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Returning a defretted bass to fretted state - best options?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by lossfizzle, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. lossfizzle

    lossfizzle

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    I recently ended up with a Korean Squier Jazz for free, more or less. This one is the first Squier I've ever seen that puts the Fender name / proper logo in the highlight position on the headstock ("Squier Series" in tiny script out where you'd normally see, say, "Affinity Series" these days). Pretty sure that's all factory, and maybe it's not all that weird, but I've never seen it in 25 years of gear-buying.

    Anyway, a previous owner defretted the bass, which has a rosewood board. They actually did a decently clean job - no tearout and the slots are actually looking pretty clean too. The downside: they left roundwounds on the bass for some reason after the conversion, so there are light winding-tracks down the length of the board under all four strings.

    I have no use whatsoever for a fretless, as-- sorry!-- I absolutely detest the sound of the things. But this thing looks really nice and could make a nice addition to the stable with some new pickups (the existing pickups are essentially contact microphones) and, y'know, frets.

    I'm wondering if this is a good first opportunity to try fret installing, something I really kinda need to learn to do anyway. I'm sure as heck not going to pay a luthier $150+ to do it on a bass that's almost certainly worth less than $200. But I worry this might be taking on more than I think I'm gonna be chewing.

    The wound-string wear on the board isn't really THAT deep as to be too worrisome to me personally, but I guess replacing the board altogether is also an option. Not sure if that's a BETTER option than just buying some wire and going for it with the board and cut slots I already have.

    And sure, I could just replace the neck altogether, I guess, but I'm not totally sure whether I can expect stock J necks to fit the pocket - and I actually really, really like the existing neck profile... to say nothing of the stage-friendly big-Fender logo already there with no further fuss on my part.

    Suggestions?
  2. macmanlou

    macmanlou Don't push it. Just let it fall. Supporting Member

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    Have the fret slots been filled with anything? Removing whatever was glued in there would make a refret more difficult. Otherwise, if you're looking at the time and materials needed as an investment in learning, then this is probably a good opportunity.
  3. lossfizzle

    lossfizzle

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    It does not appear they've been filled with anything, no, at least not to the level of the board itself or anywhere close. If they had been I would be walking away quickly. :) I should take a pic of the board and post it here, think I'll do that in a little bit.

    Further, the accountant / cheapskate in me is perplexed by the difficulty in assessing value on this thing. On one hand, it's a Squier. On the other hand, it's a fretless J with the Squier name willfully obscured in favor of the big F, and I suspect that may equate to some amount of value as is to someone. I just don't know how much. It might make more sense to sell this as is if the cash value would cover everything I'd need for a partscaster-Jazz build.

    I'm guessing the basic fretwire and other necessary stuff for a DIY refret will be around $40, $50... having never done this before, I also know I could be way wrong. There's also the risk of "messing up" a neck / instrument that POTENTIALLY has some degree of value vs. learning the process on a piece of wood, which is how I'd always expected my neck-making learning journey would begin. Decisions!
  4. landau roof

    landau roof Reupholstered User Supporting Member

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    It's going to be worth less than one in good condition with the frets intact. And they're not that rare, but they can be pretty nice.

    If you're interested in learning how to install frets, I would go for it.
  5. Chainsaw Willie

    Chainsaw Willie

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    I am pretty sure I have a bunch more than $40 or $50 in the tools to refret, level, and finish frets.

    You shouldn't do this if you are on the cheap, but if you are interested in learning how to do it, and willing to make a larger invesment in tools, then maybe it is worthwhile.

    For aquiring a cheap bass, it is not.

    Check Stuart MacDonald for an idea of how much money you need to drop to get the tools.
  6. maxgrant

    maxgrant Supporting Member

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    I have that wear on both of my fretlesses (though I use DR hi-beams so they don't cut as bad). If you put frets back on the bass it is irrelevant.

    For a $200 bass, that is.
  7. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

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    interesting dilemma and one i have faced as well. my first refret job was fairly disastrous. it was playable, but no one is going to want to play it since i did a poor job. i lacked experience and the proper tools. the proper tools for refretting are fairly pricey. almost certainly not worth it for a one-time job on a sub-$200. bass.
  8. lossfizzle

    lossfizzle

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    I'm always interested in doing everything cheaply. Otherwise, what's the fun? :)

    Stew-Mac definitely has the nicest / fastest stuff for any given job like this, I'm sure... but in my dilettante studies of others' build threads, it always seems that that there's the Stew-Mac way, and then there's the MacGyver way. If you are producing on a pro-luthier scale, investing in a Stew-Mac $200 fretting kit makes total sense. If you are me, with scotch for blood, and can't foresee ANY time in your life when you're EVER turning out more than one or two guitars a year purely for your own shiz'n'gigz (and even that is probably at least 3-5 years and a new-house-with-suitable-shop-area away), the MacGyver route starts to make more sense by comparison.

    So I am thinking more along the lines of things like DIY fret benders and all that. I could still be way off in my estimate, and I'm still definitely figuring out what it will really require.
  9. lossfizzle

    lossfizzle

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    Hrm, yeah, this is my worst fear. Learning experiences are learning experiences but I'd rather not remove *all* possible value from the bass. I already threw down on the Stew-Mac vs. MacGyver approach above - what proper tools did you think were the most sorely missed in your attempt?
  10. sotua

    sotua

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    I had the same issue. I took it to my local luthier, who replaned the fretboard (turning it from standard 9" radius to sexy 12" radius) and reinstalled frets using vintage thin wire. Kickass resulting bass is my main player.

    And my bass too says Fender in big letters and "Squier series" in small type.
    [​IMG]
    According to the serial number it's a mid-90's MIJ Fender. It's ugly but it has kickass tone
  11. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

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    fret files, crowning files, etc. and a press.

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