BK40 build

Advice and tips on building a Carvin Guitars kit.

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jsiddall
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BK40 build

Postby jsiddall » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:05 am

Ordered December 20, shipped February 9 -- so they took their time! I did customize nearly everything so that was expected. I have a piece of black line spalted maple that I will cap the walnut body with. Neck is 5 layer maple walnut with birsdeye fretboard. Planning a satin finish. Tempted to stain the BMF but haven't decided yet.

Once I make some progress I will post some photos.

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Re: BK40 build

Postby Praiser » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:10 am

Sounds really nice! Can't wait to see it.
Feel free to post pics of the raw parts as we'll geek-out over those, too. :)
John

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Re: BK40 build

Postby spudmunkey » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:11 am

Nice! Would love to see any pics even of the bare parts, but can't wait to see the progress pics and results! :)

From December 20th to Feb 9, that's only about 6 weeks, with the christmas and new years closures, so about on par with the kits typically taking 3-4 weeks less than full builds, plus that was almost all in the period leading up to NAMM. :)

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Re: BK40 build

Postby jsiddall » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:07 am

OK, first photo. I always thought the stark contrast of pale maple with the crazy spalt pattern of dark black lines would make a cool looking bass and this is the black line spalted plank I found which started this whole build. This will actually be the underside of the cap since the bookmatch face will be cut out of the middle somewhere. The pattern I end up with is a complete mystery until I cut it open. Just planing a few 64ths off to get the plank flat caused some significant changes in the pattern. Hoping it isn't disappointing once I cut it!

Image

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Re: BK40 build

Postby Praiser » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:50 pm

Yeah, that's gonna look way cool on top of some walnut!
John

LB75AP, LB70P, X54F, BK50, BK50F, BK40, C780
PB100, PB200 (With BX500 head and 1x15 ext Cab)
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Re: BK40 build

Postby spudmunkey » Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:13 pm

I'd love to know your thoughts on how you'll be working the body to accept a top. Hand plane? Thickness planer? Drum sander? Router sled? A super tall fence on a large resaw-sized bandsaw and a steady hand? :lol:

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Re: BK40 build

Postby jsiddall » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:03 pm

spudmunkey wrote:I'd love to know your thoughts on how you'll be working the body to accept a top. Hand plane? Thickness planer? Drum sander? Router sled? A super tall fence on a large resaw-sized bandsaw and a steady hand? :lol:


I have never done anything like this before so it is safe to say my plans are not finalized!

However, I do have access to a suitably wide thickness planer and planned to plane down the top of the body by the thickness of the cap such that the finished body is the same thickness as the original. That will bring its own set of complexities with aligning the pickup routes and marking the pot and bridge holes etc., but that's the idea anyway.

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Re: BK40 build

Postby spudmunkey » Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:29 pm

A couple tips:

1) You mentioned aligning the control holes. Since you're putting on a solid new top, you can put the new holes wherever you want, even if they don't align with the holes already there. :) Just as long as they fit within the control cavity. TO make certain they fit, if you want to get close to the edge of the cavity, you can even drill those out from the back inside the cavity (with a tiny pilot hole, then drill from the front with the larger bit to prevent chip-out on the top).

2) For the pickup routes, you just need to get a starter "hole" anywhere within the whole hole, then use a "flush trim" bit on a trim router to perfectly match the already-shaped pickup routes. You could also make a template to locate them, like this woman here who built a Telecaster kit and added her own top.
This link should take you right to 6:28 where she uses the template: https://youtu.be/orJ5Uz6rZUE?t=6m28

3) The string-through holes will help you align the bridge location. I'm not sure there's an easy way to telegraph the pre-drilled holes that are only in the current top through to the new top, so probably just plan to install that fresh. You MIGHT get away with using the template, but I'm not sure I'd trust that.

The only real thing that I'm not quite sure how to do...even if you are able to send it through a planer (be careful of chip-out around the neck pocket...and since you are covering it, planer "snipe" shouldn't be *too* much of an issue...) I'm not sure I can wrap my head around how to deal with the forearm contour. I wonder if that would need to be hand-planed or perhaps some quality time with a belt sander? Less to get the "shaping" right, and more to be able go deep enough to eliminate the body's radius around the perimeter of the face while keeping it flat enough that the bent top can lay on it flat. :think: I'm sure there are some tutorials on Youtube for adding a top to an existing body (that isn't just a flat-topped tele like the video above! ha!)

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Re: BK40 build

Postby jsiddall » Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:06 pm

Thanks for the tips @spudmunkey

spudmunkey wrote:1) You mentioned aligning the control holes. Since you're putting on a solid new top, you can put the new holes wherever you want, even if they don't align with the holes already there. :) Just as long as they fit within the control cavity, so you can even drill those out from the back (with a tiny pilot hole, then drill from the front with the larger bit to prevent chip-out on the top).


