Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

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Curto
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by Curto » 19 Jun 2019, 12:31

Where can one source thin veneer layers for a bass body??
Custom 32 & 35

basshack
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by basshack » 19 Jun 2019, 13:19

topveneer.com.au
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by drbass » 19 Jun 2019, 14:02

basshack wrote:
19 Jun 2019, 13:19
topveneer.com.au
Thanks, Blaine,

I was going to say "I get mine from David" ;) .

Regards,
Michael
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by basshack » 19 Jun 2019, 15:22

Yes he has an nice selection too.
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Curto
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by Curto » 19 Jun 2019, 15:23

Thank you gents.
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by drbass » 10 Jul 2019, 19:57

Where were we? Oh yes, that's right ... .

Apologies, I haven't posted here for a while, shifted my focus a little more on Instagram (polarisbasses) and Facebook. Nonetheless, there has been some progress, and I'm glad to report that Matt is quite happy with how things turned out in the end.

Cast your mind back, well, quite some time really. Everything was hunky-dory, plenty of extra length for all 4 neck-throughs and then a careless moment repeated 4 times: I mistook the mark on the body template for fret 24 instead of "end of fretboard". End result of that was that I had VERY little space at the bridge end of the body (and other issues at the neck side but that's all been resolved without any issues).
I came up with a couple of potential solutions:
1) stay with the single bridges and push them as far back as possible - that meant either overhang or "toneblock with a crutch". I chose the latter for Merlin "Prince" (the one with the purple heart top, finished and in action) and the Merlin bocote top fretless (still ongoing).
2) I go with a 2-piece bridge and pout the two pieces as close together as possible. The singles are 60 mm long, and the combined "length" of tailpiece and bridge for the ETS version is 45 mm so that buys me just about another 10 mm or so (not 15, it's VERY close to the edge). After some consultation Matt agreed to go down that path with his two builds.

It took almost 5 months to get the two 2-part bridges from ETS directly (Tom König didn't have any), and I focussed on other projects in the meantime.

Anyway, they eventually arrived, and they look a little like this:

Really solid stuff, and simple yet super-functional (as I would expect from a German product - shame they're not as efficient with their customer communication and service).

Long story short, I installed one of the 2-part bridges on the fretless, and here's what it all looks like:


And with strings (total mock-up, the nut is an old one and the strings were about 6 mm above the board):


Works for me, and fortunately Matt agrees - in fact he thinks this looks very intentional (which it kind of is, but not the first intention) and might be the new look for the Merlin basses. I don't disagree but the above-mentioned issues with ETS might put a spanner in the works for that thought.

Anyway, moral of the story: be angry (maybe even very angry) about screw-ups but only for a short time, and then find an appropriate way forward. It's almost like the "scientific method", an approach I feel very much at home with. In the end the "stop gap" probably looks better than the original plan.

Also cut a couple of rough nuts from some ebony blanks:

These are for this bass and the bocote-top fretless.

Anyway, this one's not far off so stay tuned for a couple more posts here, and then at a later date hopefully a positive NBD post from Matt (currently aiming for early to mid-August since I also need to finish the fretted one).

Thanks for reading, and as usual happy to answer any questions you may have.

Regards,
Michael
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narcdor
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by narcdor » 11 Jul 2019, 07:16

To me that bridge is finally living up to the quality of the builds you do Michael, I think you should pursue them. What's five months for perfection? Perhaps ordering in a few and keeping a stockpile, mostly five strings I'm guessing, or order at the beginning of the build ASAP knowing how long it takes and letting the customer know up front while offering the choice of the previous style, I know I would certainly wait for the ETS.
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by drbass » 11 Jul 2019, 08:33

narcdor wrote:
11 Jul 2019, 07:16
To me that bridge is finally living up to the quality of the builds you do Michael, I think you should pursue them. What's five months for perfection? Perhaps ordering in a few and keeping a stockpile, mostly five strings I'm guessing, or order at the beginning of the build ASAP knowing how long it takes and letting the customer know up front while offering the choice of the previous style, I know I would certainly wait for the ETS.
Thanks, Nick,

I definitely won’t be using the Hipshot singles anymore, they are OK but really not what I would want in (what’s hopefully perceived as) a quality instrument - nothing wrong, I might add, with the Hipshot A style as a solid option for standard builds.

