Overwater Build Diary

Welcome to this thread where you’ll be able to see how 2 amazing custom Overwater basses are built for us by Chris May and his team from Carlisle (U.K.)overwater-logo




What you will see here is a comprehensive Build Diary with more than 100 pictures.

We’ve been working with Overwater for several years. Their instruments are simply top of the line, and some customers are already happy owners. Just an example: Swedish double bass/electric bass player Fredrik Johnson, whom we met when he was touring with the soprano Barbara Hendrix in a Jazz Standards tour, was looking for a 6 string bass that would have a perfect balance between lows, mids and highs. He had already owned several sixers, but some were too hollow, some too mid sounding, and he was not satisfied. We recommended Overwater based on our experience with those basses, so he ordered a beautiful Progress III 6 string, and he is a happy owner now, as you can see in his face ;-)


Overwater’s history started 30 years ago. 2009 marks their 30th Anniversary in this business, so when you get one of their basses, you are taking advantage of such vast experience. From the start, Overwater’s philosophy was to treat the bass as an acoustic instrument primarly, taking great care in wood selection and treatment. Only when you have the right “furniture” you are on the right track to get a great sounding bass. Then it’s the turn for hardware and electronics. Chris May tried what was available in the market and found these parts were not up to what he needed, so he started to develop his own bridges and electronics. This allows Overwater to control the full process of the building process and control the quality thoroughly.



We have this amazing Progress III 6 string in stock ready for shipment, and we are letting it go for a very special price, something that we know will be welcome. Don’t miss this chance to get a professional handmade bass for a great price!

Overwater Progress III, 6 string


Price: 3600€


Click here to see the details of this bass.


Click on this picture to see a summary of the building process.



The two basses that are being built for Doctorbass.net belong oin the Perception Series. There’s a fretted and a fretless bass, both 5 string. The Perception basses are smaller, lighter and more rounded. They use the same woods for tops, bodies and necks, as well as the same electronics and hardware as other series, but are more affordable, and this is something that comes at the right time! We expect these Perception basses will be very successful.


Perception Bass, details



Chapter 1

Wood selection. Chris sent loads of pics of available woods for the top, headstock and fingerboard. For the tops we set on these amazing pieces of Figured English Walnut (fort he fretted) and Burl Madrone (for the fretless).

Chapter 2

Maple for the necks. Here you can see the 3 planks of maple used to build the necks. Using several pieces of wood to build a neck, which is known as multilamination, helps keep the neckmore stable. Each piece of wood will react differently to tension, humidity content over the years, so using a single piece would be risky. In this case, the neck benefits from the added stability you get when you combine different pieces of wood.

Chapter 3

Angled back headstock. Once the 3 maple laminates are glued together, an angle is cut at one end for the headstock. This will give the needed string break angle over the nut for good tension and tuning stability, without the need of string trees.

Chapter 4

Creating the neck and wood for the tops. The woods for the tops ad headstock plates are cut to size. You can also see how the tops are bookmatched.

Chapter 5

Truss rods. Truss rods are installed in their channel.

Chapter 6

Bodies. Rough cut of the bodies, bookmatched tops and glued tops

Chapter 7

Fingerboards and shaped bodies. Once the truss rods are installed, the fingerboards are glued in. You can see how the fingerboards are precision routed to take the frets in one case, and wood shimes in the other for the lined fretless. Then you can see how the bodies start to take their definitive shape, with the comfortable forearm cut that lets the body wood be seen at the front.

Chapter 8

Pickups moulds. We asked Chris May to make wooden covers for the pickups. This adds a touch of class to these instruments, as the covers are made from the same type of woods as the tops.

Chapter 9

Lacquer, neck and fingerboards. In these last few days several coats of lacquer have been applied, sanded, then applied again… Then the necks have been hand carved for a comfortable shape and feel. Funally, the fingerboards have been fretted (in the case of the fretted bass) and lined (fretless bass).

Chapter 10

Neck carve and paintwork. Necks are hand shaped, and paintwork advances.

Chapter 11

Last stages. Chris sands with wool wire the body for a smooth finish, then makes the nuts and installs the machineheads. Then the John East designed preamp is installed into a really neat and clean control cavity. This preamp is very musical, and no doubt a great match to the handmade Armstrong pickups.

Chapter 12

Finished. Chris proudly shows us these two beauties before they are packed and shipped to Doctorbass.net

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Build Diary (with 95 pictures of the process).

Chris May comes out to the door of his shop in Carlisle to say goodbye!

The basses will hit Doctorbass.net in a few days, and we can’t wait to try them and show them to all the bass community. Keep an eye on our Website and Blog.



One Response to this post.

  1. Sesan's Gravatar

    Posted by Sesan on 15.04.09 at %1:%Apr %p

    Hi, I’m about travelling to their office/workshop in Carlisle, they’ve waited for a while though for me to come and finalise the spec of my Pro Delux III.

    I’m looking forward to it too

Respond to this post