Converting an ebonol fretless neck to fretted?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Sleedo, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. Sleedo


    Feb 1, 2008
    Hey, I have crazy idea and I am looking for advice from the experienced collective. I have a cheap Squier fretless neck with an ebonol board with slot markers, I love the black board on my Olympic white P but I'm not thrilled with playing fretless. Tell me why it would be a bad idea to cut out the white plastic and replace with frets. Will the ebonol not hold the fret tangs? I believe I have seen a fretted ebonol neck before but I couldn't find one. 20180127_163325.jpg
  2. No, ebanol will hold frets. Kramer used it on their aluminum necks on up to squires today that have ebanol boards. I have a Squier 5 neck that was fretted that I converted to fretless.

    It’s doable but not walk in the park easy. I believe there’s a few threads here or in hardware, setup, and repair about it.
  3. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    The white lines are thicker than a fret tang. It might look really odd. Ebanol will hold frets, but who knows how hard the white spacers are, if they are soft plastic, it could get tricky. Also (just spitballing here) the ebanol used on say a Modulus might be different than a Chinese Squier. It may chip if too hard, are get gummy if too soft.
  4. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    It is likely that the marker slots are the right size for a fret tang. It would really make no sense for Fender to tool up for fat marker slots when it is easy to get plastic for markers in the correct thickness for their existing fret slot cutting tools.

    If you have a fret saw, it should be an easy matter to saw on the marker lines and whack some frets into place, then crown, level, and polish them. You would likely need to replace the nut as well.

    I would expect an experienced luthier could do the job in about 2 hours. If you've never used those tools before, maybe more like a day or two.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
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  5. Slidlow

    Slidlow The Human CNC Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    Oshawa, Canada
    Typical fret slot is 0.023" so you can check the width of the lines to see. Depending on the material used for the lines it may be possible to glue the frets in place. Gluing is a common practice though I have not used it myself. Biggest challenge for you may be slotting for the frets accurately. You would need to reference the lines to the nut to see if intonation would work and adjust the frets accordingly. Most likely you would be okay centering the frets on the lines but getting every slot cut exactly centered could be fun. Another thing if the lines are wider then the fret tang you might consider completely removing the line and filling the slot with black material before slotting for the frets so there wouldn't be any line material left to show. Are you sure it wouldn't be best to buy a fretted neck and either keep the fretless just in case or sell it to recoup cost?
    All the best.
    Paulabass likes this.
  6. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    ^ Exactly. I don't have a Squier fretless here to measure, so I was guessing. I've seen Squier and aftermarket necks as low as $40, so really, you would only do it to see if you CAN, there's no money to be saved.
    EpicSoundtracks and JRA like this.
  7. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    No offense, but I think you guys are way overthinking it here. In effect, what you are talking about is a relatively straightforward refret job, just that you're cutting out the fret markers to replace with frets. Same cauls, jigs and fixtures to do it, and ebonol can handle it... :)
    HaMMerHeD likes this.
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    Why don't you like playing the fretless? Is it because the bass needs some work to made into a playable fretless? Every single Squier fretless requires a nut cut and a board levelling. If this is not done, you will never get a good setup or fretless "mwah" out of it. If you just want a fretted bass, I would second the suggestion of getting a replacement Squier neck. It will be cheaper.
    JRA likes this.
  9. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    I agree with Beej and HaMMerHed; this would not be much more than a normal refret job. Fender saws the slots just like their fretted basses; same locations and slot width. It's not difficult to saw out the white lines by hand without harming the slots. I've done it probably 20 times over the years.

    When refretting the ebanol, I'd glue the frets, just because the ebanol isn't very springy. It may not grip the tang barbs as well.
    EpicSoundtracks and lz4005 like this.
  10. Sleedo


    Feb 1, 2008
    Well I realized that the setup was off so I filed the nut to get the proper action, setup the bridge action, relief, etc. and still found it buzzy. Not mwah but buzz, realized the board was wavy and would need to be leveled. At that point I figured why not fret it and get the cool black board that looks great on my white bass. I have a few fretted necks on hand (there's one on the bass now) and I have built necks before so I have the tools and skills to get the job done, my question was more oriented around if there are any pitfalls to working with Ebonol? I figured there would be more basses available with it as the fretboard since it looks so cool if it was easy to work with.

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