Bass Renovation

Bass Renovation, day by day.



OK, so, I am a pianist. What am I doing messing around with renovating a bass guitar?  Well, we’ll just call it a hobby for now, even though I see a bit of an obsession coming on.  Even though I am principally a pianist I have always had a guitar.  Guitarists are notorious for their love of multiple instruments but I never had that until I recently landed a job playing bass with a band.  It’s not in the pianists make up, or within many of our budgets, to have multiple pianos lying around. Unless you are Elton John or Lang Lang, we generally stick with one instrument. I have visited guitarists houses and they nearly all are consigned to a room in the house of their own (by their eye rolling wives) and you can normally not get through the door of said room without knocking an instrument over.  I don’t believe there’s a guitarist in the world with only one instrument, I even saw a homeless guy sleeping in a doorway with two guitars in Holland years ago.

Bass Renovation, day by day.

Anyway, I got the job playing bass and I felt the need for a five string bass, so I bought a kit and am close to finishing that off.  I enjoyed the process so much that when I saw a load of old instruments for sale on a Facebook page, an old Aria bass caught my eye.  It’s minus a few key parts but basically intact and unloved.  I paid €50 for it, about $60 or 40 quid for us Brits.

Aria TSB 350 rebuild

Aria TSB 350 rebuild

I don’t have any specialist tools or experience, and I live on a remote, small island on the edge of the Atlantic, so getting parts and bits and bobs can be tricky, however, they have a big boating community so plenty of woodworkers.  I’m also very fortunate to have inherited some fantastic family and friends with lots of specialist knowledge always willing to answer my questions at all hours and I’m extremely grateful to them. Spoiler alert, two of them have built guitars before and one of them is a luthier by trade (and lucky for me lives less than a Km away) and both know a lot about this stuff, so along with some very useful Youtube videos, I’m not short on expert advice!  Some of them are in Australia so I like to think my guitars as being truly international collaborations.  This build may be of interest to anyone with a yearning to do the same.

I’m not a fast worker, and not an expert by any means so I have to feel my way through each day as though I’m doing it in the dark, but having impressed (shocked, more like) myself and spurred on by some of my earlier results, I seem able to handle most of the skills required.  In the wise words of my fantastic brother-in-law, Cheung, a very clever car bodywork expert, take your time and prepare well.

The first build was daunting as it was in pieces with no instructions, the wood all untreated and not all the holes were cut.  The major ones for pickups and knobs were, but I had to get a very long drill and do some work for the wiring. I will document the first build later as I’m nearly finished, but it’s taken me over two months so far.

I wanted to kind of live (ish) blog this build and the things that pop up as a record of what I go through to get a result.  Living somewhere civilized, I could pop to the shops in most towns and get what I am after, at the very least I could jump on to Ebay or any internet supplier and have something delivered in less than a few days, but here these kind of things are a challenge.  Lost of post from abroad just never turns up, so I have all but given up on Ebay.  Some dealers won’t deliver outside of the UK, Maplin for example.  Amazon are better in terms of reliability and they distribute from Europe anyway so things do get here, but they don’t have the variety.  As an example, I’m after some black screws.  I have two I but I need 5 the same, this involves much work and I’m not too optimistic I’ll find them here.  As you will see, this kind of thing slows me down a lot, but there are always other things to be getting along with and sometimes it helps to be forced to wait (as it’s tempting to be impatient and want to polish before the varnish has hardened, for eg.)

So that’s the intro over with.  I’ll try to post as often as I can, and with as much detail as I can, but the intention is to have this here as a record for me to look back on.



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