1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Defretting a Harmony H22?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by 6stringvince, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. OK, I have this beautiful 1964 Harmony H22 that's in near perfect shape. I love this bass for it's warm woody tone, and playability, pretty close to an upright bass tone, but the frets get in the way of it nailing it perfect, it lacks that "mwah" that only a fretless can deliver.
    I've been gasing for a fretless as of late (would be my first), so I've been considering yanking the frets. I feel like it would be sacrilege to do this to a near perfect 50 year old beauty. I know this was a department store bass back in the day, but Ronnie Lane wasn't wrong to play one of these, they are beauties, and now a days well sought after fetching some good coin.
    Should I do it or will I regret this later?
    I've considered building a fretless clone neck instead, keeping the original, but I'm not sure my luthier chops are up to spec for the job.
    Long and short of it, talk me in to it, or talk me out of it.
    Thanks in advance
  2. Mvilmany


    Mar 13, 2013
    Upstate NY
    If you'd play it every day for the rest of your life, then it's ok to mod it. If not, I wouldn't recommend doing that to bass of that age.
  3. neckdive

    neckdive Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    I don't think it's a good idea to mod your 64 like that. Pulling the frets out still provides no guarantee that you'll get the sound you're looking for and you may end making your bass sound worse. I would personally build a fretless clone neck or have someone do it for you.

    Try to get a quote from a luthier for a clone neck.
  4. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    You lost me at "I have this beautiful 1964 Harmony H22 that's in near perfect shape".
  5. BenWhoPlaysBass


    Jun 7, 2013
    Clone neck's the way to go. A '64 model in good shape is just waaay too cool to risk defretting.
  6. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    get a cheapo for experiments. Save the beauty.
  7. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    You won't regret it later. You'll regret it immediately.

    I know many people who have de-fretted basses themselves. Every single one of them have screwed it up. Now maybe you will be the exception, but that is unlikely. And if you doubt your luthier's talents are up for the task of making a fretless replacement neck, then he's probably not up to the task of defretting your bass, either. Even if you do a decent job of de-fretting your bass, there is no guarantee that you'll get the sound you're looking for. In fact, you almost certainly won't.

    Leave the bass alone and buy a cheap factory fretless. That's the smart move.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  8. Lou Bottini

    Lou Bottini

    Feb 25, 2004
    Don't do that!
  9. As an owner of an original Harmony H22 bass I think you are nuts to consider this mod on the ultra rare bass.

    Get a clone neck made or seek out a reissue to mod, please.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  10. Shakin-Slim


    Jul 23, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan
    Mod something cheap and available. Classic Vibe Squier's are great platforms to mod. You would regret almost immediately.
  11. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    I have a stunning ash-bodied birds-eye maple-necked fretless w/Lane Poor pickups that I made and will trade you for it. ...seriously, don't de-fret that baby.
  12. OK, the consensus wins... no defretting. I might try to make a neck.
    Thanks for all the good advice
  13. I was lucky enough to get this H22 that someone already defretted. Plays and Sounds incredible, but someone did a number on this bass.Also has a 60's tele pickup. Best $350 I ever spent on a bass.

    ImageUploadedByTalkBass1389133206.967903. ImageUploadedByTalkBass1389133241.451258.
  14. It must sound pretty close to a DB
    I'm still thinking of making a fretless neck on mine.
  15. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I like them just the way they are. Unless you epoxy it, I can't imagine pulling the frets being a great thing. Plus, you'll diminish the value. The people who collect those Harmony H-22's like them as original as possible. I would personally leave it alone and defret something else.
  16. I would have had a hard time making the decision to do it. Again, I was fortunate enough to find one that had been heavily modded including the defret. I probably would have looked for a reissue to defret otherwise. I will say, I love this h22 just the way it is and will probably keep it for life.
  17. If I make a fretless neck and keep the original intact that would suit me fine.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  18. That sounds like the way to go, you won't be sorry.
  19. macmanlou

    macmanlou Don't push it. Just let it fall. Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Washington, DC Area
    I'd recommend buying a new Douglas fretless violin bass for $170 and putting a set of LaBella "white" tapewounds on it. It's about the same scale length as your Harmony and will give you some fretless experience. You may like the Douglas just fine and decide to keep it and the Harmony "stock".
  20. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Good call, Vince. Under NO circumstances would I defret a bass of that age, especially if you like the sound.

    There are tons of fretless basses out there, and surely you can find one in the near future that will give you a sound you like. Explore used hollowbody and semi-hollowbody basses. Ibanez put out some nice basses that cost under $400 used...those would be nice candidates.

    I am 99.9% confident that if you defret that bass, you will regret it before long. Also, note that doing it absolutely right will take a minimum of 10 hours, probably closer to 20 hours. It's really easy to do a hack job, and much more difficult to do a nice (professional appearing) job. You will have to study the process and take time with it...IMO not worth it when the bass in question is one you like and as old as this one is.
    Groove Doctor likes this.