There’s nothing more satisfying than building your own custom bass or guitar from quality parts, but real life can get in the way. Huw Price takes on a project that deserves to be completed
Six years under the bed hadn’t made this body a ‘closet classic’ – the original blue dye had taken very unevenly and the soft swamp ash had picked up more than a few dents along the way.
The first job was to steam those dents out by placing a water-soaked scrap of material over them and then placing a very hot soldering iron on top. This shoots steam into the dent and re-expands the compressed wood fibres.
Had this project been done from scratch I may have been inclined to use transparent blue nitro. As it stands, the headstock has already been completed to a decent standard, so I had to use the same blue dye to match. Sadly, this meant sanding off the original dye and starting again.
Installing The Nut
The Allparts nut slot was curved rather than straight, so we needed to order a curved bone blank. They come very slightly too thick for the slot so you’ll need to put 320 grit sandpaper on a flat surface and lightly sand the sides until it will just fit into the slot. Work slowly; it’s a fast procedure and if you take off too much the nut will be loose and you’ll need to make another.
With the nut in the slot, the next job is to mark the ends with a sharp pencil, remove the blank and trim the ends. The nut will probably have to go in and out of the slot several times while you file and sand the ends until they’re flush with the wood. If the neck had been unfinished I would have sanded the ends of the nut in situ before spraying, but since the finish was already applied, I didn’t want to damage it.
Nut blanks are always too high. Lay a thin metal ruler on top of the frets then draw a pencil line along the side of the nut to provide an approximate guide. Then use a rough file to quickly remove a lot of material until you’re about 3mm above the line.