1st Bass Build to fret or not to fret

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Snort, Mar 20, 2011.


  1. I am currently about 1/2 way through my first bass Build, Its a 5 string thru neck solid Maple guitar all made from the same tree.

    Fretboard has not been laid out yet, and I have yet to fit a bridge or machine heads. but my problem is I cant decide to make it fretless or to fit frets.

    If I make it fretles, but cut fret slots and fill with wood inlay will it be possible to convert it to a fretted bass later If I change my mind, also will I have to shim the bridge if I later convert to a freted Bass.

    Some experienced help would be appreciated

    DSCF0116.jpg

    DSCF0115.jpg

    A couple of photos to be going on with I intend to fill in the gaps between Pickups with Spalted maple inlays, finish will be stained with amber through to deep cherry.
     
  2. gbarcus

    gbarcus Commercial User

    Jul 20, 2008
    Minneapolis & St.Paul, MN
    Owner of Barcus Basses barcusbasses.com
    You can always convert from one to the other. I personally won't ever cut fret slots on a fretboard that is already attached to a neck. Too much of a pain to get them straight and spaced correctly.
    On the other hand, if you are going to cut them either way, then I say go fretted. if you don't like it, you can always pull them and go naked, er I mean fretless.
    Just be sure to tape around the frets if you do pull them to catch the little chips that tend to pop up when you pull the frets so you can easily glue them back down.
     
  3. tjclem

    tjclem Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    If you are going to play bass play bass "we don' need no stinkin' frets" :bag: :D
     
  4. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    If you're having this much trouble deciding, then you obviously need to build one of each. So my recommendation is to make a decision for this one, then LEAVE IT. Once this one is done, you'll be itching to build another, and then you'll have your pair!

    To your original question - converting from one to the other will require addition/removal of frets, bridge adjustment (probably no shimming needed), and nut modification (deepening slots/shimming/making a new one).

    You want my opinion? Go fretless with this one.
     
  5. gbarcus

    gbarcus Commercial User

    Jul 20, 2008
    Minneapolis & St.Paul, MN
    Owner of Barcus Basses barcusbasses.com
    +1
     
  6. AlexKralles

    AlexKralles

    Jan 13, 2011
    Bass looks classy as hell. Very Nice. My vote is fretless!
     
  7. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD

    May 20, 2005
    I'd definitely go fretless on that.
     
  8. Thanks for the replies, and the kind remarks (they might not be so kind if you had witnessed the cussing and swearing as I put the router entirely through the body whilst cutting the Pickup recesses) (since fixed by the way)

    I think you are right I need to make a decision and stick with it, so I am going with fretless.

    Ok so this prompts another question will the maple fretboard be up to the extra wear delivered with a fretless, or will I need an extra strong finish like epoxy to make it endure?

    I put on the first of several coats of stain last night so if interested will post further photos as I progress
     
  9. gbarcus

    gbarcus Commercial User

    Jul 20, 2008
    Minneapolis & St.Paul, MN
    Owner of Barcus Basses barcusbasses.com
    OUCH!!!
     
  10. gbarcus

    gbarcus Commercial User

    Jul 20, 2008
    Minneapolis & St.Paul, MN
    Owner of Barcus Basses barcusbasses.com
    As long as you don't use roundwounds, a non-epoxied finish should do you good. Nice thing about a fretless is that it can easily be refinished when ware occurs.
     
  11. tjclem

    tjclem Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    You can do some coats of ultra thin CA glue on the fingerboard to help harden it too. Please do that outside and stay up wind of it though....t
     
  12. Thought I would upload the latest picture after staining the wings with Cherry stain and installing the inlay on the neck.

    Still need to stain the back of the neck but I need to cut fret/inlay slots now and Ive been putting this off as I know it will be tricky.
    DSCF0120-1.jpg
    http://i1099.photobucket.com/albums/g392/Andy_Pearce/DSCF0120-1.jpg
     
  13. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Jul 23, 2021

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