nicely into the body recesses. These two covers are now ready for the finishing process!!
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Cavity covers drum sanded down to finished thickness.

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Almost done with the pickup covers.
(2/21/17) Left: Pickup covers are just about done now and I'm doing final sanding on the body and covers. Only a few small tasks left. This may well be the next bass I send to finishing!! (2/27/17) Right: I'm setting up the two pickups on the CNC so that I can machine out the internal geometry for the pickup bobbins to fit into.
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Cutting the insides out of the pickup covers.

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Getting the pickups done.
(2/11/17) Left: Yes it is time to get the pickups wound. I have created the vector files for the pickup flatwork and will have these wound asap! (2/15/17) Right: I'm finally getting to work on the neck profile - getting that very close now to finished dimensions. We're down to shaping and sanding and finalizing the pickups
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Doing some neck shaping to finish up that area.

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Fiber optics now need to be consolidated and fitted inside the cavity space.
(2/4/17) Left: I'm starting on the challenging task of organizing and fitting the fiber optics into the cavity. Since they enter at this mid point I will have to slightly bend them to fit them in. (2/7/17) Right: After some determined work with my heat gun and a couple of overheated fingers, I got the fiber optics constrained in the cavity.
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Managed to get the fiber optics bent round to approximately 90 degrees so that I have more room to trim them to finished lengths and attach LEDs to them.

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Top is now rebuilt and I am happy to move on to the next few tasks.
(1/23/17) Left: The nameplate is now securely attached and covering the fiber optics at the end of the neck. Back to fiber optics now! (1/27/16) Right: I got the holes drilled into the headstock for the tuners. Just need to get this area sanded down and ready for finishing. I will put the nut in after I get the instrument back from finishing.
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Holes drilled for tuners.

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Cutting the truss rod access cover out of the headplate.
(1/12/17) Left: I have the headplate sanded to thickness and veneered so now I am cutting out the truss rod cover so that I can get the headplate glued onto the headstock. (1/19/16) Right: In his photo I am gluing the headplate onto the headstock. As soon as it is set I can unclamp and clean up all the edges to finish the shape.
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Headplate being glued onto headstock.

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filling the little void below the newly inserted piece.
(12/29/17) Left: I am now filling the remaining space underneath the newly secured section between pickups. This will create a nice solid state condition in that area. (1/5/16) Right: Working on the top plate - I created an arm relief area on the upper body half and I'm ready to get the little "Watson" nameplate attached
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Getting the top cleaned up, nameplate will be attached next. Arm relief established.

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Working on the top piece between pickups. Needs some careful detailed work but it will be ok.
(12/23/16) Left: How about this for a seamless rebuild of the top plate! I re-inserted the piece I carefully harvested out of the area between the pickups. (12/29/16) Right: This is the center piece between the pickups being glued into the top plate. Once this is set I will fill the gap below it and I can move on to organizing and cutting fibers!
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Gluing in the center piece between pickups.

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A seamless rebuild of the top details, I will be putting a custom nameplate over the exposed fibers.
(12/8/16) Left: I am very proud of how this section came out - I wondered about the best way to rebuild the area that was cut out for the fibers, but the reconstruction went great. (12/15/16) Right: Working on the piece that will be inserted between the pickups. I have to apply 3 veneers to each side and then make it fit perfectly.
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Working on the top piece between pickups. Needs some careful detailed work but it will be ok.

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This is one of the pieces I am using to rebuild the area of the top I had to cut through for the fiber optic channel. It matches invisibly. There will also be a nameplate over the fibrs close to the fingerboard..
(11/26/16) Left: Reconstruction of the top begins, and I created a beautifully matching piece complete with pinstripe veneers that I will insert to cover FO Channel. (12/4/16) Right: I have now glued the filler and top pieces back into the first section of the top. It is a tapered piece which allowed me to tap it into place really tightly!
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The filler section is now being glued into the top plate.

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Added some filler to prepare for wood inserts .
(11/16/16) Left: I got some filler into the slot, which has a special compomnd mixed into it so that it will fill space. Next I will add some wood to seal everything up. (11/22/16) Right: I am now rbuilding the top over the channel that was housing the fiber optics. The piece at the top will be my insert behind the fingerboard.
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Preparing to rebuild the top over the fiber optics channel.

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All the fibers are now secured into the channel and through to the control cavity. I now have to get the front end potted.
(11/4/16) Left: Another click forward on this bass - I finally got all of the fiber optics glued down into the recess so I can start work on other things! (11/9/16) Right: In order to let my filler epoxy run into all the voids I need to set up the instrument at different angles to let the adhesive bleed through. Getting there...
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Potting under way - have to do it in manageable batches to make sure I get filler in all the areas I need it to go.

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Clamping the first four cables while they get glued into the body of the bass.
(10/25/16) Left: I will be posting a few pics of the process of gluing the fiber optic cables down into the body of the instrument. Can only do about 4 at a time! (11/1/16) Left: Work continues of nesting the fiber optics into and through the slot in the body. So far so good. Once they are all secured I will pot the whole inside area.
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More of the fibers channeled through the body. I'm being careful.

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So glad to see this bass and fingerboard together in one piece!!.
(10/19/16) I carefully un-did all the rubber bands holding the fingerboard on and I'm happy to say that the gluing appears to be quite successful. The board is now a solid part of the whole instrument and the fiber optics between the nut and the body are all protected. I now have to start getting all these fibers routed through the channel I created and into the control cavity where I can cut them to length. I'll probably separate front fron side fibers.

Highslide JS
Finally getting the fingerboard glued on!.
(10/15/16) I have done my final test fits and since everything seemed to go together well I launched the gluing task and got the fingerboard set onto the neck. I am VERY happy to see this portion of the build done as it opens the door to my path to completion. When the adhesive has fully set I will remove all the bands and test all the fiber optic cables. I will then group them (forware versus side) and routhe them through to the control cavity.

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Ready to get the fingerboard attached.
(10/4/16) I am now in the latter stages of setting up to get the fingerboard glued on. I bought a new batch of aerospace grade epoxy, I have drilled the opening through to the control cavity for the bunch of fiber optic cables (wanted to do that before all the fibers were in my way) and I have prepared all the mating parts and sealed off the truss rod in the process. I now have to add the clamping apparatus and countless rubber bands.

Highslide JS
Fingerboard now fits properly and I am very anxious to get it attached.
(9/27/16) I am happy and somewhat relieved to report that I finally got this fingerboard to fit the way I wanted it to on the neck of the instrument. My next task will now be getting materials together for the big gluing setup. I will not only be gluing the fingerboard on but at the same time trying to guarantee that I fill any and all voides resulting from grinding clearance away for the forward facing fiber optics. It has been a very tough job to get this done!

