Mattblack

Marcang’s Bass

Why the hell wants someone to build a guitar without all the specific tools and skills?

We could ask a lot of people, who did this, like me. The answer is as many, as many people: lack of funds, a hobby, or just because of the challenge. Which one is true for this guitar?

It happened in 2000, when I was only a student at high school, that I started to play the guitar. I got myself a guitar, fortunately quite cheap. In those times the nowadays everywhere available, cheap and quite high quality, made in China guitars didn’t appeared anywhere in the country. So I was lucky, but it happened that my best friend also started to play the guitar, moreover, he wanted to play on bass. However, it was almost impossible to obtain an inexpensive and quality instrument (don’t forget that we were high school students, who drank away all their extra money, which they got at that time). So we started to think about what would happen if would built one? After all this isn’t like building a spaceship. We began  to look for some supplies and help. We went into a few music shops in Pest, if maybe their advice could help, but they usually just laughed and tried to convince us that we won’t succeed. I’ve even the thought that nothing is impossible, and the more I heard, that we can’t do it, the more the desire burned in me to prove them wrong.

Of course, I didn’t think that it will be this difficult, but I was sure that eventually we will succeed. Up to this day, I am very glad that we started and proud that we succeeded.

But how should we start it… first there had to be something on that we can start and base it all. Fortunately, one of our buddies had a bass, and he allowed a little studying and measuring of things. And of course there was the internet. When we found out what shape and dimensions should it have, it was time to obtain the right materials to begin the actual work. Luckily, Lacika our friend and classmate, not only had a dozen excavator and dump trucks at home, but had their own carpentry workshop. We looked around in the basement and found two beautiful piece of wood: a piece of ash for the body, and a piece of maple for the neck.

The body has basically an Ibanez bass’ body shape, not the exact copy, just similar. With the making of this, weren’t major problems: we planed the board, cut out the shape. From this point, only the rough formatting was left, with a bow plane, and the subtle formatting with a great rasp (still got it, love it). Then of course, had to grind a lot, this task was done by Marci, who worked all day and night, because he wanted to play on it terribly. The design of the cavities for the pickups and electronics were a bit tricky, but actually with a drill and chisel we finally made it!

When the body was done, there came the  big task. Preparation of the neck. Now it is much more tricky, especially for a bass, because the strings are tightened enough to bend the large neck, like a bow. To counterbalance this effect, in every guitar neck there is a so-called truss rod, virtually a very long screw, which can be pulled to compensate the strain power of the strings. Yeah, that’s one of the components, which was not really managed to hit in the guitar. Of course, at the time of making we didn’t know … when we first strung it up, we realized that, unfortunately, the neck bends under the strings’ terrible strain power. However, apart from that the neck was well done and the fretting also, even though it wasn’t an easy task.

After the woodworks end, time has come to produce the electronics. To buy the pickups was not an option, because it was really expensive. Of course, only good ones were sold separately. The pickups’ windings, I’m probably the proudest of. For that I made a special machine… from Lego… with the help of small gears and a TechnicLego electric motor, I managed to put an entirely correct reel. Approximately 3 hours were needed to make a pickup, but were done very well. Active electronics has been added to the guitar, just to complicate things …

If I take a look at the guitar today, it seems no longer quite a masterpiece, like when we finished it, but I’m proud of it though. In addition to the circumstances and opportunities, it was quite correctly done, especially if we add that, it has been constructed without any help. And the point is that, my friend, Marci used it for years, and was able to learn to play guitar. As I know, it brought a lot of joy to him and of course to me also.