Hey folks, working on my second bass build. This is an upright suitcase bass.
Does the fingerboard need to be radiused? The fingerboard I have now is flat red oak. My access to power tools is limited so if I can get away with a flat fingerboard I will.
I should also mention that I would like to play country/bluegrass/rockabilly/psychobilly if that makes a difference. I know little about upright bass playing technique and I am wondering if the radius on the fingerboard is essential to playing slap bass styles.
Yup, Uranus is right. I've made four fretless basses ranging from 41" scale upright to the 20" U Bass that I just finished. (The vid of that one is still CBN top content!) None of them are radiused and they play great. I do want to make one soon that has a radiused fingerboard and bridge because I love the sound of bowed bass and you do need radius for that. The type of music you mentioned doesn't have much call for bowed bass (crass generalization) so You'll be fine with a flat fingerboard. Check out my friend Mark Schatz on youtube for a great slap tutorial.
Here's the direct link. I'll try and post a video tomorrow but the volume is very very low and I don't think my camera will pick up very much of the sound.
I am planning on installing a peizo disk pick up under the bottom edge of the finger board and a rod peizo across the bridge and blend pot much like a P-bass wiring. The fingerboard pick up will pick up tons of the slap and noise while the rod peizo will pick up the actual string sound.
It's a treat to play and was much easier to build than I expected. The strings are weedwacker Kevlar core strings like you find on ebay and hold tune very well. I just eyeballed the nut and bridge heights and I was pretty damn close. The bridge and nut are scrap wood from the neck.
Very nice. Very nice indeed. Seriously impressed.
Is the idea the do piezo on the bridge will pick up the notes and the one under the board the slapping?
Yes, exactly. I have played with bass players that have very expensive peizo bridge pick ups but usually they'll still throw a mic in the bridge to pick up the slapping.
I wonder if maybe a piezo on the interior of the case, sort of partway between the bridge and the fingerboard would yield a good sound? You could try with the piezo on the outside of the case until you find a sweet spot?
Definitely a good idea and a safer route than the peizo under the bridge. Additionally I love the idea of using the suitcase surface as a percussive (as a bass should be) instrument. I considered it but quickly thought of under the fingerboard... I don't know... something about attaching a peizo disk to the inside of the top of the soundboard just seemed too obvious, haha.
I want to try rubber cementing the peizo disk under the bridge. I almost always use something like rubber cement or silicon to dampen those nasty peizo highs. I have not tried rubber coatings but I really would like to. I am ordering a wiring harness to take the guesswork out of wiring. This is perfect for what I am trying to do and it's on the way:
It has a tone control (however limited those are in passive peizo) but more importantly a blend knob like the pup selector on a Fender Jass or P-Bass. I am pretty sure that bridge peizo might be dialed WAY down. Maybe I'll do all three and have the fingerboard and soundboard peizos wired together? I think I may do both... Maybe in series to tame the highs.
Second video is up!
I had a really tough time trying to get peizos to work. I "wanted" them to work. I really thought I was on to something about having one under the fingerboard but that was really 'talky' no matter how I tried to deaden them.
The rod peizo in the bridge was very quiet or had some buzzing.. when it produced anything. I have a feeling the pressure of the strings may have crushed some of the elements causing it to malfunction.
So I installed a small speaker on the back much in the same way as a microphone because it sounded great mic'd. Unfortunately the 'bass' of the bass is not really picked up on my camera. As I feel obligated to say... It sounds so much better in person.
My wife and I spent a good portion of the weekend jamming. She developed some mean looking blisters on her right index and middle fingers from playing. I play it much more often and I don't have that problem.
Sometime this week I'll try and record us playing together.