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converting high-end fretted bass to fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by smperry, Jun 7, 2005.

  1. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    So, I might be able to get a good deal on a used fretted Ritter, and what I'm looking for is a fretless one...but not many pop up, and even fewer at a price I'd like to pay (and a color I want).

    So, knowing that getting it converted to fretless will devalue the instrument, any other concerns? Of course, I'd get it done by a professional luthier so it shouldn't be a hack job...do you think it will be as good as a factory fretless?

    If you've had this done to a bass and have thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

    I've found my ideal instrument in my fretted Ritter so I've been jonesing for a fretless. Should I just keep waiting? :(

    Sorry if this is the wrong forum.

  2. Smallequestrian

    Smallequestrian Rock and/or Roll

    Jul 6, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    Beta Tester: Source Audio
    Man, I feel your pain. I know this doesn't relate on the same scale, but when I first started jonesing for a fretless, I seriously contemplating either getting my Reverend defretted and buying another fretted Rev, or buying a fretted to defret. For me, Rumblefishes make my heart sing. Of course the worse part is that they never made fretless rumblefishes. :crying:

    I just couldn't pull the trigger on doing that though, I didnt want to take the chance that something would go wrong, and this was on a sub $700 bass, let around well into a Ritter worth a quite a few grand. Now maybe if Jens himself would do the defret...

    I know its painful, but I would hang tight until you find one or can afford to buy one new that you will absolutely love the specs of.
  3. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Aside from the question of devaluing the bass, the one big concern I'd have is whether the fretted Ritter you're looking at has a fretboard that'd be good for fretless. For instance, unless you're going to have it epoxied, I vastly prefer ebony to rosewood or maple for a fretless board.

    If you're looking at having the whole fretboard replaced, the possibility of having not-so-good results is quite a bit higher in my experience, even if the luthier doing the work is very good.

    My $.02,
  4. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    Thanks for the thoughts so far. The fretboard is ebony, which happens to be my preference too.

    Maybe I'll write Jens again...I wrote him a couple times about ordering a new one several weeks ago to no response. Even with the falling Euro, I might still need to do used though.

  5. Joelc73

    Joelc73 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2000
    New York
    Another thing to think about is whether or not the bass would make a good fretless. I've seen way too many manufacturers simply make the same bass that they always make - minus frets. To me, a fretless is more than just a fretted bass without frets.
  6. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I have an Alembic that I am currently considering converting and am experiencing many of the same pains and feelings that you are. I would think you would really want to have the fingerboard replaced. I think anything short of that would be a bit "hackish" considering the instrument you are working with. Having markers out of place, whether they are on the edge of the fretboard or the face, would not bother me on a $400 Jazz Bass, but I would really want your bass to look and be correct in every way, some corners should not be cut!! If someone is suggesting filling or moving markers I don't really see the point, this really falls into the "do it right, or don't do it at all" category, Just MHO, oh by the way, before and after picks would be in order if you decide to go for it!!
  7. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    You guys are probably right that I should just wait...to find one or better yet, have a "just right" custom one made.

    Maybe I can find someone who wants to trade a fretless for a fretted and I can set up a three way. Probably not. :meh:

  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Email Jens again. He was out of commission for a while, due to an illness. But he is back. I got an email from him today saying that he is much better.

    He may be a little behind on his email.

    If you have somebody reputable do the defret, like Mike Lull, Roger Sadowsky, or Michael Tobias, it should turn out very well. Of course, depending on what those guys charge for their repair/mod services, you may be better off waiting for another used one, or biting the bullet and ordering a new on.
  9. michele


    Apr 2, 2004
    Once I thought about converting my Sadowsky into fretless. I even wrote Roger about it and he stated that the fingerboard wood (madegascar rosewood) would be great for a fretlless. Later I convinced myself that this baby was born fretted and nobody (Roger included) would ever do a defretting job on it.
    Hem... that's why I see another Sadowsky (fretless this time) in my future :D

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