Watson Guitars
Idyllwild
California, USA

4-string J-Bass - (Serial 16B081)
Economy Pilot Model
Call
951-240-1666. or email us here!
   
Materials: Top: Curly Maple
  Body: Mahogany
  Core Laminates: Curly Maple and Wenge for neck & body
Fingerboard: Scale Length 33" Material to be decided.
String Spacing: 19mm at bridge, 11mm at nut
Electronics: Audere 4-band.
Hardware: Chrome finish
Options: Custom Inlay. Headstock plate to match body
Finish: Satin with a Trans Black finish wrapped around to body core
Other: No Control Plate - cavity machined from back. No pickguard since top material is very nicely figured.
   

This is going to be a J-Bass but built with a slightly different manufacturing process in mind. It will be a very nice looking instrument with a compact feel and a lot of sound.


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Marking out body for pickups and bridge.
(6/11/17) Left: Text and picture coming. (6/17/17) Right: Text and picture coming.
Highslide JS
Marking out body for pickups and bridge.

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Marking out body for pickups and bridge.
(5/30/17) Left: Work started on the belly cut on the back of the body. I have removed enough to test fit and see whet else might be needed for best possible fit. (6/6/17) Right: Text and picture coming.
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Marking out body for pickups and bridge.

Highslide JS
Marking out body for pickups and bridge.
(5/19/17) Left: I have been back on the sanding machines in an effort to get the body contour completed. I'm now happy with that and ready to plan control cavity. (5/26/17) Right: This is the back of the bass where I am currently plotting out locations for features I will need to cut or machine. I will probably do the belly cut next
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Planning belly cut, control cavity , body joint geometry and retaining screw locations.

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I'm using the same material on the headstock face as I used for the top of the body.
(5/7/17) Left: This is the material I kept aside to create the matching veneer on the top surface of the headstock. Getting that ready for application. (5/13/17) Right: I got the body up on the CNC and cut out the two recesses for the pickups. Good to get that done - I can now measure up to create the control cavity on the back of the body.
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The two pickup cavities have been machined into the body.

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Marking out body for pickups and bridge.
(4/28/17) Left: Some final shaping going on around the body especially at the lower half of the body where I am getting ready to machine a cavity into the back. (5/2/17) Right: Getting things set up to attach the fingerboard to the neck of the bass. Getting that on will allow me to finalize the shaping and profile of the back of the neck.
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Marking out body for pickups and bridge.

Highslide JS
Marking out body for pickups and bridge.
(4/19/17) Left: I've hit the fingerboard with some sealer in order to prevent any adhesive from getting into the grain around the inlay locations. (4/22/17) Right: Inlay has been set into the fingerboard and I have sealed up the surface area to protect everything. The black ring around the white shell has a nice visual effect.
Highslide JS
Marking out body for pickups and bridge.

Highslide JS
Marking out body for pickups and bridge.
(4/9/17) Left: This photo shows the inlay that I have cut on the laser and set into the recesses I cut in the fingerboard. As soon as I have these sealed I will attach the fingerboard to the neck. (4/14/17) Right: I spent some time on the back of the headstock finishing the shaping of the neck volute. Got is sanded down too.
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Most of the back of the headstock has now been shaped.

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Starting the back of the neck by first removing some of the excess material.
(3/27/17) Left: I'm doing some neck carving while I'm waiting for a chance to get the body up on the CNC machine. (4/4/17) Right: I am on the CNC machine machining the two pickup recesses into the body for the J-Bass pickups. After these are established I will have a control cavity to machine out for the Audere package.
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The awesome pickups I got from my buddies at Nordstrand pickups. These will do a great job.

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The recess for the neck has been machined into the body.
(3/14/17) Left: I didn't get a chance to take a photo of the body on the CNC but I was able to gt the recess for the neck cut into the body which allows me to align everything else. (3/19/17) Right: Now that neck and body fit togther I can plot out pickup and bridge locations for subsequent machining and hole placement.
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Marking out body for pickups and bridge.

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Inlat will be white shell surrounded by a very small black ring!.
(3/1/17) Left: This is my fingerboard inlay prototype which is basically two shells cut in intersecting circles. I have some minor mods and will then cut all the shell for the fingerboard. (3/7/17) Right: Body and neck being aligned as a pair so that I can calculate the overlap based on scale length. This then allows me to get the neck pocket cut.
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This is the heel end of the neck which I just machined down to its final thickness.

