VRB basses in progress
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Author:  Rodent [ June 17th, 2014, 12:26 pm ]
Post subject:  VRB basses in progress

quite a few VRB units rolling thru the shop - looking like this model in one configuration or another is the hit for 2014

here's a commissioned VRB 4.2 Special Edition that got it's first finish application this past weekend

RV14403_FirstFinishCoatApplied_Front.jpg [ 214 KiB | Viewed 22060 times ]

RV14403_FirstFinishCoatApplied_Back.jpg [ 197.72 KiB | Viewed 22060 times ]

this Special Edition features an Alder body with an oil finish, recreating a common 70's era refinish job on a pre-CBS Fender. this build will have a reverse headstock Maple/Maple neck, RJ4v pickup set configured Volume (p/p series/parallel) + Blend + Passive tone, Hipshot chrome hardware, and a black/w/b pickguard

there's a lot more VRB goodness to share this summer, some of these even in a lefty configuration :)

all the best,


Author:  Rodent [ July 7th, 2014, 6:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

working my way down the backlog list ... on the bench today, and just about ready to ship out for paint

2014July07_OnTheBenchToday.jpg [ 217.33 KiB | Viewed 22008 times ]

- 2 ea VRB™ 4.2 units; Poplar body + Maple/Pau Ferro neck
- 1ea VRB™ 4.3R unit; Poplar body with reverse P + Maple/Pau Ferro neck
- 1 ea VRB™ 5.2 unit; Poplar body + roasted Birdseye/Pau Ferro neck (neck will have a no-build type finish)

I have a pair of 4.1 units (Alder + Maple/Maple and Poplar + Maple/Pau Ferro) and another pair of 5.2 units (Maple/Maple and Maple/Rosewood lefty, both necks with blocks) in the works as well

Author:  Rodent [ July 7th, 2014, 6:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

endorsing artist James Clark took delivery of his new VRB 4.2 sig model this week and immediately headed to the studio for a session. he sent a text during a break noting that the tone was "throaty and defined, angry but not obnoxious"

JamesClark_VRB4.2_800x600.jpg [ 199.62 KiB | Viewed 22008 times ]

the strap configuration allows the bass to be positioned anywhere from upright all the way round to parallel to the floor without any neck heaviness. James has been using this on all his basses for years, and says it also helps bring the nut closer to his torso so the reach is reduced by a fret spacing or two ... something he notes is critical for 'vertically challenged' people who want to play full scale basses

I got to play one of his old J's with this configuration before proceeding to drill the strap button holes, and have to say it was really comfy and easy to acclimate to. the feel reminded me of how my old Steinberger L2 used to sit against my body and the neck stayed put no matter what angle you set it to. I'm going to mod one of my personal basses with this set-up and see how it gigs for an entire evening (James swears my back is going to love me for doing this)

street pricing on this configuration is $2195 for both lefty and righty, and includes an SKB gig bag

Author:  J-meister [ July 8th, 2014, 1:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

Cool stuff you've shown us! Always interested in luthiers making a difference. Nice straplocation too, I've always had a feeling the standard positions are not the only options for the best/most comfy way. Do keep us posted about your gig with this. I, unfortunately, have no 2nd bass anymore to try this myself.

Author:  fivebass52 [ July 8th, 2014, 3:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

Rod, to minimize holes that can be seen in the body, and considering where the strap is positioned, I would drill a hole - on the top side - straight down to the pick guard, and drill a hole that is inset the same as the other holes, and put the strap button there. That way, if you wanted to convert the bass back, you could (A)- put a dowel in the hole, and just add one more pick-guard screw, or change out the pick-guard and make it look like it never happened.

As for the back-side strap button, what about putting it in the top-lower horn screw position? That way, no holes in the backside at all.... Just a thought to not put holes in bass bodies....

