I made a little iPhone video of me using Bruce Johnson’s fretboard radius fixture to cut a fretboard radius.
I just finished this custom headless bass neck for a customer. I used to think that headless instruments were for total weirdos, but this is a really bitchin’ neck. It has a custom-designed headless string anchor system and the laminated maple construction has aluminum reinforcement bars for extra stiffness. The truss rod is a Bruce Johnson designed stainless steel double action compression truss rod, and is integrated into the heavy-duty neck bolt anchors. This will be going into a rescued 30.7” Hagstrom bass. I can’t wait to see this thing complete! Yowzers!
The customer requested that the neck be made as stiff as possible. The neck was designed for very rigid. Hard maple was selected for consistent, straight grain, and all laminates were arranged so the grain formed characteristic “V” pattern. This optimizes the natural grain structure, providing a solid platform for the neck.
All of my necks are made from carefully selected hardwoods. As a policy, my materials are chosen for their straight, uniform grain patterns. While this may not sound as exciting as a highly figured specialty hardwood, my necks are designed for strength, stability and longevity. Think of them as high performance pieces as opposed to show pieces.
Aluminum bars run the entire length of the neck for extra stiffness. Aluminum is a lightweight, yet torsionally stiff material, and the bars provide more resistance against string pull.
Each bar was installed between the laminates during the gluing process.
The custom made string anchor secures each string with a pair of bolts. The double bolt design creates a stable platform for each string, lessening the chance of breakage. The anchor itself is anchored to the neck using a through bolt design.
I’ve been experimenting with this piece of torrefied walnut I bought at Woodworker’s source. So far so good. I think the color is great, the wood tools really nicely, and by the board foot, it wasn’t super expensive. I haven’t finished this neck, so I can’t give it my 100% endorsement yet. However, I don’t foresee there being any problems going forward. I think this is going to make a really handsome neck.
Judging from the one or two spots of epoxy I put in the neck, I’m anticipating the finished neck to be very dark brown into almost black in color. Torrefied walnut might even make a good fretboard, but I haven’t tried it yet myself. Maybe after I finish this neck.
This neck is going to go on my new Sirena Pistolera Bass.
I’ve just been spending the last couple of weeks building up the tooling to cut these three Sirena Pistolera bass bodies. They’ve been chambered extensively to save weight and also affect the sound to some degree. I’m really excited about how nice they’ve been turning out to be.
This article is more about luthiers than performers. In a hyberbolic sense, could image building an instrument as a subversive act, but I could never really imagine that building an instrument would be an act of sheer bravery.
War is evil. A musical instrument serves but one purpose; to create joy. To build instruments is to create the tools that make beauty. I hope that someday anyone in the world can find the freedom to build musical instruments and bring beauty to the Earth.