The Uber side of the Jay.
Here we are. This is were the whole project makes its biggest departure from its model. The Uber-Jay is going to be a headless cum headstock bass.
The tuners will be at the bridge while the headstock is going to act as strings retainer. The reasons for this are many. I have elaborated on them in my post The Headless Conundrum.
I'll just sum it up here by saying that the headless system is in my opinion much more reliable, clean and efficient than the traditional one. Having played for long time both type of basses side by side on stage I am convinced that the headless system works best for me.
The flip side is mainly an aesthetic one. The look of the Fender Jazz cannot survive without a headstock. Now that would be a serious blasphemy in my world. So I decided that the right thing to do was to preserve the headstock and design a device which would allow me to anchor the strings there.
It is very simple, and rear mounted. The strings will go through the headstock and a Allen screw will lock them in place. The part is buried inside the back of the headstock, flush with the wood, virtually invisible except for a 15mm disk. The aluminum makes it feather light.
Two little screws hold the piece but the stability is mainly given by it being inside the wood and by the string's tension itself. The small channel allows for comfortable tuning with a small Allen key. I already know I'll do this differently on the next Uber-Jay. Not that I don't like it but I can see an even less intrusive way of doing that. Well, this isn't a prototype for nothing after all.
To test the system's reliability and look for flaws I have mounted the parts on a hard wood blank with a tuner-bridge at the opposite end of a 34” scale. I have tuned both my broom-bass and one of my other basses – a Tobias – and kept them on the same stand in the same room. I have not played the Tobias nor have I touched the broom-bass for sixty days.
When I finally checked the two sets of strings the broom bass was still perfectly in tune while the Tobias needed some adjustment. To be fair, the broom's G was slightly down. But that was due to the fact that the thin .30 string had slightly dented into the wood – which shouldn't happen with Ebony or metal.
The bridge is an ABM. Very well machined and flawlessly finished. The shallow recess on the body was needed to align the bridge to a lower fingerboard level. You might remember me writing that the distance between the body and the top of the fingerboard will be much lower than usual for a total string/body distance of 5mm.
One more feature I always felt uncomfortable with on headless basses – aesthetically speaking – is the cut at the bottom of the body, where the tuners are. It surely makes them reachable. But it is also an important design feature. The fact that it look great on the Steinberger doesn't mean that it will always look just as good on traditional looking basses.
Anyway, I have carved a recess that allows to operate the tuners while preserving the shape of the body. It also gives top and core woods the opportunity to contrast. This bass is fairly basic in that only core wood and top wood will contrast. But it should work very well with top/veneer/core/veneer/back and with laminated neck through.
Thanks for reading.