Shane's Short Scale Telecaster Bodied Bass


The guitar player from the Fat Transplant and Liebermonster wanted a cheap, simple, bass to write lines on.

I had a neck and body literally minutes from going into the trash. It was a Jaguar-esque body, with a strange/tiny neck pocket. The body and neck was in the same big box of junk I bought from the music kid.
The body was completely dried out, and made of laminated strips of mystery wood. Each of which was dried out and peeling away from each other. On top of that, somebody had hosed the body down with a thick coat of white primer. Super thick, yet nowhere near thick enough to fill the giant cracks. The body was garbage. I thought the neck was, too. The (bound) fretboard was off and the truss rod in the neck was busted loose from it's anchor. The neck was also covered in white paint. I didn't take pics of the neck before I started working on it.
The "strat" body, visible under the "jag" body, is also garbage. Someone tried to make a "glue-on" strat and failed to measure neck angle. As such, the neck break was aimed below any possible bridge adjustment. Far, far too much glue was used and I roasted the body pretty good melting out the good neck. After glue up, a super deep cutaway was ground into the heel area, negating any possibility of reuse. That neck was saved for another build.

jag body garbage

I wasn't going to bother with either piece. The neck had a notched out heel to fit the wierd neck pocket on the body. A lot of time and busy work for a bass I didn't want. Then I got the text asking for ANY kind of cheap bass that made bassy sounds.

Sooo, what to do? In the box of junk were several pretty crappy guitar bodies. They were made from something that looked like wood, with a paper veneer "flamed" tops. One didn't look too bad, but the "strat" had a round over which had shredded the edge of the paper veneer and the glue line had popped. Quality control called it good enough, and dipped it in poly anyway. I'll eventually do something with it. But then, I also had this clean Tele body...

My plan, well thought out over 2 - 3 whole minutes: Fix the junk neck, toss the "Jag" body back in the trash, mount the fixed neck to Tele body, install generic P-bass pick-up, string, box up, ship to Denver.

I don't have any shots of the neck before fixing, BUT, it is made from a couple random pieces of a mahogany-like wood. The truss rod had broken apart up by the nut. The fretboard had already been removed. I fixed the the truss rod, got the neck ready for the fret board to be glued back on, and... Somebody had sanded the crap out of the neck. It had been narrowed about 1/16th of an inch on each side. I knew it was the matching fretboard, since, the romoval looked to have been a bit rough, and rips and splinter gouges matched bits remaining on the back of the fretboard.
1/16th of an inch was about the width of the binding. Solution! I peeled off the binding and the neck and fret board were, once again, pretty close.

Glued up, there were some gouges and gaps, but I filled them with saw dust powder and crazy glue, sanded smooth. Gave the whole neck several coats of garnet shellac, which darkened everything up enough to hide the fills, mostly. The medium size frets were ok, except for the 5th fret, it was gone. I only had jumbo wire. Good enough!

To fix the slotted heel, I glued on some oak spacers and shaped it into a standard short scale fender sized heel, except I left it tele style flat. In this shot you can see the threaded inserts have been installed directly into the neck wood. More on that, later.



The Tele body needed some work to convert it into a bass. Routes and such. I divided the standard scale into this neck's 30.5 scale and got a tiny smidge shy of 90%. Good enough. I checked blueprints for a P-bass standard pick-up location and used 90% of that length to locate the pick-up on this, now, bass. Since this is going to stay a bass until it gets buried in a landfill, I opened up the neck pocket to match, rather than fart around re-reshaping the neck to fit. Everything was originally pre-routed and drilled on this body, string-through holes, too.



This bass is a strictly parts-on-hand build, and I didn't have any bridges or neck plates to suit this build...

To the steel/scrap pile!


The steel is 3" wide 0.125" thick. I sawed of a neck plate blank and piece for a folded bridge plate. I was pretty sure I had a tele control plate, somewhere.

I laid out a narrow bridge, 18mm string spacing. I had some leftover narrow bridge twin saddles, so I drilled to use them. I also designed the oversized (tele-esque) bridge plate to use the front screws in the string-through holes to locate it on-center. Handy! The original tele pick-up routes need to be covered, and the control plate I finally found has too many holes. Pick-ups fit perfectly. Wider neck pocket is hardly noticable.


A big pickguard should do the trick to cover the routes, so I cut out a paper template. That left me with somereally precision cutting to do, and I still needed to cut out a control plate.
A giant pickguard, sorta like a Silvertone bass pickguard, would be cover everything and be much easier to cut...
I eventually chose the latter and bumped out the control cavity with the router to center the tone knob better.



The neck...
Was made out of really terrible wood. Like mahogany, except lighter. Maybe mahogany sapwood? Anyway, it was completely dried out. No way 4 screws would have held the neck on as it was. I use a lot of threaded inserts for necks, 8-32 for guitar, 10-32 for bass. Not the brass kind made for wood, but the E-Z lock type, made for soft metals. They usually hold better under the severe load the necks get subjected to. On this neck, they went in fine. Still, I had reservations about the integrity of the neck wood. In a pic farther above, you can see the inserts set directly into the neck wood, and a slather of epoxy to keep them from moving. I also reshaped the head stock to be more Fender-y.

E-Z locks. 5 to a pack, so there is always one left over. The packaging says use a size F drill, but a 1/4" (E) works better in wood.

ez lock

Turns out that wasn't nearly enough. When I screwed the neck down, two of the inserts pulled loose from the crumbly crap wood. I backed them all out (too easily) and drilled 1/2" holes clear down to the back of the fretboard. Then I glued in snug fitting oak dowel pieces. Once dry, I cut them flush, drilled, and tapped them. Then I coated the insides with a bit of crazy glue to harden them up.

plugs tapped

The inserts felt MUCH more snug going into the dowels, and I bolted the neck on, wired it up, and screwed down the pickguard. I used generic fishtail sealed tuners, added a decal and a truss rod access plate, oiled the neck with orange oil, and strung it up.


I used heavy strings on it to keep it from being floppy (.120, .90, .70, .55). Sound is very nice, too. I had no preconceived expectations about how this one should turn out. And still I was surprised at how nice it plays. It is, however, a big neck diver. That hornless Tele body, go figure.

After a week of settling, a few small truss rod adjustments, it seems stable. Ready to ship.

It's pretty close to guitar size:


So I it stuffed into the box within a box that sweetwater uses to ship guitars, then put them inside a third, padded Sweetwater bass case shipping box. Once completely taped up, I realized the straplocks were still sitting on my desk... Fudge.
Exacto and a tiny box, more tape.

All done. Shane likes it. He said his bass player liked it, too. When I was playing it, the short scale almost seems like cheating. The reach is significantly reduced up by the nut. And, if you believe common net lore, short scale basses have diminished harmonic overtones when played, leading to a more "pure" bass sound. The debate about guitar players writing bass lines can be had elsewhwere.

It turned out more than good enough to write lines on, and good enough not to be embarrassed about if somebody sees it.