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Mustang VI - digging for the bottom end
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MatthewK
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Joined: 11 Aug 2008
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Location: Hobart, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:35 pm    Post subject: Mustang VI - digging for the bottom end Reply with quote

So I ran a thread with a few queries and suggestions for adapting a cheap 3/4 SX bass into a VI project. In the end I decided the best approach was to take an SX neck and a Jazz body to modify them into an approximation of a VI, to see how I go.
So far I have started work on the body. I had priced alder Jazz bodies around $99, so when I got the chance to buy a frettless jazz bass for $100 I thought, why not, sell a few parts to pay for my requirements. So I bought it, added a few bucks to entice the guy to drop it off to a friend, and received it a couple of weeks ago.
Good news is that it had some decent quality parts for me to use and/or re-sell (Seymour Duncan JBs, Wilkinson bridge, MOP pickguard). Bad news is that it had a thick polyurethane sunburst finish with a horrendous home-made relic job on it.

I was dreading the stripping process. Then I turned my heat gun onto the finish, with a crackle I discovered it was going to be a lot easier than I thought:



As Sebadoh put it, bubble and scrape. I found a moderate degree of heating turned the finish into a kind of brittle chewy plastic, which would scrape straight off the wood with little damage. Ironically the areas where the finish had been "reliced" were the toughest to get off.
After maybe 2 hours work I was done, and toothpicked the screw holes (pickguard holes were single toothpick, bridge ones took three toothpicks as a bundle which I hammered in).

Midway through, I thought, "What's the WORST this could turn out if the neck and body were way out of proportion?" So I grabbed my ugly old Strat copy neck (the cheapest guitar in the world at the time, I think) and bolted it up. Even that looked OK, so the SX neck is bound to be better.

Some interesting things to note:
- the neck screws seem offset toward the treble horn (maybe standard for a JB?)
- pickup routs ... well, let's just say I don't think a CNC machine was used
- pretty clearly alder (awesome) but the wood strips don't seem to be straight along the body
- looks pretty good from here.
One nasty surprise - some kind of glass or epoxy filler in the neck pocket:

My guess is, I will be dowelling and re-drilling anyway, so with luck this won't affect it.
I look forward to further updates, all advice gratefully received.
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hotrodperlmutter
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

that is going to be sick. sorry for fucking you about on the neck, i promise i'm working on it.

i've been sick as shit the last few days, i'll keep you posted.
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robroe wrote:
at least when i sell my kids old baby shit on Craig's list there is a chance ill meet a hot mom in the parking lot of a Pantara Beard

ekwatts wrote:
She's also like 17 or something mezz you gay rapist.
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Haze
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Joined: 15 Jan 2008
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Location: Tulsa, OK

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

while obviously a relic job it didnt look too shabby before. i dont think you have anything to worry about that neck pocket epoxy either, the stuff holds together pretty well. My mim jb's neck screws aren't offset so idk whats up with yours. You might want to dowel them and make new ones to fit your neck/neck plate
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MatthewK
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Joined: 11 Aug 2008
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Location: Hobart, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hotrodperlmutter wrote:
that is going to be sick. sorry for fucking you about on the neck, i promise i'm working on it. i've been sick as shit the last few days, i'll keep you posted.

Rod - don't FOR A MINUTE apologise about the neck, I have PLENTY to go on with here, and this project can take as long as it needs. Please don't turn a favour into an unpleasant obligation.
For the rest of you guys - Rod made me a fantastic offer to accept shipping on the SX neck (Rondo won't ship outside the US) and is in the process of sending it on to me in Australia. He asked for nothing in return and made a wonderful gesture to help me out. I'm really grateful to him and if the neck gets here in June, I will still be grateful to him!
Another update, I have laid my design onto the best straight-on shot of the body I could find. I think this is going to work out just fine - Haze, you are right, the ideal is to dowel both the body and the neck, line everything up and drill a proper set of aligned holes.

In case anyone missed my pleas - I am looking for a Mustang trem, Jag bridge and control plates, and a pair of Jag pickups with covers. Happy to pay decent prices for the parts, and for shipping as well, if you have any lying around.
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THEGREATJONZINI
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Joined: 09 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Im loving this project, all the best. Razz
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barry.b
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

with the new bridge saddles sitting roughly where the bridge p'up was on the Jazz, are you *sure* you're going to get the 30" scale length?

just curious.

"Very courageous, Minister..."
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MatthewK
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Location: Hobart, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a full-size Jazz body (34" scale) and the neck is short-scale (30") so the bridge will move toward the neck - space for the tremolo. The exact fit will depend on how the neck and body match up - I expect I will need to revise the details as I go!

String availability will be a factor too - I don't want strings tapering before they reach the nut. Some research to be done there.
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MatthewK
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Joined: 11 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So - a minor progress update - the body is now toothpicked and all the poly crud and relic scrapes have been sanded off (no re-shape yet, need to make sure it's all possible before I cut the body up!)

and I bought a Jag-Stang vibrato from eBay (you can get them cheaper than the same thing listed as a Mustang unit!)
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Dave
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is that filler in the neck pocket or a build up of sanding sealer? I've had two guitars with similar looking gak in exactly the same place and both where just some sanding sealer. Not that it matters really but thought it worth mentioning as the resident shortscale anal retentive.

