Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

The Big Bopper Lives!

I know it’s not exactly a bluegrass instrument, but some of you know the long, drawn out story behind this bass. Well, tonight I finally got it finished!!!

This is my first attempt at a sunburst, and I’m really happy with it. Also my first time using a buffing wheel. I’ll never go back to wet sanding again.

Hope these pics upload.


Wow Mark… phenomenal looking! How does she sound and play? I dig the Strat electric setup on a JBass. Did you use analine dye on the burst? Whatever you did, I love it. Gorgeous figured maple neck!!!

I hate to say it, but I think you put an extra string on there :wink:

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Thanks Mike! I’m impressed you noticed the Strat set up. One of the most annoying things about my P-Bass is the jack in the pick guard. I don’t always have a 90 deg cable, so often times I have a cable sticking straight out of the bass. I’ve always liked how a Strat solves that problem.

I’ll have to ask my buddy about the dye. I sprayed it at his shop with his supplies. I just found the color I wanted, mixed it in the laquer and started spraying. I used an air brush for the sunburst.

Would you believe I got that maple off of eBay? As soon as I saw the pictures of the board, I knew it was going to be the neck for this project.

I don’t get any credit for the wood work on this project. That was all Huey Wilkenson at AxeHandle Guitar Works. His eyesight is going, though, and he finally told me he wasn’t able to spray it or finish the fine details, so I took it from there (making a nut from a blank with no template is harder than I thought it would be.)

And yes, it has an extra string. These days, if you’re playing country music from the last 2 decades, it’s almost a must.

Oh, and Mike, you and @BanjoBen will appreciate this. The “serial number” on the neck plate is the tail number on the plane that went down carrying Buddy, Ritchie, and The Big Bopper. :slight_smile:


Looks great @Mark_Rocka was a big fan of Ritchie’s music in my plooky youth… It was a sad day in our home the day that plane when down, three of my older sisters and one brother sat grim faced in front of the wireless listening to the news. I didn’t really understand why, I was only 12

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That looks awesome! I really like that neck, and the sunburst is great. I have noticed that about the jack, but, (although I haven’t had this problem, I’ve seen others with it) sometimes, if you have the angled jack and a ninety degree cable it can be hard to plug in and looks weird. But altogether great looking bass, I wouldn’t know it from a fender if I didn’t already know

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If your referencing buddy holly, my mom used to be such a big fan of him her highschool friends called her Peggy Sue :laughing:

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Thanks Archie! The guy that did the wood work on this bass is a big Buddy Holly fan. He built himself a Strat style guitar and named it Buddy. His serial number is 231959 (February 3, 1959) denoting the day of the plane crash. I liked his Strat so much, and needed a replacement bass after mine was stolen, I commissioned him to build The Big Bopper.

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Thanks @K_G! Yup, Buddy Holly indeed. Now I’m trying to figure out what instrument to build and name Ritchie. :slight_smile:

If my memory serves me right he played a semi-acoustic and a Strat, back then everyone seemed to plug everything into a VOX amp. By the 70’s the pawn shops were full of eclectic guitars and VOX amps

Cool, would have been a tint instead of a dye then. Looks awesome!

Yes it is :slight_smile: You think, “Do some math, compensating for the string width (or not), lay it out an file. Easy!!! Nope… those string slots migrate.”

Very cool.

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It’s funny you say that, because that was my original intention. Then I started looking online at pictures of other 5 string basses. The 3rd string on all of them was dead center. So, I decided to go with “or not” for aesthetic reasons. Didn’t do any math, though. I just eyeballed it. :slight_smile:


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Cool guitar.

Kind of ironic that Waylon, the bass player gave his seat to the singer …now your bass is named after J.P. Richardson who died…so it could be considered a J.P bass…:sunglasses:

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Ha! That’s awesome!