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Recesses cut for the inlay.
(2/22/17) Left: I cut fret slots plus the recesses for the inlay on the fingerboard. Per my customer's wishes I'm going to try to do circles with a concentric ring on each. (2/25/17) Right: I machined the heel end of the neck down to its final thickness so that I can start shaping the back of the neck. Hope to get fingerboard on soon.
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This is the heel end of the neck which I just machined down to its final thickness.

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Machining fingerboard profile.
(2/16/17) Left: Machining has been started on the fingerboard. Right now cutting it to its final shape to match the profile of the neck. (2/19/17) Right: The compound radius of the fingerboard has been generated on the top surface and in doing so I also established the thickness of the fingerboard. Will sand to remove machining marks.
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The compound radius has been completed - now fret slots!.

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Fingerboard ready for CNC.
(2/13/17) The fingerboard has now been rough cut and attached to a suitable substrate material to keep it staple while we machine it to its finished profile, add the compound radius, nut and fret slots and inlay features. I'm just waiting for some free time on the CNC machine and this fingerboard will be up there getting everything cut and established. This should end up being a nice looking fingerboard. Hoping neck will be ready at the same time!

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Preparing fingerboard for machining.
(2/9/17) Getting work started on the fingerboard of this bass. I'm marking out the critical ponts on the board so that I can determine where the 12th and 24th frets will be and how much to leave for the nut area. Also choosing which way round to use the maple to get the best out of the grain structure. Once it's marked out I will rough saw the blank and get it attached yto a solid substrate for machining. Will start cutting the board right after that.

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Body has been roughed to close to template size - now sanding edges.
(1/29/17) The body has been rough ground down to very close to the finished body profile and I am now cleaning that up on the spindle sander. Once the body is close enough to finished shape I will be cutting the cavities required for the electronics and batteries which, in the case of this bass, will be in the back of the instrument as we will not be using the traditional J-Bass control plate. After that I'll be able to machine the neck pocket etc.

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Birds eye maple for the fingerboard.
(1/25/17) I got hold of this piece of Birds Eye Maple for the fingerboard which I think should work quite well. I got it from a local wood supplier and I need to get it slightly further sanded down before I start machining it. I will run it through my sdrum sanded for thickness and then get it attached to some MDF as a baseplate. Then it will be able to go up on the CNC machine for a number of machining operations including the inlay.

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Assembled body being cleaned up on the spindle sander.
(1/20/17) This is the body of the instrument after the top was glued on. I'm now going to do some cleanup around the perimeter to get the shape back down to something close to the final template size. Once that is done, I will focus on the neck pocket first because that in turn will define the location of the bridge and most of the other features on the top and back of the bass body. I now need to get back to the neck and get that completed.

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Body and decorative top being glued together in the vacuum press.
(1/17/17) The body is now in the vacuum press being clamped and glued to the curly maple top plate. I will be leaving this alone for a while to make sure ithe adhesive has completely hardened. At that point I will remove he assembly and cut off the excess material to get to a point where I can then do sme sanding to blend the material to a common edge condition. I will then get my body template, mark out finished perimeter and sand to finish.

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Wiring slots in the body have been machined.
(1/12/17) I set the instrument body up on my machine and cut three carefully placed slots which will ultimately hold the wires for the two pickups and the grounding for the bridge as they all connect to the control cavity which I will cut later. I can now get this body blank off the machine and set things up to glue the top plate on! We are definitely getting closer to having a real bass to work with rather than just component parts!

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Laying out features for the body of the bass.
(1/7/17) In this photo I am laying out the locations for the end of the neck and fingerboard, the bridge, the two pickup loctaions and also the location of the control cavity. Once these are established I will be cutting a few channels in the top which will serve as wiring channels after the top has been secured on. Once those wiring channels are in the top plate goes on and I clean everything up. Have some more work to do on the neck now!

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Getting ready to glue the top plate halves together.
(12/28/16) This is the clamping setup to secure the two top plate halves together while the adhesive does its work. The wood grain is very nice and should look awesome once the tint and finish has been applied. Once this is completely set and unclamped I will get it sanded and prepared for gluing onto the body itself. I may cut wiring channels into the top of the body first to create wiring channels under the top.

