Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

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drbass
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Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by drbass » 03 Sep 2017, 09:29

Hi there,

EDIT: now have descriptions of all three models.

And so it begins (well, it's been going for a while already but time to make it official): commercial user ;) .

As you know I've been building a couple of basses in the last couple of years (have a look at the diverse build threads) and feel that I'm now ready to offer to the bass-playing public my services to build you something a little different. I have a small number of possible body shape options, and a few "non-negotiables". Let me explain.

Bodyshapes
There a three basic models loosely based on other concepts, in order from most basic to most "out there":
- Q Bass - modified P bass shape; example:


- Manta - reminiscent of a Sting; example:


- Kermit - my own design incorporating a number of modern influences (Sandberg, Warwick, Dingwall, and probably many more); examples:



All three will be shown and explained in more detail in individual posts in the next couple of days.

Too easy. The basic body outlines are fixed but no body will be identical to the others since all the contouring, shaping and final sanding will be done by hand, and you can (to an extent) specify the severity of the tummy cut and forearm cut.

Non-negotiables
This will be pretty straightforward, too. Maybe I should call this "standard features" ;) :

- zero fret for all fretted instruments;
- Tusq string guides;
- mando-sized frets (small, low, and soooo easy to play);
- Luminlay side markers (with black piping on maple necks);
- bolt-on necks only (but different construction methods - see individual basses below);
- threaded inserts and corresponding bolts for the neck-body connection;
- angled headstock;
- 35" for 5 or 6 strings (non-multi-scale);
- when exotic tops are used the headstock will be matching and (if there is enough material) so will the back cover;
- contrast layer when exotic tops are used;
- Hipshot hardware;
- Dunlop strap lock system, either standard or flush-mount;
- satin finish rather than gloss.

I think that's it but will edit if I can think of others.

Try before you buy
Everything I've built so far (as mentioned, examples in the Lutherie section and below - soon) I see as prototypes trying a number of different things. These basses are not for sale.
However, the idea is that local (i.e. in and around Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) players who are interested can get any of the basses for a week and try them in real life situations - home practice, rehearsals, gigs. They're meant to be used.
I will do this on a "trust" basis - I'll drop the instrument off at your place (opportunity to run through the features), and will pick it up at a specified time a week or so later - opportunity to discuss what was good, and what wasn't.
If you didn't like it, no worries, no obligations. If you liked it as is then we can talk specs and ordering. If you almost liked it but there's a couple of things you'd like changed we can discuss feasibility.

Interested players interstate will miss out on this. Having said that I'll try my utmost to come to the Sydney GTG where at least NSW folks can try.

Ordering and pricing
My plan is to work out full specs before anything happens. I will then put together a complete quote including all the hardware and electronic costs, and if you agree with that you transfer the cost for those components, the timber and an "incidentals" surcharge into my account. I will order everything as soon as the money is there.
There will be additional labour costs which will depend on the model and the complexity of the build. This is something that needs to be talked about.
I will provide update photos and will endeavour to finish the build as quickly as possible. Please note though that I don't want to rush things - better to get it right, and of course certain stages require waiting times (unless you already have a stock of neck blanks ready to go).

I think that's about it for now. I will add new posts with details of the different models in the next couple of days but please feel free to contact me if you have any questions would like to "try before you buy".
You can either send me a PM via the forum, or send an email to drbass@me.com .

Thank you for looking at this, and it'll be interesting how all this pans out.

Regards,
Michael
Last edited by drbass on 12 Sep 2017, 08:36, edited 1 time in total.
- Kermit 6 fanned, Kermit Gaia 6 fretless, Kermit Rockmachine 5, Manta 5, ME1/5, Q 5, (Sandberg Classic S2-5), (Thumb-4)
- Genzler Magellan 800, 2 Genzler BA12-3
- EBS OctaBass, Boss MS-3, Line6 G50

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drbass
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass - Q Bass

Post by drbass » 03 Sep 2017, 13:32

First up is the bottom of the lineup, and the most recently finished: the "Q".




This particular model is actually the second version - I had a solid black alder body before but there were too many issues with that and I replaced it with this one. Some info on this particular bass:
Body:
2 piece northern ash, quite aggressively shaped for tummy and forearm cut; 34 mm thick. Finish is something I've tried for the very first time: one application of Oslo Woodwax Black, and one application of Osmo Polix clear satin. Very 3D which only really works with grain like northern (or swamp) ash.

