Hi there everyone, this is my first post here so apologies for the inevitable n00b faux pas, whatever they may be.
I've been lurking for a while admiring all the projects and custom guitars, but seeing the Bass VI conversions pushed me into action- having always wanted a Fender VI they struck me as a great way to get a slice of the action for a slice of the money. So this is a brief history of my new instrument.
Firstly, a birthday present from my musical cohort took the following form-
A nice, shiny Squier Bronco! First thing first, I took it apart (which was sad, because the few minutes I played it were awesome) and stripped the body. Having experienced a couple of chip-board Squiers in the past, I was kind of dreading this part, but after many hours of chemical stripper, sandpaper, blood, sweat and tears I was left with this-
Pretty enough to convince me that a natural finish was the way forward.
The neck step was the neck- I took some 15mm hardwood dowel and had to file it down to fit the 13mm holes in the headstock left by the machine heads. Obviously, 13mm dowel would have worked but (in the UK at least) finding anything between 12 and 15 seems impossible. These dowel pieces were glued in place. This left the headstock needing to be cut down to achieve a straight string pull to the nut. I made a template using a handy Squier Strat neck that was lying around and sketched up my new shape-
Turned out that my trusty junior hacksaw couldn't handle the hard maple, so it was a long painful session with a cheapo wood shave to get the job done! Other boring steps at this point were filling old holes with wood filler, cutting and shaping a new nut to fit the crazy DiMarzio Bass VI strings and dressing the frets a little. More interestingly I had a dream about the project and woke up to make this in MSPaint-
Obviously I was making things harder for myself than originally planned with the tele bridge. But, hell, a dream is a dream and shouldn't be ignored. This in mind, I went on the hunt for someone with a router, and luckily the very same hetro-life-partner who bought the original Bronco came though with a contact. I drew up the location and shape with a hack methodology I won't repeat here because (as you'll see later) no one should follow my example. It was marked out and sent off, leaving me with the neck and the thought of wiring.
I couldn't think of a way to fit two volume pots, the jack and a three way switch onto the scratch plate, so a little deliberation led me to decide that it would be a stereo instrument with a dedicated floor box for switching. The final design is a stereo in which splits the two pickups to two 3pdt stomps, each sending to separate effects loops, returning to a mono output. I haven't described it very well, but the design allows it to be used to split the signal to two amps with the foot switches acting as mutes, or act as a basic pickup selector with the fx loops bypassed with patch cables. The main feature however is selecting between the "neck" high output blade humbucker rocking serious bass distortion in its effects loop and the more trebly tele bridge pup which makes for a lovely clean sound further up the neck when used with chorus and delay. Anyway, I'm getting distracted, so here's a quick gutshot of the switcher pedal (pre-LED wiring)-
Before getting the body back, I also went to town on the neck- I hand painted the neck in flat white plasti-cote paint (I wouldn't recommend it unless you want that made-in-a-shed look. Though my guitar was largely made in the kitchen... I digress), drilled the holes for the new tuners with a hand drill (slightly wobbly but fine), ordered a custom headstock decal and put on fake block inlays. I love the fake inlays so much, I think they look amazing.
At this point I just needed to finish the body (I used a matte finish wood varnish), drill holes for the bridge (I decided to go mental and try for through body stringing because I think it makes instruments come to life. LIKE FRANKENSTIEN!! Sorry...) and wire up the electronics. I also varnished the headstock over the water slide decal in an attempt to preserve it.
The electronics are a push-pull volume with coil tap for the neck humbucker and a stacked volume/ tone for the bridge pickup.
As you can see from the bottom picture, the bridge is attached at a very slight angle. This has no effect on intonation, string spacing or string path, however it does accentuate the angle of the pickup, meaning that the pole sitting under the high e string is squarely under it, but by the time you reach the pole sitting under the low E string it is off to the inside of the string. This patent applied for Graduated Pickup Misalignment System means that the bridge pickup never gets too bassy, even on low chords. It works amazingly well for the result of a measurement fail on my part
All in all I loved building this, and after a full setup it plays really well, genuinely enjoyable and it feels easily solid enough to gig. Finally, and most importantly, it's a GOD DAMN DOOM MACHINE
Any questions, comments or criticisms are welcome. Anyone thinking of trying a conversion such as this, I say go for it. I can't stress how happy this thing makes me, it goes from pretty chords and arpeggios when playing up the neck to classic four string bass sounds further down the neck. And then plug it into 6 feet of pedals and a couple of bass amps to make a feedback monster like you've never dreamt
Might try and upload sound clips if there's any interest.