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LAst operation before gluing the fingerboard on!!! Phew!.
(9/18/16) Since I have been working on this fingerboard fit for quite a long time I decided to use some alternative technology to get the job completed so that I can get this fingerboard attached! I devised a setup to add a support strip of material along each side of the under-surface of the fingerboard. When this is applied to both sides I will trim everything up - test fit and when I apply the fingerboard adhesive I will use a small amount of carbon fiber filler.

Highslide JS
All but body end of the fingerboard now fits neck surface.
(9/2/16) I have had to spend a large amount of time working on grinding away the clearance for the forward facing fiber optics since it is a little like working blind and you don't ever want to remove any unnecessary material. I think the fit feels pretty good now - I don't want any pressure on the fibers and risk breakqage so I need to be absolutely sure each one has clearance that will be filled with the adhesive compound upon gluing the fingerboard to neck.

Highslide JS
Pickup covers ready now to be finished up.
(8/24/16) Time to get these two pickup covers cleaned up around the edges, flip them over and machine out the insides to suit our pickup flatwork. I have the bobbins and winding in the works so I want to be able to pre-assemble these pickups and have them ready for installation into our completed bass guitar. I also have a control cavity and battery cavity cover, each of which will need some final sanding before being ready for finishing!

Highslide JS
Last phase of cutting clearance for forward facing fiber optics.
(8/19/16) Getting the fiber optics to comfortable fit the neck surface has been a very challenging task. Fortunately I am at the tail end of it now and I'm almost ready to get this fingerboard attached to the instrument itself. I will be attaching it using a very heavy duty aerospace grade epoxy which will fill any voids that I might have created in cutting clearance for the forward facing fiber optics. Just about there which is really good news!

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After a LOT of work I have finally managed to get almost everything fitted.
(8/12/16) During the last few days I have been working on the internal relief for the fiber optics. It's very exacting work as it required working by feel rather than by sight. I've gotten everything to the point where it almost fits all the way along the fingerboard so I know I am close. I will endeavor to get the rest of the interference areas taken care of so that I can get this fingerboard glued onto the neck. That will be a cause for celebration!

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Ongoing fittig of fingerboard, making space for all those fibers to exit the neck area.
(8/1/16) I have cut recesses in the neck to fit the first few bent fiber optics but in order to get the work done further up the neck I need to spend some time working on the bundle of fibers leaving the neck and create space for those as they enter the body. The best way I have found is to take an impression using molding putty and use hat impression to locate the areas I need to clear out with the dremel. It's a little painstaking but I will get there!

Highslide JS
Cutting areas of relief for the forward facing fiber optic cables where they bend to go up through the fingerboard..
(7/24/16) This photo doesn't illustrate the current task very well but in order to get the fingerboard to fit onto the neck I have to create little recesses on the top surface of the neck wherever there us a 90 degree bend in the fiber optic cables. Those bends cause the fiber optic cable to stick below the fingerboard surface so at every point where this happens I have to evry carefully mark the spot and remve a selected amount of material with my dremel tool. With persistence this will be done and it will all fit together!

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Nice piece of Figured Sycamore destined for the headstock.
(7/17/16) While I have been working on the fiber optic marathon I have also been doing work on other parts of the instrument. This is a very nice and clean piece of material I sawed from a spare piece of the Figured Sycamore that will look really nice on the headstock. I'm just about to bring this to thickness so that I can refine the shape and cut out the truss rod access cover. It will be going on right after the fingerboard is attached.

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Working on getting all the fiber optic cables embedded in the body.
(7/9/16) I have started work on the carving of certain areas of the upper face of the neck (and neck end of the body) to accommodate the fiber optic cables where they are bent upwards to be forward-facing or as they leave the fingerboard. This takes a little trial and error but things are coming together. The hardest part is getting all the cables at the very end of the fingerboard contained in as small a space as possible. More news soon.

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The fingerboard is finally ready for assembly onto the neck. Now to get the neck of the bass ready!
(6/16/16) I have now trimmed all the excess veneer from the sides, front and back of the board and carefully filed and sanded everything flush so that the board is as ready as it can be for assembly onto the body of the instrument. I expect to have to do a little further modification to the end of the neck on the bass to get all these fiber optic cables to co-operate. I'm entering unknown with this next couple of operations but I'm sure it will workl out.

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The final veneer had been attached to the bottom of the fingerboard.
(6/12/16) After some very careful gluing and filling and scraping the bottom veneer is now attached to the fingerboard. I'm pretty certain that the entire surface is now flat enough to tolerate being glued onto the neck. First I have totrim up the edges of the veneer so that it is flush with the fingerboard along the edges and at both ends. Then I will do some carving on the neck to create clearance for the bent forward facing fibers.

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A final veneer is going on to finish up the back surface of the fingerboard.
(6/6/16) This is the veneer layer I had to cut on the laser in order to finally level the back of the fingerboard. As you can see there are several places where by necessity, the fibers stick down below the board as they are upward facing and needed to be bent around that 90 degree ange. Once this veneer is on I need to cut clearance areas on the neck so that the board will fit on. It's a work-intensive process but we're close to getting this done!

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Working on finishing up the back of the fingerboard so I can get it attached to the neck.
(5/28/16) Moving along with the prep on the fiber optic surface. I have almost got the whole surface flat enough to employ a final veneer which will be my joint surface for gluing to the neck. The white veneer's purpose was to allow me to file to achieve a flat surface between the upper and lower edges of the board. I'm almost at the point now where I can attach a final (hopefully one piece) veneer which will connect the fingerboard to the neck!

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Working on finishing up the back of the fingerboard so I can get it attached to the neck.
(5/23/16) I'm gluing pieces of veneer over the fiber optic cables to establish a continuous flat surface which I need for gluing the fingerboard onto the neck. Because there were so many fiber optic cables it was not possible to keep them all glued to the same plane. Furthermore - the potting epoxy doesn't always dry in a flat condition so the wood veneer is a good medium to add because it can be filed down to a flat condition. We are close - just not there yet!

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Working on finishing up the back of the fingerboard so I can get it attached to the neck.
(5/18/16) The two side veneers are now attached and trimmed to the edges of the fingerboard. This shoul dmake it a lot easier to fill in the space in between. I'm also gluing some spacer material at the end of the board to help push the fibers in a downward direction and away from the very back end of the fingerboard. I will now do some more gluing to lock the fibers in place where they exit and also get started on filling the center area.