Neck:
this one is a 2 piece maple neck (just trying this out - from now on it'll be either one piece, or three piece) with a maple board and angled headstock. Some measurements:
- width zero fret: 45 mm
- width 12th fret: 57 mm
- width heel: 63 mm (as you can see this is barely wider than a 4 string neck - totally experimental and prototype)
- string spacing at bridge 16 mm
- thickness 1st fret: ~22 mm
- thickness 12th fret: ~25 mm
- radius: 20"
- profile: "comfortable" (I carve until it feels "right")
- 35" scale, 22 frets, Tusq string guide and mando frets (thin and low)
- double action truss rod and 2 graphite rods
- Luminlay side markers (here no black piping so a little hard to see)
- standard 4 screw and plate neck-body connection (will be threaded inserts and bolts)
- satin finish.

Hardware:
Hipshot Ultralite tuners, Hipshot A style bridge (aluminium), Dunlop strap locks, and a couple of old Jazz style knobs (will be black metal dome knobs), ElectroSocket.

Electronics:
2 sets of Bartolini 58S72 P bass pickups, centred roughly in the J Bass neck position and the Stingray position, passive (vol/tone with a three-way mini switch for neck/both in series/bridge).

Overall this bass weighs in at 3.7 kgs. It's just a little bit neck-heavy but I will make future headstocks more compact, and with a proper strap it feels very comfortable.

If you were to order one you'd get:
- same body shape, timber of your choice (which will impact on the finish);
- timber back cover;
- maple neck and board;
- Luminlay black piped side dots;
- zero fret, 22 mando frets;
- if 5 string slightly wider neck (this one is very tight and only just works), if 4 slightly narrower neck depending on your string spacing preference;
- hardware as listed above.

You will be able to specify
- finish of hardware (black/gold/chrome);
- type of tuner (Y, clover, lollipop);
- pickup type and location - this may mean removing the mini switch;
- finish (that's something that needs to be discussed).

Pretty straightforward - contact me via PM on the forum or via email to drbass@me.com .

Edit: I am currently about halfway through building my first actual order, a Q 4 string, 34", Delano Musicman pickup (yes, that is possible), two part northern ash body, black veneer layer and bookmatched northern ash top, grain contrast and trans-green like Kermit. Will post pics when finished.

Regards,
Michael
Last edited by drbass on 09 Sep 2017, 21:35, edited 2 times in total.
- Kermit 6 fanned, Kermit Gaia 6 fretless, Kermit Rockmachine 5, Manta 5, ME1/5, Q 5, (Sandberg Classic S2-5), (Thumb-4)
- Genzler Magellan 800, 2 Genzler BA12-3
- EBS OctaBass, Boss MS-3, Line6 G50

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Classic5
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by Classic5 » 03 Sep 2017, 15:18

I like it. Congratulations Michael :clap:
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drbass
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass - Manta

Post by drbass » 04 Sep 2017, 17:52

Next up is the Manta which I see as an evolution of the Stingray.
I have two examples for this (which also nicely show that design does not stand still). First one is a 4 string I made for my son:


Next is the 5 string you may have seen recently pop up in the NBD section:


I'm currently building a third fretless version which will have the final body shape (smaller lower horn) and a smaller headstock. Two piece northern ash body, walnut contrast layer, zebrano top, three piece maple neck and maple board unlined (side markers only), matching headstock.

Let's have a look at the features of these models

Body:
Both 4 and 5 have a central piece of silky oak and northern ash wings, a contrast layer (just some black veneer for the 4, walnut for the 5) and a quilted maple top.
Grain filled with Timbermate on the 4 and FeastWatson black stain on the 5 (not as efficient - won't do that again), then some coats of nitro with pigment and finally the gloss coats (all paint work done by David Searle - some outsourcing). After that it was hours of wet sanding and polishing to get the final gloss look.
Contouring is rather conservative on the 4 and much more aggressive on the 5.

Neck:
The 4 has pretty much the same neck as the 5-string Q described above except it is a one piece maple, no zero fret and has a straight headstock with string retainers (that's what my son wanted). 34".
The 5 is a little different. 3 piece maple neck (just trying this out - from now on it'll be either one piece, or three piece) with a maple board and angled headstock. Some measurements:
- width zero fret: 45 mm
- width 12th fret: 61 mm
- width heel: 68 mm
- string spacing at bridge just about 17 mm - will need a slightly wider neck to go to 17.5 or 18
- thickness 1st fret: ~21 mm
- thickness 12th fret: ~25 mm
- radius: 20"
- profile: "comfortable" (I carve until it feels "right")
- 35" scale, 22 frets, Tusq string guide and mando frets (thin and low)
- double action truss rod and 2 graphite rods
- Luminlay side markers (here no black piping so a little hard to see)
- additional block of walnut at heel due to the way I've done the neck-body transition
- satin finish
- 7 threaded insert-bolt neck-body connection. I call this "XTend" since the heel of the neck goes all the way to the pickup but is fitted before the top goes on. Advantages: much bigger contact area, more bolts for stronger connection (you end up with a strong bolt-on attack and extended neck-through note decay), and of course you get to enjoy the pretty top as well.

