Defretted Finish

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by SpankBass, Dec 18, 2001.

  1. A couple of days ago I took the plunge and defretted my p-clone. The defretting went great, only one tiny chip (but thats why God invented super-glue). So anyways, I need to know a few things:

    1) For the fret slots, I was thinking of shoving 1/32 inch plastic in there instead of wood since I can get the plastic for free (I have a ROP class). But my teacher suggested something that might be easier; if I mask the wood around the fret slots, I can fill the slots with gel coat (resin). This sounds pretty cool seeing as it would be easier, and I can make my fret slots any color I want. Would there be any drawbacks to using gel coat INSTEAD of wood, arcylic, or that wood paste crap?

    2) The second question is your opinion on the finish. I want your complete biased opinion on wood finish, epoxy finish, poly urethane finish, tung oil, ect...if it helps, it is a rosewood fingerboard.

    I'm leaning toward the poly urethane finish because its so readily available through my plastics ROP, but I can change that if it really is terrible for the sound.

    Thank you all for your advice!
  2. Although I've never done what you are doing, I do have experience with woodworking. And off the top of my head I would stay away from putting plastic(or anything else in those slots). Wood 'breaths' and plastic does not. You don't want to have a hot humid day cause those sucker to start coming out... Wood will expand, and although you will not see it with you eye, a piece of well fitted plastic will feel the difference.

    As far as coating the fingerboard you will have to get someone else for that ... I would assume oil, because you still want that wood feel, and Poly will only give you the plasic feel. As a matter of fact DO NOT use Poly on any part of your bass. It dries very hard and could only lead to cracking. A nice wood varnish would be better but I would stick with oil.

    Hope this helped a little-
  3. Paul A

    Paul A

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hertfordshire U.K!
    I agree, the small amount of moolah that you'll need to spend on wood far outweighs the problems you will have with plastic/resin.
    Wood is also a lot easier to work too.
    As for fingerboard finish a light coat of lemon oil should do the trick.
    I'll try and post a pic. of the neck of the bass I defretted (when I get home ...I'm at work!)
  4. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Rick Turner uses some kind of plastic as fret markers on fretless basses he makes - mine has those too. He's been using them for years, and I never heard of anyone having a problem with them.
  5. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Forgot to mention..I live in the Middle East... we have days with 120F+ (52C) and 100% humidity - nothing popped out or even moved.
  6. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I filled my slots with rosewood dust I made with a Dremel tool, from a warped POS neck I had laying around. You can hardly see the lines, but they are there if you want them. I coated the fretboard with self-leveling marine epoxy (from Lowes). It turned out very nice.
  7. Ok - Brooks proved me wrong. It may (in that case) be a good idea to check out what they do when they assemble those necks with the plastic fret markers in order to keep them from shifting(if you decide on plastic). Once you get them perfectly level with the finger board, you want to be sure that they don't move! You don't want to be playing and realize that you now have plastic frets!!

    I agree that a little oil(TUNG!) - (use linseed only if you want to burn down the house!) - is what you should use to finish it ... Whenever using oil be sure to deposit the rags properly. Not only for the environment, but they can ignite on their own from the heat they generate(especally linseed)!

    Let us know what you end up doing and how it turns out.

  8. Keith - Well, I got it all masked up, and my next ROP class is tomarrow. So I think I'm going to go for it. If they do pop out, no big deal, I'll fill em with wood ;).
    Resin only cracks if you put too much catalyst in it. I think I know how much catalyst to put in after working with it almost every day for 2.5 years.

    Turock - I was thinking of doing something similar because I really don't like the look of fret lines on a fretless. But I can never make the fret lines completely disappear, so I think it would look better to put in lines that contrast with the wood rather than putting in similar colored fret lines that would still be visible, but hard to see. It would just seem tacky to me.

    Paul - To me plastic is easier to work with just because I've had alot of experiance with it. I would love to see a pic of your bass to see how it turned out.

    Brooks - Do you know if that plastic is something like acrylic or is it resin? You would super glue acrylic to the wood, but resin would bond itself. So the resin MAY pop out when the wood expands just because it won't have as strong of bond as the super glue would.

    That may be another reason for me to put a hard coating on my fretboard, it may prevent the resin from popping out.

    But here is what i'm probably going to do:
    After I fill the slots with gel coat, I'm going to sand it down to a smooth finish, then I'm going to clean it up with some lemon oil, and try it like that. If I really like it, I won't change it. Later on I may put some Tung oil on it and see how I like that. Then I'm going to go down to some music stores and play on basses that have different finishes like epoxy, poly, ect. and see how I like those and coat my fingerboard appropriately.

    One last question for all you wood guys out there. Would it be ok to use wet sandpaper on wood (rosewood to be exact) to give it a smoother finish?

