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Defretting a bass checklist

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by LukeMan970, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. LukeMan970


    Jun 22, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    If this needs to be moved to another section feel free to do so mods.

    So last night I finally got up the courage and defretted my trusted old GSR200 and now I'm going through my checklist to see if I have everything to finish the job. I decided to go with wood putty instead of shims but I have two different wood putty's along with the polyurethane to do the finish on the fretboard. Here is what I have so far for that:
    Do you guys know if the polyurethane there is what I want or did the guy at the hardware store steer me in the wrong direction? Also I have the two wood putty's because I wasn't sure if the one in the blue container would be a hard enough filler material. Anyone have any experience with either of these?

    Finally I had a few small chips in the fretboard but was hoping that the polyurethane would take care of that if I put enough coats on.
    You can see the chips in the picture above. If anyone has any better advice on filling those I'd be open to suggestions as well.
  2. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    You MUST fill those fret slots with something better than wood putty. The rigidity of the neck is compromised when the frets are removed and they must be replaced with a hard material, like a tight fitting veneer or plastic. Wood putty simply won't cut it.
  3. LukeMan970


    Jun 22, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    Alright I was thinking I could get away with putty as I'd seen some people on here have decent luck with it but I'll guess I'll conceit to veneer ;) Where would you recommend getting veneer that would match the rosewood best? I'm looking to have the unlined look on this bass.
  4. I'm gonna beg to differ with conventional wisdom and say that I've had great luck with putty. I decided to go for the putty for two reasons:

    1) on the bass I modified (a cheapo Yamaha) the fret depth was maybe 1/5 the depth of the actual neck at most.. meaning 4/5 of the neck was not compromised by removing the frets. "Seemed" it might be strong enough, to me... especially for a fairly low tension instrument like a bass.

    2) I tested a couple of different putties for colour... and realized that the dried putties were way harder than veneer. Meaning...I started to wonder if the neck is actually stronger with putty then with more malleable veneer.

    Obviously YMMV, but for me putty has been fine... and simple...bass stays in tune and alignment perfectly. The next bass I do will get the putty treatment as well. :)
  5. I packed the slots with some PVC sign material. The fact that it was tight, to me meant that I was restoring to pressure that the original fret wires presented into the neck.

    100_1093. 100_1649.


    I used surfboard resin for the final surface. It works decently well enough and it very durable.

    I've been playing it for a few weeks now with MII "Fender" 7250 NPS rounds, and no marks or wear of which to speak.

    Any brushable poly coating is suspect in my mind as to life, quality and wear factors. If poly goes bad, it'll be a mess to fix or replace if it chunks off.
  6. LukeMan970


    Jun 22, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    I thought that polyurethane was what most people used as a finish on their conversions? What would you guys recommend if not polyurethane?
    Also as you can see in the picture of the fretboard the slots left by the frets don't go all the way out to the edges making veneers a little bit more of a hassle to cut perfectly right 24 times. That's kinda why I was thinking the putty route.
  7. You don't even try to cut the inserts to the correct size.

    You install them oversized and shape them once they are actually in the fret slots.
  8. LukeMan970


    Jun 22, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    I understand the over-sizing of the veneer but I've mostly seen people cut them longer than the width of the fretboard and sand down the sides as well as the top. For this I'd have to cut the veneers to the correct width first then sand down the tops of them.
  9. Are you saying this because you have a bound neck?

    Otherwise, I don't understand that logic. Sanding the edges is not much different than sanding the height above the board.
  10. LukeMan970


    Jun 22, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    If you look at the picture I posted in the original post you can see the slots left by the frets don't go all the way to the edge of the fretboard like I've seen on most basses. This means I'd have to cut the veneer to fit each fret slot rather than just putting an oversized piece in the fret slot then trimming it down when it's set.
  11. Didn't notice as that's a non-issue I feel.

    I'd just extend the slots through that barrier and do it conventionally by trimming both the tops and sides at the same time.

    This would be a good time to bind the edges too - an afterthought.
  12. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I use styrene plastic strips from a craft store - I can buy them in thicknesses down to the thousandth of an inch. They're easy to cut to fit. Glue them in with superglue, trim extra material with a razor blade, and a few strokes with sandpaper levels them with the fretboard.

    You don't need poly on the fretboard. After I defretted mine, I used one coat of Tung oil just to finish it off.