Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Rick Bass Project, Part 1

Despite having a lot of guitars, I don't really have many basses.  In fact, during many of my musical years, I didn't even own a bass.  I had my eye on a particular bass when I noticed this bass kit.

DIY Electric Bass Guitar Kit – Mod Bass Guitar Kit

Due to trademarks and that sort of thing, I'll call this bass a "Rick" bass even though you know the whole name.  Sidenote:  That company is fiercely protective of their name and trademarks.  That's one reason I won't say it. 

So here's the kit:

My first impressions where, 1.  The neck needs a bit of adjusting.  Between the truss rod, and giving it a fret dress, that should take care of it.  2.  The basswood body was really lightweight.  That kind of surprised me.  3.  The body was a multilayer body.  I believe it had about 5-6 pieces of wood it was made of.  4.  It had a lot more knots than I would have liked.  That's usually not a problem except for something I found out later.  5.  The rosewood fingerboard looked more like a, "Rosewood, wink, wink" fingerboard.

I knew I was going to add certain parts to make it my own kind of bass.  Namely, pickups, straplocks, pickguard, and my own headstock decal. 

Since I was going to stain the body a walnut color, I decided to use a black pickguard.  I bought one from WD Music Products.  I have to say, the replacement black one actually fit better than the original one.  The black one is actually a two piece pickguard.  Looking at it in the picture and in real life you can't tell. 

I'm glad to say that the body and neck were already sanded to a 220 grit from the factory.  All I had to do was sand with 400 and 600 grit sandpapers and it was smooth.  I was given a great suggestion to use an air compressor to remove any dust and dirt.  That worked out great.

I then proceeded to tape off the neck, and finish it with Odie's Oil. 

Next, I turned my attention to the body.  I bought the usual Minwax Walnut stain from Home Depot.  I also made sure to purchase an eye screw so the body could hang up and dry.  I inserted it where the strap button usually goes. 

Make sure you follow the directions of the stain.  It says to stain evenly, and then wipe off the excess after 15 minutes.  If you need it to be darker, you can stain it two more times later on.  Here's what it looked like after one coat.

Frankly, that was a lot darker than I was going for.  The "Rick" basses made of walnut are not that dark.  But, I'll call it a happy surprise.

What was not a happy surprise was something they had done at the factory.  Do you see those places on the back?  The white places?  Well, that's where the body had knots in it, and they used CA glue to keep the knots from falling out.  But you know what happens when you put CA glue on wood?  Stain won't stick to it.  It completely seals the wood.  So I have a few places where it will be white. 

When wood is cut it gets graded.  You've probably seen Gibson's 2A or 3A flamed tops.  Paul Reed Smith sells really high end guitars with 5A tops.  To receive a single A means it is a pretty dang great piece of wood.  More than that is just amazing wood.

For wood that doesn't fall in the super high end category, you have grades like firsts, seconds, and common.  Here is a chart to help you out.

For musical instruments you should use firsts or seconds.  To have this many knots in a musical instrument body is inexcusable.  For me, it's not so much that it had knots, it's the fact that it needed that much CA glue to hold the knots in. 

On with the story.  The stain dried really fast.  Just to be safe I gave it 48 hours to completely dry.  After that I rubbed in Odie's Oil on the body. 

The first coat of Odie's Oil had dried on the neck, so I rubbed in a second coat.

It happened to be a hot sunny day here in Florida, so I did something you just don't do with other finishes.  I took it outside to sit in the sun.  Since Odie's Oil is well, an oil, having it sit in the hot sun will actually melt it, and thin it down.  It actually helps it soak into the wood this way. 

When I checked on the finish the next day it was almost completely soaked in.  The next day I added on another layer of Odie's Oil.  And that's where I am right now.  I will give the finish a few days to set up, and then see where I should go from there. 

I'm going to be performing a lot of finish work the next few weeks.  So I don't suppose I'm going to write, "Part 2" to this post for a while.  But good, bad, or indifferent, I'll write how it goes. 

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