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I have a few tricky little gluing tasks to get done before fingerboard can be attached.
(5/12/16) I cut all the pieces I will need to level the back of the fingerboard and I am now in the process of getting these carefullt attached to the back of the fingerboard. I will have several small gluing operations to get this where I want it to be but I am confident that the end result will work out fine. While this is going on I am doing some sanding around the body of the bass and on the curved surface of the back of the neck.

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Using a couple iof veneer strips to start the leveling process - more to come.
(5/6/16) The emphasis is now back on the fingerboard where I am planning to add some veneer to each side of the fingerboard edges. This will create an reas between the two veneers that I can surface and level so that everything is flat enough to create a good joint onto the neck of the bass. Once I get these strips attached I will fill the ends and then work on the leveling of the space in between. Can't wait to get this thing attached - I will relax a bit!!

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All the machining for fiber optic channel has been done - now to see if we can fit it all together.
(5/1/16) After all the machining went successfully we now have the opportunity to get the fibers from the fingerboard into the body and start rebuilding the parts of the instrument we had to remove. I now have a clear path through to the control cavity and the channel by my calculations is big enough to contain the 30 or so cables that I need to work with. I'm now getting the parts ready to be assembled - stay tuned!

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Getting prepared to do some open heart surgery on the bass so we can wrap up the fiber optic challenge.
(4/21/16) This is a picture of the scary banana from hell. It's actually the boundary of the path I have to machine to create a suitable channel to house the fiber optic cables. I am going to set up the instrument on the CNC and I am writing a program based on this objective so that I can get this part of the building process done. My big goal here it to get the fingerboard attached to the neck and then reassemble key components in the top plate.

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Doing some surgery on the top of the bass so that I can get access to lay in teh fiber optics.
(4/14/16) Here's the front of the bass after a couple of very precise and exacting surgical procedures. I machined the edges of the harvested piece between the pickups with a tiny little end mill and only cut inside the area occupied by the three decorative veneers. I went as deep as I could with that cutter, then spent some time with a very small hand saw to get more depth. Finally I sliced off the piece using a special reciprocating blade tool.

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Getting set up to do some very careful machining to facilitate the installation of the fiber optic cables.
(4/5/16) After some careful consideration I decided my only choice is to carefully harvest out the block of laminated material between the two pickups, machine suitable channels in the material exposed, install the fibers and finally re-implant the block of material I removed to seamlessly cover up the internal work. This will involve several tools and operations but it seems like the only way to make this all happen. More as it happens!

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All these fiber optic cables need to get to the control cavity - wish me luck!.
(3/26/16) This is what the explosion of fiber optic cables looks like at the back end of the fingerboard. Somehow this poor luthier has to get all of these safely routed through the body and into the control cavity and we can proceed to finish the remaining work on the instrument. I have some more machining to do to the body to facilitate this because we decided on the fiber optics after the top was attached making this process a little bit more complicated!

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Fingerboard will be on the neck soon!.
(3/19/16) This is how the fingerboard looks on the top of the instrument. I wanted to include a picture of the goal after all the fiber work is complete and we can get these pieces attached to each other. I now have all the fibers in place and I'm doing potting to fill spaces and adding wood veneer to give us back our flat wood-to-wood joint surface. As soon as that is done I will test ALL the fibers to make sure there were no injuries in this lengthy process.

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Moving further up the fingerboard as we keep adding fibers.
(3/12/16) This is the back of the fingerboard with the fiber optic cables installed and glued in. Also the remaining spaces between the cabled have been potted with a very viscous and hard-setting epoxy. I'm going to be doing some work removing any extra glue and creating a flat surface onto which I will glue a couple of wood veneers to resolve the flatness and give us ajoint surface I can use to secure to the neck of the instrument.

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Shaping the headstock to its final size.
(2/28/16) I'm doing the final profile shaping of the headstock because I will be working on a matching headstock veneer and will want to get that cut and fitted soon after the fingerboard is successfully attached to the neck. The headstock veneer will be made from the same material as the top of the body so that it will match nicely. I'll probably use a couple of contrasting decorative veneers between the headplate and the headstock shown.

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Back of the bass now with most of the finished features established.
(2/19/16) While all the fiber optic work was going on I was working on the back of the bass getting things ready for final finishing. I have the cavities machined, a slot in the battery cavity for the serial number tag, a belly cut and most of the neck to body relief already done. My next objective here is to get the locations of the electronics, knobs and wiring established so that I can drill the holes in the top plate for the knobs and switches.

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Moving further up the fingerboard as we keep adding fibers.
(2/10/16) The fiber optic cables are now all set into the fingerboard. I still have to secure a few of them but that will move along without any expected issues. The goal right now is to get them all secured into the recess on the back of the board without anything breaking and then get them potted in so that the whole fingerboard/fiber assembly is one solid state assembly. With a board using this many fibers that is my main priority!

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Bit of a traffic jam at the bottom end of the fingerboard. We'll make it though..
(2/5/16) This is the back end of the fingerboard where the traffic jam of cables is most likely. I still have a few left to install but it does look as if they will all fit in the space I provided. I have to be very careful because once I glue them it is unlikely I can reverse that process so I am making sure things flow properly. I will post a photo of the same area with all the fibers secures very soon. After that they need to be potted in.

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Closer to being done now - only about 8 left!.
(1/30/16) The fiber optic installation moves along - it is unfortunately a slow process because the fibers are fragile and they have to be attached in sequence and there are in this particular case a large number of them to fit neatly into a small space. I only have a few left to do and then I can start potting the entire assembly to protect then from movement or damage. I will be very happy when I get to that point!!

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Moving further up the fingerboard as we keep adding fibers.
(1/26/16) Moving along quite well on the fiber optics. It has to be one fiber glued at a time because I need to see where they all land as we move up the fingerboard and things get much busier as we move along. I'm putting in most of the front facing fibers first as they need special treatment in bending and installation. I hope to be finished fairly soon so I can get this board attached to the neck of the bass! The lights will look good though!

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Had to get another batch of fiber optic cable because I'm using so much of it!.
(1/19/16) I had so many fibers to install on this one that I had to order another 50 feet of fiber optic cable! I'm moving along with the installation and it should be completed fairly soon. After the cables are in I will have to pot the remaining gaps so that we have a solid-state assembly to put on the neck of the bass. Everything is moving along pretty well. despite having to wait for adhesives to cure between operations! More photos coming!

Highslide JS
More gluing and clamping under the fingerboard.
(1/13/16) Moving along with the fiber installation - I have to make sure I'm thinking ahead with this installation so that I don't have to be forced to have any of these cross over each other. It's slow and slightly messy but as long as I'm careful it will work out fine. Also working behind the scenes on the body where I am refining the shaping of the curved areas. I may have more fiber optic channeling to do but I want to see how the fingerboard ends up first.