Author:  Rodent [ August 2nd, 2014, 10:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

working my way thru a new neck design, and tonight was the night to start cutting wood on the proofing neck. this allows me to utilize an inexpensive wood selection to test the surfaces and CNC tool paths, and culminates with a real build that gets sacrificed in a destructive test scenario :shock:

RGW_ProtoNeck_5-string_RearContour_1.jpg [ 217.13 KiB | Viewed 21833 times ]

so far the surfaces and tool paths are looking really clean within the "keep zone" ... can't wait to grab hold of this to see how it feels

Author:  Rodent [ August 5th, 2014, 7:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

all of the curves were cut just as anticipated. here's the neck straight off the CNC for the body fit test

RGW_ProtoNeck_5-string_ProofingNeckTestFit_Rear.jpg [ 108.57 KiB | Viewed 21802 times ]

I decided to move the heel transition about 1/2" (13mm) closer to the neck pocket. the CAD and CNC tool path files have been updated and the Phase 2 build is already in under way with a flatsawn Maple/Maple neck.

Author:  Rodent [ August 28th, 2014, 8:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

final cleanup pass along the edge of a VRB style fretless Maple/Maple neck.

VRB_ProofingNeck_5_FinalCuttingPass.jpg [ 182.53 KiB | Viewed 21691 times ]

there's still a whole lot of detailing and sanding yet to go on this one before it's ready for the finish to be applied.

Author:  Rodent [ September 1st, 2014, 4:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

It’s one thing to craft a neck that caresses you back, adjusts like a fine watch, holds its form thru environmental extremes, and effortlessly delivers the goods night after night after night. As a player, I need to know that what I build is going to hold-up in situations that are far beyond the average live or studio session. As a builder, I need to know that when I send a product out, it will thrive in environments significantly different than the shop and final QA studio here in Seattle. As a businessman, I need to know that all of my profits aren’t going to be eaten up by endless warranty work.

Not very often do you see builders offering up one of their crafted masterpieces to -that- corner of the shop … but that’s exactly what we did this afternoon here at the RGW ranch, proving again that our necks can endure more than their share of unexpected chaos and defiantly stand up to the (fat) man

RGW_ProtoNeck_5-string_220PoundLiveLoadTest.jpg [ 173.69 KiB | Viewed 21660 times ]

Here’s a grab shot from today’s +220 pound live-load test being performed by the only one in the shop willing and able to set the neck on a pair of Alder blocks, crank up Van Halen … and JUMP!

Just in case you’re interested in neck specs, this is one of our VRB 5-string 1-piece Maple necks with a Maple fretboard, 1-7/8” nut width, dual action trussrod, and NO carbon fiber (or any other king of) stiffening bars. It’s a modern ‘C’ shape that’s 0.80” thick at the first fret.

Author:  Basshappi [ September 2nd, 2014, 2:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

That is a beautiful piece of purpleheart behind you.

Author:  Rodent [ October 26th, 2014, 5:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

5-string Pearloid fretboard blocks freshly cut on the CNC. One set of these block inlays are destined for a 5-string lefty neck

VRB_ProofingNeck_5_PearloidBlocksCutFromSheetBlank.jpg [ 144.04 KiB | Viewed 21419 times ]

they don't look like much in this rough and raw state, but the depth of figuring and color of this material is the best available in the industry.

Here's a peek at what the neck blank looks like right after the block inlay cavities have been routed. Those are 4 sets of black block inlays just above the neck blank

VRB_Neck_5_BlockCavitiesCutInFretboard.jpg [ 110.75 KiB | Viewed 21419 times ]

all the best,


Author:  fivebass52 [ October 27th, 2014, 6:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

Great thread Rob, and I always like the instructional aspect of your posts!

Author:  Rodent [ October 27th, 2014, 10:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

thanks - sharing is part of the enjoyment of building :)

here's a peek at the blocks getting a test fit in a Maple/Maple 5-string neck that's under construction.

