Defretting a Ken Smith bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Erik Turkman, Jun 13, 2017.


  1. Erik Turkman

    Erik Turkman Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Washington, DC area
    Have any Ken Smith owners defretted their basses? If so, who did the work, and how did it turn out? Thanks for any feedback you can offer.
     
  2. bassbenj

    bassbenj

    Aug 11, 2009
    Nope, Never have. Never will. My Ken Smith is just too cool as is to take a chance messing it up with a defret job. Anyway I prefer an unlined neck especially on an expensive high end bass like A Ken Smith. Gives it just the right look. My choice would be (and is) to get another matching or semi-matching Ken Smith so you end up with a nice fretted/fretless pair of basses. That's what I'm always working toward with my basses and what I hope will eventually be the end situation of my Ken Smith.
     
  3. nostatic

    nostatic

    Jun 18, 2004
    Lompoc, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    bassbenj likes this.
  4. Erik Turkman

    Erik Turkman Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Washington, DC area
    That looks like a beautiful bass, but I prefer a lined fingerboard. I play upright also, so having the markers helps go back and forth. Ideally, I would like to have a matching fretted and fretless pair, but I want the fretless to be lined. Although, I've never played a fretless Smith, so I'd like to give one a try before taking the plunge.
     
  5. Erik Turkman

    Erik Turkman Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Washington, DC area
    Yeah, it would be ideal to get one that was made fretless, but the new ones are out of my range now, and I haven't seen any lined ones on the used market.
     
  6. nostatic

    nostatic

    Jun 18, 2004
    Lompoc, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    Not sure I follow how lines help going back and forth between upright and electric. I think it comes down to personal preference, but I used to double, found that it was easier for me to play in tune with unlined fretless relative to lined but YMMV.
     
  7. Erik Turkman

    Erik Turkman Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Washington, DC area
    Well, I've had both lined and unlined fretless basses in the past, and I found that I prefer lined.
     
  8. jeff Freund

    jeff Freund

    Jun 23, 2017
    I spoke to Ken personally about defretting a Smith neck-thru model. The key words being "neck-thru". Ken explained that since neck-thru models could be neither shimmed up or shaved down as is possible with bolt-ons, defretting was not a great option because his critical string-to-fretboard spacing would be trashed. Recommend you do as I did... get a fretless Elite and keep both of 'em.... I've never regretted it!! :)
     
    jasonmatthews and Rabidhamster like this.
  9. Rabidhamster

    Rabidhamster

    Jan 15, 2014
    dont do it
     
    jasonmatthews likes this.
  10. Erik Turkman

    Erik Turkman Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Washington, DC area
    I asked Ken about doing it to a bolt on bass, and he said his shop could do it. I'm still investigating my options at this point.
     
  11. jeff Freund

    jeff Freund

    Jun 23, 2017
    Ahhh.... makes all the difference!! Best of luck.
     
  12. IconBasser

    IconBasser Scuba Viking

    Feb 28, 2007
    Fontana, California
    Keep in mind that defretting a fretted bass will not give it the same fret lines as a fretless that was lined in shop/factory.

    A lined fretless bass that is designed that way will have the lines set up such that the spot you need to press your fingers on the fretboard is between two fret lines for it to be in tune.

    A fretted bass has the frets set up such that your fingers are between the frets, but due to the fact that the note is created where the string is bending over the fret, that is where the note is in tune, not where your finger is.

    Because of this, if you defret a fretted bass, instead of playing in between the fret lines like on a factory lined fretless, you have to play right on the line instead.

    While this isn't the end of the world, it is annoying.


    That, and a custom Ken Smith is a work of art and a living example of the pinnacle of electric bass engineering. To deface it seems like a travesty against nature to me, but you may not feel that way. You are, of course, free to do with your property what you wish, but many would find it as distasteful as scribbling a mustache on the Mona Lisa.
     
    bassicg likes this.
  13. That is not true. Lined fretless, factory or defretted, both have lines exactly where the frets would be. You always play on the lines on a lined fretless. Any lined fretless.

    OP, don't do it. Get nostatic's fretless. You'll get used to the unlined board and it's much nicer too.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2017
  14. jeff Freund

    jeff Freund

    Jun 23, 2017
    Yep. Agree with IconBasser. "...both have lines exactly where the frets would be..."
    OP: Get a Smith Elite fretless. Good for a lifetime's years. Outlasting cars, wives & most careers. :)
     
  15. Erik Turkman

    Erik Turkman Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Washington, DC area
    Thanks for all the input. I've had various fretless basses over the years, both lined and unlined, and I've found I prefer lined. However, an unlined is not completely out of the question, but it's not my preference. In order to get a lined Smith, it seems more cost effective to pull the frets from a fretted bass rather than buy a new one. Also, all the fretless Smiths I've seen on the market are unlined.
     
  16. jeff Freund

    jeff Freund

    Jun 23, 2017
    It's a Smith option fretless = $100 lined fretless $300
    upload_2017-6-24_18-36-30.png
     
  17. Erik Turkman

    Erik Turkman Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Washington, DC area
    Yeah, I know it's an option if you are ordering a new bass, but that is on top of the five grand or so needs to be spent to buy the new bass. In the current soft market, used Smiths go for a lot less, and even with defrettimg costs, it ends up being less to get an existing bass defretted rather than buy a new fretless one.
     
  18. jeff Freund

    jeff Freund

    Jun 23, 2017
    I see your point. Good luck Erik
     
  19. Erik Turkman

    Erik Turkman Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Washington, DC area
    Thanks, Jeff. I'm still considering my options but was curious if anyone had already been down this route with a Smith.
     
  20. I had a BRS5P factory fretless which I sold only for its weight. It was built like a tank. You should keep an eye on the classifieds & ebay/reverb. They do pop up here and there. Again, if I were on the market I'd probably buy Nostatic's.
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Jul 30, 2021

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