I had built a one-string bass out of unistrut and a 1/4” diameter piano string a while back and had a remaining length left. I had considered making a three-string license plate guitar, but thought I might capitalize on the strength of the strut and make a bass. The length was to short for a long scale bass, but it was perfect for short scale, so there it is…
Body and Neck:
The meat of this instrument is the strut, but I do appreciate the look and resonance of the license plate. I happened to have a 76’er laying around my shop so I put it to use. Early on I had planned to bolt the license play to the strut, but neodymium magnets emerged as a cleaner option, so I changed course.
I did sand the fretboard portion of the strut with 600 grit sandpaper to increase the smoothness of the metal. Toward the end of the build, I added a length of 1” steel, also held on by magnets, similar to my previous build. The metal on metal sound can rattle at times, but it adds to the character of the instrument.
Pickup and Output Jack:
As always, I installed an Nd144 Electromagnetic Cigar Box Guitar Pickup, which I had to shave on either side to fit within the strut walls. Even then, I had to press the pickup in with a vise and a block of wood. It fit eventually, but it’s not coming back out.
The output jack is located toward the bottom of the instrument and is mounted in a two-hole 90 degree angle that was bolted to the strut and fastened to the remaining hole, drilled to 3/8”. They were wired together over a relatively short distance and small pieces of electrical tape were added to the strut to insulate hot terminals.
Tuners, Nut and Bridge:
I stole the tuners off of an old bass that I’ve yet to repair and added a small block of wood for mounting purposes. A couple of sheet metal screws held the wooded block in place and the tuners posts popped up through the strut holes for ease of installation.
I drilled two holes in the very end of the strut on the license plate end for holding the ball of the string and wrapping around to the top.
I cut the bridge and nut from 3/8” brass rod, found the scale and dropped them in place. The strings hold them down, which allows flexibility in steering the intonation with the bridge.
Duct Tape Strap:
I had a silver duct tape strap that I had created some time ago with 3” tape, so it was wider that usual. Being that this instrument is heavy, it seemed like a wider strap was in order, so I made two strap ties with brass binding screws and fastened them tight.
I dig this build; it seems like something that one would take to war. I need to play it a little more to see what else it has to offer.