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De-lining a fretless???

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by THC, Oct 16, 2002.

  1. Hi. I couldn't find anything about subject using search, so I'll ask. I want to De-line my lined fretless. I was at first thinking about paint. But closer examination of my MIM jazz looks like it has line 'inlays'. Is that what they are, or are they painted?
    I suppose it'd be too difficult if they're inlays, but paint I could maybe handle.
  2. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Those lines are probably inlaid maple. You could lightly sand the board, then use a black dye. That would turn the whole board black though. You might try using a masking tape to protect the rosewood and dye only the maple lines. I haven't tried any of these options, so...be careful!
  3. jbay


    May 23, 2002
    Option 1 - Coat the fretboard with opaque colored polyurethane or similar hard finish... but you'll alter the tone of the bass and feel of the board...

    Option 2 - Replace the fretboard with a new unlined one :)

    Option 3 - Buy an unlined fretless bass...

    Option 4 - As stated above, stain the wood. But you'd have to finish the board after staining it...
  4. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    Hmmm...I guess there is an option 5 (the best one IMHO):

    Saw the fret lines off and inlay new ones made of the same wood as the fingerboard (rosewood or ebony ?)

    Option 2 is cool but have to be made by a skilled luthier (you could do option 5 yourself) and may be pricey.


  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    That sounds harder to me than replacing the board.

    If the lines are inlay, you will see them on the side of the board where they sink in. If they are inlayed wood, then your best chance at a simple solution is to dye the board. Since it's rosewood, I don't even really recommend that unless you want to dye the whole thing black. Stewmac sells a black dye for fingerboards.
  6. Thanks. Yeah it looks like plastic inlays. So I think my best option is #3 from JP. Oh well.
  7. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Okay, since I hate starting potentially duplicate threads, I figured I'd piggy-back onto this one.

    Here's the deal:
    I have a Warwick Fortress fretless that was defretted by a previous owner. However, instead of completely pulling out the frets and replacing with neck-level wood inlays, whoever defretted it simply ground down the brass(!) frets.

    The problem is that some of the frets on the upper register were not *quite* ground down enough (though the naked eye cannot detect this) and, as we all know, brass will outlive wood (in this case, wenge wood) anyway, so it's likely that the strings will wear down the wood, thus causing what's left of the frets to become more pronounced.

    I've had a luthier check it out and he stated that it would be impossible to pull the brass frets out because there wasn't enough remaining to latch onto. Further, he stated that a fretboard replacement would run upwards of 800 bucks, which is more than the bass is worth.

    My idea? To put some sort of finish on the neck, be it oil, epoxy or whatever, to help minimize the "fretbuzz".

    Considering the fact that the neck is made of wenge wood and considering the condition of the neck as stated above, what would you recommend?
  8. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    800 dollars is an awful lot for a fingerbaord replacement. Especially if all you want is an unlined board. You might be able to find someone who will do it for a couple or a few hundred. I'm tempted to take the job myself, but I am real busy.

    If you are looking for the cheapest possible solution, look up the other thread on this forum on epoxy coating a board. In this case, that is what I would recommend besides wringing the neck of the guy who left the fret tangs in the existing fingerboard.
  9. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Right on - thanks, FBB! I thought that seemed pretty high myself.

    I'll check around and see if I can't get a more reasonable estimate than the 800 smacks.
  10. Yes it would be a bit easier to but a bass that is fretless without the markers. I have a 6 string warwick fretless bubinga thumb bass. It cost me quite a bit $3500 custom. I also hate the markers that they put on some fretless basses because half some percentage of the reason I bought my fretless was because i didn't want to see any frets at all. My advice to anyone in this type of situation would be that if you haven't been playing that long and you really aren't used to where the tonal positions are on the bass, it would be just like playing an upright bass. So in case you haven't been playing that long get used to where what fret is and then upgrade if you want. Really good fretless basses are Warwick thumbs and Carl Thompson basses...but who has the money to buy a Thomspon anyway :)
  11. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    For the MIM, you could buy and unlined jazz neck with an ebony board from Warmoth for about $150 + Shipping. Throw the old neck up on ebay and probably get $50-60 for it. So, it would end up costing you about $100 to go unlined.

    As for the Warwick, I suspect the luthier was telling you that it would be too much of a PIA for him to remove the frets.

    I have defretted three basses. While pulling the frets from the top may be the most common method, you have alternatives.

    On an unbound neck, the profile of the fret shows at the edge of the board. Because frets are often seated tightly against the board, I used the edge to my advantage.

    Rather than scruffing up the top of the board more than needed, I used a dental pick to gently work underneath the bottom of the fret and pry it up enough to get the nippers under it.

    You may be able to pry up the filed tines enough to snap a set of vise grips on them and pull them out.

    If you are going to fill will hardwood venere, you have small amount of goof room.

    As for the $800, to re-fit a bass with a board, well:

    There is a saying in the Nevada Brothels called "price walking." That is, if a working lady is sought after by a person that for whatever reason she doesn't want to do business with, she will quote a price that is exorbitant.

    I think you got price walked.

  12. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Considering it's a bolt-on, I'd just get a new neck. Seems less expensive and/or less labor-intensive than the other options. You could try Warmoth or USA Custom Guitars.


  13. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Richard - assuming you're responding to my post, Warwick will not sell replacement necks and Warmouth does not sell replacement Warwick necks. Unfortunately, I'm SOL there.
  14. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    I was actually responding to the original poster (the guy with the MIM) on that one. In your situation with the Warwick, yeah, it would be far tougher. I agree with the other guys--there has to be somebody who can do a new FB for less than that $800 you were quoted.
  15. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Look up Jack Read at www.readcustom.com

    He's been doing a lot of repair work lately, and he's also built necks to retrofit bodies (and vice versa) in the past. I have no idea what kind of time or money it will take, but he might be game.