Custom fretboard slotting and more...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Groove Theory, Oct 3, 2004.

  1. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    Hey everyone, I'm working on a project bass here and have a few questions about fretboard slotting...I guess I should explain what I'm doing first. It'll be a 5 string fretless setup w/ lightwaves optical pickup system, It'll also be a neck through design.

    What I want to do is since the lightwaves bridge IS the pickup, I want to have a really long extended fingerboard that comes up pretty close to the bridge itself, within reason of course. so this calls for a fingerboard longer than normal, and I want to do a "lined" fretless look with like a maple inlay where the frets would go.

    anyways, here are my questions:
    1) I'm thinking a 35" scale or possibly longer, 36" maybe, I'm looking for something that will give the low B string good tension, not too tense, but not real floppy either. any suggestions?

    2)on my previous projects I've usually purchased a pre-slotted fretboard to use...however I am thinking of slotting the fretboard myself, but I've never attempted it before. It doesnt look too difficult and I'm always up for learning something new. Is there any tricks/tips to help avoid any headache on the project? or, would it be better to just have the fretboard slotted by someone who does a "Slotting" service, and if so, can you recommend somewhere that would be able to fully slot a really long fingerboard (I'm talking around a 32-33" long board) which by my calculations could fit 36 fret slots with either a 35" or 36" scale.

    Thanks folks.
  2. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    I think everything sounds fine, 35/36" scale would probably only make things slightly tighter. The only issue I can see is with the 36 (or more) frets. as you get up around the 3 octave mark there ends up being VERY little distance between the frets. So in the upper ranges your fretboard will end up being more of whatever they fill the slots with than whatever the fingerboard is made from and may make it a VERY difficult job (so if you were to continue I would ABSOLTELY recommend having it done by someone who's done lined fretless boards before, this wouldn't be MY choice for a first try.) But you will also have a very difficult time distinguishing the upper register frets, there will be nearly no space for marker dots and your fingers will probably be hitting over a 3-4 fret span. Your ears will be closer to telling if you're in tune than your eyes will be.

    (here's a photo of a Conklin G*!@r with a 3 octave fretted board, It's a fanned fret, but you can see how close the frets have become and also see at the 3 octave part how little difference there is between the longer and shorter scales...)


    A longer scale doesn't make much of a difference since the frets change at a fixed ratio of the scale length (i.e. a longer scale has frets farther appart at the start than a shorter one, but they also change distances at a greater rate)

    It can be done, I'm just not sure how useable the lines would be tho.
  3. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    Yeah, I Think I agree with you on having this one done professionally. I'd hate to buy a real expensive high grade fingerboard and totally screw it up. I've been talking with the guy from Allen Guitar and Luthier Supply, who says he'd be able to do it. It would cost a bit, but would be worth it as long as it was done well. They seem to do some good work. Does anyone have any experience with them on a custom job?