Any advice on Warmoth fretless neck swap?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by pkstone, Nov 19, 2012.


  1. pkstone

    pkstone Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2011
    Sacramento
    I hope this is the correct forum for this. I've been enjoying playing my fretless Steinberger so much that I want to convert my MIJ Jazz to fretless as well. Warmoth necks seem to have a good reputation here, so my thinking is heading that way. So many options, though...

    The bass is a lefty with an Oly-white body, and the original (fretted) neck is maple with a rosewood fingerboard. I play rock and jazz and I'm not trying for a "Jaco sound". I love playing fretless, but I don't like my playing to scream out "This is a fretless (mwahh)!" (if you know what I mean).

    I think maple will be fine for the shaft wood, and matches the current, but what fingerboard material? I'm thinking ebony would be durable and look nice against the white and maple.

    Finished or unfinished? I don't know the trade-offs here at all.

    I'm leaning toward the graphite truss rods, as this bass is a little neck-heavy in its current incarnation.

    I know I ultimately have to make up my own mind on all this, but I'd appreciate hearing opinions, and especially anecdotes from those that have done something like this. Thanks.
     
  2. pkstone

    pkstone Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2011
    Sacramento
    Well, I guess I'm on my own on this. Anybody?
     
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  4. I don't know too much about fretless basses but spent enough time around the warmoth users to know about the woods. Ebony sounds like a good choice for fretboard wood for the reasons you said.

    Maple is nice for the neck however it does require a finish fullstop. Which leads me onto my next point that warmoth offers alot of woods that do not need to be finished which to alot of us warmoth users means that a neck is often alot faster to play on.

    A good unfinished alternative to maple is canary as it has similar properties to maple and doesn't require a finish.

    Guessing we shouldn't advertise other forums here but there is a warmoth unofficial forum that if you post this question there you will get alot of suggestions (And Opinions but just make sure it turns into the bass you want not what they thinks best ;) )
     
    kkaarrll likes this.
  5. dmrogers

    dmrogers Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Eastman, GA
    At our gig last week, we had a guest bassist. He had a new (to him) fretless. It was a Jazz body with EMG pickups. I am pretty sure it was an MIM body.

    The neck was a Warmoth. Rosewood board, unlined. Satin finish. I got a chance to play it. The neck was really smooth. I really liked the neck. It even got me thinking about putting a Warmoth neck on my MIM Jazz. I really like the fact that it was unlined. It did have position dots on the side of the fretboard.

    He used this bass on several tunes and it sounded great.

    So, to answer your question, I don't have a lot of details on the neck, BUT, I really liked it. Very solid neck. I don't think you can go wrong with the Warmoth.
     
  6. pkstone

    pkstone Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2011
    Sacramento
    I will check out the unfinished canary idea, and thank you for the pointer to the Warmoth forum; I didn't know about that.


    Yeah, I'll be going unlined with side dots, too. Thanks for this feedback.
     
  7. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    I'm primarily a fretless player. Lots of neck woods to choose from, and likewise... lots of opinions about what the "best" materials are.

    I've tried lots of exotic wood combinations, had more than a few instruments made for me, and at the end of the day I've gone back to tried and true. So for me, I lean towards maple necks with either Ebony or Pau Ferro finger boards. Rosewood is possibly a bit soft if you're inclined towards round wound strings.
     
  8. pkstone

    pkstone Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2011
    Sacramento
    I probably won't go with roundwounds, but I'd still like a nice hard finger board.

    Thank you for giving me the benefit of your experience.
     
  9. pkstone

    pkstone Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2011
    Sacramento
    I guess I'll be going completely fretless after this is done. I still sometimes worry (fret?) that I'll need frets for something, but I guess I'll cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

    I'm curious (and pardon the slight derail of my own thread, but), do you feel you *need* a fretted instrument sometimes?
     
  10. If you're a good player you can make a fretless sound like a fretted but you can never make a fretted sound fretless. I'd say go ahead, convert that Jazz and rock it!
     
  11. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    In my case, after many years, I've "bonded" with a particular instrument, in much the same way classical musicians tend to bond with just one instrument. And for me, that instrument happens to be fretless. It just feels, sounds, plays right.

    However, if I'm doing a session and the requirement (for whatever reason) is that I play a fretted Precision, or a fretted Jazz, or a fretted whatever... I'll bring the requested instrument... as well as my fretless.... and do what's needed for the task at hand.

    But for my own musical projects I'll 99.9% of the time turn to this one instrument that is "my" instrument.
     
  12. pkstone

    pkstone Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2011
    Sacramento
    That's how I feel about my fretless Steinberger. I'm converting my Jazz to fretless so that I will at least *occasionally* play it -- hopefully more than occasionally. Plus it will be able to act as a backup for gigs.

    As I don't currently have to worry about getting called in for session work, I'll relax about keeping a fretted instrument around, I think. Thanks for your perspective.
     
  13. Pinheas

    Pinheas

    Jan 15, 2012
    So Cal
    I've been playing fretless since '76 when I bought a new fretless P-bass. Maple neck, rosewood fingerboard. In 1981 I started modifying the bass starting with a California company, Boogie Body, neck. Birdseye maple, ebony fingerboard. I still have that bass and consider it my main instrument. But as I started playing many different styles, I bought both fretted 4 & 5 strings.

    I can get some nice funk sounds out of my fretless but to really slap, I think you have to use a fretted. You've got metal hitting metal - not metal hitting wood. It's just different.

    I'm looking at modifying another bass and will probably stick with Birdseye maple but this time use a Pao Ferro fingerboard since it's almost as dense as Ebony but it's warmth is somewhere bewtween ebony and rosewood.
     
  14. pkstone

    pkstone Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2011
    Sacramento
    Holy zombified thread! I can't believe it was three years ago that I started thinking about this neck swap. Well, it's a done deal now. My jazz bass now has a fretless Warmoth neck, (unfinished) Goncalo Alves with Ebony fingerboard. It came out great, and the Jazz has become my main player because it feels so nice under my fingers. I've been planning to post details about the rebuild, and hope to get to it soon, probably in the Fretless forum. Oh, and the neck dive is gone!
     
  15. Lownote38

    Lownote38

    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I have a Warmoth fretless Jazz neck, and I went with a poly finish and an ebony board on it.