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Moving down the fingerboard fitting and gluing as I go.
(1/9/16) I am in the process of routing and gluing the fibers onto the back of the fingerboard. Because I have so many forward facing fibers I have to do some very careful bending and fitting. If I don't plan it correctly I will run out of space to allow all the fibers to run beside each other in one conyinuous layer. If they end up overlapping it creates a lot more work. I'm testing them as I go and all seems to be well. Slow work but should come out just fine!

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First of the fiber optic cables going in!.
(1/4/16) This is the back of the fingerboard with the first two side dot fiber optics glued in at the edges. I will have to work progressively from the head end down to the heel end as there are so many fibers. I will pay attention to how they are laid out along the way so I don't have any overlaps. I will just have to be careful as I move along. Next I will install the first four front facing cables and move ststematically back from there. Wish me luck.

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All side dot sleeves have been successfully installed and trimmed flush!.
(12/19/15) I just wanted to post this photo since I was so excited to finish the installation of the secondary set of support sleeves for the fiber optics. They were much harder to cut to length and glue in and finally trim off flush than the first set, but the end result looks great and I can now get all the tools out to start the installation of 30 (yes, that's t-h-i-r-t-y) fiber optic cables under the fingerboard. Wish me luck folks!

Highslide JS
Installing the second set of tubing along the edge of the fingerboard. Will soon be ready for fibers!.
(12/9/15) I'm working on adding the secondary tubing into the side dot locations along the fingerboard. I want to get these all in so I can get started on the large quantity of fiber optic cables that need to be embedded in this fingerboard. I have to be careful that there are no burrs or sharp edges on the inner ends when I install these. When the adhesive is set I cut them off using an abrasive disc and then file fluush to finish.

Highslide JS
Getting a lot of shaping and sanding done on the back of the instrument.
(11/27/15) I have been working on the back of the bassbody - neck profile and the back of the headstock to get these features closer to finished dimensions. Things are looking nice. I wanted to get the headstock refined a bit because I will be adding the fingerboard onto the neck surface as soon as all the fiber optics are installed. The front side of the fingerboard will have a headplate added too, so that surface needed to be prepared.

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2nd set of sleever underway - next are the actual fibers.
(11/13/15) I have installed and filed flush all the initial support tubing pieces. I am now dropping in a second slightly contrasting one in each position which has the same inside diameter as the fiber optic cables. This will look good, be very visible when the lights are not on and provide solid support of all the side dot lights. The front facing lights are a different challenge because they each need to be bent at 90 degrees and very carefully installed.

Highslide JS
Working on sleeves for the side dots.
(11/1/15) In this photo I am installing some tubing into the side dot holes. This tubing will support the ends of the fiber optic cables as they exit the fingerboard. I'm actually experimenting with a double tubing setup so there will be more interesting news on this to come! Once these pieces are all installed and cleaned up I can put the fiber optic cables in and get them all secured to the beck of the fingerboard. Tricky job ...

Highslide JS
Testing one of the forward facing fiber optics.
(10/19/15) Doing a quick test on the light feed quality on the forward facing fiber optic cables. Because they face outwards there has to be a relatively sharp corner at the output end of the cable to make the 90 degree turn. I was experimenting with the cable which I carefully heat-bend so that I get the minimum stress on the material. In the picture you can see that the light output looks fine so I can proceed with the fiber installation.

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Cutting the channels in on the CNC machine.
(10/2/15) Based on the number of fiber optics going into this fingerboard (a whopping 31 cables) I had to re-engineer the fixtuire slightly but I now have it up and running on the CNC. I still don't quite know how I am going to squeeze all those cables into such a tiny space but I always find a way! The morst congested part will be at the heel end of the fingerboards but I'm sure I will find a way to make it happen!

Highslide JS
Fixture ready for cutting fiber optic channels.
(9/16/15) This is going to be my fixture for cutting the channels under the fingerboared for the fiber optic cables. I will need to make sure that since we have front facing and side facing illumination that the cables nest as well as they possibly can in the space available. This will be a pretty busy little assembly so I'm goint to map out all the channels on the computer and then write a program that will create that.

Highslide JS
Drilling holes for the front-facing fiber optics.
(9/2/15) I have a couple of instruments right now that require fiber optics in one form or another so I'm going to try and get some of that work consolidated as it is a very labor-intensive process. In the photo I am drilling two holes in each inlay square to situate fiber optics in the front of the fingerboard. rilling these holes through allows me to locate the exact positions from the underside where I need to machine channels for the cables.

Highslide JS
Surgery successful - I had to be VERY careful so that when I replace the top piece it is a perfect fit.
(8/18/15) This is the body right now with the machined channel for the fiber optic cables running part-way to the control cavity. I will follow up with another machining operation to route a channel from the back of this slot to the cavity. I was very careful with the machining on this area because I have to remove exact;y thr right amount of material so that when I replace the top surface piece after the fibers are in, the joint will be invisible.

Highslide JS
Doing a little surgery to create a fiber optic channel from fingerboard to control cavity.
(8/14/15) The bass is up on the CNC so that I can machine out a little channel for the fiber optic cables. The top went on before we had a decision to add fiber optics so to compensate I am going to surgically remove a small section to give passage to the bundle of fiber optics and replace that when the fingerboard and fiber optics installation is complete. If I didn't have the CNC I could not do this but fortunately it gives me the accuracy to make it happen perfectly.

Highslide JS
Machining the back of the headstock.
(8/1/15) The bass is set up on the CNC table for thicknessing the headstock. The front surface is already machined and this operation is to create an even thickness that allows for a veneer plate on the front surface of the headstock. I leave the center area unmachined because I have to manually carve that area to create a volute that will strengthen the transition area between the headstock and the back of the neck.

Highslide JS
getting the body shapes and sanded.
(7/21/15) Working on the profile and edge breaks of the instrument body. There are a lot of blends between surfaces especially in the area where the neck meets the body. I'm also working on the pickup covers where I am sanding those to a finished profile and get them ready for internal machining so that I can drop the pickup hardware inside them. I also have to find a way to route the bundle of fiber optics from the base of the neck to the control cavity.

Highslide JS
FSetting up CNC to cut fiber optic channels.
(7/2/15) I'm setting up the fingerboard so that I can machine out all the channels required for the two sets of fiber optic cables. I will have a normal set running to all the side dot positions and we're going to try to add double light sources on all of the rectangular fret markers. This will require a few different operations to make it all happen. Right noe the priority is creating space under the fingerboard so that I can get the fibers installed.