Hardware:
Hipshot Ultralite tuners, Hipshot A style bridge (aluminium), Dunlop strap locks, black metal dome knobs, ElectroSocket.

Electronics:
Delano MC5 HE Quad Coil pickup in the Stingray position, Nordstrand 3b-3 preamp (vol p/p active/passive, mid p/p for different centre frequencies, stacked treble/bass) with a three-way mini switch for series/parallel/single coil. I love this combination, a lot of grunt with the characteristic (and expected) tone.

Overall the 5 string bass weighs in at 3.7 kgs. Don't have figures on the 4 but wold expect it to be a little heavier (less body shaping).

If you were to order one you'd get:
- same body shape (with modified lower horn), either silky oak with northern ash, or just northern ash;
- contrast layer (walnut);
- quilted maple top (or exotic top of your choice);
- back cover from the same material as top;
- maple neck and board;
- matching headstock with black veneer contrast layer;
- "fancy" truss rod cover;
- Luminlay black piped side dots;
- zero fret, 22 mando frets;
- slightly wider neck if you want wider string spacing;
- hardware as listed above.

You will be able to specify
- finish of hardware (black/gold/chrome);
- type of tuner (Y, clover, lollipop);
- satin finish in your chair of colour (gloss finish will be extra), and whether or not you want the ash grain enhanced.

Pretty straightforward - contact me via PM on the forum or via email to drbass@me.com .

Regards,
Michael
Last edited by drbass on 11 Sep 2017, 19:50, edited 2 times in total.
- Kermit 6 fanned, Kermit Gaia 6 fretless, Kermit Rockmachine 5, Manta 5, ME1/5, Q 5, (Sandberg Classic S2-5), (Thumb-4)
- Genzler Magellan 800, 2 Genzler BA12-3
- EBS OctaBass, Boss MS-3, Line6 G50

TAL
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by TAL » 05 Sep 2017, 11:51

Interesting. So any rough ideas on ball park pricing for these before I send a PM?

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drbass
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by drbass » 05 Sep 2017, 11:59

TAL wrote:
05 Sep 2017, 11:51
Interesting. So any rough ideas on ball park pricing for these before I send a PM?
I'll send you a PM in a minute.

Regards,
Michael
- Kermit 6 fanned, Kermit Gaia 6 fretless, Kermit Rockmachine 5, Manta 5, ME1/5, Q 5, (Sandberg Classic S2-5), (Thumb-4)
- Genzler Magellan 800, 2 Genzler BA12-3
- EBS OctaBass, Boss MS-3, Line6 G50

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Macbass
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by Macbass » 05 Sep 2017, 19:50

Good on you, Michael!
They look fantastic.
1982 Moonstone Eclipse, Aguilar Tonehammer Pre, Peavey power amp, Markbass CL106, Various pedals...

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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by Petebass » 06 Sep 2017, 04:17

Love your work Michael. You're eye for timber and grain is exceptional. Hope you sell plenty.
* 2 Stingray 5's (one heavily modded), Ibanez SR805, Ashbory, + more...
* Carvin B1500, Epifani PS1000, Ashdown Superfly amps.
* Lots of DIY neo/lightweight cabs including one made from composites http://www.ozbassforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2546

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Curto
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by Curto » 06 Sep 2017, 18:13

Congrats and all the best with the commercial enterprise. Looking forward to seeing more of these in the future.
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by MentalPatient » 09 Sep 2017, 08:35

Michael, please PM me a price for the Q Bass.

I thought I had enough bass's, I might be able to make room for one more.
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Last edited by MentalPatient on 15 Apr 2015, 18:10, edited 963,482,564,947 times in total

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drbass
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by drbass » 09 Sep 2017, 09:05

Will do, Anthony.

Regards,
Michael
- Kermit 6 fanned, Kermit Gaia 6 fretless, Kermit Rockmachine 5, Manta 5, ME1/5, Q 5, (Sandberg Classic S2-5), (Thumb-4)
- Genzler Magellan 800, 2 Genzler BA12-3
- EBS OctaBass, Boss MS-3, Line6 G50

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drbass
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by drbass » 11 Sep 2017, 19:49

Last but not least the "flagship" - Kermit.

I have two examples for Kermit as well. First the original Kermit (and the pic will explain the name):


I recently finished a half-sibling, also 6 string but 35" scale and fretless:



I'm currently building a third one, a 5 string with maple neck, walnut body, ash contrast layer, indian rosewood top and SD Musicman pickup and electronics. Looking forward to that one!!

Let's have a look at the features of these models.

Body:
Both have a central piece of silky oak and northern ash wings, a contrast layer (ziricote for multi scale Kermit, walnut for the fretless) and a spalted maple top.
Grain filled with Timbermate on both, then some coats of nitro with pigment and finally the satin coats (all paint work done by David Searle - some outsourcing).
Quite aggressive body contouring on both.

