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Coating My Fender Fretless J Bass - Help

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Saint, Aug 16, 2000.

  1. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    I just bought a fretless MIM Fender Jazz and am intending to coat the fretboard to give it a more Jaco/Buzz Bass tone.
    But I need some help from those who have done this.

    1. In the recent BASS PLAYER article on do-it-yourself fretless, they recommend using a polyesther surfacing agent.
    Does anyone who has done this have a product name recommendation?

    2. In previous threads on this subject, folks have talked about sanding this to a high sheen. Before I ruin my bass, I'd like to have a bit more specifics on the sanding. Did you wet sand or dry sand? What paper did you start with and what did you finish it with?

    3. If there is any sage words of advice you can provide based upon your success or failure, please let me know.

    Thanks for your help!
  2. I too have a fretless Jazz standard. Maybe it would be worthwhile to experiment with different strings, amp settings, technique, etc., before coating the neck. The fretless necks I've played that are finished have an artificial sound to me that just doesn't compare to the sound of roundwounds diggging into rosewood. If you are worried about wear, perhaps try some nickle strings rather than stainless.

    I'm still experimenting with my Jazz bass although I've played other fretless necks for years, all of them were unfinished and all but a self-defretted maple one held up fine for years.

    I don't know if Jaco had a finished neck or not, I've always assumed he DIDN'T but I have no idea. Anyone?
  3. gmstudio99


    Mar 11, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    I, too, have the MIM J fretless and I completely agree with Blip...try some nickel rounds before doing anything drastic. That was the only change I made to mine and I love it.

    (FWIW, I hardly ever use the neck pickup. I know "fretless jazz w/ bridge soloed" is a cliche, but it's a cliche I adore.)

  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    On all of the basses that Jaco defretted himself, he used Petit's Poly Poxy, a boat epoxy available in Florida(and probably elsewhere in boat shops as well)boat shops.
  5. MatW


    May 10, 2000
    UK, Swindon
    Hi Saint,

    I have a MIA jazz which I got the fingerboard coated about three months ago. I got the job done because after only a couple of weeks with the bass (I was using flatrounds too) I noticed considerable wear to the fingerboard.

    My advice would be to have it done professionally. It didn't cost me much, and the results are superb.
  6. Yeah, but wasn't that just to fill in the gaps from the frets he pulled out with his teeth?
  7. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Yeah, but wasn't that just to fill in the gaps from the frets he pulled out with his teeth? [/B][/QUOTE]

    Thanks for the feedback so far.

    The coating on the fretboard was crucial to Jaco's sound along with (I believe)steel roundwounds. You're right, it will drastically alter the sound of the bass --but that's what I want to happen. I'll never come close to playing like him (nor would I even try), but I do love his tone. And I also love the feel and tone of a Pedulla Buzz bass, which is also coated.

    I'll consider having it done professionally, but in the meantime, I'm still looking for detailed input from those who have actually done this successfully.

    Again, thanks for the input, so far. Keep it coming --please!
  8. Player


    Dec 27, 1999
    USA Cincinnati, OH
  9. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA

    Thanks, buddy. That link was really helpful!
  10. Scok


    Apr 20, 2000
    I have a custom fretless with an ebony fingerboard. I played it for a few months and it was wearing pretty fast (I tend to play a little hard and slap alot) so I switched to GHS pressure wounds for about a year. Now that I really hate them I want to play rounds and am having my neck coated as we speak.

    I e-mail Micheal Tobias with this same question and here is he (and other Luthiers) has suggested.

    1. use a the marine epoxy (I have a specific brand he gave me, but it's written down at the guitar shop, if you want it e-mail me or I'll try to remember to post it)

    2. sand the neck to before applying (I guess to get rid of oils and give a scathcy surface to adhere to)

    3. Apply in several thin coats (My guitar guy is going to use a sponge brush to apply it)

    4. then use use a high grit (2000?) to finish

    My guitar tech says that the epoxy may be self leveling and a finishing sand might not be required, we'll see.

    My view is try it. If you don't like it, it can be sanded off.

