Friday, January 8, 2010

Building the uber-J. Part Two.

Making the body.

Traditionally a Fender Jazz comes with a Swamp Ash or Alder body. My personal taste leans towards the sound of woods like Mahogany. Now, I live in South East Asia and for this bass I wanted to use Asian timber.

Woods around here a different from those in North and South America though. A little research was necessary to find a balance between the Mahogany sound and the traditional J sound in an Asian package.

There is a wood here referred to as Asian Mahogany.
This wood sounds quite close to Brazilian Mahogany, the main difference being his sounding less dark than Mahogany.
Which could make it a good choice.
Among other things this wood is often used to build average to good quality guitars. However a A grade piece of this wood sports quite remarkable sonic qualities and its very beautiful to look at.

In this picture you can see two beautiful Flamed boards book-matched and cut in J shape. The Flames are very pronounced even at a raw stage. I am leaving a little more wood allowance where at the heal as I am planning to shape it for a heal-less effect.

The picture above shows the body after being reduced in thickness. You can see the arched top and bottom profile. The arch is more pronounced at the lower half the body, less so at the wings to avoid cracks in the top facing.

This is what it looks like after sending it both sides. Now it feels very smooth, like velvet. Or is it me hallucinating after sanding for longer than I like to remember?

As you can see it's an arch top, as opposed to the flat J body. Usually the area of a flat body that goes under the right arm is scooped out to make it more comfortable to hold. It's a good solution and aesthetically pleasing with a contrasting top and a veneer.
But I want to address the comfort issue with the arch top instead. This way the top will remain intact and the shape of the J will be preserved.

Now I'm ready to glue the top. I struggled quite a bit to choose the wood. I am going to build another bass after this and I wanted the color code of the two basses to be very different. I almost got myself a beautiful Zericote, but someone else was faster.

I always liked Macassar Ebony. It's a great looking wood and it makes fantastic fingerboards. But for a body top I felt the stripes were too straight and regular for my liking. Until I saw this one. I just loved it :)

So there you go. Can you see the body under all those clamps? ;))

Thanks for reading.



  1. There is no problem if u shape the body before You clamp the top u r gonna use??? I wanna start building a bass .. but i am reading and reading and reading all the info i can get and will start using chep wood to get skilled since i am not skilled with wood work xD. Seems it will we a great bass at the end, Cheers!

  2. Hey Ezugaru, thanks for dropping by. gald you like it. there s no problem if you glue the top to the body at this stage, just leave a little more wood all around so you can sand body and top together - see this in part three. Go on man, build a bass! even though it might not turn out perfect the first time it'll be a great joy! I'll upload more parts next week. cioa from Asia to Mexico - you've got to love the internet!! :)