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Getting ready to glue the top plate halves together.
(12/21/16) The maple plates for the top are being prepared for gluing together into one bookmatched piece. I left the outer edges straight so that lateral clamping would hopefully be easier. I want to get this top onto the body quickly so that I can get to work shaping the body and getting the required recesses and cavities cut. I was as economical as possible and I think there is enough off-cut from the top material to cover the headstock too!

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Machining joint faces on the maple top material to prep for assembly.
(12/16/16) In this photo I have the two bookmatched halves of the curly maple top secured on the CNC table so that I can machine nice clean center joint faces for gluing the two top halves together. The figure in this wood is really nice and should look very impressive with our black tint that we are planning to apply. I'm anxious to get it cut and secured onto the body as that will allow me to get all the remaining body features completed.

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Body assembly completed - it's a nice match to the neck!.
(12/22/16) Second mahogany body half has been attached and I now have a complete body blank to work with. I will now be using my template to mark out the finished body profile and removing material to get that outside shape finished up. I have some material that my customer and I selected as a candidate for a bookmatched figured maple top and I will be getting that material ready for assembly. Also more work on the neck itself!

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Cutting joint faces on the body halves.
(12/16/16) I am now machining the two joint faces of the mahogany body halves so that they are level, square and correctly positioned for gluing onto the other pieces. Once I have them both cleaned up and verified on my template I will go ahead and glue two onto the core piece and create my complete body blank for the bass. Following that will be some cleanup to create black and front surfaces then we will get ready to apply a top plate.

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Cleaning up the assembled center section.
(12/10/16) In this photo I have the 3-piece center section on the CNC for a quick surfacing operation to generate a flat and square top surface. After this I will move to the drum sander and clean up both top and bottom so that the two surfaces are parallel and square to the sides. This piece will then be ready to have the mahogany body halves attached. We will soon have something that looks a lot like our J-Bass objective!

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Gluing the three pieces of wood for the center of the body.
(12/1/16) I am now gluing the three pieces of wood together that will be the center of the body assembly. Once this assembly has set I will clean it up to a similar thickness to the mahogany body halves. I then need to get the two body halves onto a machine to cut the joint faces so that everything can be glued together to create the entire body assembly. Once that's done I'll surface the top and bottom and go back to the template for final shaping.

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Neck ready for final shaping.
(11/25/16) The neck has been further shaped and I have also cleaned up the excess glue on the top of the neck where the carbon fiber rods were installed. I wanted to hold off on establishing the heel thickness until I had a physical body thickness to relate it to. I will be setting up my machine to trim off the material at the bask end of the neck so that we have finished heel dimesions for fitting to the neck pocket in the body.

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Body components being prepared.
(11/19/16) This is the body with the components roughed out. I have rough cut and sanded the upper and lower body halves and my next move will be to sand joint surfaces on the maple and wenge and get that assembled. Once I have a glued up body I will machine and sand to prepare it for a maple top. When the top has been added I will be cuttig neck pocket and recess for controls. It's going to be a good looking bass.

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I'm using some very old mahogany for the body wings and highlighting it with a maple/wenge center.
(11/13/16) Although I had planned to make a purely mahogany body I happened to have some old-growth mahogany at hand and also wenge and maple from the neck construction. It might qualify as a small upgrade but it helps me use this nice material and we will be able to have a little artistic continuity from the neck through the body. The body will still be mostly mahogany and this combination will look awesome with our decorative top!!!

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Carbon fiber rods have been glued into the slots on the top of the neck surface.
(11/4/16) I fitted the carbon fiber rods into their respective slots and got them seciured into the neck using a very high grade expoxy. This makes them truly an integral part of the neck construction and they add a significant amount of strength and stability to the assembly. When the glue has completely set I will clean up the top surface and resume work on the neck. Now that the rods are inset the neck is ready for a fingerboard!

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Neck has been machined, trimmed and headstock rough sawn.
(10/27/16) Neck machining has been done! After the truss rod work I had to machine a pair of slots that will be housing two carbon fiber support rods. That went fine and the neck has been cleaned up, extra material has been sawn off and I have marked and rough sawn around the profile of the headstock. Now I will cut and fit the carbon fiber rods, mix a batch of special epoxy and get the two rods securely glued into the two machined slots.

