De-fretting a bass
So I'm thinking about getting a nice new bass and having my old bass de-fretted by my local luthier.
The bass is a Warwick Rockbass Corvette $$ 5-string. I've had him do some work for me in the past, so I know he does good work.
Anyone who has had this done (on any bass) have any input? How does the fretboard hold up? It's not ebony. It's rosewood, I believe. Does a once fretted bass play well after it has been defretted?
If he's great at defretting then it should turn out great. Otherwise there may be problems.
The deal with defretting is that the slots where the frets were will weaken the neck and cause problems if you don't fill them right. Some wood filler won't do. You need to clean the slots and really glue some nice light hardwood veneer in there so the wood is back to one piece. Obviously that is a lot of detail work. That's why I say removing the old fingerboard and installing a new fretless one is about the same amount of work.
If you really want rosewood and a lined neck that's OK but be sure the slots are correctly filled. Also another problem with defretting a fretted neck is the markers are all in the wrong places. It's not too bad if the slot fillers are decently visible from the side, but it makes the dots mostly useless and if you have other fretless basses with side dots in the fretless places the fretted dots will tend to drive you nuts and you'll have to deal with that somehow (LEDs, stick-on markers etc.).
I had a Jazz with a rosewood fingerboard de-fretted; the empty fret slots were filled in with maple strips, then the neck was coated with epoxy.
12 years later, it continues to sound and feel great. I'm glad I did it.
Thanks bassbenj and essa372! I'll ask him about getting an ebony board, as well as filling in the slots with wood and having it epoxied. I kinda want it to have lines in it, to give me a visual for learning. But maybe that'd be less detail work. Something he can just paint or draw on, or something to that effect. Not really sure what would need to be done. But I never thought about a new fingerboard, or the wood fillings. I would've just told him to put some wood filler in!
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