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Defretting a bass, quick question about filler.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by autodidact, Nov 3, 2013.


  1. autodidact

    autodidact

    Mar 13, 2011
    Lancaster, PA
    I have a cheap P bass clone that I'm thinking about defretting. I've done a decent amount of research on it a s I think I can handle the physical aspect of defretting it.

    My main question would be, how important is it for me to fill the slots where the frets were? Since theyll be shallow will it really effect the structural integrity of the neck? Aesthetics aren't a concern at the moment.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. wraub

    wraub

    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    As I understand, removing the frets creates voids where the frets were, which might make the neck curve from the pull of the strings, possibly leading to a warp or twist.

    As the neck wood is compressed, the voids will flex and move. This is why a filler like wood putty is not recommended.

    I used veneer when I did mine, seems to be holding up fine.

    I assume someone more knowledgeable will be along here shortly to set us both straight. ;)
     
  3. autodidact

    autodidact

    Mar 13, 2011
    Lancaster, PA
    I sure hope so. I'm kinda scared to start it but I'm really impatient haha
     
  4. jaredkurtov

    jaredkurtov Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2012
    Taos NM
    Owner/Builder: Kurtov Stringed instruments, West Asheville Lutherie
    +1 for using veneers to fill the slots.

    I you want a inline fret less look. Level sand your board after removing your frets. The slots will fill with wood dust. Pack it in the slot and then bond the dust together in the slot using thin CA glue. Let dry/harden overnight and level sand again. If done correctly, the slots should be invisible.
     
  5. jaredkurtov

    jaredkurtov Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2012
    Taos NM
    Owner/Builder: Kurtov Stringed instruments, West Asheville Lutherie
    Inline was supposed to read unlined. Damn you autocorrect.
     
  6. daveman50

    daveman50 Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Westchester County NY
    I'm very doubtful that sanding back the fingerboard and using the wood dust with CA will get you a good result.

    There's a defretting tutorial in the "How To" sticky. Here's the link:

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f57/hack-defret-tutorial-195481/

    Most people think using fillers is a bad idea. You need something solid in those slots and it's not as simple as it seems to get everything level.
     
  7. jaredkurtov

    jaredkurtov Commercial User

    Aug 8, 2012
    Taos NM
    Owner/Builder: Kurtov Stringed instruments, West Asheville Lutherie
    It's worked great for me. The wood dust has same coloring and mass as the fingerboard. when you pack it into the slot you maximize the amount of wood particles in the slot to foreign material. the thin ca glue bonds the particles together.

    Here's an article about CA glue and fingerboard repair that I found when I was working on a similar problem.

    http://avhguitarrepair.com/repair-blog/fingerboard-crack-repairs/
     
  8. autodidact

    autodidact

    Mar 13, 2011
    Lancaster, PA
    I'm glad I checked here first. I didn't realize that I'd have to radius each veneer that I put into place. There's a lot of sanding and coating and things that I just wasn't aware of. Maybe this project will take a little longer than I thought haha
     
  9. lbridenstine

    lbridenstine

    Jun 25, 2012
    MI
    I just used a piece of raw wood veneer, cut thin strips with scissors (or a blade against a straight edge) and glued them in with wood glue, then after the glue was dry, I used a blade to cut down the extra veneer that was sticking up, then used a radius sanding block to get it sanded down to the fretboard. It was pretty easy. I think the hardest part was getting the veneer strips to stay down in the slots and not float up. I had to eventually tape some of them down until the glue dried.
     
  10. I used styrene plastic - I wanted lines. Cut oversize, glue in place with superglue, use a razor blade to trim the plastic or veneer down to the fretboard, then fill in all the chipped areas caused by pulling the frets with rosewood chips glued in place, then sand LIGHTLY to smooth the veneer or plastic down to the board. Takes time but is not difficult.
     
  11. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    You can also use (plastic) neck/body binding material which Stew Mac sells in various widths in black, white or cream. I did this years ago and probably would do better today - it was my first time de-fretting a neck. Works good regardless.

    abuT1wl2.
     
  12. wraub

    wraub

    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    When I did mine, I cut the veneer into strips slightly longer and higher than the slots, glued them in, carefully trimmed them down with a sharp chisel, sanded and radiused from there.
    Wasn't that hard at all. Just take your time and be smart about what you do.

    Oh yeah- Try to be patient as you go. ;)

    Bear in mind, you'll probably also have to file the nut slots. Be extra careful and patient here, especially.
     
  13. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    alpha-music.com
    you want the strings to go from being barely over the first fret to being barely over the wood itself.
     
  14. wraub

    wraub

    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    Yep. I only added the probably because, of the ones I have done, one didn't need any nut filing at all.
     

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