1970s Matsumoku-made Ventura Baritone Electric Guitar Conversion




Yep, folks, it's another bass-to-baritone conversion. This one was for fun and to also see whether it's worthwhile doing these as a minor sideline. I really, really like the sound of short scale basses converted to baritone guitars -- their longer scale lengths really provide the rumble and clarity I'm looking for in a baritone compared to the more-normal 26-29" baritones one normally sees in the market outside of Bass VI and Danelectro models.

This one started-out as a Matsumoku-made (Japanese) electric bass. It has a vaguely-Strat, vaguely-offset, vaguely-Mosrite body shape that recalls some of the early, made-for-Japanese-market Yamaha electrics. The body is solid Japanese ash (as far as I can tell) while the neck is multi-piece maple with a rosewood fretboard. 

As a baritone, it has a big, growly, but focused sound. The new pickups can do surfy/Duane Eddy picking or, when driven harder, a nice heavier rock sound that can merge into warm, washy, "shoegaze" territory pretty easily. The neck is on the bigger/fuller side of a medium-C/D shape, but the quick action gives it fast handling an an easy feel.

Work included: a fret level/dress, side dots install, replacement 6-string bridge, fill of the old tuner holes and install of some new Gotoh tuners, replacement Artec Alnico II P90-style pickups (though I used the original bass pickup covers and modified them), cleaning, replacement Strat-style knobs, and a setup. The neck is straight, the truss-rod works, action is spot-on at 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble at the 12th fret, and string gauges are around 62w, 40w, 28w, 18w, 16, 12 for ADGCEA tuning low to high.

Scale length: 30 1/2"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 7/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2 1/8"
Body length: 20"
Lower bout width: 13 1/4"
Waist width: 9 1/4"
Upper bout width: 11"
Side depth at endpin: 1 5/16"
Body wood: solid Japanese ash
Neck wood: multi-piece maple
Fretboard: rosewood, new bone nut
Bridge: replacement Fender-style hardtail
Neck feel: slim-to-medium C/D, ~10" board radius

Condition notes: some filled old screwholes around the bridg and regular wear-and-tear to the finish on the body. Pickups are replaced and I've recut the original covers to suit them, the knobs are replaced, and the tuners are vintage replacements. The wiring is original but I did add a fresh ground wire to the bridge. The instrument is on the heavier side -- like a bass, of course! -- but thanks to the body contours, is comfortable to play. Frets are the thin/skinny old '60s/'70s wire one finds on these, but there's meat left in them yet!

It comes with: a gigbag.




As you can see, I'm not fussy with aesthetics when converting the tuners, and simply plug the holes with doweled mahogany.



To fit the new P90-style pickups under the old covers, I cut a slot to allow the adjustable poles to peek out. Two small screws to the side of the slot serve to mount the pickup securely and flush with the pickup cover's rear.






While I could've been fancy with installing the new bridge, I decided to give it enough height to get over the pickup covers by simply shimming-up the front end of it with some spacer ferrules from my parts-bins. It works fine and there's no sag to the bottom plate. As an extra, the strings roll over the saddles at an increased angle for a snappier sound.








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