Neck:
Both necks are one piece wenge, one with a ziricote board and the other with a wenge board. Zero frets for both. The multi scale has a compound angle headstock to avoid aesthetic issues, the fretless is just angled. Both with matching headstocks. Here are measurements for the original Kermit, the fretless is 1 mm less for ALL measurements:
- width zero fret: 56 mm
- width 12th fret: 73 mm
- width heel: 81 mm
- string spacing at bridge just about 17 mm for both
- thickness 1st fret: ~20 mm
- thickness 12th fret: ~24 mm
- radius: 20"
- profile: "comfortable" (I carve until it feels "right")
- multi scale: 36-33", 24 frets, Tusq string guide and mando frets (thin and low); fretless: 35", 24 "frets", ebony nut, no lines
- double action truss rod and 2 graphite rods
- Luminlay side markers; fretless has Luminlay fret lines in the neck only visible for the player
- satin finish
- 5 threaded insert-bolt neck-body connection. The original Kermit has the neck exposed all the way to the pickups but the fretless was done doing the "XTend" method. I call this "XTend" since the heel of the neck goes all the way to the pickup but is fitted before the top goes on. Advantages: much bigger contact area, more bolts for stronger connection (you end up with a strong bolt-on attack and extended neck-through note decay), and of course you get to enjoy the pretty top as well.

Hardware:
Hipshot Ultralite tuners, Hipshot Solo bridge (aluminium), Dunlop strap locks, black metal dome knobs, ElectroSocket. The Solo bridges are mounted on a tone block (maple for Kermit, walnut for the fretless) which is bolted into a routed cavity.

Electronics:
2 Nordstrand FD3 pickups (i.e. Dingwall FD3s) in the Stingray position, Glockenklang 3 band pre (vol p/p active/passive, bass, mid, treble) with a two-way mini switch for series/parallel for each pickup. In addition there is a 4 way rotary switch in the original (neck/both series/both parallel/bridge) and a three-way mini in the fretless (neck/both series/bridge).

Both basses weigh between 3.7 and 3.8, not too shabby for 6 strings.

If you were to order one you'd get:
- same body shape (with modified lower horn), either silky oak with northern ash, or just northern ash;
- satin finish;
- contrast layer and top depending on what I have available
- back cover from the same material as top;
- wenge neck and board, or maple neck and board (or combination);
- matching headstock;
- "fancy" truss rod cover;
- Luminlay side dots and (if fretless) fret lines;
- zero fret, 24 mando frets;
- slightly wider neck if you want wider string spacing;
- hardware as listed above.

You will be able to specify
- finish of hardware (black/gold/chrome);
- type of tuner (Y, clover, lollipop).

Pretty straightforward - contact me via PM on the forum or via email to drbass@me.com .

Regards,
Michael
- Kermit 6 fanned, Kermit Gaia 6 fretless, Kermit Rockmachine 5, Manta 5, ME1/5, Q 5, (Sandberg Classic S2-5), (Thumb-4)
- Genzler Magellan 800, 2 Genzler BA12-3
- EBS OctaBass, Boss MS-3, Line6 G50

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Juan Lauda
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by Juan Lauda » 12 Sep 2017, 06:18

This is very exciting, Michael. I look forward to seeing some of these beautiful basses at the Sydney GTG.

Cheers, Tim
Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

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drbass
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by drbass » 05 Nov 2017, 18:05

Here's the latest Kermit prototype. Something a little different using an SD Musicman replacement pickup and electronics package. And it's a fiver.

Anyway, walnut body, maple contrast layer, indian rosewood top. My Xtend body/neck construction with a 3 piece maple neck and maple board. Hipshot tuners and single bridges. And all finished with the wipe-on product I will use from now on for all natural finishes (and maybe some coloured ones as well). Pics:









Oh: weight is 3.5 kg.

As usual please contact me for further details. If you are interested in me building you one of these let me know and we can have a completely obligation-free discussion and take it from there.

Regards,
Michael
- Kermit 6 fanned, Kermit Gaia 6 fretless, Kermit Rockmachine 5, Manta 5, ME1/5, Q 5, (Sandberg Classic S2-5), (Thumb-4)
- Genzler Magellan 800, 2 Genzler BA12-3
- EBS OctaBass, Boss MS-3, Line6 G50

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narcdor
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Re: Polaris Basses by Dr. Bass

Post by narcdor » 05 Nov 2017, 19:25

Delicious! Probably my favourite one yet.
Basses: Fender Mustangs, Narcdor Precision, Lindsey Precision, Nash Jazz, Framus Star Bass, EBMM Stingray
Amps: O'Neill B15 copy, Walkabout, Puma 900
Cabs: Ampeg Repro 15, Fender Neo 15
FX: TC Electronic clip on tuner

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