Hey folks, working on my second bass build. This is an upright suitcase bass.

Does the fingerboard need to be radiused? The fingerboard I have now is flat red oak. My access to power tools is limited so if I can get away with a flat fingerboard I will.

I should also mention that I would like to play country/bluegrass/rockabilly/psychobilly if that makes a difference. I know little about upright bass playing technique and I am wondering if the radius on the fingerboard is essential to playing slap bass styles.

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It's for your playing comfort, not for any sonic reason. So if you are happy playing it unradiused go right ahead, you could always radius it later if needs be.

Yup, Uranus is right. I've made four fretless basses ranging from 41" scale upright to the 20" U Bass that I just finished. (The vid of that one is still CBN top content!) None of them are radiused and they play great. I do want to make one soon that has a radiused fingerboard and bridge because I love the sound of bowed bass and you do need radius for that. The type of music you mentioned doesn't have much call for bowed bass (crass generalization) so You'll be fine with a flat fingerboard. Check out my friend Mark Schatz on youtube for a great slap tutorial.

Worked fine. Bass is done except for aesthetic aspects. I am planning on a few F-holes and something in the universe is hollaring and it needs a CBG pin-up somewheres but I slap happy.

Here's the direct link. I'll try and post a video tomorrow but the volume is very very low and I don't think my camera will pick up very much of the sound.

I am planning on installing a peizo disk pick up under the bottom edge of the finger board and a rod peizo across the bridge and blend pot much like a P-bass wiring. The fingerboard pick up will pick up tons of the slap and noise while the rod peizo will pick up the actual string sound.

It's a treat to play and was much easier to build than I expected. The strings are weedwacker Kevlar core strings like you find on ebay and hold tune very well. I just eyeballed the nut and bridge heights and I was pretty damn close. The bridge and nut are scrap wood from the neck.

Very nice. Very nice indeed. Seriously impressed.

Thanks very much.

Here's a quick video my wife shot of the bass. It sounds much better in person and I can't wait to get this thing wired.

Forgive the playing, I'm not a bass player much less an upright bass player.

DIY suitcase upright double bass: http://youtu.be/9TeaTT0UU0g
The tone sounds good from what I could hear, I turned up for the little bit before the slapping.

Is the idea the do piezo on the bridge will pick up the notes and the one under the board the slapping?

I wonder if maybe a piezo on the interior of the case, sort of partway between the bridge and the fingerboard would yield a good sound? You could try with the piezo on the outside of the case until you find a sweet spot?

My thinking being threefold, the case is the resonator, you might want it's unique sound. It's simpler and gives you a natural balance. And it's bloody difficult to make a mixer circuit for piezos ;) It also means you can do percussive tapping on the case to better effect.

Also, using a rubber glue rather than an epoxy will damp the piezo sound, this may be a good thing, or a bad thing. I've never permanently mounted a piezo disc yet, I always use double sided 3M tape, it's like maybe .25mm thick foam. You can use the stuff with the easy remove tabs to try different placements, it may be easy remove but it's strong. I used some to mock up holding the pickguard on a guitar, with the pickups and controls and jack, and just left it on, been 3 - 4 years now, still holding.

Is the idea the do piezo on the bridge will pick up the notes and the one under the board the slapping?

Yes, exactly. I have played with bass players that have very expensive peizo bridge pick ups but usually they'll still throw a mic in the bridge to pick up the slapping.

I wonder if maybe a piezo on the interior of the case, sort of partway between the bridge and the fingerboard would yield a good sound? You could try with the piezo on the outside of the case until you find a sweet spot?

Definitely a good idea and a safer route than the peizo under the bridge. Additionally I love the idea of using the suitcase surface as a percussive (as a bass should be) instrument. I considered it but quickly thought of under the fingerboard... I don't know... something about attaching a peizo disk to the inside of the top of the soundboard just seemed too obvious, haha.

I want to try rubber cementing the peizo disk under the bridge. I almost always use something like rubber cement or silicon to dampen those nasty peizo highs. I have not tried rubber coatings but I really would like to. I am ordering a wiring harness to take the guesswork out of wiring. This is perfect for what I am trying to do and it's on the way:


It has a tone control (however limited those are in passive peizo) but more importantly a blend knob like the pup selector on a Fender Jass or P-Bass. I am pretty sure that bridge peizo might be dialed WAY down. Maybe I'll do all three and have the fingerboard and soundboard peizos wired together? I think I may do both... Maybe in series to tame the highs.


Second video is up!

I had a really tough time trying to get peizos to work. I "wanted" them to work. I really thought I was on to something about having one under the fingerboard but that was really 'talky' no matter how I tried to deaden them.

The rod peizo in the bridge was very quiet or had some buzzing.. when it produced anything. I have a feeling the pressure of the strings may have crushed some of the elements causing it to malfunction.

So I installed a small speaker on the back much in the same way as a microphone because it sounded great mic'd. Unfortunately the 'bass' of the bass is not really picked up on my camera. As I feel obligated to say... It sounds so much better in person.

My wife and I spent a good portion of the weekend jamming. She developed some mean looking blisters on her right index and middle fingers from playing. I play it much more often and I don't have that problem.

Sometime this week I'll try and record us playing together.

Sorry the piezos didn't work out for you.

You might, and I say might, run into problems with the speaker being low impedance, getting very noisy driving an amp input. I had a similar issue using an earbud as a contact mic, which I cured using the transformer from the guts of a '57. You probably don't want to gut a working '57 but Radioshack and the like sell little transformers that might help.

For future reference, piezos are quiet, very quiet when in line with a pot, places like http://dx.com sell piezos with 3 channel EQ buffer amps, like you get on an acoustic bass for $6-10.


Awesome build ;)
I considered that route but I really wanted this to work passivelyas a passive system. Making a standard mic mount on the bridge is a decent solution. I am not very sure how much I want to drill a mic-sized hole because I may find a less standard mic that works better.

I may have some microphone guts in a parts box somewhere. In the mean time it works well enough for casual jamming and messing around.

Bass frequencies are difficult to work with... my next build I think I will use steel strings for mag pups.
Someone once suggested to me that I wrap foil around my acoustic strings to allow them to be picked up magnetically, I never did try it, but I'll throw it out there. Also you can get conductive paint that might do the same thing, or just wind some solder around the strings where they meet the pickup.

Also, I imagine the case behaves much like the shell of a bass drum, so you could always mount a mic in there sideways, or cut a hole in the side, if it makes things easier. It doesn't need to point at the front or back.

Transformers are passive btw. But yes, EQ/amps are not.

If musicians friend still have those $30 kick mics they had, they have a ring on the XLR, you could cut a small hole that allows the XLR end to jut out, and tighten it in place with the ring. Just throwing ideas out there.


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