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Convert a Fretless to a fretted bass??? How?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dgce, May 25, 2011.

  1. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    There is this beautiful custom made bass at a price I can actually afford that has caught my eye. The problem is that its a fretless bass. Were it a conventional J or P styled instrument, I'd search eBay for a good deal on a used neck and replace it. But this thing is custom, i don't think I could replace the neck and its so beautiful, it would be criminal to do so anyway.

    Question, what does it take to "fret" a fretless neck? Very expensive? Stupid idea all together? De-fretting a neck seems to be fairly common. However in this case, adding frets, I really have no idea how practical it really is.

  2. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford

    Feb 15, 2008
    Perfect measurements and hard work.

    Or a thick wallet to have it done. ;)
  3. Find a reputable luthier and get a price quote
    It isnt as uncommon as you think since people get basses and guitars refretted every day
    Just make sure you do research on what fret profile you want: vintage style, etc,.
  4. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    Find out who made it, ask them. maybe they can give some guidance for a fretted replacement as well
  5. Fretting a fretless can be difficult. The reason for this is because the fret slots need to be made while the fingerboard is already glued to the neck. Typically, when a fretted bass is being made the slots are made before the fingerboard is glued onto the neck, which makes things a lot easier.

    To convert the bass to a fretted would probablly be about $500 to $700
  6. Will Kelly

    Will Kelly

    Mar 3, 2010
    Call Mike Lull's shop. They do amazing work, and probably cheaper than you think.
  7. Koog

    Koog Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Central Iowa USA
    The above quote is the best advice. The person who made it can and most likely will do the best job for you at the most reasonable price. It's in his/her best interest to preserve or improve on the bass that was his/her original creation.

  8. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
  9. tabdog


    Feb 9, 2011
    First of all read a good book about it.

    Yes it is difficult, but it can be done.

    I did my first fret job thirty years ago.
    I did a few and got tired of it. I have
    not tried it in the last 20 years. It's
    just a pain!

    You will need a few special tools and
    and you will probably mess up a lot
    of stuff before you get good at it.

    In other words, your current project
    will probably be kind of lousy, but
    you can get better as time goes by,

  10. tabdog


    Feb 9, 2011
    Here's the first fret job I ever did. It's
    the only refretted example I have left.
    And like I said, look out on your first

    Over 30 years ago,

    I found a broken neck. I glued it back


    But the neck was twisted. So I defretted
    it and ground down the fretboard down
    until it was strait on both sides. Some of
    the fret groves were completely gone and
    all had to be re-cut deeper.

    Don't laugh at it too hard. My 13 year old
    son helped paint it. It's a pine 2X12 and
    it has a 60's Tele Fender pup, plays like
    a dream and sounds like a demon,



    But, I read a book first,

  11. What's wrong with fretless?
  12. This seems a little high. Maybe if Sadowsky was doing it, but I would guesstimate $300 to 500
  13. Absolutely nothing, but Fretless is not for everybody.
  14. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Whoa! I wouldn't even think of attempting a job like that. I would have to take it to a pro. Thanks for the info though.
  15. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Nothing. I just I can't play fretless--not in tune, at least.
  16. Antny


    Jan 30, 2011
    New York
    Assuming the neck is laminated, you'll need to have the fretboard removed to have the fret slots kerfed into it. Or have a fretted board made for it. Not such a huge issue. Bring it to a reputable lutheran :smug:.

    Or just find a similar fretted bass. Or have one made. Lots of options!

    BTW, no pics of this bass?
  17. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Wow, I'm really having second thoughts about this fretting business. I sounds like this project could potentially be a moneypit and still never quite play correctly after lots of work and expense. Well, here's some picutures. The Wal influence is pretty apparent.
  18. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Here's two more. God, if this thing only had fretts!!!
  19. Koog

    Koog Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Central Iowa USA
    Looks nice. How's it sound?

  20. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    Shell out $20.00 US and put it up for trade in the classifieds here. That looks too nice to mess with.

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