Highslide JS
Fingerboard and machining fixture have been assembled, now ready to cut some more wood.
(6/23/15) I now have the fingerboard secirely attached to the fixture for machining fiber optic channels. I can now set this assembly up with the underside of the fingernoard facing up and cut out all the requires channels for the fiber optic cables. I have to be pretty careful to match the machined channels up with the holes I drilled into the side of the fingerboard for side dots but I expect that to work out fine.

Highslide JS
Frets intalled in the fingerboard and we are now ready for fiber optic work.
(6/18/15) Frets are all in and the ends on each side have been dressed back flush with the edges of the fingerboard. I was worried that the collective pressure of the frets would bend the board but it stayed nice and flat. I am not attaching it to the fixture I will use to machine the channels for the fiber optic cabling. While I am busy with that I have some work to do in the bass itself to prepare for the fiber optic cables.

Highslide JS
Getting started on the fret installation.
(6/13/15) Got all the fret slots prepped and I'm now getting started on installing the frets. I bent the fret wire to accommodtae the fingerboard radius and cut all the required frets a little oversize so that they can be cleaned up after they are all installed. I have to be a little careful in this case becaise I have a series of holes on the upper edge of the board for the fiber optic sleeves and I don't want to damage anything!

Highslide JS
Cleaning and checking fret slot depths prior to fret installation.
(6/9/15) Since my next objective is to install the frets, I am using my trusty fret cleaning tool to make sure the fret slots are deep enough for the fret tangs. Once I have cleaned all the slots I will pre-bend the fret wire and get it cut to the specific lengths. Installation should be relatively straightforward and once they are in I will have to clean up the rough-cut ends to blend nicely with the upper and lower edges of the fingerboard.

Highslide JS
Making a fixture to hold the fingerboard for fiber optic machining work.
(6/4/15) In preparation for our machining of the channels for the fiber optic cables I an building a holding fixture that will give me access from the under-side of the fingerboard so that I can cut the various channels for the fiber optic cables. As soon as I have frets installed I will gue the board to this fixture (when it's complete) and get the whole assembly up on the CNC for the machining operations.

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Decided to go ahead and intall frets before fiber optic work.
(5/25/15) After some thought, I decided it would be best to install all the frets in this fingerboard before proceeding with all the owrk associated with fiber optics. Main reason for that was that after the fiber optics are installed under the fingerboard it's hard to provide a solid surface to tolerate pressure and impact from the installetion of the frets. I decided while this board is still one flat piece - get the frets in and then do the other stuff!!

Highslide JS
Separating fingerboard from the support material so that I can fixture for fiber optic machining.
(5/16/15) Because we decided to include fiber optic lighting in this neck, the first thing I have to do is mount the fingerboard in a fixture that will keep it flat and allow me to access the bottom surface of the fingerboard for the machining operations. Firstly I need to separate the board from its existing support and cut a new one to which i will securely attach the fingerboard. This will allow me to create a setup on the CNC to cut for fiber optic cables.

Highslide JS
Getting the holes drilled along the upper edge of the fingerboard.
(5/4/15) This is the first stage of getting a natwork of fiber optics installed inside this fingerboard. I am machining holes along the upper edge of the fingerboard which will house the metal tubing for the ends of the fiber optic cabling. When these are all drilled into the fingerboard I will start machining from the underside to create a series of channels into which I will embed the fiber optic cables. Customer alwso wants front facing lights.

Highslide JS
Setting up for side dot machining.
(5/28/15) I did some testing with the copper and aluminum tubing and it all seems to fit together well and should provide a strong support structure for each of the fiber optic ends along the side of the fingerboard. Now that I have the materials I am setting up the fingerboard on the cnc so that I can accurately drill the holes into which I will put the tubing assemblies. Not much room for error on a job like this!

Highslide JS
getting ready for fiber optics.
(5/16/15) Preparing tp cut the fiber optic system under the fingerboard. First step is to decide what I am going to use to house the ends of the fiber optic cables as they exit the upper edge of the fingerboard in the form of side-dots. The fibers themselves when un-lit are pretty dark so it is usually necessary to have then housed in a contrasting material so that they show up on the fingerboard. I'm planning on brass and aluminum tubing.

Highslide JS
On the CNC cutting the recess for the jack socket.
(5/11/15) Since I already have a comntrol cavity machined in this bass I went ahead and machined the seat for the jack socket. One less thing to do down the line! I can now attach the body with files and sandpaper to smooth and blend everything to a more complete condition. The emphasis now is on the fingerboard and the numerous detailed operations that will be required to populate this thing with fiber optic lighting!

Highslide JS
Working on the body countouring.
(5/5/15) I was working on the body of the bass last night - smoothing out the transitions around the perimeter and getting some of the outer radii started and I was remarking on how cool and unusual the construction of this instrument is. It already has some really nice features and we're adding more as we move foreard. Next task for me is to get the side dots established that will accommodate the fiber optic ends.

Highslide JS
Fingerboard prepped for side dits and frets.
(5/2/15) The support material behind the fingerboard has been trimmed to the edges of the board. This will allow me to get access to the side of the fingerboard where the illuminated side dots will be located. I'll probably also do the fretwork first before I cut the back. That way I don't risk the fret tangs interfering or damaging the fiber optics that will be buried inside the material. I did this once before for another bass so I know it can be done!

Highslide JS
Inlay pieces completed!.
(4/28/15) Here is the finished fretboard inlay - looking as cool as it was originally planned to be - just a LOT of work! The back of this fingerboard needs to be channeled to accommodate a lot of fiber optic cabling, both for side dota and front dots. This will involve quite a bit of fixturing which I will illustrate as I go. We will put two lighted dots on each inlat where the darker wood is located. No doubt it will all look very cool!!!

Highslide JS
First test inlay piece is in - success!.
(4/22/15) Left: I test fitted the first piece and went ahead and glued it into the fingerboard. After rough shaping it (not quite flush) I knew it looks finr and it's safe to proceed. Right: All the pieces are now cut although I still have to glue most of them into the recesses. I can tell we have achieved out goal, looks good!
Highslide JS
Finally got all the pieces cut for the inlay!.

Highslide JS
Setting up to cut the inlay pieces.
(4/15/15) Left: The glued-up inlay assembly is now clamped to the CNC table and I'm getting set up to cut the inlay pieces to the exact size using a miniature end mill. Right: Cutting the rectangles out of the material. I programed them to come oout just a few thousandths of an inch oversize so I can hand-fit the pieces
Highslide JS
Cutting out the inlay blocks.

Highslide JS
Last couple of inlat strips gfetting their veneer added.
(4/10/15) Left: This is a photo of the last two pieces of the inlay assembly getting their veneers glued on. lot of work but this is almost the last thing I have to do before I have inlay pieces to drop into the fingerboard! Right: I'm now gluing the two outer pieces of Sycamore onto the strip I will be using for inlay. Finally!!!
Highslide JS
Last glue-up on the inlay pieces. Glad that's over!!