    Thanks for all the help on this.
  9. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    To be honest, not sure what it is. I remember there was an article on a web site about it, by Rick Turner himself - it may be worth searching for it. Plastic is white, and in my case, lines are only under the E string. Fingerboard is uncoated Pau Fero (sp?). Bass is now three years old, and fingerboard is in great shape, even though I play nickel roundwounds.
  10. Wet sanding? Why would you do that to begin with ... i don't think its necessary. Its probably going to be pretty smooth when you begin sanding, so start at like 200 and progress up to something like 400 ...

    Keep us posted on how it comes out ...
  11. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    OK...did the search, and here's the link to that Rick Turner article:

    Here's the section that speaks about the plastic:
    "Installing Fret Lines

    Although some people use maple veneer for inlaid lines, I prefer .020" styrene, available through plastics suppliers or hobby shops. Fret slots are generally .022"–.025" wide, so the styrene markers slip in with just the right clearance for glue. To install them, cut strips 1/8" longer than the fingerboard width and a bit wider than the slots’ depth; put them in the slots, and then apply super glue (cyanoacrylate or Krazy Glue) to each side of the protruding plastic. The glue will wick easily into all cracks and narrow spaces. After waiting 10 or 15 minutes, apply a second coat. Once the glue has set, file and sand down the excess styrene.

    Be very careful with super glue! Don’t let it get on the neck finish; if it does, immediately wipe it off. Cyanoacrylate loves to bond to nitrocellulose lacquer. If it gets onto a polyester finish, you can generally remove it with super-glue debonder. I got super glue in my eye once, so I have researched its toxicity. It hurt like hell, but the good news is it does no permanent damage, and it’s not particularly toxic."
  12. I filled mine with a stuff called "Mircle Wood" which is this stuff you can get at a hardware store, what it is, is a sawdust compound in a paste form that after you put it in dries hard. The good thing about this stuff is if it will accept and absorb a finish. I put a polyurathane coat on mine, don't do the same... it will mess stuff up and its horrible. Stew Mac has some freboard finishing oil, that I'd suggest using. Its made for Ebony and Rosewood fretboards, you just wipe it on, wipe off the excess and buff it... and it dries hard in 24 hours. Its also not supposed to get sticky when it becomes warm.
  13. Wet sanding is very comonly used in sanding plastic because it washes away the dust. The dust acts as more grit on the sandpaper so it will scratch more. All in all it just makes it much smoother and cleaner. Just wondering if I could use that on wood too.
  14. Right - I know what wetsanding is ... I just don't think you need to do it. You only wet sand wood that may have a finish already on it, but then you are not really sanding wood. Just sand is my advise... Make sure you don't use anything less than 200. You don't want to take much wood away!
  15. Now, i'm getting restless. I want a fretless NOW!:p

    Interesting has some info about defretting a bass. My name is Sean Gallagher. Just weird.

    A question about neck bowing:
    The neck of mybass has been off for a couple days now, will that bow the neck or cause any other problems? If it does bow the neck, does anyone have a link to somewhere where I can find out how to adjust the truss rod? Thanks again.
  16. If you were to put tung oil on the finger board would that be enough to protect it from the strings? I play nickel rounds and I'm gonna defret my bass pretty soon. So I'd like to know what to coat the fingerboard with. I've seen loads of people on TB say that an uncoated finger board will be destroyed by rounds. You guys are the first to say don't use hard-drying stuff on the fingerboard and leave it. So what's the deal?
  17. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    I certainly wouldn't use it "wet", But it is more durable than regular paper. I would bet if you use it wet with plastic lines, the wood will swell and eventually when it shrinks back down the fret lines will be higher than the board and you will have to resand the fretboard dry. Use fine grade scotch brite pads for the final buff. Works great. When I defretted mine I used the dust mixed with glue from sanding to fill the fretlines. It is as close to a perfect match as you can get.
  18. Did I forget to keep you updated? :D

    Well, its for the most part done. It took a long time because I've been very busy lately. The resin didn't turn out as great as I thought it would. It filled in to small nooks next to the fret slots and looks....ugly. But its smooth! Looks don't matter THAT much. Plus I expect that not many people would notice on first glance.

    All I need to do is get some flats and string it up, and we'll see if this was a mistake or not ;). I'll be doing that tomarrow.

    Pics? Depends on when I can get my hands on a camera. (I'm probably going to get a couple disposables for when I go to the NAMM show. SO you'll have to wait a week or so.)
  19. Strings are on...but the action is WAY high. I tried messing with the trusrod, and that helped, but the action was still insanely high. So I tried filing down the nut slots (that sounds bad...) and still it helped, but not much. What else can I do to lower the action on this?
  20. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    The truss rod adjusts neck relief and is really for fine tuning, not gross adjustments of your action. It only makes sense the nut needs to be filed...the frets are gone. Are your string saddles as low as you can get them?