The next project: A custom 4 string bass

No sooner than I get the last project off the workbench and my fingers start itching to get going with the next one. This next project has many similarities to the last one. I’m going to take a cheap instrument I bought on eBay, build a new sapele body, upgrade the hardware and hopefully turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. Some of the key design details on this one will be the extra long top horn, a carved top and reshaped headstock.

The instrument in question is an early 90s Aria Pro II Avante Series. After dismantling it, I lathered the neck and headstock in Nitromors to remove the heavy poly lacquer.

While that is soaking in, I mark a centre-line on a piece of MDF and the old body, line them up and then trace round with a pencil.

If I was just replicating the old shape, I would use a bottom bearing router cutter, but in this case I want to make changes to the shape of the two body horns; lengthening one and shortening the other.

I trim the MDF close to the line on the bandsaw.

And here’s the MDF template with the neck, just so I could make sure I was happy with the shape.

I’ll sleep on that and decide whether to make any changes (or perhaps even start again) tomorrow morning. If the weather is better tomorrow I’ll be breaking out the router and planing the pre-glued sapele body blank to thickness.

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