Highslide JS
Center piece of the inlay pieces after the veneer has been applied both sides.
(4/6/15) Left: This is the center piece of the assembly I am making for the inlay pieces. It is a carefully cut piece of sycamore onto which I have glued contrasting veneer. I also have two pieces of bubinga machined and veneered the same way. Right: The center piece and the two bubinga tapers are being glued together.
Highslide JS
Gluing more of the inlay sub assembly together.

Highslide JS
Gluing two carbon fiber re-inforcing rods into the neck of the bass.
(3/29/15) In this photo I am clamping the two carbon fiber rods while they are being secured into the neck with aerospace-grade epoxy. The adhesive takes a long time to set but is super-strong and well suited for gluing CF to wood. I will leave this overnight to fully cure and when set, I'll remove the clamps and make sure the upper surface is level and none of the CF stucks up above the joint surface. It will then be ready for fingerboard.

Highslide JS
Gluing contrasting veneer onto the inlay strips.
(3/29/15) Left: I this photo I am gluing maple veneer onto the tapered bubinga strips I already cut and machined to size. They will need maple on both sides. Right: Here I'm gluing lavoa veneer onto the tapered center strip. I will trim this and flip it over and do the same veneer on the opposite side. Lots of little steps here.
Highslide JS
Gluing darker veneer ontop the lighter sycamore wood for the inlay pieces.

Highslide JS
Cutting tapered laminated for the assembly that will become the fingerboard inlay.
(3/29/15) This inlay is going to be quite a lot of work. In order to make it match in a continuous manner I'm going to have to pre-assemble a tapered section of all the laminates plus the veneers at just the right size, and then when that is assembled, I can cut suitable slices and hand fit them into the respective recesses in the fingerboard. Arguably it will look very nice and truly unique, but it will soak up quite a few of my hours!

Highslide JS
One of the fingerboard inserts so far.
(3/25/15) I have been working in the background on a system that will give me all the inlay pieces for the top of the fingerboard. The problem is that they are all tapered and as such will require a fairly compley assembly procedure in order to come up with all the right pieces that will look convincing and correct together. This is my first attempt - 3 of the 5 laminates assembled to see what things look like.

Highslide JS
Setting up to machine control cavity.
(3/20/15) I'm setting the bass up on the CNC so that I can run a couple of operations on the back. I need to machine out the control cavity and the cavity for the batteries so this requires lining the bass centerline up with the machine and getting a couple of programs written. Since they require different sized cutters I will do each recess separately. The bass will gain two cavities and at the same time lose a little body weight!

Highslide JS
Modified body shape close to final size.
(3/14/15) Body outline has been refined and reshaped a little. We are pretty close now to the target shape and I'm working on the inlay pieces which are quite complicated. Have to get those installed before I can get to work on the fiber optic components. I have one test piece being glued up and if that works i will use the same process for teh rest of the inlay pieces. Keeping my fingers crossed that this will not be too complicated!

Highslide JS
Cutting truss rod and fiber optic channels.
(3/6/15) Time to get the truss rod slot and the carbon fiber slots machined into the top of the neckThis operation requires quite a bit of setup to be sure that the bass is sitting exactly where I want it in reference to the three table axes. I typically get things very close and if there's any movement due to clamping I compensate in the program so it always comes out right in the end. One more job done - now back to the inlay marathon!

Highslide JS
I must be insane to try doing this - it's my customer's vision so making it happen.
(2/23/15) I'm gluing veneer onto miniature pieces of wood and then joining them together to make a virtual tapered combination. Hardest part so gar is getting all the center pieces exactly the right shape. I drew everything out in a vector program and cut this little piece of Sycamore on the laser. After cleaning up the edges I'm now gluing veneer onto the two joint edges. I will need to repeat this process with 4 more pieces for each inlay assembly.

Highslide JS
getting some of the material ready for the custom inlay process.
(1/16/15) The inlay process for this bass is going to be a little involved. I'm custom cutting combnations of Sycamore and Bubinga to emulate the laminations on the core section of the bass. The objective here is to have these wood inlays appear as if the core of the bass is visible. Since it is a tapered core - that's going to involve some careful cutting, gluing and shaping of inlay pieces. Undoubtedly it will look great on the finished instrument!

Highslide JS
Fret slots and recesses for inlay have been cut into the fingerboard.
(1/9/15) A few more CNC operations going on here. I have used a very small miniature end mill to cut all the fret slots across the fingerboard. After that was achieved I changes to a slightly larger cutter and machines out all the recesses on the upper surface into which I will be installing a very custom inlay. I also cut the nut slot while the fingerboard was set up. It's now coming off the machine and I will spend a little time on the inlay.

Highslide JS
Fingerboard has been profiled and the compound radius has been machined on the top.
(12/23/14) I wanted to post this photo to show the compound radius that has been generated on the top surface. The board is now essentially ready for me to cut the fret slots. I may go ahead and do that soon as I have another fingerboard on the CNC requiring the same process. Once the fret slots are done i will cut the slot for the nut and then run another program that will cut the recesses for the custom fret markers.

Highslide JS
Getting ready to machine the fingerboard.
(12/19/14) The fingerboard is ready to be surfaced to the correct thickness and have its perimeter machined. I have also been calculating the vector layout for the recesses that will accommodate our custom inlay. Right now I have space on the CNC to do the major machining work on the fingerboard so I'm going to get that out of the way so we can concentrate on the inlay and after that's done we have some significant fiber optic work.

Highslide JS
Fingerboard blank being prepared for machining.
(11/24/14) Getting ready to do some work on the fingerboard of this bass. It's going to be a Wenge board and we're going to have a few interesting additions to it along the way. The inlays will be mirrors of the laminates on the back of the bass (and center of the top) which is something I have never tried before. We've also been discussing fiber optics on the neck if budget can tolerate it! Either way it should all look awesome when it comes together!

Highslide JS
Cutting the two pickup cavuties to full depth.
(10/29/14) The bass is now set up on the CNC machine so that I can machine th etwo pickup cavities to full depth. I have previously saved the two pieces of the top plate where the pickups will be located and I will create custom pickup covers using that continuous grain material. When they go back into the instrument they will look amazing. Just one of the unique features I am building into this instrument!

Highslide JS
Doing some carving work on the body.
(10/16/14) Now that we have a complete body I spent some time sanding around the outer profile to get closer to the finished shape. I also started carving the belly cut area. There is more of this work to be done, plus I have to machine out the two cavities on the back of the instrument fairly soon. I'm also prepping material for the fingerboard so that I can get that part under way. Making good progress and it's really looking good!

