Your only twenty-one once

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Project by wallybob posted 09-04-2010 04:55 PM 2392 views 5 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The bass was made for our nephew’s 21st birthday which is in two weeks.

At a family gathering about a year ago my wife said to me “can you believe that Chris will be 21 next year?” On the ride home we talked about coming up with something special as a gift. He has a passion for music so I suggested that I attempt to build him a bass guitar. Along with his passion for music he is also very giving person and is concerned about the environment. Right after Katrina he went with his dad and church group to help in the cleanup effort. Knowing this about him I knew I wanted to make the bass as “Green” as possible. That’s the main reason that the project took almost a year to complete other than this is the first bass I have ever attempted.

As a volunteer at a local junior college I have access to and have been taught how to run the schools sawmill and kilns. Other than the Cocobolo fret board, which is recycled, I had the opportunity to mill all the wood used in the bass.

The main body wood is Bunya-Bunya which is normally found in New Zealand and Australia. The tree had to be removed from a local park because of the hazard of the large seed pods which the tree produces. The secondary wood on top is black walnut topped with spalted maple. The neck is also black walnut with a subtle figure. The walnut logs were given to the school after the tree fell during a wind storm. While the Bunya-Bunya and walnut were drying in the kiln, a friend at school acquired an entire eight foot section of a spalted maple log that had been rough milled. He asked me if I could cut the maple into a thick veneer for a project he had designed. While cutting the veneer I made a comment that the maple would look good on the guitar I was planning. As a thank you for cutting the veneer for him he gave me the piece on the top of the bass.

Once the lumber was dry and workable the build only took about a month to complete. The most challenging part for me was hand shaping the neck but I enjoyed spending the time using hand tools that for me usually stay on the wall in the shop.

I have to give a special thanks to two of the students at school, Scott and Waturo, who helped me with the project. Both are excellent woodworkers, a lot better than the old guy, and Waturo is talented at wiring and setup.

The bass was completed yesterday and as luck would have it a friend of Scott’s, who is a professional bass player stopped by with his amp that needed repair. After repairing the amp I asked him if he would give me his opinion on how the bass played and felt. I was very pleased when he said he liked both the sound and feel of the instrument. Having no musical ability it was nice to know it actually played.

This has been a special and rewarding experience for me and I hope it will be something that Chris will enjoy.

For the guitar people on LJ.

Body – 80’s version of a Fender Jazz Bass. Primary wood Bunya-Bunya with black walnut veneer and Spalted Maple top
Neck- Figured black walnut
Fret board – quilted Cocobolo 34in. scale length with jumbo frets
Tuners – Gotoh mini bass tuners
Bridge – Gotoh four string
Pick-ups – Classic Jazz Bass
Finish – Hand sanded in oil to 1000 and waxed

Thanks for looking

8 comments so far

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#1 posted 09-04-2010 05:29 PM

While I have no use for guitars, it is a nice piece of woodwork. However, the story behind it is even more beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.


View 489tad's profile


3371 posts in 3041 days

#2 posted 09-04-2010 05:33 PM

Your nephew will love it. Excelent work!

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View Cozmo35's profile


2200 posts in 3065 days

#3 posted 09-04-2010 05:33 PM

This is indeed a gift from the heart that will be remembered for the rest of his life! Great job!!

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3315 days

#4 posted 09-04-2010 07:14 PM

Spectacular bass. I know your nephew has to be thrilled—-Lucky guy

Thanks for sharing


View WoodenFrog's profile


2737 posts in 2942 days

#5 posted 09-04-2010 08:31 PM

Do you need another nephew? I could be one if you want!
This thing looks awesome! What a great gift and a great story too….Thats why I love LJs!
Very beautiful job on this, I know your nephew will be proud! and so should you of your work.
Thank you for sharing this with us.

-- Robert B. Sabina, Ohio.....

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2910 days

#6 posted 09-05-2010 04:48 AM

Wow! That’s a beauty! One of a kind.

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View sras's profile


4812 posts in 3158 days

#7 posted 09-06-2010 11:59 PM

Beautiful wormanship – a better story and an even better gift! It would be nice to hear how your nephew liked it. Well done!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View cdement351's profile


1 post in 2835 days

#8 posted 09-20-2010 06:21 AM

I’m the pastor at the church Chris and his father attends. I’m so impressed with the amazing work and the amazing spirit in which this bass was made. I have the privilege of listening to Chris play in worship almost every Sunday and I can’t wait to hear this new bass.

What I love most is his uncle hit the nail on the head as far as his ‘read’ on who Chris is. I led the trip to the Gulf Coast and Chris has an amazing heart and care for people, for service, and for the environment. He’s one of the most amazing young men I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.

What a wonderful gift. God bless you!!

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