A fretted 6 string "bolt-on" with a modern tone

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Bass 8

Fretted 6 string modern Bolt-On bass

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Since the early days of my designing basses, I have wanted to make a bolt-on style. I originally wanted an Ash body capped with an AAAA flamed top. With either a green or blue glaze. My inspirations for this particular bass came from a number of influences. While the design can't be attributed to one particular style, brand or model, it was certainly influenced by a number of sources, all of which I highly admire for the design purity and design language. A personal favorite of mine was a Green G&L 1500 5 string model which caught my eye many years ago. It was the first bass which broadened my design ideas and let me see beyond P or J basses...ironically, it was a Leo Fender designed instrument too. I think it was this bass which taught me to be progressive and puch my boundaries...to always be learning and moving forwards. I was also influenced by a striking Lakland which I saw in a copy of "Bassist" magazine. It took a number of ideas, blended them and then added its own ideas on top. The third influence is the British stunner, Wal. A design so pure and yet of an era. Tonally, there is still nothing which quite sounds like a Wal. So I put all the design ideas into a blender. Kept what I liked...and added my own GMC influence and this is the design I settled on. It has rock and soul design influences.

I wanted to use Bartolini pickups this time, I want to try that fantastic modern soul tone. I like the Kent pick ups but I want this voice to have a different voice. Initially I considered a single Jazz and big fat humbucker, but I eventually settled on a pair of Bartolini 6 string Jazz noise cancelling pickups. These pickups were designed for use in Carvin sixers.

I was hoping to use a John East 3 band EQ, but I'm settling for a Bartolini 3 band eq with a 3 way mid freq switch. The neck will be a multi-laminate, using maple, purple heart and wenge. Initially I was going to use paduak, but I think it's about time I tried purple heart as a tone wood. It'll be a 5 piece laminate. I may use a Macassan Stripped ebony fingerboard, maybe Wenge or even Tulipwood.

An early design sketch.

Although I would also like to try a Purpleheart fingerboard too. I have tried a Conklin recently and I am really impressed by the tone which the fingerboard imbues.

This is the fianl body design template. From this I'll create an MDF cutting template.

Because this bass is a "Bolt-on", it's a much simpler and quicker bass to build in terms of man hours and construction time. Bolt-ons are so much easier and cheaper to make than Straight through models. That said, it's no excuse for quick or sloppy workmanship. I have desided to extend the neck right up to the first pickup. This should help the transmission of tone from the neck to the body. 6 Bolts should do the job nicely.

I desided to use a 50/50 mix of Ovankol and Swamp ash for the body. Or I could have gone for a complete Alder body and sprayed it with an exotic Metallic Purple (alder is a really dull wood, but takes a painted coat very well). But I do like to see some nice wood in my basses.

I want to use a wide 3/4" round over on the edges to hide the basses girth. Because I designed this body shape as a sixer from the ground up, it looks in proportion and it should handle correctly, but it's a big sixer folkes.

The choice for the neck wood laminates will be a lot simpler than my previous basses. 1" Purple heart central core, with 1/2" Wenge stringers each side, with Maple completing the sandwich. Because a bolt-on neck uses a lot less wood than a Through-neck design, I can yeild two necks from the billet. I could in theory yield four if I splice the headstock. But that's pushing it. I could easily yeild two and the other one I can use as an although neck, headless bolt-on or a normal bolt-on.

This is my new 6 string Headstock design, from this I'll create an MDF cutting template.


As I said before, this bass is a "bolt-on", so the neck will be a lot more simpler. I can yield 2 necks from a single billet, meaning that I could make one for myself and the other to sell. The headstock will be a new design, strongly influenced from the classic Fender tradition, but re-designed to accomodate six strings and not just four. getting the string in a straight path from the nut to the tuners needs carefull consideration too. This headstock is longer than my usual design and I will want to keep the 10 degree angled back headstock So I will need to splice the headstock onto the neck. Again the truss rod will be adjusted from the body end (this allows a stronger neck to headstock joint).

I'll have to put a head plate on the front of the headstock to hide the laminates, this will allow me to use a logo on the front too. I'm not sure if I'll use a volute yet. If i do it'll be a simple one.

I'm still toying with the electrics. Vol, Vol, 4 way rotary, for the humbucker would be nice. Topped off by a 3 band EQ. Bartolini or John East.