Sunday, December 15, 2019

Blue Boy Pt 4

Blue Boy now has a new, heavier ash body; time to assembled it with the "old" parts. First, the pickups and control plate are put in, including wiring all the grounds together. Once the plate and bridge pickup are screwed in, the pickguard is lined up and fitted with a couple of screws (none of the old holes lining up, of course) in order to then screw down the neck pickup. I've decided I don't care for the brown control knobs on this bass - just not traditional enough - so I've ordered a set of standard black ones to replace them.

Now that the pickups are in a row, I can check the exact alignment of the bridge and - wow, off by almost a half centimeter. I'll mark where I want it with tape, unscrew it and re-drill the holes.

Now that that's cleaned up, I restring with the stainless La Bella strings, adjust the neck tension, string and pickup heights a bit, put the plates back on and let it sit overnight to settle (the strings and neck have to get used to each other).
Here's my first reactions the next morning: Blue Boy video 4

Conclusion - this body is fuller sounding on the low end, but still not as resonant with the neck as I would like. I also dislike the clangy-ness of the stainless strings on this neck, the frets are pretty noisy. I will try changing up the strings, first with flats, then maybe nickle half rounds or...

Of course, playing it on my full rig - with lots of volume - live with other musicians will be the real test. I'll avoid any additional major changes until I've had that opportunity. Who knows?

Friday, December 13, 2019

Blue Boy (part 2+3)

Having introduced the victim, I am now slowly tweaking it in a probably futile attempt to not perform the radical surgery - replacing the body - that seems almost inevitable. First, I just changed the strings hoping a slightly heavier set would solve both the low tension and low end tone issues. Spoiler - it did not:
Blue Boy (part 2 - changing strings)

Ok, now first let's make sure the neck and body are a good fit, and, even with the generic pickups and hardware that came with the ash body, if it is noticeably fuller in tone. It is:
Blue Boy (part 3 - new body test)

Now comes the work. Although the hardware on the new body is OK, I want to switch it all out with the parts I prepped, aged and installed on the original body (including the EMG Geezer Butler passive pickups, which are very nice). One thing I did notice, besides total lack of shielding on the body (which I corrected with copper tape and ground wires to each pickup compartment, grounded to the main compartment wall) is that the pickup alignment for the bridge pickup is way off (tweaked to the left, so the strings aren't lining up with the rear pickup pole pieces, but OK with the neck pickup).

In all honesty it will probably sound fine regardless, and I have the chrome plate to mount over the bridge and rear pickup anyway so it won't be visible, but can I correct it? Is the problem the pickup route, or the bridge placement? The joys of 3rd party parts...

Lining it up with a template I made from Fender PDFs, it seems the whole body is slightly skewed, but I think moving the bridge to the right a bit would split the difference. Here we go.

Blue Boy (part 1)

In an effort to clear the logjam of non-posting to this blog, I am trying out shooting video posts. First up: Blue Boy (part 1).