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Setting parameters for the truss rod slot to be cut into the neck.
(10/23/16) Next job here is to get a truss rod slot established. I use very high end truss rods but they have three different diameters at the head end and therefore I have to cut the slot with corresponding geometry so that everything fits the way it should. The pencil marks on the neck indicate where these different diameters need to start. Despite the extra work these rods are the best I have ever used and it's worth the custom fitting!

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Headstock angle is cut and top surface cleaned up.
(10/21/16) In this photo I have the CNC generating an angle for the headstock of the instrument. It's a much more accurate method than trying to saw and flatten the surface and it keeps the headstock on exactly the same plane as the surface of the neck and fingerboard. When I am done here and have removed the neck from the fixture I will use my headstock template to mark out and rough cut the headstock geometry.

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Neck blank on the CNC.
(10/19/16) I have the neck blank set up on the CNC machine so that I can get started on establishing some of the critical machined features of the neck. I will be machining the top surface of the neck, then cutting the headstock angle. After that I will machine the neck to its final width and length. Lastly - I will machine the truss slot geometry and two slots for carbon fiber re-inforcing rods. I will be posting more photos soon!

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Gluing maple extensions for headstock.
(10/11/16) Before I get this neck up on the CNC machine I needed to add a couple of pieces to the headstock area to allow for its widest part. Once this is glued I will be putting the assembly up on the machine to cut the top surface, headstock angle, neck profile, and truss rod and carbon fiber channels. I am looking for a suitable fingerboard material and I'm under way with the Mahogany body. Looking forward to this one taking shape!

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Getting started on gluing the neck together.
(10/5/16) I have been sanding the three laminates to get nice flat surfaces on each piece and now I can start gluing them together. In this photo I am gluing the center piece of Wenge to one of the outer Curly Maple pieces. I have everything ready to continue on and have the third piece assembled and we will have most of a neck assembly complete. I will probably need to attach a couple of curly maple pieces to add space for the headstock profile.

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I now have all three neck laminates cut to the template shape.
(9/26/16) I got the third neck laminate cut out of some Wenge material and I am now able to get the neck part of the instrument moving ahead top the next operation which will involve gluing the pieces together into one neck blank. I will have to add a couple of matching pieces of maple to the headstock end just to give me the little extra width that will be required by the headstock. I think we will see this bass moving along quite quickly.

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Two of the three neck components rough cut and ready for the next step.
(9/21/16) I have now cut the two main pieces for the neck from some very nice curly maple. I will cut a third wenge piece so that I have all the neck components on hand so that I can get them glued together. I have also looked out some nice mahogany for the body of the bass so I will get that rolling very soon also. This bass will be defined by its top, how we do the inlay and the tint we choose to bring the best out of the selected top wood!

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Some of the woods I will be using.
(9/16/16) These are my woods for the neck pieces and the selection of woods I expect to be using to create this bass. The body is going to be mahogany for a more traditional tone and I will be using Curly Maple and Wenge for the neck section which will yield a nice strong and rigid neck. I will be using a nice figured maple top that will really work well with the dark transluscent tint we have discussed so it will be a good looking bass.

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A lucky score at the hardwoods store - some Curly Maple perfect for this project.
(9/10/16) I was shoppping for various woods today at my two local suppliers. While looking in the second hardwood store I happened to notice a really curly maple plank that not only had an obvious and consistent curly grain, but was thicker than the typical stock material I'm accustomed to seeing at wood suppliers. I grabbed all 10 feet of the plank mainly for this project although it might yield more that that. Anyway - good get for neck material!!!

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A nice higjly figured piece of bookmatched Curly Maple - nice stuff and would look great - a little thinner than I mormally use but would still look awesome. We will see.

(9/1/16) We are still in the process of selecting the package of wood from which to build this bass. I believe there will be some Maple in the neck, possibly with a center laminate of something else. I had this Curly Maple top set in the shop which has a really nice grain, and we are looking at this for a candidate for the top plate. Other options may come up too. I am going through my inventory and will update this page very soon.

Last update August 30, 2016