BunnyBass Field Trip: Zon Guitars (continued).
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The pin router. If you thought Zon basses are mass produced with computer controlled CNC machines - wrong! Here's the little pin router and templates (on the wall) that Joe uses to cut out all the cavities - pickup holes, control cavities, and so on. The machinery Joe uses to build his basses is mostly all the same stuff you'd find in a high school woodshop. No magic machines here - the difference is in how they are used.
A lot of sanding. Another thing that surprised us was how very rough the bodies were after being cut out and the edges radiused (above left - Joe dusts off a body and prepares it for sanding). The only thing that happens between this stage and the smooth, perfectly formed bodies of a completed Zon bass (above right) is just a tremendous amount of sanding with progressively finer and finer grades of sandpaper. The process requires a lot of elbow grease and patience. We asked Joe why he doesn't use CNC machines to speed up production like so many other bass companies have done, and he said that he just likes the feel of the finished product better when it is done by hand. Considering how nicely his basses come out, we would not argue with this.
The neck. This is what the bass necks look like after they are removed from the mold and the main parts are glued together. As you can see, at this stage they look really awful. We had no idea that the perfect glassy surfaces of the finished Zon necks came from something that starts out looking like this! We actually had the false (naive!) idea that the Zon folks just pop them out of molds in perfect or nearly perfect shape! Seeing how rough the necks look at this point really gave us a sense of appreciation for the amount of work that has to go into making each one beautiful - again, a tremendous amount of sanding, shaping, buffing, and so on is required. Making the necks this way is not only extremely labor intensive, it is also extremely expensive - just the material costs alone easily exceed ten times the cost of a wood neck.
The finished neck: a tremendous amount of labor and love goes into crafting the necks in order to ensure that each and every one is absolutely perfect.
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