Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My Warmoth experiments

During the time I had other basses - and played them! I experimented with Warmoth. If you're not familiar, Warmoth is a company out East, that makes 'replacement' bodies for Fender guitars and basses. They also make necks. And they will sell you just about anything else you need to make a whole instrument. The pieces are pretty nice, on the whole (I never had any problems at all - and when I had a question about something I thought I shouldn't pay for - they agreed - - > great customer service!) I have had 2 experiences with Warmoth - so let me tell you about them.

Jazz
I figured I should play a jazz bass - cause everybody else did. Well, that was my logic, anyway. I wanted something special. I looked through the Warmoth woods site and found a great piece - Black Korina it was called. Wow - that was a real beaut! Kind of like a dark, dark, zebra - but the lines were almost like a spalted maple, and the dark lines through the pieces looked way cool. :) Yeah - it was pretty. For a while, the body I bought was the 'example' piece of what Black Korina looked like! Anyway - I figured it can't be that hard - so I bought the body, bought a really cool neck (that didn't have to be finished - I didn't want to finish a neck so I bought one that could be left bare - it was great wood too, although I can't remember what it was). I got tuners, I got jazz Bartolini pups, even a pre-amp to put in. I know, sacrilidge to some, but I like active pickups! :)

I got the body - and it looked great. I didn't feel it needed any finishing work in terms of fine sanding or anything - and I figured the finish would make up for any fine openness of the grain. Turned out I was right about that. I decided to go with a 2 step approach. First, I wanted a touch of color, so I went with a Tung oil (I know - they always have a bit of something in there to help it set - in this case a bit of poly, I think). I used a furnature type Tung oil, with a good reputation for quality. I did around 7 coats. Put it on, hang it overnight. Put on another, let it set overnight. A few times, I let it cure for more than a day - 2 at the most. After that was done, I let it sit for a few days - maybe even a week if I recall correctly, before putting on the final coat. Oh, and I also used some 0000 Steel wool before using any - and after - the first few coats. To make sure that I was getting a nice shine (I wanted it to stay looking pretty!). After the Tung had dried to my satisfaction, I started with the Poly.

I applied around 12 coats of poly. This was a much longer process. More coats - more steel wool, although applied much more sparingly - and yes - I used a magnate to clean it up. It didn't seem to cure as fast, so most were 2 day waits. After, I also let it sit for a few days. Then I got to drill out some holes again, since none of the knobs would fit now! :) But the result was absolutely wonderful. It was gorgeous. Now all I had to do was drill and set the neck, install the pups, put on the bridge and tuners, and some strings. I did all that - using black hardware (wow - it looked really great) and got ready to play. Dang. Still sounded like a jazz bass. :| Nope, I'm not that fond of the Jazz bass sound. Sure - lots of folks love em. I even used the bass a lot - put on flats and half-wounds (still my constant choice of string) and played the heck out of it for a few months. But it still sounded like a jazz bass. nuts. Sold it at a huge loss. ebay'd I believe. Somebody got a great bass - for way less than it was worth - not even counting the work I put into it. Yikes.

Gecko
My second Warmoth Experience was during the tenure of the Warwick Thumb. I got an inkling that I should be playing a 5 string. After all, being the web master of the ExtendedRangeBassist.com site, you'd think I was one of 'em. So I set out to build and own a 5er. I loved the look of the Gecko series - not quite jazz or p - but still a nice look to them, so I thought that I would start there. I had a body picked out - wasn't really worried - since they all pretty much looked the same, but I did have my choice of woods. I went with a AAAA quilt top of Maple, and a see through gloss purple finish. Yes, I wanted purple. But not quite that bright -yikes! It was bright - but looked great. The finish was done very well - pretty thick stuff - but they didn't do any finish work on it at all - so I had to (again) redrill out all the pot holes, and places where I was going to install anything - like evey hole on the thing. Neck. Pickups. Knobs. Man - that got old fast. The neck was also a beaut. Since I had a warwick and knew of the call of the Wenge wood (I loved the low-mid growl of my Warwick, plus, Wenge is another 'no finish' neck wood. Plus Plus!). The neck, while being a tad larger than my beloved Warwick, was very nice. I got Barts again for the pups, black hardware, as per my usual, and set to work. I had an aguilar pre I was going to use. Couldn't get it to work. Oh, it only works with passive pups, right. :| Ok, back to EMG's......Oh, they work! Perfect!

Off to practice. What - guys - you don't like it? Not meaty enough. Different than the Warwick. No real value.....wow. Thought the band would like it! :) They really like the Warwick....ok. Back for sale. Another disappointing loss....Oh, well. I really like 4 strings!

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