Intro: Build a Miniature 70s Fender Bass Guitar
These instructions are for building a playable, 11/24 scale bass guitar, which should take between 30 to 40 hours to complete, depending on skill level and tools available.
Most of the work can be done with a Dremel. You will also need:
1. A drill motor / drills
2. Sand paper / sanding discs
3. Various small hand tools
4. Router bits
5. Jig saw
2. 1"x 2" piece of wood
3. Assorted sizes of small wood screws
4. 3-ply pickguard material
5. 8 cylinder magnets
6. Wood stain
8. Decal paper
9. 1"x 1" x 1/16" thick aluminum angle
10. 1/4" metal bolt or rod
11. Metal spatula
12. (2) 500k mini pots
13. 1/8" phono jack
Step 1: Cut Body
Glue two pieces of 1/2" plywood together. Rout body outline. The best way to get the outline is to print a photo from the Internet and trace the outline onto the wood.
Step 2: Rout and Contour Body
Rout neck pocket 1" wide. You can take measurements from your printed version. Also rout pickup and electronic spaces. Finish contour of arm rest area and cut rear body contour. It really helps to have a full size bass around so you can make comparisons.
Step 3: Shaping the Neck
Use a 1" x 2" piece of wood to form the neck. Narrow the neck down, maintaining a 1" thickness at the base. Cut the headstock down about half as thick as the rest of the neck. The best way to get accurate measurements is from a full size guitar as a model (measure full size guitar, then multiply measurements by .45 -- this will give you a guitar 45% the size of an actual bass, which is just a hair over 11/24 scale. I found that this is the best size for using standard guitar tuning keys. I may add frets later. Right now, it is fretless.
Step 4: Fitting the Neck
Make sure the neck fits to the neck pocket. Sand the neck a little at a time, checking for correct fit.
Step 5: Drill Holes for Tuners
You can print out just the headstock and lay it over the the neck to find the correct location of the tuning key holes. Be aware that the holes must line up with string position. Hole size is 5/16".
Step 6: Locate and Drill Pickguard Holes
Cut pickguard shape using clear transparency. Place in position on body and layout holes with a marker onto the transparency in their correct position. Then punch holes through the transparency over marks for holes. Use a marker to locate holes onto body of guitar. Drill pickguard holes into body, using marks made using transparency.
Step 7: Reworking Tuners
Use standard, open-back guitar tuners. Before beginning, make sure you will have enough space for tuners to turn. Prepare tuners by disassembling and grinding mounting plates to fit on headstock. You will need to drill new holes into the plates for #2 wood screws. Also, measure and cut string posts (about 1/4" above headstock). After cutting, you will need to use a cutting wheel to cut grooves into the top center of the string posts. Do not reassemble tuners until mounting plates are screwed into position.
Step 8: Headstock Decal
Neck can be stained and decal put on headstock.
*Note -- Fender is a registered trademark and is used only for artistic representation.
Step 9: Install Tuners
Install bushings and tuning keys. Once again, these are standard open-back guitar tuners that have been modified. Try to find tuners with the smallest size.
Step 10: Body Color
I used decal paper to print the sunburst finish and apply it directly to the body. You can then paint the edges black. You should lacquer over the decal after applying.
Step 11: Pickguard
Use three-ply material and either a jigsaw or small router bit to shape pickguard. Sand edges into shape, then use transparency to layout holes in exact position as body.
Step 12: Pickups
Pickups can either be made to be functional or only for appearance. To make a working set of pickups, search online: how to make a guitar pickup. You can even find info on this site. Use (4) 1/8" diameter x 1/4" long magnets for each pickup. Magnets can be found online. You will also need 42 or 43 gauge coated wire for winding the pickups. If you want to attach the pickups to the body in the same way as a full size bass, you will need to add two small tabs to the sides of the top pickup plate and dill holes into each tab to screw into the body. The photos that I have included do not show these tabs.
Step 13: Neckplate
Use tin snips to cut a spatula for a neckplate. Sand the edges into shape. Drill four 1/8" holes. You can decal the logo to the top.
Step 14: Bridge Plate
Use a 1/16" thick by 1" x 1" aluminum angle. Cut string end to 1/4". Drill five 1/8" mounting holes and countersink them for flathead screws. Drill four #40 string holes in end of plate.
Step 15: Finish Bridge
Cut a 1/4" rod into two pieces. Drill a #50 hole through the center of each piece (you will need to make the hole a bit larger than #50). Drill a #50 hole between two of the string holes at the end of the bridge plate. Tap a 1" #2 screw through the end of the bridge plate. Put ballpoint pen springs over the screws, then tap the screws through the holes drilled in the center of the rods. Make sure you can fit the mounting screws past the springs to install the bridge to the body.
Step 16: Drill Holes for Bridge
To locate the bridge, you will need to install the neck by drilling four holes through the back side, placing the neckplate and using #6 wood screws to hold the neck. Then, wind a guitar string around the 1st and 4th tuners and use these strings to center the bridge. If you want exact specs, you will need to figure out where the twelfth fret will be, measure from nut to twelfth fret, then multiply that by 2; this will give you the distance from nut to bridge. To locate the nut, cut a 1/8" notch in the neck just where it begins to sink into the headstock. Then form a small piece of wood or plastic for the nut. Later, you will need to notch it for the strings. Once you get the correct bridge position, use the bridge as a template to transfer the holes into the body. Holes will be for 1/8" screws.
Step 17: Install Pots and Jack
You will need to get (2) 500k ohm miniature pots and a 1/8 jack, like the ones shown. You will need to drill 3 holes into the pickguard for the pots and jack. You may also need to rout deeper into the body to accommodate the pots, depending on their size. I can't answer many questions about wiring, but there is a ton of information on the web.
Step 18: Make Knobs
It took me a long time to find a way of creating volume and tone knobs on such a small scale while maintaining the look of the original. I ended up taking standard black knobs and cracking them open. Inside is the brass insert that fits around the post (last picture). This insert is knurled exactly like the original, full size knobs. I filled in the tops with some wood glue and painted them silver. The size is exact to scale.
Step 19: Assemble Parts
If you have gotten this far, the rest should be simple. If you want it to be playable, you will probably need to shim the neck a bit. It helps if you have some knowledge of guitar adjustment.
Step 20: Project Complete
When you are done, you will have a miniature bass that looks nearly identical to a full size. Keep in mind, the sound will not be great quality. The fact that this bass will be playable is more of a novelty to create the illusion of it being an exact model of the original. In photos, it will be difficult to tell it is not a full size bass.