Highslide JS
Gluing the top plate onto the instrument using the vacuum press.
(10/3/14) It's a big day for this bass - it went into the vacuum press to get its top glued on. This will allow me to get the rest of the body shape trimmed up and start work on the fingerboard (which has some very unique features). I will leave this in the press for most of the day - I want to always be sure the glue has completely cured. Once it's out I will trim it all up and post another photo. So far so good, one less top in the shop!

Highslide JS
Cutting wiring holes into the top of the body.
(9/17/14) Before we glue the top on I have to mark and cut wiring holes in the top of the body. These will allow me to run wiring from pickups, batteries and bridge grounding to the control cavity. It saves a lot of difficult work by doing this at this stage. I can now work on fitting top at the neck joint and then gluing the top permanently onto the body. Looking forward to seeing that done! Next we have to create a fingerboard with special inlay.

Highslide JS
2nd operation - machining from the back of the top plate.
(9/4/14) The top plate has been machined to approximately half way through the material. I then remove it and make a fixture that forces the cuts made in tie top to fit securely into the fixture. This allows me to accurately machine from the underside of the top plate and meet the cut i did from the front such that the two pickup pieces simply fall out. I keep these pieces for thickup covers. I can now start work on internal wiring channels.

Highslide JS
Harvesting the pickup covers from the top plate.
(8/28/14) I am now cutting out what will become the pickup covers from the top plate of the bass. These two pieces will be kept aside and made into continuous grain pickup covers. We are planning to have a theme through the whole instrument where even the fret markers will reflect the sycamore and bubinga core construction. This will become more apparent as we move forward in the building process.

Highslide JS
Test fitting top plate onto the body.
(8/19/14) Next step on the bass is to test fit the top plate so that I can be sure everything falls into place. Most importantly here is the cutout that provides clearance for the neck joint, and also the distance from the nut to the bridge (in this case 34") so that I know all the critical things will fall into place. Looks good so far, so the next step will be some sanding to remove excess material and clean up edges.

Highslide JS
Gluing shedua piece onto body assembly.
(8/6/14) Time to get this plate glued onto the rest of the bass. I need to be careful to make sure that the entire surface is bring clamped with adquate pressure - hence the large anount of clamps necessary to make this happen. On a musical instrument your glued joints are as important as the materials you use and need to be 100% solid. I usually leave something like this overnight so that I can be sure of good joint integrity!

Highslide JS
Gluing veneers onto the joint face of the Sapele.
(7/27/14) The Sapele layer needs a couple of decorative veneers before I can attach it to the body so it goes into the vacuum press to get that done. This process guarantees that I get even pressure all over the glued surface and I always get great results. Once these veneers are on the plate I will clean up the joint face around the neck area and then glue this onto the body assembly. It should look really nice on the finished instrument!

Highslide JS
Getting ready to add the Sapele layer.
(7/19/14) This is the layer of Sapele that I will be installing onto the body between the back plates and the top plate. I have drum sanded it nice and flat and have made sure there is a good fit between the plate and the end profile of the neck. I need to glue a maple veneer onto the back of the plate before I can attach it to the body. This feature should look really nice on the finished bass as it matched the stringers in the core section.

Highslide JS
Machining in preparation for body assembly.
(7/8/14) This is the bass after I have successfully cut both cavity pieces out from the upper side of the body and machined the top surface flat. The result is tow counterbored areas which I now have to fill by machining accurate matching plugs which i press and glue into the recesses. Net result is a solid and complete body with the cover material harvested from the parent material. These will be saved and re-used as continuous grain cavity covers.

Highslide JS
Working on harvesting the continuous grain cavity covers.
(7/2/14) Our next task is to use a very small micro end mill to profile the battery and control cavity covers on the back of the bass. I cut these to a depth of about 3/16" and then flip the instrument over and set up for machining from the upper side of the body. I use a larger end mill to profile the cover patterns until I cut deep enough to meet the cut from the other side and thereby release the cover material.

Highslide JS
Second body half being glued onto core.
(6/24/14) Bottom bout has been successfully attached and now I can move on to gluing the top bout onto the assembly. As with the previous setup I clamp in both directions to make sure everything aligns properly on the back which, apart from minor sanding, is essentially a finished instrument surface. This instrument will look much more like a bass when these two pieces are attached to it! They are still a little oversize at this point.

Highslide JS
First body have being glued onto core section.
(6/19/14) In this photo I am clamping and gluing the bottom bout onto the core section of the instrument. It's always a good idea to check all scale and bridge location dimensions before this first piece is glued on because it in many ways defines how everything will fit together down the line. Fortunately I check that several times before committing to the glued joint! The pieces are clamped together and onto a reliable flat surface.

Highslide JS
Maple veneer applied to joint faces.
(6/4/14) Here is a photo of the two back plates showing the first of two contrasting veneers applied to the joint faces. Since the core of the bass is mostly light colored woods I will also add a veneer of darker wood to the same two joint faces. This double veneer treatment always looks really good on the finished instrument. Once that is done I will be able to attach the two back plates onto the core of the bass.

Highslide JS
Applying veneer to the back plates.
(5/29/14) I machined the joint faces of the two back panels so that the were flat and square. In order to prepare them for assembly I am now gluing two decorative veneer pinstripes on the joint faces of the back plates. This will maintain consistency with the rest of the instrument. Once these two layers are dry I will be able to start assembling parts. This is a very pretty wood for the back of the bass, it has a beautiful grain.

Highslide JS
Getting ready to get the sides glued on.
(5/22/14) Now that I have all the various parts to create the body I need to make sure they will all align correctly when I end up gluing them together. My task here is to mark where each component is located on the center core. This will help with subsequent gluing and clamping. It allows me to establish that the bridge will end up in the correct position based on the scale length of the bass. Looking forward to getting it all together!

Highslide JS
Making a layer of Sapele to accent the top plate.
(5/14/14) This is part of the panel I will be adding below the top plate in order to add a visual accent between the back and front parts of the body. I may be able to carve the edges of the top in such a way that this feature shows all the way around the body - we'll see how it looks when we get there. Right now I have to get this piece ready and accurately surfaced on both sides so that it is ready to glue on to the instrument.

Highslide JS
Top plate has now been fully assembled.
(5/7/14) I have now successfully completed the top plate. This was a lot of work because it is comprised of a number of accurately machined pieces which match the tapers of the core of the existing instrument. Looks great though and looking forward to seeing the body come together. I now have to work on the back pieces that will make up the rest of the body. I'm going to add a layer of Shedua between the top and the back to create a nice accent stripe.

