On February 23, 2013, Better Mousetrap Guitars had the good fortune of having the 5-string single-cut prototype taken on tour with the Ann Arbor, MI band Taproot.

After the tour wrapped up, Phil Lipscomb decided to commission a 4-string that he could use while not rocking out with Taproot.

This page will contain specifications of and the build progress, start to finish, of his bass. 


  • Better Mousetrap Guitars Aurora body shape
  • 35" scale, 24 frets
  • Slab walnut wings (reclaimed from a barn that stood in Kentucky for over 100 years)
  • Curly maple, walnut, and padauk neck
  • Maple fretboard
  • Padauk knobs and electronics cover
  • Kent Armstrong soapbar pickups
  • Aguilar OBP-3 preamp
  • Volume w/P-P to passive, Blend, Bass, Mid w/P-P frequency select, and Treble controls
  • Black Hipshot Ultralite tuners
  • Bllack Hipshot A-style bridge

9 March 2013 

First trip to Armstrong Millworks to purchase materials and get the barn beam worked down this morning. Neck is now in one piece, wings are sanded smooth and ready for cut out.

10 March 2013

Ran a 5k in Ann Arbor this morning, I feel like it's almost fitting that I made more progress on Phil's bass today. Jointed down the neck (curly maple does crazy things) and sanded it smooth, cut out the wings and sanded them to shape, and roughed in the electronics cavity in the treble-side wing.

13 March 2013

Got the wings rounded over tonight. I was really glad to see that the knots were really stable and didn't do anything funny when I put the round over on them. 

24 March 2013

Tried something a little different with regard to gluing down the headstock veneer this time around. To prevent the wedge from sliding when I clamped it down, I drilled some holes and used some spare Ikea dowels to hold the wedge in place as the clamp pressure was applied; overall, I'm really happy with the result of this experience. 

16 April 2013

Unclamped the headstock veneer and cut the truss rod slot.  The way the center pieces of padauk and maple veneers show up in the reveal turned out really great.

20 April 2013

Made some more progress on Phil's bass today. The neck is all tapered and ready to have the back contour cut in and the electronics cover is all cut out with the new Better Mousetrap Guitars logo inlayed. 

21 April 2013

Made quite a bit of headway today. Slotted the fretboard, sanded down the electronics cover with the inlaid logo, prototyped some knob layouts, and started gluing up the headstock ears.  

All in all, one hell of a day in the shop.

28 April 2013

No shortage of things getting done this weekend.  Here's a run down in no particular order:

  • Cut the back contours on the neck
  • Narrowed the fretboard in preparation for gluing
  • Glued the fretboard down
  • Trimmed the fretboard to size
  • Set the padauk dot inlay at the 12th fret

  • Finished thickness sanding down the headstock ears
  • Filled the voids and cracks in the walnut
  • Cut the biscuit slots in the neck, headstock, and wings
  • Checked headstock ear placement and laid out the headstock

12 May 2013

Fretboard radius sanded in, side dots set in and smoothed, frets pressed in, and frets ends all sanded down. Not a bad weekend back at it after vacation!

18 May 2013

Got an early start on things this morning and the productivity didn't stop.  Cut out the headstock ears and glued those in place. Drilled the holes for the control pots and started the preamp pre-wire on a dummy board. 

23 May 2013

Unclamped the body and wings last night. It's official: she's in one piece! 

24 May 2013

Cut the neck through to length, rounded over the heel, cut in the belly cut, ground in the neck/body transition, and roughed in the neck contours. Yeah, today was a good day.

31 May 2013

Made some more progress on smoothing out some of the contours tonight. All the edges of the body are nice and smooth now and aside from some thickness tweaking, the neck is probably about there, too. The only contour I'm not super set with as of yet is the bass wing into the neck. There's always tomorrow to iron that out, though. 

10 June 2013

Some incremental progress this weekend. Finished contouring the neck and neck/body transition, carved in the headstock reveal, drilled the bridge mounting holes and string-through holes, and routed the recess for the battery box. 

24 June 2013

Knobs turned down and polished and the finish starts...now.

29 June 2013

First coat of walnut oil went on today after I buffed the sanding sealer down a little. The ripple in the flame maple is just unreal and the character in the walnut is like nothing I've seen out of walnut before. I cannot wait to finish this piece! 

30 June 2013 

Added another coat of walnut oil to the finish after buffing down with some 0000 Scotch-Brite. Not too much to see beyond what's already here, but the finish is building nicely.  

5 July 2013

Finally assembly has started! 

19 July 2013

Check out the gallery!