This page is here to illustrate just how labour intensive the build of one of our basses is. When we say that are entirely hand built, we mean it. In fairness, a billion years of plant evolution has meant that mother nature has handed us a material that is truly remarkable, but it would be for nothing would it not be for the luthier.
"Nature creates the tree, destroys the seed, yet preserves the species.
The luthier creates the guitar, destroys the tree, yet preserves the wood."
GB gutars use various suppliers of seasoned timbers and tonewoods, but it takes real skill and a lifetime of experience to truly grasp which combinations work best. The customer for the instrument illustrated here had certain specific requests with regard to the appearance of the instrument, and such was his level of interest in the process, we are thankful that he was always nipping in for a cup of tea and to take pictures of the latest state of build, that we could give this small insight into the various stages of construction.
The wood used in the construction of the body wings.
What you can see here is the top facing of burr maple, the body of rock maple, and detail slices of black American Walnut. All out timber is from reputable sources, and is ethically and environmentally sourced (no-one wants to go through the hell that certain US manufacturers have been compelled to endure!)
This is the main facing rubbed with a gentle solvent to allow the full colour of the grain to shine out.
This pair of facings (and the ones used for the back) were cut from a large slice that had been taken from a tree was felled sometime back in the mid 60s. The supplier had been holding onto the exquisite piece of wood in the hope that it could one day be used to make a coffee table top, such was the quality of the piece. He never got around to it, so his loss was our win!
These pieces are all glued and clamped.
Glue choice is an important thing as is the preparation of the surfaces to which it is to be applied. We use an aliphatic resin that has been mixed to our specific requirements.
The wood is then selected for the Through neck. in this case it is a sandwich of rock maple and black American walnut.
These pieces have been painstakingly planed and scraped to ensure they are perfectly flat. This is a very time consuming process and had to done carefully given the organic and variable nature of the material. This is an important process so the structure can be made with as little adhesive as possible so as to not dampen any vibrations in the wood.
These are glued and then clamped with a whole load of sash clamps.
These are tightened up very carefully to ensure even pressure along the length of the neck blank.This way we can be certain that we have a consistent neck that is stong enough to be made slim and playable, yet can pull out all the subtleties of the vibrating string.
Once the neck is glued, the front of the headstock is shaped, and a rebate cut for the GB designed custom truss rod.
In order to minimise waste in these environmentlally sensitive times, two necks are cut from the same laminate block.
The back of the neck is then roughly shaped.
The rough shape of the neck is initially cut with a bandsaw, then a mixture of inreasingly fine planes and files are used to shape the neck to specific requirement of the customer.
While the glue is drying on the neck, the fingerboard is prepared.
In this case a rather fetching orange and black cocobolo fingerboard was selected, and it is planed ond scraped on the rear surface so as to make as imtimate contact as contact as possible to the front surface of the neck.
The darker hardwoods used for fingerboards can bring up the most amazing aromas. This piece had a dark spicy smell that would have made a rather lovely snuff. In fact the oil from cocobolo wood is used in the manufacture of expensive perfumes.
Fingerboard glued to the front of the neck.
Again, anyone who owns shares in a company that manufactures G clamps could get very rich!
Once the fingerboard is on, it is shaped as required, then cut for fretting and the dot inlays affixed.
Ornamental facing being stuck to the front of the headstock.
This was done at the request of the customer to cover up the look of the laminated neck piece, as an alernative to leaving it bare, or painting it with a solid colour (which is often done by manufacturers of cheaper instruments).
Body bouts are then glued to the trough neck. Lots of glue and lots of clamps.
You can see also how the dot markers are positioned, and the slots that have been cut for the frets.
The bass guitar is finally beginning to take shape.
Now starts the laborious process off cutting out the final shape and finishing by hand. The shape is initially cut out using a bandsaw, but the rest is done using traditional woodworking hand tools. Final shaping of the body, and the seamless blending of the body into the neck is probably the most laborious process of all, and takes an innordinate amount of time, constantly checking that every curve corresponds the design.
The body is then routed on the front for pickups and controls.
This part of the process is done with the meticulous precision of a Swiss watchmaker to make sure that not only is the alignment of the pickups and bridge absolutley perfect, but the bare minimum of wood is removed to maintain the best tone possible.
This process is also completed on the back of the instrument where the cavities are cut for the exclusive GB Guitars electronics and batteries. The hole is also cut for the Neutrik locking jack socket.
All but finished.
Again it has been "wetted" with a solvent to bring out the colour of the wood. Yu can also see where the cavities have all been carefully painted with elecrically shielded paint.
All it needs now is a beautiful gloss finish, and the custom GB electronics and Sofia is good to gig!
41 Prestonville Road, Seven Dials, Brighton. Sussex. BN1 3TJ. United Kingdom
Tel : 01273 220055 Fax : 01273 775780 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2017 GB Guitars
All photographs by kind permission of Jim Bryan