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Defretted Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bok007, Mar 8, 2016.

  1. bok007


    Apr 4, 2015
    Auckland, NZ
    I'm looking at buying a defretted Ibanez SR300, the guy did it himself & says it plays really well. What should I look for & ask him?
  2. something else & "why would you do that", respectively
    lz4005 likes this.
  3. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Ask what he used to fill the frets. If it is wood filler you may get issues down the line.
  4. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    For a real answer, do you know how a fretless should play? If not, how are you going to know whether it plays well or not. I would want to know how the fret slots were filled. Has the fretboard been coated with anything? There is no reason that a defretted bass can't be an awesome fretless (Jaco), just do your homework.
  5. This is true, in theory. And I am sure there are examples of members here who wanted to try fretless on a cheap beginner bass they had, so they did ample research on how to build one, carefully removed the frets, filled the slots with wood veneers, dressed the fingerboard and sealed it, installed a lower fretless nut, and ended up with a great fretless.

    But since it happens every day, it is a thousand times more likely some dude got bored and curious and took pliers to his old starter bass, didn't get the result he wanted (instant fretless player), and is clearing out the junk his closet.

    If you are interested in learning how to play fretless, I strongly recommend starting out with a purpose-built fretless, these days there are great options in the beginner price range. Buying "conversions" can be risky if you're not an experienced fretless player, they can be rife with playability issues leading you to assume the fault is your own.
    bok007 likes this.
  6. bok007


    Apr 4, 2015
    Auckland, NZ
    Thanks for all the replies
    The slots have not been filled
    fretboard has not been coated.
    Why? I've been looking for an Ibanez fretless & this one is half the price of a new one.
    So I could get some luthier work done on it & still be cheap.
    I've not played very much fretless, but I've noticed a difference in one I tried in a shop;
    There was one LTD I tried in a shop which created a difference in tone with the slightest movement
    of my finger, whereas other had none. - is that the mwah?
    gebass6 likes this.
  7. I don't know what prices and availability are like in NZ, but if I was discussing this with someone local to me....I would point out that pro luthier work to properly finish the fretless conversion, even if the owner did a good careful job on the fret removal, will probably cost as much as you are "saving" over buying new....plus the position markers will still be representing a "fretted" instrument instead of fretless, and it will always have lower resale value than a stock instrument.

    Converting a cheap bass you have into fretless is something I usually recommend against because it rarely works out well....for every Jaco Bass of Doom there are ten thousand mangled Squiers and Ibanez' rotting away in basement closets...but at least it's a learning process and fun project. But buying someone else's cheap bass that they started converting and then abandoned after the first step just seems like a guarantee of paying for someone else's mistakes.
    Marko 1 and bok007 like this.
  8. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    Now I agree, steer completely away from this, way too many issues! I absolutely hate to say this, but you would be better off buying a Squire fretless than someone else's experiment... The luthier work to fix this is going to be a lot more money than it is worth...
    bok007 likes this.
  9. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    For every six that are afraid to defret a bass,there are those who are competent.

    For years I've read magazine articles on how to defret a bass.
    And I've had four of my past basses defretted by pros.I'm confident that I can defret a bass.
    I did it to my Tune TWB63 bass back in 2010.
    This is the bass. Snapshot_2014617. The past basses had styrene plastic used as a fret slot filler.So I followed suit.Excellent job for a first timer!

    Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

    This is like the first time you did your own brake job and you said"I pay a mechanic for this?" Snapshot_2014617 (2).

    Tools needed to defret a bass
    1.A pair of end nippers.With the nipping face ground flat so that they can get under the fret.
    2.A soldering iron.
    3.A Three foot level.
    4.A Hobby Razor Saw.
    5.An 8"Radius Sanding Block(you will need to know the radius of you fretboard)
    6.Various grades of sandpaper.

    You can start here.
    Your choice of what you want to fill the fret slots.I chose styrene plastic strips..062 as I remember.
    7.Crazy Glue.
    8.An Exacto knife.
    9.You will need to deepen the nut slots.Personally I sanded the bottom of the nut to lower the slot height.
    10.Howards Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner.And a polish cloth.
    No power tools.

    Or you can get the bass and have a luthier do this.
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
    bok007 likes this.

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