Saturday, June 12, 2010

Building the uber-J. Part Seven.

A few touches before the plunge.

This is taking longer than I initially anticipated. Considering the five weeks I had given myself when I started this project I am off the mark by just four months. Blame it on work, forcing me to leave the country already twice from the beginning of the year... blame it on this weather, too good to pass a weekend or two by the seaside...blame it on the financial crisis, making us believe that there are more important things to do than building the uber-J. Bollocks.

Anyway, here's where we are now. I have roughly shaped the neck, glued the fingerboard and finally reshaped that hideously bulky heel.

For now I have shaped it slightly more slanted on the lower part, to add extra space for the left hand - I'm really becoming obsessed with this. You'll see from the close-up picture that is still needs some fine sanding. never ends....

The three holes are in fact only marking the position of the knobs. Eventually that area will be routed for the rear mounted electronics.

At this stage you can see the truss rod slot, the fingerboard and, more to the point, the binding.
Eventually, I settled on Maple....on a Rock Maple neck...on a Birdseye maple FB....Yeah, it's nearly invisible if you're not the one holding the bass, I know....

But I like its understated nature. It's yet another tribute to the mid '70s Fender Jazz. Only, this one is Maple, not plastic. It ain't a uber-J for nothing

I am shaping the headstock in line with the body style, shaving enough veneer for the maple to show. I will probably work on those curves a bit more than that. But you get the idea.

I have, as you might notice, blended the design of the J's headstock with that of another masterpiece and personal favorite - the Music man Stingray.

I have long admired Leo Fender's ability to stay true to the basics of the original J headstock design - as much as he legally could anyway - while making it more compact and pleasingly balanced with the body.

When I'm done with mine the two designs should be fairly obvious.

I am planning to make a cover for the truss rod slot. I'm still working on it. Any ideas?

The second picture shows what's going to happen to the back of the headstock. I will shape the profile again to match the rounded, soft lines of the front and body.

I regret I didn't take a picture of the neck. How could I forget?? Anyway, it's still a long way to go. It will be a thin, rather flat neck.
In this picture you should be able to see that the neck scarf is more akin to that of a tilt back headstock
and more pronounced. I find that very comfortable to 'feel' when I'm getting to the first fret without having to look at the neck.

I have also lowered that point a bit compared to the usual position so as the thumb will feel it when the first finger is near the fret....does that make sense?

Two more weeks away and I'll be back to finish this. From now on I'll get to the very heart of the project, where the biggest departure from the original FJ takes place. It will also be, I believe, the most controversial one. Stay tuned.


  1. Wow it's looking better and better each time!

    Can't wait to see the controversy!


  2. Looking good! Are you still going to do the headless style setup on this? I would leave the headstock the way it is, I thhink it looks good. Just my two cents. I know how you feel about how long it is taking because I am way past my deadline for my bass but I am getting ever closer. Keep up the good work.

  3. Oh on the truss rod cover make it out of birds eye or if you are going to use a pick guard make it out of that material. Is this a tilt back head stock? If not did you do the traditional round up to the nut?

  4. Hey John, great to hear from you! yeah... this delays are killing me. Yes, the truss rod cover in BE Maple is a nice idea - rather an obvious continuation of the fingerboard than trying to disguise it with Mac ebony. But I might try both in the end :)))) The head stock is not tilt back and i didn't do the traditional round up. In fact, it is flush with the top of the neck. As soon as I'm back I'll take more pix and elaborate on that. cheers!