Fenderbird Bass

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,238
So ByteFrenzy's Thunderbird bass got me excited about building a thunderbird for myself.

I had always wanted one, but the non-availability of a thunderbird headstock on a warmoth neck held me off.
But then I realized that John Entwistle used to play thunderbirds, but disliked the neck - so he had a bunch made with fender necks.

Enter the Fenderbird!  I remembered that I had a warmoth Jazz Bass neck on an old project that didn't go so well. The project was to rescue an old Vantage Bass body with a new neck.  Unfortunately, the tone sucked and it hung really neck heavy.  The Bass sat around for a few years, then I banished it to a used guitar shop for another few years. Today I collected it, and here it is:

n527102111_1386399_3570.jpg


I took the neck off and took stock of the situation.  I had originally finished the neck myself and seeing it again I was reminded of why I now get Warmoth to finish stuff for me - I suck at finishing.  However I had forgotten that the neck has some nice flame on it!  Also, I had used quality Schaller tuners on it.  Things were looking up.

n527102111_1386401_4279.jpg


The little guy still looks pretty good, even after 12 years...

n527102111_1386402_4616.jpg


So now, what to do about that thunderbird body??  I'm not really a bass player, so I'm appealing to the group for input on this one.  Any thoughts about wood, finish, pickups, active vs passive, etc would be most welcome.

 

NonsenseTele

Senior member
Messages
8,256
I like bodies matching with the headstock, when the headstock is light with a dark fingerboard...

I would go with a Flame or Birdseye Maple topped bass... And darker a little that fingerboard...
 

willyk

Senior member
Messages
1,278
NonsenseTele said:
I like bodies matching with the headstock, when the headstock is light with a dark fingerboard...

I would go with a Flame or Birdseye Maple topped bass... And darker a little that fingerboard...

The only lam. top available on a T 'bird is a mahogany centre strip  :sad:
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,238
Allright - one thing that I've decided is that I like the optional raised center bit on the thunderbird.  However, this restricts me to a mahogany body.
I'm also getting stuck on the tobacco sunburst finish - something like this:

LPCP159A.jpg


whatdoyathink of that on the tbird body?  I'm probably going to have to strip and re-finish the neck if I go this way though...
 

willyk

Senior member
Messages
1,278
Why do that? Maple necks look fine with sunburst bodies, and you wouldn't want to cover up that flame!
 

NonsenseTele

Senior member
Messages
8,256
Wow, will be veeeeeeeeeery fine a color like this...
But I would finish the headstock again to match that color!
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,238
ok, I just spent the weekend sanding, re-spraying, leveling, and buffing the old jazz bass neck.  I managed to get rid of the orange peel, and it's fairly level.  Well, ok it's fairly level for my skill level.  Here's what it looks like now:

n527102111_1404111_8986.jpg


I'm gonna pull the trigger on the t-bird body on monday.  Here's my thoughts:

mahogany with raised center, tobbaco burst as shown above.

Routed for a couple of SD basslines Phase II soapbars, and those groovy individual bridge saddles. 
I also plan to get the active EQ.  All the hardware on the body will be black.

Looking forward to creating some thunder!
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,238
Well, I just pulled the trigger on the body!

It's as I mention above, but with the funky hipshot/warmoth individual bridges.  I was going to get the Schaller adjustable bridge out of neck alignment concerns (the neck has the holes drilled to match the old body - in the wrong place for the new one requiring me to drill em again), but then I decided what the hell - I'll just have to get the holes right when the time comes  :icon_biggrin:

Loooking forward to it!  I'll keep everyone posted as things happen.
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,238
Hi Folks,

Time for the latest installment on the fenderbird bass project.

Well, I figured that since it was a fenderbird bass, it may as well say "fender" on the headstock.
I carefully put on the decal, applied many layers of deft to it, and sanded it level and...

n527102111_1524034_9592.jpg


Immediately sanded through the decal!  You can just see that the 'z' letters in "Jazz" are missing the tops of the letters.
and of course you can still see the decal line along the bottom too!  This is actually pretty typical of my finishing jobs - I always manage to go through the finish.  I've got no problems taking a router or a drill to a guitar, but I do seem to have an issue with sandpaper. 

Son of an Ice cream cone!  I don't know if I should laugh or cry.

In any case, it's staying as it is.  I've just put another coat on top, and that will be the final one.

 

NonsenseTele

Senior member
Messages
8,256
How about using sand papers with smaller grains (bigger numbers on it)???
The biggest law of sanding begginers is: when it's a quarter part from where you think you should stop sanding, stop and look how it is  :laughing7:
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,238
NonsenseTele said:
How about using sand papers with smaller grains (bigger numbers on it)???
The biggest law of sanding begginers is: when it's a quarter part from where you think you should stop sanding, stop and look how it is  :laughing7:

Well, I was using 800 wet in a sanding block.  I think I just suck at finishing. :-\
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,238
SkuttleFunk said:
800 is pretty coarse for detail sanding a finish IMO

Well yea, in hindsight I certainly can agree with that.  I think my main problem is I just lack the patience to do a good job.
 

NonsenseTele

Senior member
Messages
8,256
mayfly said:
SkuttleFunk said:
800 is pretty coarse for detail sanding a finish IMO

Well yea, in hindsight I certainly can agree with that.  I think my main problem is I just lack the patience to do a good job.

Guitar building and finishing NEEDS patience or sh!t happens...
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,238
All right, we left off with me sanding through the headstock decal and being annoyed with myself.

I took a step back and thought about what I should do.  I did have a spare decal, so I had the option of sanding the whole thing down and starting again.

Well, I decided to do just that.  I got my 400 grit out and took the headstock back to bare wood.  Ya know, those decals actually stand up to a fair amount of abuse!

I was much more careful this time, spraying three thin coats before applying the decal, then doing about 10 or so afterwards.  I let it cure, then I gently sanded.  This time I was not worried about leaving the edge of the decal visible - I just wanted to get rid of the orange peel.  A polish later, and this is what I got:

n527102111_1564551_3087.jpg


Much better! 
 
Top