This is my latest instrument. It's a short-scale (29.5") tenor bass (tuned ADGC) with piezo and optical pickups. The body is made of bubinga, the neck is a 5 piece sandwich of curly maple and wenge, and the fretboard is snakewood. I finished the woodworking just before I arrived at Columbia, but I'm still working on debugging my preamp design. I wanted to use optical pickups for this instrument, but rather than buying them from Lightwave, I thought that I'd take a shot at building my own. The design is pretty straightforward and relatively inexpensive, but still has some bugs to be worked out (the current version is too noisy). I'll post the schematics and eagle files once I have things working better. The bridge has piezoelectric pickups built into it so the plan is to be able to mix them with the optical pickups. The preamp also has an active 3-band equalizer, so the instrument ended up with 5 knobs on it: volume, piezo-optical blend, bass, mid, and treble.

Here are some photos of the instrument during various stages of construction. The preamp circuit board shown is not the final version, but you get the idea.


Clamping up the roughly formed neck and body wings.

Planning the headstock shape after gluing the bubinga veneer to the maple-wenge sanwich.

Getting ready to apply the tung oil finish.

After routing out the cavity for the electronics.

Just after the abalone inlay dots had been added and I had started to shape the fretboard.

Here you can see the housing and optical switches that I'm using for the pickups.

The underside of the assmebled optical pickup.

This is V1.0 of the preamp that I designed. It's a basic opamp (AD823's) design that mixes the optical pickup inputs with the piezo pickups on the bridge. This then feeds into a 3-band active EQ stage. V1.0 was noisy and so is currently undergoing a re-design.

A shot of the back of the body that shows the bubinga-maple-wenge sandwich.

Almost ready for the hardware!

The coverplate for the electronics cavity.

Back of the headstock...

Front of the headstock. You can also see the coverplate for trussrod access.

The finished product! Since the optical pickups sit so far back, I added a thumb rest.

Finally, here it is in the hardshell case that I found online (seems to fit the body pretty well!).