Author Topic: My ipod embedded Frankenbass  (Read 307 times)

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Offline gron

My ipod embedded Frankenbass
« on: August 23, 2015, 08:23:33 AM »
In the past 2 years, what started with a Fender Jaguar that I intended to tweak a little bit has now eventuated as a complete Frankenbass complete with hexaphonic piezos and touch screen midi controls. It's my first custom guitar project.

(note: i have edited this post since discovery that what  I suspected was a wiring or pickup issue was really just a flat battery  :P ).

(More images at base of post and an assembly overview PDF)

Some background on my playing style may build context to the ridiculousity of all this... I used to play in a few bands back in Australia in the 90s but since then it's mostly living room jams by myself. I'm getting more into recording these days and am doing 2 main types of music all focused on bass guitar, drums and vocals only. Sometimes I'm looping bass line over bass line and sometimes I'm kicking the bass line up an octave plus a 5th to get some powerchord rock happening above the original bass sound. Basically just seeing how many sounds I can squeeze out of four strings and having fun with it.

Initially I loved the look of the Jaguar but it had plenty of room for improvement in terms of sound and feel. I started by re planning the pickups and hardware, sounds and aesthetics were equally important.
To keep the weight down a little I bought a carbon fibre graphite neck from Status (I owned one of their basses back in the early 90s and loved it). This solved the common problem of neck dive and added some honest clarity to the sound (which some people are not a huge fan of). I also swapped out the tuning pegs for hipshot ultralites and the bass bridge with a ghost loaded hexaphonic superbridge.

The stock pickups I switched our for Joe Bardens - I am running these passive for now. My juries still out on how they sound as I haven't yet had a proper chance to play though a bass amp worth a damn. I kinda rolled the dice on these based on some reviews I read and the fact they just looked awesome (and I'll mostly be using the ghost pickups anyways).

While building this bass I looked into just about every mod you can imagine. I use a lot of outboard effects and have VB-99 so I figured it would be decidedly awesome to control midi functions of this device from the bass itself. I love what people do with the midi x/y pads (Muse for example) and also the guitar wing but frankly both these solutions seemed limited and looked kinda ridiculous.
What I landed on was a complete under-pickguard routed install of an ipod touch v5. The ipod is held snugly under a lasercut pickguard. I jailbroke the ipod and set up volume and lock buttons via custom swipes without needing to physically access them.

On the ipod I'm running a number of ipod apps (guitar toolkit to tune, loopy for headphone loop jams or to run as slave for an external version of loopy which I haven't tried yet, and a few synth apps) but in addition I'm running Touch OSC through Apollo to send Bluetooth midi commands to a receiving iPhone that plugs into my VB-99. I'm still at very early days in programming this as I simply don't have a lot of spare time in my life. ...I'll get there!
The pickguard is a custom laser-cut and I 3D printed routing templates before routing the bass myself.

The graphtech ghost system comes with an output plate for the back of the guitar that the 13pin cable plugs into but I didn't like the idea of having multiple plates and also needed to have a TRRS in/out and a USB in to allow complete access to the ipod.So I 3D printed a custom plate that holds all of these pieces and mounts neatly on the bottom of the bass (last pic).

I have assembly diagrams in pdf but unfortunately no wiring diagrams were made. I'm attaching final images of the project as well as the assembly diagram which I'm sure may help some folks.

In general everything is working great though I'm finding less success with signal strength with the graphtech system than I've had with GK-3B. I may yet end up putting a GK-3B on here instead!


« Last Edit: August 25, 2015, 04:27:07 AM by gron »