How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Advice and tips on building a Carvin Guitars kit.

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Praiser
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How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby Praiser » Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:22 am

Here's a quick teaser for those that don't want to wade through the whole story.
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Now the rest of the story....
I'd been looking high and low for a reasonable deal on a fretless 5 string with 19mm spacing and a 34 in scale. Let's just say that the options are very limited as I was trying to keep the budget to a minimum and still have good quality. The only thing that came close was a MTD model, but it just didn't speak to me and I didn't have any experience with those products.
I ordered the kit in late May and received it 4 weeks later.
Pics as received...(Love the woods they sent!)
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Some of you may remember that I was in the middle of installing a few windows in the ol' homestead, so it sat in the box for a few weeks while I focused on that priority.

The body was shaped a moderate amount with one of those cheap belt sanders followed by much scraping and hand sanding to level it all back out.
Recessing the neck plate was another adventure in stress control as I took a chisel to the back of the body. Not for the faint of heart.
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My goal from the beginning was to make the Swamp Ash body match the Royal Ebony finger board as closely as possible. It's just Black and Brown right? How hard can it be? I was wrong on both counts. There's actually a hint of Orange/Red in the fingerboard that is similar to mahogany. This caused the body to look like it was slightly green when held against the neck. Really, it was the red in the neck causing that illusion.
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First, the black stain went on and it was sanded back to highlight the grain.
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Then the brown went on...
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NOT digging the contrast...so it got sanded down again. It's really amazing how the stain itself builds up as a finish after multiple applications.
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Back to the store and bought an Orange type color and a deep red. The orange was what I needed. That's better. 3 different colors of stain and about 8-10 applications.
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Now to finish this thing. Had more trouble here and ended up using a wiping varnish I had on-hand. Adequately satisfied with the results. Close inspection will reveal about 10,000 finish errors, but from 2-3 feet away, it ain't too bad. I'm obviously not a pro.
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Assembly time. FINALLY!!
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No screws or springs for the pups, so I stole some out of another Carvin Kit bass I bought 2nd hand. Chris H has been great to work with and is taking care of the missing hardware for me.
This is the final product. Thanks for hanging with me on this long story...
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Just realized that I don't have any full length pics. I'll try to get some. Need to do family pics as well as this is "Carvin" number 4.

Plays and sounds pretty sweet out of the gate, but letting the neck settle a bit before trying to give it a final setup. Overall I'm quite happy with how it came out, just have to spend some time on it getting comfortable on fretless as it's not my forte. :mrgreen:
Thanks for making it this far. Hope this can help to motivate others to take the leap and build your own guitar. It really is a blast and can be as simple or as challenging as you want to make it.
John

LB75AP, LB70P, BK50, BK50F, BK40, C780
PB100, PB200 (With BX500 head and 1x15 ext Cab)
XP1000L, LM153s, LS1801A
Rogue Fretless, Ibanez ABG, Dobro Bass
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re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby Bob C » Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:58 am

Looks great. The ash grain really jumps out.

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re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby Coda » Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:25 am

Way to go, John!!!
:applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause:
:applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause:
:applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause:
:applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause:

Wow, I love how you popped the grain to match the royal ebony. That came out stunning. Good call on the color adjustments. You never know how it's going to look until it's on...

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Your bass is another great example of why I hope the Carvin kits remain available. Having also built one, I can say this: Kits aren't a product. They are a journey. A road less travelled with paths yet to be explored. :D

Congrats and enjoy. Let us know how she's settling in!
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re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby ElfDude » Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:49 am

Man. that's gorgeous! :applause:
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re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby skully13a » Wed Sep 21, 2016 6:19 am

That turned out amazing! Nicely done, sir. 8) :ninja: 8)
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Re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby DesmoBob » Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:37 pm

Praiser wrote:Image

Money shot right there. Fantastic work! :applause:

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ferret
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re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby ferret » Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:42 pm

Amazing job, great look.

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re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby Praiser » Thu Sep 22, 2016 2:22 pm

Thanks for all of the kind words. Means a lot coming from such a discerning group. 8) :D

Love this quote, Mike...

"Kits aren't a product. They are a journey. A road less travelled with paths yet to be explored. :D "

Couldn't agree more, and you surely know of which you speak.
The journey I got was nothing like what I expected, and that's OK. Probably as it should be even. I too hope the kits stay around for a very long time. It's almost like the Kiesel Klan is helping us to peek behind the curtain of instrument building and thereby gain a better appreciation of the process and work required.

Who's gonna step up next and build one??

(Gumby, you need one of these to scratch that JB itch you have.) :mrgreen:
John

LB75AP, LB70P, BK50, BK50F, BK40, C780
PB100, PB200 (With BX500 head and 1x15 ext Cab)
XP1000L, LM153s, LS1801A
Rogue Fretless, Ibanez ABG, Dobro Bass
Peavey Fury P Bass

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Doctor Doug
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re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby Doctor Doug » Thu Sep 22, 2016 8:45 pm

Great work, it looks amazing!!!!

I would do terrible things to get my hands on a CS kit.....