Highslide JS
Assembling the top.
(4/28/14) Some more progress here. I have glued the lower bout of the top plate onto the core sub-assembly. Looks just like I wanted so far - it's going to look very pretty when complete. I need to glue veneers onto the joint faces for the top bout and get that glued on to complete the top plate. At that point I'll will have decided how to fabricate and assemble the other components of the body. So far so good!

Highslide JS
Gluing decorative veneer onto joint faces.
(4/24/14) There are numerous components to this top we are creating. Ricght now I am gluing one of two decorative veneers to the joint face of the Birds Eye Maple top plate. When I''m done with this there will be two contrasting pinstripe veneers at each wood joint. The combination will look awesome, it just takes a lot of little setups and operations to make it all happen. As soon as this side panel (which also has its own veneers glued to the bottom face) is ready I will attach it to the center core assembly!

Highslide JS
# top components in vacuum press.
(4/16/14) All three components of this unusual top plate have to have two veneers applied to the bottom surfaces so that everything will match up on the final assembly. In the photo I am gluing on the second veneer in the vacuum press. Once this is down I will machine joint faces on the two birds-eye maple top plates and get the three parts glued together. I am also starting work on the back plates of this bass - photos soon!

Highslide JS
Top core section machined to size.
(4/12/14) Our objective with the top plate is to have the core section exactly match the tapers on the back of the instrument. To that end I have cut each of the pieces on this sub assemble very accurately. The last stage in the preparation is to machine the two outer edges to create the finished tapered dimensions. This has now been done and I can now get these top plate pieces ready for assembling into one top piece.

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Top core section is assembled.
(4/7/14) I have veneered all the little machined pieces and carefully glued them together. I ten ran the assembly through my drum sander and we now have a very nice core section that will become a very unique feature of the top of this unusual bass. Next I have to machine the two outer edges to exactly match the width of the neck. Once that is done I can add the veneer again and glue on the two birds-eye maple sides!

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Gluing veneer to the top laminates.
(3/19/14) I am taking each of these tapered machined pieces and gluing deorative veneer onto the joint faces of each. I apply dark veneer (lavoa) to the light pieces and light veneer (maple) to the dark pieces. Clamping onto corian with spring clamps is a convenient way to get this done. I'll start to glue these laminates together soon to create the center core of the top plate. Should look awesome. More pics to follow.

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Cutting the center strip for the top.
(3/14/14) First step in creating this unique top is to carefully machine all the laminate pieces we will need for the center section of the assembly. I started with the center strip of the five laminates. I have to cut these exactly the same size as the laminates I used for the main core section so that everything will match when we are done. I will also have to add decorative veneer to each side of all of these tapered sections!

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Components for the top plate.
(3/9/14) After some discussion with our customer we have come up with a formula for the rest of this instrument. We arrived at a custom body design and are going to use Birdseye Maple and a special fabrication plan for the core and inlay. The photo shows the rough layout of the top plate which will obviously end up smaller when all the pieces are cut to fit. It will involve wuite a bit of precise machining but the end result should be spectacular.

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Cleaning up the two side joint surfaces.
(12/16/13) Next I turn the machined center core piece on its side and register off the flat surfaces i created in the previous operation. I align the core section using an indicator on the machined ege and the mill off the extra material on the two sides of the body. This gives me a complete core and two reliable and accurate square edges onto which i will be gluing the upper and lower bouts. Once we establish the final body shape we'll cut that.

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Machining some of the fatures on the CNC
(6/28/13) Getting things started on the core section of the bass. I machined the top surface of the neck to create a flat surface for the fingerboard. Next I machined the top surface where the body will be to a pre-determined angle. I also generated the headstock angle and then machined around the preimeter to establish the final width of the neck and body core. This gets all the critical features established in one setup.

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RLaminates all together and adding material for headstock
(6/20/13) Now that the core of the instrument has been re-established it is necessary to glue on a couple of matching pieces in the headstock area to allow for the extra width in that area. This will complete the core section and allow me to move ahead with some calculations and programs so that we can begin machining operations on the CNC machine. So far the core feels light and resonant, should work out well!

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Re-gluing the laminate parts back together for a 5-string.
(6/11/13) I have done a lot of machining, sanding, and gluing veneers to the separate parts of this dissected neck. Now it's time to glue them back together so that we have a core section suitable for a 5-string bass. This is one of two gluing setups required to yield a complete assembly. All the sections are now proportionately narrower and tapered in such a way that we should be able to continue where we left off and make some real progress!

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Had to change this core for a six-string to suit a 5-string instead.
(5/29/13) This has never happened to me before - but after we built the center core of the bass suitable for a 6-string, my customer requested that I make it a 5-string instead. Since we were quite specific about the materials used and wanted to preserve them for this bass, I decided to cut the assembly lengthwise through the Bubinga laminates, then re-machine all the tapers, re-veneer everything and glue them back together!

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Core section is glued up.
(12/27/12) All the various partis of the neck assembly have now been glued together into one rigid piece. Everything is stull rough sawn so the next step will be to get this assembly up on the CNC machine and start establishing some of the key features. Before this happens we want to be 100% sure we have a good understanding of our customer's requirements for string spacing at the bridge and at the nut.

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Gluing tapered sections together.
(11/21/12) The gluing process has begun. We're creating a 5-piece neck using tapered stringers and decorative veneer in each joint. We glue one tapered section at a time working from the center outwards until the entire center core is glued together. This makes for a very rigid and strong neck assembly and will produce clear notes with lots of sustain. It should also be a very attractive neck based on the woods we are using.

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Tapers have been cut.
(11/11/12) Here we have the components of the neck core roughly assembled. I have decorative veneer applied to some of the laminates already, and will continue until I have double veneer for each joint. At that point I will be able to start gluing the laminates together, starting from the center outwards. This will create a very nice looking neck - the grain in the sycamore will be a nice feature on the finished product!

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Jready to machine tapers on the Bubinga stringers.
(11/4/12) The two bubinga stringers have been sanded on one side and are now set up on the CNC so that I can machine them both to a pre-determined taper. Once this is done we'll be able to add the decorative veneers to the joint faces. The bubinga has a very nice grain and is a very gard and stable wood. It is perfect for providing strength and rigidity to a neck - especially since we are using Sycamore of the other neck components. Should be a perfect blend.

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Just getting started cutting the first of the laminates.
(10/30/12) Time to get the wood chips flying on this project. I used my template to mark the cross section for the bass we are making on a bubinga board and sawed out the two center stringer for our bass. These two pieces will run through the body and neck of the instrument. Bubinga is very dense and strong and structurally very good material for the neck. It also has great tonal qualities. We have some more sawing to do!!!
Last update November 4, 2012