How awesome does that jazz body look as a normal guitar? Looking forward to the progress on this.
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Blunt a joint , Take the Touch , Listen this.
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Haze
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Joined: 15 Jan 2008
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Location: Tulsa, OK

PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

that'd look sweet if you cut the top horn to fit the IV design and the bottom a tad and flow it into its natural contour

something like this


i'd set the neck nice and tight and THEN put the bridge where ever it needs to go, the neck might fit a little snugger/looser than you plan it and since you'll be filling the pickup routes anyways
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MatthewK
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Joined: 11 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fully agreed Haze - that Stang vibrato is just sitting on the surface, I haven't done any filling or routing yet. I won't commit anything until I try it with the shortscale neck. You're right about the shape too, I'll be removing wood rather than adding bits on.
It does look kinda cool as a guitar, although way too bulky in real life. I have since reshaped that terrible guitar headstock to a Tele shape, it looks much much better. Weirdly that neck turned out to be mahogany. Of course I am using a maple/rosewood neck for the VI project.

And good news - the jazz bass has now donated a Wilkinson bridge to my Ibanez Precision copy, so I can sell the elaborate Schaller bridge which was on the Ibanez, a pretty impressive piece of engineering but massive overkill for a P bass. When I sell the fretless neck as well, I am thinking I will make the hundred bucks I spent on the bass, and I still have a pickguard, controls and two Seymour Duncan J bass pickups in hand.
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Ty
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Joined: 20 Nov 2008
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Location: Cottage Grove, Oregon, U.S.A.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was browsing the internet and ran across these pics of a modified MM Bass to a Six String MM Bass, thought you might enjoy it.


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hotrodperlmutter
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dude, that is fucking rad.
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robroe wrote:
at least when i sell my kids old baby shit on Craig's list there is a chance ill meet a hot mom in the parking lot of a Pantara Beard

ekwatts wrote:
She's also like 17 or something mezz you gay rapist.
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Mages
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Joined: 26 Mar 2008
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Location: MD

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
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Quote:
hotrodperlmutter wrote:
dude, that is fucking rad.

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cogito ergo sum...thing or other...
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MatthewK
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Joined: 11 Aug 2008
Posts: 743
Location: Hobart, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heck yes, that's very cool.
Good news is that the neck is on its way from Adam, and when it arrives I am going to get going properly. I think it will go through a few stages:
- fit neck to body, get neck joint nice and snug, draw bridge line based on neck scale
- temporarily fit bass bridge and bass tuners, string it up as a bass, make sure it intonates, etc.
- place Jag bridge (oops, better get one) and hang Mustang tailpiece bar behind it temporarily - string up 4 light gauge bass strings, check neck angle, relief, string spacing, see if the Jag bridge intonates
- fill jazz bass routs, rout for Mustang trem, fit full Mustang tailpiece, check that it all intonates
- cut down headstock for Kluson style guitar tuners
- string it all up with 6, make sure it works
- tweak pickup layout based on the working config
- wire up a couple of pickups and controls, see if it rocks
- rout for pickups, full wire-up
- strip body, cut off lower bout, reshape upper bout
- paint body, reassemble, tweak pickguard design, order or cut guard, done.
Any feedback on the planning process is very welcome. Photos posted at every stage of course.
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endsjustifymeans
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hotrodperlmutter wrote:
dude, that is fucking rad.


and shockingly easy looking to make..

Hrmmm...
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dots wrote:
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brainfur wrote:
I'm having difficulty reconciling my desire to smash the state & kill all white people with my desire for a new telecaster
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hotrodperlmutter
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

settle down there, he-who-has-many-irons-in-many-fires. Wink
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robroe wrote:
at least when i sell my kids old baby shit on Craig's list there is a chance ill meet a hot mom in the parking lot of a Pantara Beard

ekwatts wrote:
She's also like 17 or something mezz you gay rapist.
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endsjustifymeans
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Joined: 10 Feb 2009
Posts: 19442
Location: Ball So Hard University

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hotrodperlmutter wrote:
settle down there, he-who-has-many-irons-in-many-fires. Wink


oh shush I've only got one project now and it's nearly done. Or will be as soons as I get a jag trem. The project above could be done with a bronco bass, a dowel rod, a telecaster bridge and some time to kill. And I have a telecaster bridge (granted it's a bucker bridge). Wink
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dots wrote:
society is crumbling because of asshoels like ends

brainfur wrote:
I'm having difficulty reconciling my desire to smash the state & kill all white people with my desire for a new telecaster
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MatthewK
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Joined: 11 Aug 2008
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Location: Hobart, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

endsjustifymeans wrote:
I have a telecaster bridge (granted it's a bucker bridge). Wink

Coil tap dude!
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MatthewK
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very quick update!


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