Howard Rabach

Bassist – Live Performance + Studio Sessions

Bass re-build complete!

November 6, 2015
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Just adding a quick update to show off the completed re-build of Soul Brother #1; now a total thumptastic rump shake inducer.

The last few steps took a bit longer than anticipated but, as with everything, a few trips back to the workbench and a modicum of patience paid off…eventually.

Soul Brother #1 So as you can see, it’s quite the looker now.  Picking up from my last post, the first thing I did was install copper shielding throughout the pickup and electronics cavities.  

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I also pre-drilled for the eventual pickguard installation (you can see some of the pilot holes above).  Then I began making my electrical connections.  I soldered the “hot” pickup leads and fed them through the channel to the control cavity; I also soldered all my ground connections as well.

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Then I began piecing together the wiring harness… 

HR_pbass2HR_pbass4HR_pbass5I did run into some difficulty once I had everything wired up.  Though I tested everything with my multimeter to confirm that the pickup was passing signal, as well as the old-fashioned “touch-metal-to-the-pickup-to-check-for-audio”, I found that the top pickup section did not have audio output when plugged in.  After a quick chat on the TalkBass forum, I quickly surmised that I had done too good a job shielding, and that the solder points on my pickup were apparently “grounding out” when they came in contact with the copper.  Some carefully placed electrical tape to cover the solder joints took care of that.

Upon the second assembly and test, I found that the input jack would only produce an audio signal when the instrument cable was only halfway in; pushed in all the way, the audio signal cut out.  MY SHIELDING STRIKES AGAIN!

Back to the workbench, and covered any copper that came even close to touching the input jack with electrical tape.  And the final assemble worked just fine.  I followed that with a basic set up as the bass had been in pieces for so long.  Got it all intonated, the neck action adjusted, and the bridge heights measured correctly, and I was in business.  Plugged in, this thing is a total beast.  The La Bella strings are just starting to age just right, and the sound of those through the Original ’62 pickup just scream Motown and Stax.

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So I’ve learned a lot about bass building –  about some woodworking which I had never attempted before, and most importantly that this stuff is possible.  Yes, I have a local guitar tech who does amazing work and to whom I will continue to bring my guitars for many years to come.  But now I can do even more myself, save myself some money, aggravation, and the time my basses spend out of commission.  As a gigging bassist, frankly, as an instrumentalist of any kind, arming yourself with the knowledge to care and maintain your work tools will save you headache, frustration, and money, and might save your next gig.  Until next time, happy music making.  I’m headed back to the “woodshed” with Soul Brother #1.

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