Howard Rabach

Bassist – Live Performance + Studio Sessions

Bass (re)Build

November 2, 2015

The bass that I’ve owned and played the longest has been my trusty white Fender Deluxe Precision, all sparkly and white…

Fender Precision Deluxe Modified

Soul Brother #1

As I’ve almost never used the bridge pickup, I thought a remodel was in order – if I only removed the extra pickup and it’s controls, I’d have this large cavern in the middle of the bass, along with some gaping holes in the pickguard.  Playable?  Yes.  Pretty?  Not so much – plus having gaping holes in an electric instrument invites a whole host of other possible issues.  I decided to buy a new body and move the neck, hardware, and neck pickup over to the new bass.  Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:

RockAudio P-Bass Body

RockAudio P-Bass Body










I bought this p-bass replacement body from  After some research, I wanted something new, but not too expensive, as I’d have to do some drilling and routing, which I’ve never done.  I’ve done a ton of electronics work (rewiring, soldering in new pickups, etc) and replaced bridges and other hardware, but nothing related to wood-working.  Needless to say I was a little nervous.  But after some additional research, I felt ready.  In the first picture, sitting next to the original white body, I had already drilled the holes to install the bridge.  I needed those drilled so I could create a channel through the body for the ground wire that runs from the bridge to the back of the electronics cavity.

Last week I picked up a 12″ long 1/8″ drill bit from Home Depot (in truth, I picked up two, because, well, I know me all too well…).  After some careful measurements, I created a 1/4″W x 1/4″ deep x 1/2″ long rout to begin my drilling.  Well, I was eventually successful…the second time.  The first time resulted in this:







Yes…that’s a hole through the back lower bout of the body.  Nothing a little wood-fill and some stain won’t fix!  Eventually I made it work (see the black ground wire emerging from the electronics cavity).


Then it was time to drill for the neck pocket.  Luckily, the neck was pre-drilled as it was being moved from the white bass body.  However, creating matching drilled holes to accept the neck in the new body too equal parts measuring several thousand times and a little prayer to the luthier gods.


Neck, this is body; body, this is neck; play nice; no hitting.

Then, after installing the Gotoh vintage bridge, I strung up the bass with the old strings just to be sure the neck and bridge were in alignment, that the neck was seated in the pocket properly, and that the entire bass could hold the tension of heavy-gauge flatwound strings (La Bella ‘Deep Talkin’ Bass’ 760-FM strings).  20151102_152144So this is where I am currently in the build.  It’s not perfect – there is a minor chip in the finish on the back of the neck pocket, the gouge from my intial routing attempt – but now it’s got some moxie.  I’ve got a new pickguard on order which I’ll need in order to install the pickup and electronics.  Hopefully that will be before the end of this week, and I’ll have this new ‘Soul Brother #1″ all ready for some old-school thumping.  Let me know if you have any questions about why I did this, parts that I chose, or anything related to bass rebuilding or modding.  I’m not an expert, but I’ve done my fair share of instrument “adjustments” over the years that I could probably offer a useful bit of information to you.  Happy playing!

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