I finally got around to making this after being inspired by similar builds by Chuck Cobillas and Hilo Greg on CB Nation. The fret lines are cut and filled wi...

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Comment by Jim Morris on February 5, 2018 at 5:52pm

Interesting Janis that your first instrument was bass. I always like hearing about how folks got started and what led them to CB instruments. My first instruments were flute and piccolo but these were considered "girls" instruments where I grew up in tobacco farm country so I switched to guitar as quickly as I could to avoid the crude comments.

Comment by Janis Wilson Hughes on February 5, 2018 at 5:07pm

WoWzer Hilo Greg!!! Thank you so much for sharing that. I just put an order in at Kala. :D I ordered 2 while I was at it. That's going to be awesome!

I've got paper templates for 20" and 21" scales that will hopefully work well. That's an excellent point about how far up the neck I will realistically be playing most of the time. When playing with my CBG friends it'll mostly be 5th fret and below. A couple of my favorite pop songs to play on standard bass go up to 9 I think, but not sure I'll be rocking those out on this CBG U bass. You never know, though...Right? I'll hope for the best on play-ability as I always do when building. 

Now my dilemma is what wood to use for the neck. I have 1 piece of some sort of exotic African hardwood that is a good width to accommodate these giant strings. It's fairly square and will require a ton of labor to thin it down and round the back. This wood is so dense that the only other time that I used it I swore I wouldn't use it again. It dulled all my cutting tools and took at least twice as long to work with it compared to oak. I don't have any oak wide enough, but I'm thinking I could put together an interesting laminated oak neck to get the width I want. Right before I saw your note I was about to tear into that African mystery wood because I want so badly to get started. But after writing this I think I just talked myself out of it. I have precious little time to build right now, and my strength is low due to a serious illness I'm still recovering from. Better to play it smart and not set myself back.

On a total side note which is probably way more than anyone cares to read, bass guitar was my first musical instrument. I took lessons when I was around 14 - 16 years old. I never got great, but I still love bass. Right now I'm guitar obsessed, but I'm really excited about making myself a sweet U Bass. The craziness of those deeeeeeeeeeeep lows coming out of such a short scale will be awesome. My original 2 string CBG bass gets the job done when playing with friends, but as a player it leaves me wanting more. More strings, better play-ability, more comfortable on the fingers... This is going to be a fun project. :)

Thank you guys for all the help and tips! I appreciate it so much. You guys are cool! :) :)

Comment by Jim Morris on February 5, 2018 at 3:43pm

That's great info Hilo Greg. I'll have to keep that in mind for my next Ubass build!

Comment by Hilo Greg on February 5, 2018 at 3:05pm

Hi Janis,

If I may suggest something. The Kala U-bass page sells Ubass nuts for a fairly reasonable $6. That might save you the trouble of measuring and/or filing.  

Also, when I did my bass, I printed out a template from Fret2Find, taped it onto the neck and cut the fret lines into the neck with an X-acto knife. The intonation is surprisingly good up to the 6th fret (I don't play much beyond 4 or 5 anyway). 


Good luck, I loved your Cranberries video BTW. 


Comment by Janis Wilson Hughes on February 4, 2018 at 4:29pm

Jim, you are wonderful for getting back to me with so much detail. Bless you for taking such detailed notes! :) I'm pretty ramped up about this build - more than I have been about one in a long time. Hopefully the weather & my body will cooperate so I can complete it pretty quickly but with good quality. I have a meetup with my Atlanta CBG crew this Saturday. I don't think I'll be able to complete it in time for that, but I'd love to. Thank you again!

Comment by Jim Morris on February 4, 2018 at 1:54pm

Hi Janis, good to hear from you! I don't think you'll have any intonation problems if you measure carefully. I used a 21" scale if I remember correctly. I always use the StewMac fret calculator for something like this that I don't have templates for. I always convert to mm. since it's easier to measure than thousandths of an inc. So this is about 533 mm scale. The shorter the scale = more need for accuracy in cutting the fret slots. I often have problems with my 13" scale soprano ukes but 21" is a bit more forgiving. 

Good luck with the build. I look forward to the finished bass!

The thickness of the strings means you need a pretty wide nut. I went back to my notes and found my scribbling of 1 13/16"  at the nut tapering to 2 1/4" where it meets the body. 

Comment by Janis Wilson Hughes on February 4, 2018 at 1:18pm

Oh, another question - do I need to use a wider neck than a standard 1x2 to fit all 4 Thunderguts on there?

Comment by Janis Wilson Hughes on February 4, 2018 at 12:52pm

Hi Jim- I think it's been a couple years since you and I talked about this awesome U Bass build of yours. I still enjoy my 2 string short scale bass, but now I've gotten the bug to build one of these guys as well to have all 4 strings. 

Big question for you - if I fret the neck, do you think it will be hard to avoid intonation problems? My 2 string is fretless, and when playing live I just prefer to have the frets to minimize the chances of looking away and getting off track. So I'd really like to fret this one.

Do you have any gernal advice? I'm planning pretty much the same as yours  - 20" scale, Thundergut strings, bass tuners, rod piezo, outboard preamp, probably ~16 frets. 

Thanks for the inspriation Jim and for telling me about this so long ago. 

Comment by Jim Morris on January 5, 2016 at 7:00pm

Thanks Chuck. Yeah, haven't seen you here for a bit. I've got the opposite problem - 8 degrees forecast for tonight! I need to make another of these since this one sold to a fellow in FL of all places!

Comment by Chuck Cobillas on January 5, 2016 at 6:51pm
Sounds Great Jim! I haven't been building CBGs for a while but I need to get started on another UBass for my Son. I have had all the parts for a while now but have been waiting for it to cool off since it gets pretty hot (I live in FL)in my garage.

Best Regards,

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