RGW_5-string_BlockInlayTestFit .jpg
RGW_5-string_BlockInlayTestFit .jpg [ 71.11 KiB | Viewed 21387 times ]

at this point, I'm a set of alignment holes away from flipping this neck over and cutting the rear contour

Author:  Rodent [ January 4th, 2015, 7:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

been working a final set of tweaks to the lefty 5.2 model, and thought it would be of interest to the gang here

this body is fresh off the CNC, and ready for all of the hand detailing to goes into making a rough carved piece of wood a fine instrument body. please pardon the backwards headstock - I don't have a lefty 5 finished up at the moment

RV14501Proof_FullFront.png [ 930.29 KiB | Viewed 21175 times ]

RV14501Proof_FullBack.png [ 717.28 KiB | Viewed 21175 times ]

this one is a proofing body that will eventually become inventory. current plans are to finish this light weight Alder in gloss black and mate it with a Maple/Maple neck with black blocks.

the modern C shaped neck has a 1-7/8" wide nut, and is thinner than most 5-string necks @ .77" thick at the first fret. I've designed this neck platform to accommodate a 1-3/4" nut width with a simple modification to the perimeter curve used to control the tool path. It can also be adjusted to accommodate a 17.5/18mm spaced bridge in either nut width. the 1-7/8" nut with 19mm spaced bridge is standard.

Author:  bhunt1 [ January 5th, 2015, 2:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

Very nice! What pickups in this?

Author:  Rodent [ January 5th, 2015, 4:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

the first unit delivered of the updated model will have a RJ5s set (RGW wound J5 split-coils) installed. the body here will be finished in the same paint shop batch, but after the commissioned unit is complete.

for the 5.2 model a set of RJ5 single-coils will be standard, and the RJ5s set will be an available upgrade option. other pickups, including a J5 'shorty' set (two J4 bridge sized covers) could be accommodated as a custom option should there be interest to do so.

I'm also getting the nudge to reconsider the Black with blocked M/M neck and instead go SFG with pearloid blocked M/PF neck. The final color scheme will probably be determined on the day I send it off to paint, or if somebody was to secure it with a deposit. My paint guy does a wonderful SFG, Daphne Blue, LPB, and CAR, and it'd be easy to swap necks to a fretboard that better suits a different color if need be.

This specific body is not clear finish grade, so trans or semi-trans finishes are not in its future.

I should also note that the rear routed cavity and battery boxes are an upgrade option. The standard configuration is a top routed passive configuration.

Author:  Rodent [ June 13th, 2015, 1:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

getting the final neck tweaks worked took a lot more effort than planned, but I think it'll be well worth it that I didn't rush this to production before it felt just right.

here's a few in-production images of the first lefty VRB 5.2 neck to hit production. this one includes a roasted Pau Ferro fretboard and will soon have white pearloid blocks installed. going to be a real looker and player for sure

FretboardAlignment_RearContourCut.jpg [ 70.54 KiB | Viewed 20606 times ]
RF14501_RearContourCut2.jpg [ 41.31 KiB | Viewed 20606 times ]
RF14501_FretboardFreshlySlotted_ReadyForBlockCavities.jpg [ 58.01 KiB | Viewed 20606 times ]
RF14501_ReadyToInstallBlocks.jpg [ 57.68 KiB | Viewed 20606 times ]
RF14501_BlockCavitiesCloseUp.jpg [ 114.41 KiB | Viewed 20606 times ]

Author:  Rodent [ June 14th, 2015, 1:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

block cavity corners carefully detailed and pearloid blocks fit with fine sandpaper prior to being secured in the cavities with wood dust tinted epoxy

once this is cured the blocks will be rough leveled to within .03" of the fretboard surface, and then the entire fretboard leveled, trued, and detailed ahead of installing the side dots, releiving the sharp fretboard edge, and pressing in the frets

RF14501_FretboardBlocksInstalled.jpg [ 184.36 KiB | Viewed 20582 times ]

Author:  Rodent [ June 26th, 2015, 8:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

blocks leveled, and ready to detail the fretboard ahead of installing frets. that fretboard sure came out sweet :D

RF14501_BlocksRoughLeveled.jpg [ 107.9 KiB | Viewed 20497 times ]

Author:  J-meister [ June 27th, 2015, 3:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: VRB basses in progress

Nice work man, so detailed!

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