A five string 50's inspired P bass

Home ] [Back]

Bass 8

Five string 50's inspired P bass

--------- o ----------

I've not built a P bass yet, which is a suprise considering a P/MM was my first bass. While I was considering this, I thought that if' I'm going to build a P bass...then I might as well go right back to the very beginning of the electric bass guitar and draw some inspiration from the bass that started it all. That menas that the primary pickup needs to be a single coil P bass PU. Probably hand wound for me by either Kent, Arron or Nordstrand and it needs to be a noiseless PU. The question is which other pickup do I pair with it. It's a bass that is intended for flat wound strings for that 50's sound and although it's a 5 string it'll have a high C and not a low B. Low B flats sound pretty bad to my ears. I'll probably make the string spacing quite wide, either 18 or 19mm at the bridge. I like the idea of a MM in the bridge placement. That Pick up with with a coil tap switch will offer a range of P/MM/J sounds and be really neat looking. The other idea is for a pair of J's either side of the single coil P. That would full fill two specific bass roles rather well. I could go even wilder and fit a MM and a single Jazz. Or I could try and break with traditional spacing and fit a pair of J's, a split P and a single coil P, but that might be pushing it a bit too far.

The body wood will be Alder for lightness and trad tone, the neck will probably be wenge for it's bite. Maybe a maple stringer or two. I think the fingerboard needs to be wenge too, with standard jumbo fret wire. I like zero frets too. I love the Telecaster / ASAT body shape. But it has serious balance issues because the strap button affixes right down at the 15th fret. While this is fine on a guitar, on bass it's a real problem, so lets call it the neck diver. As a 5 string, this can only get worse. Sure, Hipshot ultra lite tuners and a neater 3+2 angled back head stock can help reduce the headstock weight, but it's the angular pull that is the problem. There used to be a neck plate extension design kicking around that extends the strap button out to the 12th fret (where it should be normally). It's currently out of production, but I'm sure I can build something similar. One way of reducing neck dive is to make the neck a shorter 33" scale, pull the bridge back a bit and elongate the body shape by a further inch. This will push the strap button further along the fretboard, but it will be harder to play on the upper frets. This along with a smaller 3+2 angled back headstock design and a set of ultra lites tuners will help a lot, but it will change the tone and the shape of the bass. There is something that I really like about the purity of the telecaster / ASAT bass and I'm not sure that I want to spoil it or diloute it in any way by tampering with it. It was one of the last bass designs that Leo Fender was working on when he died. So I'd like to honour the first and last basses designs that he made.

Another possible way of curing neck dive on a telecaster / ASAT body shape is to go headless....that'll completely cure it. But it will drastically change the look and tonal punch of the bass. Headless basses tend to be even more punchy sounding than bolt on neck designs. If I go that route, I will make it an all though construction to minimise that. If I make it headded...then It'll be a bolt on with 6 bolts. Chrome hardware would look best, unless it's headless...then that'll be in black.

The body finish will be a painted finish, maybe a crazy hot rod metallic or even a decal. Hmmm may be a pink Paisley if I can find a good enough decal. Now that would look sweet and be very in keeping with the retro vibe. Although I did see a mettalic hot rod orange bass the other day that looked amazing. Metallic creme or pale yellow would be more period authentic.

 

---------- o ----------

 

 

---------- o ----------

---------- o ----------

 

---------- o ----------

 

---------- o ----------

 

---------- o ----------