ETS make some really nice gear. As said previously it’s reasonably simple with great functionality and outstanding quality of build and finish.
The singles are great but I still struggle putting them on perfectly straight despite using templates and drillpress - even if you’re out by one tenth of a mm (which can happen just by hitting a slightly softer or harder spot in the timber) they look crooked.
I love the Tuning Fork one piece bridge I’ve used for the Sirius Mango. Annihilates the Hipshot A in all aspects of what a bridge should be but won’t really work on a Merlin-type bass from an aesthetic point of view since the bridge end of the body is not symmetrical (like e.g. the Sirius), and I go right to the edge for “best” ergonomics.
I cited Matt who said that this two piece bridge looks like it’s been designed for this bass (which is sort of confirmed by you), and I don’t disagree with that. Under normal circumstances I would have another 10 or so mm in body length to play with which means I could leave some space between tailpiece and actual bridge and give it a little more air. Already looks good even if a little “squashed”.

Anyway, almost reads like a paid opinion piece on ETS hardware (it’s not). Tom Koenig in Canberra is the Australian distributor but he has limited stock. While I would love to have immediate access to certain things it’s just not viable to stock bridges with spacing, string number, finish and final shape options, and each of those was $225 landed (to clarify: I ordered two 2-piece bridges) so it becomes prohibitively expensive very quickly.

At least I now have examples of different options (that’s why I am building these prototypes and demo basses, right? ;) ) and, having learned it the hard way, have a better idea of delivery times.

Sorry, went a little off-topic but it’s just a reflection of some (very few) of the issues that happen behind the scene of building (for customers). I have to say, as a final comment, that Matt has been amazing to deal with: very patient, receptive to changes in best-laid plans and always with a positive outlook. Thanks, Matt.

That’s all.

Regards,
Michael
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Juan Lauda
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by Juan Lauda » 18 Jul 2019, 08:22

That bridge looks like it was made for it. Michael, hats off to your problem solving abilities. I can’t wait to see - and hear - the finished bass in Matt’s hands.
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by drbass » 18 Jul 2019, 16:51

Juan Lauda wrote:
18 Jul 2019, 08:22
That bridge looks like it was made for it. Michael, hats off to your problem solving abilities. I can’t wait to see - and hear - the finished bass in Matt’s hands.
Thanks, Tim - my aim is to eventually run out of screw-ups that I need to problem-solve ;) . I too think it worked out well, and the same arrangement looks pretty good on the fretted sibling as well (pics not too far off).

Well, as usual there will be a personal delivery trip to Sydney so provided things work out in terms of timing you may well hear the first note Matt plays on this. I'll PM you in the next couple of days.

Regards,
Michael
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by Classic5 » 18 Jul 2019, 18:52

Looks fantastic Michael :thumbup:
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by drbass » 21 Jul 2019, 14:17

Done. The amboyna is burling.

Electronics? Check.
Set-up? Check.
Sound? Check.
Playability (from my perspective)? Outstanding.

Anyway, after A LOT of "issues" along the way this one's finally done, and the fretted sibling is not far behind. Anticipated personal delivery in about three weeks.

Pics? Here you go:







Will try to get some "glamour shots" in the next couple of days, couldn't today because one of our cats was occupying the space ;) . I'll leave it at that, written enough in the lat year or so. I'm sure Matt will let you know exactly what he thinks once he's got his hands on this one and #014.

Regards,
Michael
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by maxgroover » 21 Jul 2019, 19:42

:hyper: :hyper:

Can’t wait to play this beauty. I’ve played two of Michael’s fretless basses and they feel and sound amazing. This one looks awesome and I’m sure it will sound awesome too!! :)
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Juan Lauda
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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by Juan Lauda » 22 Jul 2019, 16:33

Sweeeeeeeet.

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Re: Build #016 - Polaris Merlin NT5 MG Signature Fretless

Post by Classic5 » 22 Jul 2019, 18:56

drbass wrote:
21 Jul 2019, 14:17

Done................ Anticipated personal delivery in about three weeks.
Hey Michael, you wouldn't by any chance be travelling via Canberra?
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