Agreed, though if there is a "right" place for the pots I assume they are already there from Kiesel so I may put them in the same place. Or maybe not.

spudmunkey wrote:2) For the pickup routes, you just need to get a starter "hole" anywhere within the whole hole, then use a "flush trim" bit on a trim router to perfectly match the already-shaped pickup routes. You could also make a template, like this woman here who built a Telecaster kit and added her own top.
This link should take you right to 6:28 where she uses the template: https://youtu.be/orJ5Uz6rZUE?t=6m28


Yes, it's just real important I don't put that starter hole somewhere outside the existing routing. Again, I am assuming Kiesel put the routes in the "right" place to begin with. J-pickup pockets are not that large so not too much room for error there. I do have flush trim router bits so that was my plan.

spudmunkey wrote:3) The string-through holes will help you align the bridge location. I'm not sure there's an easy way to telegraph the pre-drilled holes that are only in the current top through to the new top, so probably just plan to install that fresh.

The only real thing that I'm not quite sure how to do...even if you are able to send it through a planer (be careful of chip-out around the neck pocket...and since you are covering it, planer "snipe" shouldn't be *too* much of an issue...) I'm not sure I can wrap my head around how to deal with the forearm contour. I wonder if that would need to be hand-planed or perhaps some quality time with a belt sander? Less to get the "shaping" right, and more to be able go deep enough to eliminate the body's radius around the perimeter of the face while keeping it flat enough that the bent top can lay on it flat. :think: I'm sure there are some tutorials on Youtube for adding a top to an existing body (that isn't just a flat-topped tele like the video above! ha!)


My thought was that if I run it the neck side first through the planer there shouldn't be any visible chipouts at the pocket. Wondering now if there might be some on the bridge end of the body. Hmmm...

One of my customizations was to delete the forearm contour. I want a nice thick top so I am currently planning for 9 mm (3/8"). I figured I would have a hard time bending maple that thick around a contour so just decided to delete it.

However, I expect a J-bass forearm contour is more than 9 mm deep at the edge so I won't be able to carve my own full depth contour in the cap alone. One solution is to just leave it a slab top. Not sure how uncomfortable my arm would get resting on a [rounded] edge without a contour as I have never owned a bass without one. Any feedback on that would be appreciated.

Two other options exist: 1. carve the contour the full depth (though since I deleted mine I don't know exactly how much that would be) and let the body wood show through. If found some pictures of this and while it is distinctive I am not convinced it is a good look:

Image

2. carve a shallow contour that extends nearly to the body wood.

So many decisions...

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Re: BK40 build

Postby jsiddall » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:47 am

Update part 1: I had a good amount of time to work on the bass this past weekend.

First, an obligatory unboxing pic:

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Everything was as I was expecting. I must say that walnut body is beautiful. Had a slight pause about taking about 1/4 of it away. The bottom shot has some alcohol on it to show the color and grain a bit more:

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I traced the body openings onto some paper so I can find the openings later:

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A friend with a fantastic shop did the resawing, jointing and thickness planing. Having the right tools meant that part went unbelievably quick:

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I went with an 11 mm (7/16") thick spalt top. I got that resawn and was happy with the pattern inside the board. The bookmatch also worked pretty well.

I made templates of the shapes of the body and headstock to select the best portion of the spalt to use:

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I decided to also go with spalt on the headstock. Leaving it with the 5 layer neck wood just seemed like too many different textures and colors for the front of the bass. I wanted to have a black line defining the joint between the spalt and the backing wood but didn't want as much of it as I had seen on some basses with a thin black veneer between the layers. I decided to do a test on the headstock by painting the perimeter black (effectively a blackburst -- though I got it a bit wide on the headstock!) before laminating.

Image

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Re: BK40 build

Postby jsiddall » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:52 am

Update part 2:

I was pretty pleased with how that black pinstripe line turned out so decided to do that on the body also:

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My first time working with spalt reveals it to be about as difficult as rumored. Wide variation in hardness makes it tricky to shape and smooth, and it can easily chip or fracture. Still, the piece I have doesn't have much punk and I chose not to stabilize any of it to go along with my plan to leave the materials as natural as possible. The dark black spalt lines, which I really like the look of, are harder to deal with than expected. Any sanding of those results in a black powder which makes its way into the surrounding light wood pores and ultimately gives it a grey "dirty" appearance. Careful localized sanding was required to keep the black contained to the black areas.

Gluing the cap in one go was a bit tricky but seemed to worked well:

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Next big step is the routing of the body. Putting on such a thick cap means there is barely 1/4" of pocket left to use as a routing template. I will need to grind the end of the router bit down so it and the bearing will fit in that small gap.
Last edited by jsiddall on Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: BK40 build

Postby Azbats63 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:48 pm

AMAZING so far, I can't wait to see how it progresses.

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Re: BK40 build

Postby spudmunkey » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:51 pm

This looks freakin' amazing, and I can't wait to see the final result of your ambitious undertaking!!

