Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Talk about modding or building your own guitar from scratch.

Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Postby rainbowdoom » Wed May 23, 2012 3:14 pm

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-

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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-

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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-

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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-

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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)-

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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.
Finished article-

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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 :D

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

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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.
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Re: Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Postby Diabolikal1 » Wed May 23, 2012 4:31 pm

Hey where did you get your custom headstock decals? Love the Broncosaurus Doom Machine ;D .
Also, what did you use to cut the pickguard?
Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe
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Re: Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Postby empyrean » Wed May 23, 2012 4:49 pm

Very cool project! Awesome squier conversion are always great. Any soundclips? I'd like to hear what that thing sounds like.

That natural finish is amazing for a squier. I've never stripped one with such a suitable grain pattern before.
No, I am not selling the Harmony Rocket.
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Re: Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Postby WonderCouncil » Wed May 23, 2012 4:58 pm

That is really cool, came out great with the natural finish. I'm actually in the process of doing the same mod to my Bronco. I too striped it down to the bare wood, pain in the butt isn't it hah. The wood on my doesn't match up nearly as good as yours though. I actually bought black block inlay stickers for mine a while back as well, great minds huh 8)
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Re: Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Postby b70valkyrie » Thu May 24, 2012 5:02 am

empyrean wrote:Any soundclips? I'd like to hear what that thing sounds like.


I second that! :) looks like great fun, I have a Danelectro Wild Thing Baritone and a set of Ernie Ball strings in my near future to satisfy bass-VI-on-a-budget cravings but your solution looks even cooler!
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Re: Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Postby rainbowdoom » Thu May 24, 2012 9:06 am

Diabolikal1 wrote:Hey where did you get your custom headstock decals? Love the Broncosaurus Doom Machine .
Also, what did you use to cut the pickguard?


The decals are from a UK company called Rothko and Frost, and they're of an outstanding quality. The metallic gold is perfect (not garish but still metallic) and the detail is great, even on the tiny tiny font at the bottom.
The pickguard was cut with a junior hacksaw and the bevel filled with a cheapo wood file- I have no good tools at all

WonderCouncil- Are your block inlay stickers vinyl or PTE? I have the vinyl ones, which are good but still slightly noticeable (though with strings this huge fretboard contact is minimal...). I'm considering trying the PTE ones neck time I change strings. When ordering them I was so tempted to go for flames up the fretboard. Flames are awesome. Are you doing a build diary for the project? Either way I really want to see photos when it's done

b70valkyrie- I was considering using a Danelectro short scale bass as the basis for this experiment, but the Bronco was a gift and thinking about it now the Danny might have been too trashy/ trebly for my needs (not that that's a bad thing, I love that about them). I say go for it, and put up sound clips!!

Soundclips for this thing won't be done until next week (I'm away this weekend), but I'll try and get them done well so as to give a good idea of the sound of this thing and do it justice
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Re: Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Postby noisepunk » Thu May 24, 2012 9:13 am

Whoa! That thing is nuts!
They tried to give me advice, down at the record shop. I said "Sit down boys, this may come as a SHOCK. But alls I listen to, it's all freedom rock."
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Re: Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Postby danbind » Thu May 24, 2012 9:33 am

Wow--love the way you used that bridge, and the final headstock shape. Well done!
remember / to kick it over
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Re: Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Postby ohm-men » Thu May 24, 2012 9:37 am

COOL build!!! Remind me a bit of this;
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First incarnation of my poor man's bass VI ;)
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Re: Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Postby rainbowdoom » Thu May 24, 2012 3:54 pm

ohm-men wrote:COOL build!!! Remind me a bit of this;

First incarnation of my poor man's bass VI


Hey man, thanks, that means a lot- yours is the instrument which pushed me into trying this- figured that if you thought the neck/ playability was worthy of that incredible custom body i'd try my own! I love your guitar so much I wanted to copy it... Haha! No intellectual copyright on the interwebs ;)
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Re: Bronco / Bass VI-ish build

Postby ohm-men » Thu May 24, 2012 11:57 pm

Thank's I'm honnored :)
Though your idea of just copying a strat head for the Tuners onto the Bronco head is genius, I never thought of that :fp: ;D
And I also like what you did with the Pickguard and the tele bridge!!! Looks fantastic!

I really wanted the trem on mine, so I didn't use the original Bronco body. Trem is a nice adition, but, I hardly use it....
I'm still surprised that even after a year of use, the neck still holds, and I like the profile on these a lot too. Different from the RI VI.

And, If you're good with Masking tape and X-acto knifes, you can Airbrush the Blocks and even the binding on the neck.
Takes some time to mask everything off, but it's worth it. Looks quite realistic imho....
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