Adding a third pickup to a 5-string Gecko bass

tubby.twins

Senior member
Messages
623
Problem:
Warmoth would only route the standard locations (neck and bridge) on the Gecko bass bodies.  I wanted to build a "tone monster" bass with three pickups.

Solution:
I borrowed a router, made a routing jig, and routed a third pickup cavity between the neck and bridge pickup cavities.

Specs:
Pickup routes are the "standard" Bartolini P2 shape (4 1/4" by 1 1/4") in the "standard" locations.  There is just enough space for a third pickup cavity, with about 5/32" wood remaining between the new cavities.  Gecko 5 body is made from solid Purpleheart and was purchased from the Warmoth showcase earlier this year.  Body has been rubbed with several coats of Carvin's pure lemon oil.

Instructions:
The routing jig was built from clear plexiglass with two 1/4" metal dowel pins (1" long) inserted exactly 2 15/16" apart as guide pins.  (It took several tries to get the holes drilled in the right places, since I didn't have a drill press.  The result was not pretty, but the jig worked.)  Router was fitted with a 1/4" "down-cut" spiral bit and mounted exactly between the two guide pins.

This was my first time using a "plunge" router, so I tested it on a few scrap pieces of wood (and learned some important lessons) before attacking my prized Gecko body.  Eye and ear protection were required.  I made many shallow passes (~10 or so) at successively deeper cuts, in order to ease the load on the router, since purpleheart is a very dense wood.  I continued until I had routed the new pickup cavity to 3/4" depth, the same as the existing pickup cavities.

I used Scotch blue masking tape to cover critical areas of the bass body, which otherwise would have been scratched by the routing jig (and the rapidly accumulating wood shavings).  I also used a vacuum cleaner to remove all wood shavings between passes.

One more thing I learned about purpleheart: because this wood is so dense and resinous, I had to keep the router moving at all times, otherwise the heat from the bit would start to "toast" the wood and bring out the dark purple resin color.  It smelled really nice when this happened.

Pictures of the result:

IMG_5267.JPG


IMG_5269.JPG


IMG_5278.JPG


IMG_5283.JPG



The new pickup cavity appears more "brown" because freshly-cut purpleheart looks that way.  Once the wood has been exposed to air for some time, it will gradually turn more purple.

Next steps:

Bass will be fitted with three SGD dual-coil neodymium passive pickups, and passive electronics including a 5-way rotary coil selector.
 

tubby.twins

Senior member
Messages
623
Max, that's awful.  I don't even know where to begin.  [grin]

Thanks to everyone for the comments.  I'm glad I took the time to build the routing jig, instead of doing it "freehand".
 

rapfohl09

Senior member
Messages
1,673
tubby.twins said:
Thanks to everyone for the comments.  I'm glad I took the time to build the routing jig, instead of doing it "freehand".

Haha believe me we all are. Im sure im not the only one that would cry a little on the inside if you messed up a body made from wenge and purpleheart.
 

tubby.twins

Senior member
Messages
623
Here is a brief update, with some more pictures.

The pickups are now installed.  I have attached some photos of the bass body with its pickups.  There is *almost* enough room for a fourth pickup, next to the bridge, but I didn't want to push my luck.  [smirk]

IMG_5639.JPG


IMG_5645.JPG


IMG_5651.JPG


I also attached the tuners to the headstock of the matching neck, which is also made out of purpleheart and wenge.  Warmoth really outdid themselves on the build quality of this neck.  The wood is amazing.  I also rubbed the neck a few times with pure lemon oil.

IMG_5616.JPG


IMG_5623.JPG


Notice that both the Gecko inlay and the fretlines are ebony.  I didn't know that Warmoth could do ebony fretlines on a fretless neck until I got an e-mail from one of their sales reps, asking whether I would prefer ebony or maple.  He strongly recommended ebony, and I am glad I chose that option.  (My other fretless Gecko necks have maple fretlines.)

IMG_5629.JPG


IMG_5636.JPG


After taking these pictures, I was able to attach the neck to the body, and get the strings installed for the very first time.  Things are working great except for some issues with the Takeuchi 5-string bridge, whose saddles are simply too tall for a fretless Gecko bass.  I am probably going to need to mill the saddles to make them shorter, in order to get the strings closer to the fingerboard for the low fretless action that I prefer.  Right now the strings are at least 6 mm away, so it's not as nice to play.

I also have a few words to say about the SGD passive dual-coil pickups:  AMAZING.  Simply amazing.  I tried hot-wiring them on a temporary basis, just to see what they sound like, and I was blown away.  I'll write up a more detailed review once I get the wiring all finished.

More updates coming soon, I hope!
 

nathan a

Senior member
Messages
1,836
Wow wow wow that is one hell of a neck. AND, you should be proud of the routing job, nice clean work.
 

bpmorton777

Senior member
Messages
1,651
great bass build! :icon_thumright:

sounds like you know what you are doing....but if you havnt done a setup before Id take it to a tech and see what he could do before you start grinding down the saddles. could just need the nut slots down a bit and the truss rod adjusted.

Brian
 

RobR

Senior member
Messages
198
Very very nice job! ...... you should post a pic of all of the Gecko's you have ....
 

rapfohl09

Senior member
Messages
1,673
Even if this guitar was butt ugly, my jaw would still be dropping from your OUTSTANDING pictures.

Good thing this guitar is SWEET though, now its just the best.
 
Top