:applause:

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Re: BK40 build

Postby Praiser » Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:06 pm

Do my eyes deceive me or is that a 1 piece Walnut body??
You are doing fantastic work, but it would be hard for me to hide that walnut.
I'd probably order another kit to put the maple cap on...
Watching with great anticipation.
John

LB75AP, LB70P, X54F, BK50, BK50F, BK40, C780
PB100, PB200 (With BX500 head and 1x15 ext Cab)
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Re: BK40 build

Postby jsiddall » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:52 pm

Praiser wrote:Do my eyes deceive me or is that a 1 piece Walnut body??
You are doing fantastic work, but it would be hard for me to hide that walnut.
I'd probably order another kit to put the maple cap on...
Watching with great anticipation.


Nope, that's one piece walnut. I even asked about getting a one piece when I ordered and they said the only thing they do in one piece is the extra cost swamp ash option which is specifically listed as "one piece". Maybe because I had specifically asked about it they put in a one piece body but more likely I just got lucky. Either way better to under-promise and over-deliver.

Trust me, I did think twice about covering that walnut but decided this is exactly how I wanted it -- beautiful from every angle. Plus, another 6 weeks' wait, an extra body I probably wouldn't build into a guitar anytime soon, and even then I might end up with just as nice a body on the next order!

The redeeming part of covering the front is that the back is also one piece so I can admire it every time I play it.
Last edited by jsiddall on Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: BK40 build

Postby jsiddall » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:10 pm

Not much new to report but I did drill the machine holes on the headstock and cut the truss rod cavity.

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I knew I wouldn't be happy with the plastic cavity covers they sent but told myself to finish the main build before I fiddled. However, I didn't have enough time to start anything bigger so I went ahead and cut and shaped a new truss rod cover anyway. I think it is a big improvement, and was really the only thing on the front of the bass that looked decidedly worse than the rest of it.

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I also ground down the end of the router bit for the pockets so it requires only 1/4" of "template":

Image
Last edited by jsiddall on Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: BK40 build

Postby Praiser » Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:46 am

I totally get what you are saying about the 1 piece walnut body.
Glad they gave you the hookup on that. Don't think I've ever seen one before. Way cool.

LOVE that TRC you made. Such a huge improvement from a relatively small item.
The black lines in it are so visually interesting and look fantastic against the headstock overlay.
John

LB75AP, LB70P, X54F, 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: BK40 build

Postby skully13a » Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:07 am

Dude, this rocks. :stir: I'm digging it.
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Re: BK40 build

Postby ilyti » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:05 pm

Very cool stuff. I gotta ask though: since you're putting a top on it, have you considered leaving the edges less rounded on the top? I've never liked the P-bassy rounded edges on the B40/50, so I was wondering if you felt the same. To be honest, that's really what's kept me from getting a fretless B40 kit thus far.

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Re: BK40 build

Postby jsiddall » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:17 pm

Had some more time to work on the bass this weekend. Mostly body work. Lots of pics...

Started with drilling bridge holes as these are the locator for the paper sketch I made before starting any work. I need that to find out where to drill the pilot holes for the pickup routes and for the pots.

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I thought it was strange the way the strings pass through a sharp angle at the edge of the body holes on the Kiesel design so I chamfered them with a grinding stone. Small thing but you can see these through the bridge:

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I aligned the template with the bridge holes and held it in place with an awl while marking all the important holes:

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Because the bridge saddles follow the arc of the fretboard they used longer bolts on the two middle saddles. Unfortunately that meant they protruded through the bottom and kept the bridge from sitting flat on the body so I just ground them flat:

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Not pretty but no one will see this anyway:

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Drilled the hole for the pickup route. Thankfully the bit found pocket underneath instead of solid wood. Pulling the handle on the press to drill that was probably the most nervous I will be on this whole build!

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Next came drilling the pot holes:

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Then recessing the back of the cap to fit the 3/16" of threads on the pots:

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Pot fits nice:

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Routed the pickup openings with a palm router:

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Unfortunately the cheap eBay router bit bearing failed doing the pickup routes. I didn't expect that bit to last long but thought it would make it more than a few inches. Good grief. So now I need to get a new bearing before doing the neck pocket. Lesson learned.

For the body perimeter I used a table to lessen the likelihood of a catastrophe. This is the second most nerve-racking part of the process for me:

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There was one small tear-out on the maple but depending on how much rounding I do it might be taken off. Otherwise I will have to repair that part.

I rough sanded the top and sides to get rid of all the resawing marks and excess glue:

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Final closeup of the cap joint:

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The black pinstripe is there but less obvious than on the maple-maple joint. It might show up more if I continue the round right down to (or even just past) the joint. I have a router bit to do a 3/8 round, which seems to be what Kiesel used originally, but I could also round it a bit more by hand after that.

I am also testing some dyes since I am still undecided about whether to leave the BMF with just satin clear or treat it black first. Unfortunately I don't have any birsdeye to test on and the plain maple I have doesn't really look like much when dyed. Anyone here attempted treating their fretboard?
Last edited by jsiddall on Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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