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5 String fretless with Ebony fretboard for under $500

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tonylevinkix, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. tonylevinkix


    Sep 24, 2010
    O.K. Experts, geniuses and know-it-alls, I am jonesing for fretless 5 string. I've been playing bass for roughly 30 years. I went to my local guitar center and tried Ibanezs, Fenders, & Schecter; no offense to you rosewood guys but it's been a few years since I've played a rosewood fretboard and I didn't realize how much I hated them. My 4 string fretted is a P-bass type with maple fretboard and I love it. My 4 string fretless has a Carvin Ebony fretboard and I love it, I just want to broaden my horizons with a 5 or 6. I also found Ibanez strings were a little too close together for my taste. Both Fender and the Schecter had this ugly, annoying popping noise on the attack (maybe my style of playing but I never had this problem with my bass). I realize the bass on the rack is not set up well and probably has cheap strings but this was an eye-opening experience. I ebay bid on a Cort Curbow 5 string fretless with an "Ebonol" fretboard but didn't want to go over $250 and lost. I've almost decided to just buy an active, 5 string kit off of Carvin but that comes to $600. So, do you guys have any suggestions for a 5 string fretless with ebony fretboard for less than $500. Take it from me, on fretless, once you go ebony, you'll never go back to rosewood.
  2. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Sure I can tell you. How good are your luthier/wood skills?

    I just finished one of mine. It's an SX ursa 5er. I bought it fretted and then bought a maple fretless neck for it too. But the fretless neck was a nightmare. (wavey due to block inserts)

    So the plan was to convert to ebony "blank plank" fretless.

    You take the neck in question that you want to make fretless and have to remove the fingerboard. You use the steam iron + pry method (as seen on Youtube). Pretty soon the fingerboard is off.

    You buy an ebony fingerboard here:


    When you order it you get it shaped for you in their machine:


    I radiused mine to 12" (same as my G&L basses)

    It comes quite smooth and very nice! All the hard nasty work already done for you. You fit it to neck drawing around neck to make cutting line. Cut it out with some to spare for sanding and gorrilla glue to neck.

    Sand edges to fit and get a StewMac radius sanding block (12" radius) and some 100 300 and 600 sandpaper and finish neck surface. to really smooth super-fine finish. It really wasn't that much sanding!

    Install Black TUSQ nut from Graphtech:


    Treat Ebony with Fret Doctor which will make it look like a million!

    And setup bass. I used GHS pressure wound strings which can chew just a bit, but Ebony is pretty hard and can take it. If you want NO chews then use GHS Brite flats (ground wounds) or D'addario half rounds (same thing).

    For well under $500 this is the second BEST sounding fretless basses I own. As you say, Ebony makes all the difference!

    The BEST fretless bass I own is my USA G&L L-2500 (also Ebony) It simply kills. And it was only $600 used which is not THAT far out of your range.

    So there ya go.

    And you are right. I've got a few rosewood fretless basses and while they are sort of standard and OK, they really don't have that special something, do they? I agree ebony is the schnizit.
  3. tonylevinkix


    Sep 24, 2010
    Pulling fretboards is a little beyond my comfort level. I noticed Squier Deluxe makes an active fretted 5 string with an "Ebonol" fretboard for $330. It has been suggested to me to pull the frets on one of these. Does Ebonol feel as good as Ebony? I have built my basses from parts and they turn out excellent, how difficult is it to pull the frets on one of these? Also, I know a jazz neck is not quite as wide as a P so I'm not sure it'll be wide enough for my liking. Why can't Fender just offer this bass in fretless?
  4. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Taking a fingerboard off is much easier than it sounds!! And these inexpensive clamps make it easy to glue on:


    Just be sure to use hyde glue - preferably the granular kind you have to heat up rather than the bottled stuff.

    Don't settle for ebonol. It does not feel or look the same. You said it yourself about 'once you go ebony'.... I only have ebony fingerboards and love them! (although I would play an electric with a maple board).

    I agree with using a GraphTech nut... they make good stuff..
  5. tonylevinkix


    Sep 24, 2010
    Somebody chimed in and has offered to sell me a fretless Carvin 5, if I buy that one my mahogany 4 string fretless with Carvin ebony neck will be on the chopping block if anyone will be interested. Plays nice but alas, its a 4.

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