Jay Scott Guitar

Private guitar and bass lessons, jam camps, guitar building and repairs in West Chester, PA

’51 P-Bass Build, Part 1


Finally, a day warm enough to get this body sanded. It’s made of obeche, an African wood that gets very dusty very fast when you sand it. I don’t have a vacuum setup at my workbench, so I had to wait for a chance to do this outside.

The big thing with this body is that it’s my first (and happy to say, successful) attempt at doing arm and belly cuts. I installed the strap buttons and put the body on a strap so I could mark exactly where I needed to remove wood. I wasn’t interested in doing the full-sized Strat belly cut, so I made that area smaller, and marked an arm cut that is also a bit smaller than the Strat’s.

I did the arm cut first, and used my Makita finishing sander with some 60 grit paper. As you can see from the second photo, I had most of it done in under twenty minutes. This sander is light and easy to control. With the body securely clamped in place, getting the lines I wanted was effortless.

I moved on to the belly cut and started with the sander. The shape of this cut is much more concave, so it was a bit slower going. I decided to get my rasp and see how that worked for removing wood faster, figuring I could return to the sander to clean up the tool marks and finish the shape of the cut.

It worked great! This wood works easily. It looks like the rasp is chewing the wood up, but sanding it smooth was no problem. The rough sanding you see was all done with 60 grit paper. That part was done in an hour.

Final sanding was done mostly with a rubber block and a series of grits out to 600. I used my fingers in some of the smaller curves and to get the edges smooth. Of course I scratched the wood a time or two and had to sand those out as well. All told I spent another hour and a half (maybe more, I lose track of time when sanding) getting this as perfect as I could. The wood is incredibly smooth, and should look beautiful with my usual minimal finish.

Before I start in with the Tru-Oil I have a tiny chip to repair on the pickup rout. The two black dots on the front near the control rout are worm holes. I think I’ll leave those as they are!