    (PS, warning may be a plug, if anybody wants an extermly high quality custom bass John at Northwood guitars is the man. He ships where ever and you make all the decisions. My bass was $2400CAN including tax. And it rocks! Most beutiful bass you've ever seen, I kinda ripped off a thumb bass body, but nicer.)

    Well hope this helps.

    It should be done in 2weeks (going to Mexico) so I'll tell you how it went and what we did when I get back.
  11. RussP


    Jun 15, 2000
    Howdy all;

    I just recently took an old P bass neck, removed the fretts,filled the gaps with tinted wood filler, sanded and coated with marine polyurthane. I applied the poly with a sponge brush with 6 thin coats sanding in-between and it looks and sounds great. I didn't have to sand the finish coat it came out smooth as a babby's butt.

    Yes the coated neck has a different sound but it's much more fun to play than my old MIM frettless (RIP)!

    I say go for it! It's only a $300 Bass and you could always sand it off. Now if I could only hit those harmonics like JACO!!!

  12. Fritz1


    Jun 10, 2007
    I'm in the middle of doing the epoxy coat on my bass. I am using Interlux Marine Epoxy and have applied thin coats. Every coat seems to look great when applied, but as it cures, it seems to "shrink" leaving behind holes in the otherwise smooth surface. Any ideas on what I may be doing wrong? I am using a foam brush and have sanded with 400 grit paper between coats. The neck is in an air conditioned room, so humidity should not be an issue. Trying to get that high gloss finish is eluding me.
  13. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
    Did you cleaned the fingerboard before aplying the epox? you might be using too much catalizer wich makes the reaction faster, a fast reaction is hotter than a slower one and high temperatures can create bubbles on the fresh coat... and end in cracks when the coat is hardened due to high molecular tension
  14. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Don't sweat the fisheyes that show up as the epoxy dries. I experienced the same thing when I epoxied my fingerboard (used the Mirror Coat stuff). I cleaned the bejeezus out of my fingerboard and still had those suckers pop up. Just put the coats on thin and take your time. Each coat will have fewer of those dry spots. Eventually they will stop showing up. Took me about 4 coats before I didn't see any dry ovals showing up.

    I never got that high gloss finish till I spent some time working the finish with steel wool. I just did a very light sand inbetween coats. I waited till I was done with applying coats to really get after it with sandpaper and steel wool.

    PS: Make sure that you give it extra time to cure (even more than recommended) before you string it up. At least with the Mirror Coat, it seemed to continue to harden for about a week or two after the last application. It was advertised as only needing 24 hours to set.
  15. Fritz1


    Jun 10, 2007
    Kael & Nemesis,
    Thanks for the reply! I'll work some more on the finish with 000 steel wool. Still finding some high spots on it, so it will be a while before I de-string and polish.

    Nemesis, I was advised to use a slow set mixture, which did cause problems when it became too slow...it not only did not harden, it ruined the layers beneath! What a mess! I took it back to nearly the wood and started over. And yes, the wood was fully sanded, wiped with alcohol and re-sanded, then steel wooled and wiped again before the first coat went down. If that don't clean it, nothing will!
  16. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
    Yikes i wasnt aware of that thx for sharing it, im starting to coat my bass soon too maybe on monday ill share my experience once im done.
  17. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works

    Some brands of steel wool have minute traces of oil on the wool. If this was true of the steel wool you used, it could actually have been the source for your fisheyes

    Be sure to use a steel wool intended for finishing work if you're utilizing it on something that is sensitive to surface oils

    all the best,

  18. Subscribing.

    This is good information, and seeing how I just defretted a bass, I'll need it!

    To make my post useful, how much have you guys been spending on the epoxy? Seeing as I'll only use it on my bass I wont' need much at all and I don't want to spend too much.

  19. Moose308


    May 3, 2002
    I am curious about the logevity of your "self-defretted maple". How quickly did they wear down? Similar to a rosewood board, or much faster?

    The reason I as is that blank-plank maple fretless gives me tingly feelings deep inside, the likes I have never had.

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