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Fretting an unlined fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Scopaz, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. Scopaz

    Scopaz Supporting Member

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    I have been considering purchasing an unlined fretless bass with the intent of having it fretted. The bass is a custom bass that even though it has a bolt on neck, getting a new neck made for it is not an option I want to explore. I spoke with a friend who is also a repairman who suggested that it might be difficult to properly fret.

    Are there any luthier types around who can chime in on this and help me understand why I could or should not fret this fretless bass? I also know the bass has a 34" scale and has side dots already where the the common fret positions would be noted like 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, etc... The bass is a Fender Steve Bailey bass.

    As a player with limited knowledge of luthiery, please help me understand this guys. Thanks.
  2. Selta

    Selta

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    Uncompensated endorsing user: EBMM
    Instead of an entire new neck, I would advocate looking for a luthier (or the original builder) to put a new fretboard on it, this time with frets. It's going to be spendy, though.
  3. Scopaz

    Scopaz Supporting Member

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    I guess it wouldn't hurt for me to add that it is a fretless Fender Steve Bailey bass.
  4. bkbirge

    bkbirge Supporting Member

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    There was a fretted in the TB classifieds not too long ago, might be better off going that route.
  5. Scopaz

    Scopaz Supporting Member

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    The thing is I don't want the fender frets or fret job. I want banjo frets and I am scrapping all those lame Fender electronics. I don't mind spending the dough to have it fretted, but if it is not going to play in tune properly, that would be a waste of dough. And that is what I DON'T want to do.
  6. lowfreq33

    lowfreq33

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    Every bass neck is fretless before the frets are put in. I don't see why this bass would be any different.
  7. Scopaz

    Scopaz Supporting Member

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    Part of what I was told was that because of the location of the nut. I feel like you that why is that any different? That's why the bridge has adjustable saddles.
  8. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Supporting Member

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    I wouldn't bother, just get something fretted you like from the outset.
  9. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Don't just TalkBass - PlayBass! Supporting Member

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    I agree. Why take a bass that is probably not that common to begin with and change a bunch of stuff on it?

    Re: the nut location; it is in the same location as a fretted neck, but the strings slots are a lot lower so that too would have to be changed out on this bass.
  10. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51

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    If you have a luthier in mind, talk to him about it. IMO, there should not be a problem doing it, especially if the neck can come off. And yes, it will probably be a little spendy; but if that's what you want to do to that bass, by all means do it. I understand these "Project Urges"; I have a few of them going on right now, myself. Good luck with yours! (But, Banjo frets....?)
  11. Scopaz

    Scopaz Supporting Member

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    I appreciate everyone's comments. I do.

    However, my question isn't about whether or not I should do this mod to this bass, more so about whether or not it can indeed be done properly.
  12. Scopaz

    Scopaz Supporting Member

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    I have banjo frets in all of my other basses and they are what I like. Try them, you might like them.
  13. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Don't just TalkBass - PlayBass! Supporting Member

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    It can be done properly, even the side dots can be filled in and new dots drilled and inserted, if I understand you correctly that the dots are at the fret positions.
  14. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1

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    Your question has been answered.

    It will most likely need a new nut slotted to the appropriate height and the frets need to be installed as if it were a new neck under construction.
  15. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

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    Not a fan personally.

    I am no luthier OP but I really do not see how this could be a problem, the bass is a 34" Fender bass, aside form the 2 extra strings I would think it is pretty standard.

    Please post results if you do decide to go through with it.
  16. Scopaz

    Scopaz Supporting Member

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    Thanks guys. I appreciate your time.
  17. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Sponsored by Jagermeister Supporting Member

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    Absolutely! Why not? As the other poster mentioned, every neck started fretless. No, the nut is not in a different spot.
    The luthiers (or repairman) have a fret-gauging pattern that lays out on the fingerboard, it starts wherever your nut is which is the same as a fretted bass. This conversion job happens all the time around the world.

    I had my first Wal bass converted to fretted. It was an unlined board. Turned out beautiful and played flawless.
  18. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

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    I can only imagine the response if this thread was about fretting an unfretted Wal... BLASPHEMY!!! ;)
  19. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Sponsored by Jagermeister Supporting Member

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    If you ever read through the Wal registry, you's see many Wals have been converted to fretless, and many others converted to fretted. A few of them belong in the Wal club here, just not announced.
    You should see basschat, it's a regular occurrence in Europe. The kicker.....it didn't affect the sales of any of them

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