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Re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby Tim-H. » Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:03 pm

I know this is an older thread but I have been away for a while. I think the OP did an excellent job on this bass!! In the pic you posted of the reflection in the sunlight saying it looks good 3-4 feet away, I see some open grain in the sunlight as well. I believe the way to remedy this if you ever do a kit again, is to use a grain filler. It is a product you apply to fill in all of the small pits in the grain and this is what alot of companies use to remedy the problem. Do not take this bit of comments the wrong way. I still think you made an excellent bass and did a fantastic job to boot!!!
Tim

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Re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby Praiser » Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:01 pm

Hey Tim, Thanks for the kind words and observations. No worries about taking it the wrong way as you are simply being observant and sharing your thoughts. As I said, there are tons of finish flaws that wouldn't be acceptable from a factory build. Believe me, I fully and painfully aware of them all. :oops:

You are spot on about the grain filler. My original plan was to go for the Raw Tone type of look with the Swamp Ash body and to have the porous grain area a different color than the rest of the body. The plan changed along the way a couple of times during the process, most likely due to my inexperience, but also because I was trying to color match the fingerboard.

The grain filler has to go in before any stain (I think), and my concern was that the colors wouldn't take to the grain like I wanted if I used it at the beginning. Then, as the colors went on, there was the risk of covering or changing the prior stains. It was a conundrum so I chose to not use any filler during the staining process.

The protective top coat also started poorly for me so it too was changed mid-stream. It wasn't practically possible to get all of the porous areas filled so I had to choose again to find a stopping point that I was comfortable with.

As Coda mentioned, it is indeed a journey with the potential for some unexpected turns along the way.
Very worth it and I'm quite pleased with the result, warts and all. Sorry for the mini-novel...
John

LB75AP, LB70P, BK50, BK50F, BK40, C780
PB100, PB200 (With BX500 head and 1x15 ext Cab)
XP1000L, LM153s, LS1801A
Rogue Fretless, Ibanez ABG, Dobro Bass
Peavey Fury P Bass

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Re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby Tim-H. » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:20 pm

I believe there are clear fillers now that you can apply after the stain. I looked into this a long time ago when i was trying to get that smooth deep looking finish on a refinish i was doing. So i opted out and went the big chicken route, tung oil. Man, you cant mess tung oil up on anything at all!!! Idiot proof. Anyways, this thread makes me want to get a kit and try it myself.
Tim

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Re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby spudmunkey » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:27 pm

Tim-H. wrote:I believe there are clear fillers now that you can apply after the stain.


Yup. Aqua Coat is probably the biggest one that's somewhat readily available, and CrystalLac is another one, but I find it takes too many coats and is a little tricky to work with...but then again, all finishes are hard to work with in my "workshop" (aka my driveway)...in direct sunlight, and wind.

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Re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby Praiser » Thu Dec 22, 2016 4:53 am

spudmunkey wrote:
Tim-H. wrote:I believe there are clear fillers now that you can apply after the stain.


Yup. Aqua Coat is probably the biggest one that's somewhat readily available, and CrystalLac is another one, but I find it takes too many coats and is a little tricky to work with...but then again, all finishes are hard to work with in my "workshop" (aka my driveway)...in direct sunlight, and wind.


Where was all of this great info 6 months ago?? :)
The options at my local Lowes and Home Depot were let's say, very limited. And I looked!
The lack of obvious product options, along with the changing plans and my inexperience and impatience all contributed to the final result on this build. It's not quite what I expected, but I really dig it none the less.

I strongly encourage anyone that has been considering a kit to just jump in and take the plunge!
Really. Do it. You'll learn a lot, have some fun, and end up with a great instrument when it's all done.
If I could get the Split pup on one, it would be at the top of the list for 2017 gear purchases...

Thanks again for the inquiry and info.
As you can tell, I could talk about their kits all day! :oops: 8) :lol:
John

LB75AP, LB70P, BK50, BK50F, BK40, C780
PB100, PB200 (With BX500 head and 1x15 ext Cab)
XP1000L, LM153s, LS1801A
Rogue Fretless, Ibanez ABG, Dobro Bass
Peavey Fury P Bass

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Re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby Tim-H. » Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:11 am

The home big box stores are not gonna take and have a lot of that stuff available. You have to go to like stew mac or another guitar product or finishing website. Sorry but I been away for a while due to life and have not really visited any guitar threads in a while. But hey, you still have a cool kit!! I really like how the non fret board looks too!!!
Tim

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spudmunkey
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Re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby spudmunkey » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:45 am

Woodcraft and Rockler stores are also a step up from HD, Lowe's, etc.

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intrusted
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Re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby intrusted » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:41 pm

Praiser,
I have spent most of the time enjoying just looking at your build. I truly have to say that this is really a great build you done here. Extremely subtle but yet in your face character. I think I have taken each photo and just totally studied it out. I have read and reread this entire post. I am in awe of the total outcome. Great Job Praiser, Great Job.
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Re: How my Bass Kit became a Kit Bass

Postby Praiser » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:34 am

intrusted wrote:Praiser,
I have spent most of the time enjoying just looking at your build. I truly have to say that this is really a great build you done here. Extremely subtle but yet in your face character. I think I have taken each photo and just totally studied it out. I have read and reread this entire post. I am in awe of the total outcome. Great Job Praiser, Great Job.


Wow, Randy! Thanks so much for the kind words. Actually gave me goose bumps the first time I read it.
Your description above about "subtle but in your face" is a great definition of what I was going for.
I just never found those words to frame it as nicely as you did.

I knew it needed to be on the darker side of the color pallet, but wanted it to visually hold together well if a closer inspection was done. It took an unexpected road and ended up at a different destination than I originally anticipated, but I like how it all came out in the end.

Your exceptionally kind words are appreciated more than you know.
It sounds pretty darn good through my BX500 rig and that 15" extension cab, too. :wink:
John

LB75AP, LB70P, BK50, BK50F, BK40, C780
PB100, PB200 (With BX500 head and 1x15 ext Cab)
XP1000L, LM153s, LS1801A
Rogue Fretless, Ibanez ABG, Dobro Bass
Peavey Fury P Bass


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