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1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2022 12:23 pm
by copacetic
Howdy gang!

Recently completed a cool "vintage" build i thought you guys would enjoy seeing.. A previous customer's bandmate reached out to me on instagram wanting to commission a musicmaster/mustang type short scale bass. We originally planned to refinish/upgrade a squier Vista series musicmaster bass that we found online for a steal, but someone bought it within an hour of us seeing it :/

However this led to me springing a random wild idea on him; ready-made shortscale bass necks and bodies are shockingly rare, but i had seen some vintage MM/mustang bass necks for sale online for great deals that needed some tlc and suggested possibly building a partscaster around one of them.. We found this 1975 Musicmaster bass neck and ideas started flowing.. Finding an affordable mustang bass body proved challenging, until i stumbled upon someone selling a rattle-canned squier bronco loaded body for something like $100. With a vintage neck and usable body setting the customer back only $500 or so, we had plenty of budget room to do some cool stuff..

Decided to fill the pickguard holes and order a WD 70s musicmaster guard. The customer loved the blacked out look of the old black musicmaster basses, but we took it a step further with this faux anodized look, removing the pinstripe around the edges and murdering it out more.

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The neck was honestly a bit of a mess, though i forgot to snap some before pics to show just how bad it was :fp: .. It had been installed to a couple different bodies in its life and had 2 sets of screw holes. It had been poorly refinished in some sort of urethane and there were runs, drips and sags all along the back of the neck. It felt awful and i knew it would have to be sanded as soon as i saw it in person. Luckily the truss rod worked properly and tint was even and appeared somewhat original. Original decal was long gone, making this a prime candidate for a matched headstock. The customer selected a light/medium relic level nitro finish for this, so i had to ignore my perfectionist urges a bit and leave the topcoat looking a little more scuffed and scratched than i normally do. Fits the age of the neck nicely id say!

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Working with the limitations of the musicmaster shape/specs, this one had to be a one-pickup beast, so Brian selected a Duncan Hot Rail and sent me a push/pull pot to allow for coil splitting, which makes it a lot less of a one trick pony! (not the best pics i know, these were random progress shots before i tidied up the wiring--im not the best about remembering to snap pics every step of the way :whistle: )

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After levelling out the neck finish and polishing it up again, knocking down quite a few high frets, filling+redrilling the neck holes, reaming out the tuner holes for the new hipshot lightweight lollipop tuners (sadly we couldnt find a set of originals for sale anywhere, and theyre the only type of tuner we couldve found that would have prevented us from modifying the neck), and wiring it up, it was finally time to string it up and hear it in action.
Absolutely HUGE reward for all the work I did.. It has all the mojo you could want from a vintage Fender, with the added bonus of being uber lightweight (weighs in at 6.8 lbs!!) and having a look and specs tailor-made for its owner's tastes.. The vintage-style silkscreened headstock decal is the cherry on top in my opinion..

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Just for grins, heres a couple pics next to my 1978 MM bass for comparison.. Lovely pair of twins if you ask me :-*

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Thanks for reading this novel of a post. Thought this one deserved a bit more of a spotlight on it due to it being a bit more involved on the restoration/building side. Surely there will be more vintage-partscasters to come :whistle:

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2022 12:28 pm
by BeeTL
That turned out great, nice job!

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2022 10:37 pm
by copacetic
BeeTL wrote:
Wed Jun 08, 2022 12:28 pm
That turned out great, nice job!
Thanks man! :)

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2022 5:05 am
by gishuk
This is awesome, and its now got me looking for short scale bass parts :fp:

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2022 5:39 am
by MatthewK
LEGIT

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Mon Jun 13, 2022 2:50 am
by crianlarich
Nice build! And I really like the look of the tuners.
One shouldn't stare too much at the back of headstocks anyway. So it had those Japanese looking ones before?
Wait - what is it on yours?

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Mon Jun 13, 2022 10:04 am
by copacetic
crianlarich wrote:
Mon Jun 13, 2022 2:50 am
Nice build! And I really like the look of the tuners.
One shouldn't stare too much at the back of headstocks anyway. So it had those Japanese looking ones before?
Wait - what is it on yours?
so the MM basses from launch in 1971 until 1976 or so had these odd sized/shaped 3 screw tuners that only came on these basses. We looked far and wide for a set of originals but all that could be found was 2 lefty tuners for around $130.. ouch lol. Mine is a 78 so it has more standard 4 screw Fender tuners.

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After spending forever looking for a replacement that would at least allow me to not drill out the tuner holes (the originals had the skinniest shaft of any bass tuner ive ever seen) i admitted defeat and we ordered the hipshot ultralite tuners. drilling/reaming out bass tuner holes out with a hand drill was ~fun~ (not) but i managed to make it work and everyone was pleased with the results.

Turns out this band actually now all play instruments ive put together or refinished. Their guitarists play a pearl white cyclone w/ setup/mods and matched headstock done by me, a metallic purple CV/Player jag w/ matching headstock i put together, and now Brian has this sweet MM bass. Check them out, theyre called Arverne!

https://arverne.bandcamp.com/

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Mon Jun 13, 2022 12:14 pm
by DaddyDom
What a gorgeous bass, nice work!

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 4:05 am
by Steadyriot.
That's a really rad build! Did you find the Bronco body to match your MM body dimensions wise?

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Sat Jun 25, 2022 3:35 pm
by copacetic
Steadyriot. wrote:
Mon Jun 20, 2022 4:05 am
That's a really rad build! Did you find the Bronco body to match your MM body dimensions wise?
The funny thing i noticed is that even though theyre the same scale length (30") the vintage neck pockets were routed so that the neck sits maybe 1/4" lower on the body than the squier bronco body. The bridge is consequentially located the same amount of distance back toward the bottom of the guitar. So while the neck worked on either body, i did unfortunately have to fill and redrill the mounting holes in the neck. But it already had a second set of holes drilled to mate it to another body in the past, so with all the other sh*t that had been done to the finish, etc, its no biggie or huge detractor of value methinks.

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Thu Jul 14, 2022 8:49 am
by maximee
Awesome work! I kinda like these hipshots, too. :)

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Thu Jul 21, 2022 8:36 am
by Shadoweclipse13
Oh man, I missed this one! Killer build!!!

I've been wanting to make a short-scale bass for myself for a while now, and this is giving me some ideas...

Re: 1975 Musicmaster Bass Build (sorta)

Posted: Sun Jul 31, 2022 3:28 pm
by camilonava27
Looks sick, love the tuners!!