2017 Wildwood Trunkbass

Update September 2017: Since originally posting this, it's remained rock-solid. I added a second support down the middle on the interior, adjusted the action down to "super-slinky-feels-like-air," and replaced the endpin rod with a steel one and a duct-tape-plus-rubber tip. It's a lot more stable. So, to get right down to it -- it's good to go and practical as well.

Well I had to do something with that spare bass neck. This trunk (lightweight, all plywood, and with metal edges) was given to me a while back and with the two sitting around taking up space, I (of course) hatched the plan to make them into an upright bass. I knew it wouldn't be much acoustically, though, so right from the start I knew I'd need to drop a K&K pickup into it and that meant that I could use a set of those funky, cheap, light-tension, tubby, but wonderful-sounding "weedwacker" strings.

Yesterday, I slapped this together (I'd previously glued the fingerboard to the neck and ordered the parts). I wanted it out of my workshop! Internally the neck is simply screwed to some blocking I added, which made construction simple. I added a bar length-wise to keep the instrument from folding into itself as well, but didn't bother bracing the top at all as the ply was thick enough to keep it steady and the tension fairly low.

If you're listening to the soundclip, you're hearing the absurdly-fat sound this thing gets. I had to EQ bass and lower mids out of it on my bass amp, but that's the raw signal on the post. It's absurdly wide-sounding and, in-person, plugged into an amp, it has a bizarre "seismic" quality to the sound -- like a subwoofer has engaged. I'm still trying to figure out how I want the action -- it's currently "medium" to let me do some rockabilly-style pulling/slapping, but I think in the end I'll knock it down to an "easy jazz" feel.

While the body is a little shorter and narrower than a 3/4 bass, it's a bit deeper. I set this up with a 40" scale length which feels pretty natural to a 3/4 (standard) player. I found my fingering pretty fast and then marked it with side-dots.

Speed was the name of the game, so I only sanded enough to remove leftover crud from the CNC-routed neck and fine enough to let my sealer-coat of finish settle in and not look too shabby. The nut is rosewood and the tuners are regular electric bass units. they're short but work just fine. I drilled-out the mounting holes to accommodate the thick gauges of the weedwacker strings.

FYI, I think I have gauges 177, 130, 105, 80 on there or close to them.

I've been waiting for just the right instrument to use this sign on.

My "tailpiece" is tall so that the angle on the strings remains similar to what it'd be on a normal bass.

The bridge is actually screwed into the top from the reverse so the player doesn't have to worry about it falling over. I also cut the bass so it favors leaning back towards the "tailpiece."

Hah -- looks like I need to add the remaining mounting screws to the tuners, too.

The K&K pickup sensors are glued directly under the bridge feet and, of course, on the bare wood of the soundboard.

Excuse the slap-dash blocking. No one's going to see it, so who cares? I may add another reinforcement bar running down the middle from block to block.

My "endpin" stand is aluminum from an old camera tripod. It works pretty well and I've already hatched plans to cut the other two legs in different lengths for sitting-on-a-stool play and sitting-in-a-chair play.


Rob Gardner said…
I never cease to be amazed by the creatures that emerge from your laboratory, Dr. Wildwood....