Picture of Making A Plywood Upright Bass
Hi everyone! For this instructable I want to show you guys how to make a plywood upright bass. This was my biggest project for my senior year in high school and was the project that I took to compete in the 2012-2013 SkillsUSA district and state conferences. The main objective was to make a functional upright bass out of any material I could find locally which where I'm from, is not a lot. In all honesty, I did not think that my bass would work but I can proudly say that it sounds perfect to me, it may not be as good as those really expensive models but it can definitely hold its own ground.
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Step 1: Tools And Materials

Tools I Used:
- Jigsaw
- Mitre saw
- Band saw
- Belt and disk sander
- C clamps( I used about ten 2 inch clamps and two 4 inch clamps but the more the better)
- F clamps( I used a good 8 of them)
- Drill Press
- Drill bit set
- Table saw
- Dremel
- Heat gun

Materials I used:
- One 1/4 sheet of plywood(for the top and back), can be any kind you want. I believe I used maple.
- One 1/8 sheet of plywood(for the ribs), I used lauan plywood though I highly recommend you use really bendable plywood like bendyply. I tried looking everywhere in town but I couldn't find anything so I had to go with the lauan plywood.
- One 3/4 sheet of plywood(for the mould), you can use any kind you want, it doesn't really matter it could even be MDF.
- One 2 x 2 x 8(for the corner blocks)
- One 2 x 10 x 10(for the neck, can also be used for the tailpiece)
- One 2 x 6 x 10(for the neck block, end pin block, can also be used for the bass bar)
- One 1-1/4 x 4 x 33(for the fingerboard). To get this, I cut a stock of oak that my teacher gave me, unfortunately it was short by about 2 inches so I added on to it, I will make it clearer on the fingerboard step.
- One 3/4 hardwood dowel(for the soundpost, can also be used for the end pin)
- Very thick string(to connect the tailpiece to the end pin)
- A strong wood glue(when making string instruments like the violin, cello, upright bass, etc. it is essential to use hide glue to make them but I chose not to and I will explain later on in the steps)
- One 1 x 10 x 1'(for the bridge)
- Tuning gears
- Upright bass strings

steve howe9 months ago

Great post and a good looking instrument. Please check out this link for discount bass parts

vacuuming1 year ago
Hi, I'm just wondering why you didn't use hide glue? I'm looking at fixing a busted (REALLY busted) bass and considering hide glue vs. other types of glue for the repair, what do you think?
buildingupbob (author)  vacuuming1 year ago
Hello, I didn't use hide glue because I couldn't find any locally where I live and I was afraid it wouldn't hold as I had never used it before. The major setback with me not using it is that the glue I used doesn't dissolve with water so if it breaks, I can't really do much :/ but then again I made the bass for fun and didn't really keep this in mind.
Thank you :) I'm suspicious of the odds because I fixed a smaller instrument (The neck of a guitar) with gorilla glue and it has held up in abhorrent climate extremes for almost a decade. That said a bass is a high tension instrument and probably actually needs the hide glue for a repair (instead of ground up construction)
Yes! We want a video.
buildingupbob (author)  OrienteeringGuy1 year ago
lol just uploaded one , I hope you like it.
Thanks! Sounds great. Rich deep sound. It would be interesting to have a practiced bass player put it though its paces. With your construction gift, you should invent some new instruments!
Kiteman1 year ago
That *looks* really cool, but can we hear it?
buildingupbob (author)  Kiteman1 year ago
Yup, I just uploaded a sample video I hope you like it.
You need to change the settings on your video - it tells me it is private.
buildingupbob (author)  Kiteman1 year ago
Sorry, I tried deleting my Google+ account but it messed up my entire YouTube channel, I fixed it now though, enjoy :)
E Major1 year ago
I want to hear it too! It looks like an amazing project, and congratulations on the ribbon!
buildingupbob (author)  E Major1 year ago
Thank you :) I just uploaded a little video I hope you like it.
mje1 year ago
Structurally it's a far cry from a traditional bass, but it's very creative and well made. I think you could take those skills and make a real carved or molded top bass one day.
buildingupbob (author)  mje1 year ago
Thank you, hopefully I can get to work on one in the near future.
How does it sound? I would love to see a video of someone playing it. Good job!!
buildingupbob (author)  jerbear19781 year ago
Thank you and I just uploaded a little video to show how it sounds
dharber ii1 year ago
That magnum gator line you used for strings?
buildingupbob (author)  dharber ii1 year ago
No, they're Slap Happy weedwackers. Not the best strings but they got the job done.
I've been whining for years that I'll never afford a double bass; this has inspired me to make one!

One question, what are the approximate dimensions for the back/front? Unless I missed it in the Instructable? Is it made from a 4 x 8' sheet of plywood?
buildingupbob (author)  sailingthrough1 year ago
Yup the sheet was a 4 x 8 I bought at lowes, it wasn't that expensive. Good luck on making one!
I got the dimensions of the bass from gollihur's website, here's the link:
LstTxn21 year ago
Congratulations on building such a difficult and beautiful piece. While I was not near as good as you in high school, my shop teacher made a great impression on my and now my hobby of wood working still continues.

Good luck with your future pursuits
buildingupbob (author)  LstTxn21 year ago
Thank you and good luck with your future pursuits too.
james.m.k1 year ago
Wow! That is so cool!
buildingupbob (author)  james.m.k1 year ago
Thank you!
your bass is remarkable; but even more remarkable is your incredible level of craftsmanship. those pieces could have been factory produced! that level of skill is rare.
don't abandon this type of work. you are one of a kind.
buildingupbob (author)  Cheese Queen1 year ago
Thank you very much, that really made my day :)
tritian1 year ago
how does it sound? 
ive been a bass player since 2nd grade, and playing in the orchestra throughout my whole time at school. I used to have an upright but now I only have a couple electric basses and a few electric guitars, and an acoustic guitar (need an acoustic bass badly)...  
I badly want a upright again. I'm also a carpenter with a full wood shop and I might take what you did and make it my own, just curious how it sounds with your choice of wood, and if you would change anything (like the type of wood used for individual parts).
buildingupbob (author)  tritian1 year ago
To me it sounds great but I think I would make a few changes. I would make the neck and tailpiece out of oak I don't know what it is about oak but I love it and I would definitely use bendyply rather than the one I used. Aside from that, I don't think I would change anything else.
KDHGuitars1 year ago
Great project now I want to build one!

One point I noticed is you seem to have installed your machine heads backwards. They should always be installed with the worm towards the back and the gear in front i.e. sound box side so that the gear is pushed into the worm.
buildingupbob (author)  KDHGuitars1 year ago
Thank you and yeah I kind of rushed putting the gears together. I didn't realize it until after I was putting it on display at the competition xD