Monday, November 24, 2014

LeSpork Bass Prototype - The Load Out

But when that last guitar's been packed away
You know that I still want to play
So just make sure you got it all set to go
Before you come for my piano

Just when my son got used to having a bass in his room to play, I found some time to get back to this project. The list of things to-do includes:
  • final-solder the controls
  • replace missing control cavity and truss rod covers
  • make and install a custom pickguard
  • install a thumb rest
  • refinish the body and headstock 
  • realign the neck/body/bridge 
  • install neck bolt inserts
I took the bass back out to the shed and took a few critical measurements, and put some thought into the best order to handle the to-do list.  The electronics would need to be worked on outside of the cavity, so I desoldered the output jack, pickup leads and bridge ground wire, and pulled out the controls and jack.

I was still undecided on the overall color scheme, including the color and material choice for the missing control cavity cover.  Since I had narrowed my material choices down to wood and plastic, I went ahead and made a control cavity cover from some scrap wood.  The wood cover would certainly come in handy as a template if I were to go with a laminated plastic cover to match the pickguard and truss rod cover.

Before completely tearing down the rest of the bass, I thought it would be best to realign the neck/body/bridge and install a set of neck bolt inserts.  This would ensure that I could properly set the bass action and intonation, as well as to be sure to plug all of the extra holes in the body and neck before doing the refinishing work.  I took a few critical measurements and determined that an adjustment of the bridge towards the lower upper bout by 3/16-inch would realign the strings with both the neck and the pickups as well as to allow me to use the neck-to-body angle as it was.  The neck set angle could still be adjusted by shaping and shimming the neck pocket during setup.

In anticipation of the finish work, I mocked out a headstock modification to make it look more like a Kramer and laid out a Spork shape for the pickguard on the body with some painters tape and markers.  The pickguard would be too close to the pickguard, so I added 'relocate volume control' to the to-do list...

To be sure I would only reset the bridge location once, I thought it would make sense to first lock in the neck-to-body angle by installing the brass neck bolt inserts and stainless steel neck bolts.  So, I drilled out the existing neck bolt holes to the required 1/4-inch diameter and installed the inserts.

Working without a drill press or hole guide, the body/neck bolt holes I made in this bass were out of plumb.  A smart way to increase the size of these holes would have been to use progressively larger drill bits, allowing the drill bit to be guided by the existing hole.  In a rush to get this step done, I overbored the 1/8-inch holes with a 1/4-inch drill bit.  After installing the inserts, I found they did not line up with the holes in the body.  To fix this meant rework in plugging the body and neck holes and redrilling the holes.

The upside to this setback was the opportunity to make an adjustment to the neck/body angle.  After a day for the glue to dry, and some work with files, a chisel and some sandpaper, the neck and body were ready for a shim, a new set of bolt holes and proper installation of a new set of inserts.