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Defretting a warwick

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by j_sun23, May 6, 2004.

  1. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    I have a thumb five that I wish and wish everytime I see it that it was fretless. I'm not real keen on the idea of defretting it myself. I mean, c'mon, its a '90 with the brass nut and wenge neck.....not something to toy around with. So, because I still desperately want this bass to be fretless, I'm wondering if anyone knows what kind of trouble it'd be to have a professional luthier of some sort either do a crack defretting and refinishing job, or better yet, if it would even be possible, have it TRULY converted with a brand new ebony fingerboard. I'm skeptical about just defretting, as it would leave me with a wenge fingerboard, and I'm not sure how well this very hard but unfortunately, very open grained wood would work for a fretless fingerboard. I would imagine it would need to be coated with something pretty substantial.

    Like I said, I'd really prefer to have a whole new ebony fingerboard put on so it would be as close to an originally fretless thumb as possible. Thing is, I have no clue where to start to look for someone to do this. I've read the forums, and all I seem to find are threads about defretting a bass yourself (which I've done to a cheapy ABG). Can anyone point me in the right direction. Thanks

    Jason S
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    :( dont do ittttttttt
  3. Don't_Fret

    Don't_Fret Justin Schornstein

    Dec 10, 2003
    Definitely don't do it, especially since it's one of the early ones. If you want a fretless Thumb, save up and buy one.
  4. ivanthetrble


    Sep 9, 2002
    Yep, my standard answer when people ask about de-fretting: If you want a fretless, buy a fretless. I did a little poll a while back on HCBF asking how many people who defretted their basses liked the results. Very few did. :bassist:
  5. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    I don't see myself buying another thumb anytime soon. I'm still paying for this one :)

    I can see why I shouldn't do it MYSELF, but why not have someone skilled do a job on it and make it as if it was born as a fretless?

    AHHHHH Basscentral is the devil :)

    Talk about gearLUST.....

  6. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    thats like one of the best years for that bass though... :(
  7. Lockout


    Dec 24, 2002
    I defretted my Ibanez EDA905 a few months ago, and I love the results. Of course, it wasn't my main bass at the time and I had no use for it, so I really had nothing to lose. If this had been my only bass though, I wouldn't have been happy with it.

    Don't get me wrong, I really like having a fretted and a fretless, but if I could only have one, I would always choose the fretted.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is... if this is your main bass, don't do it, because you may not like the results, and you'd never be able to get it back to the condition it was in before getting it converted to fretless. If you really know for sure that you'll like having a fretless Thumb as your main bass, you can consider it... but I still think it's a pretty big risk. :(
  8. is it a neck through or a bolt on?
    if it's a bolt on, then you could try having someone build you a 2nd neck for it that has a fretless fingerboard...if you like the results, then great...if you don't: at least you spent a lot less than you would on buying a new fretless and your warwick didn't get ruined.
  9. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    i'd think long and hard about that one. i DID actually think long and hard about that one. was considering doing it to my corvette (also, with a beautiful wenge neck). the urge past, and i'm very happy i didn't do it. way too much risk. could feel like crap, look like crap, sound like crap - not to mention the damage that might happen. nope. wouldn't do it.

    ...just felt like this thread needed another, "definitely don't".
  10. No, dumb. Don't do it, whatever you do. Sell the thumb, save your pennies and get a true fretless. Wenge isn't great for a fretless board, and the damage trying to remove the existing wenge board and slapping an ebony board will do to both the bass and its value will make babies cry. Think of the babies. Have you ever tried to take two pieces of glued-together wood apart? You'll take off chunks of wenge neck, and you can't just glue them back on. The entire neck will be ruined, and if its neck-through, you'll be shxt out of luck.

    Start saving a nickel a week, and by the time you've got enough, you'll have learned what an unbelieveably bad idea it was in the first place.

    I'll give you $300 for the thumb right now!!! Whaddya say? :D
  11. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    add a zero to that and it's a deal ;)

    I'm not real sure if everyone is understanding or paying attention to what I'm saying, but just in case there is some misunderstanding, please know that I am NOT talking about doing this stuff MYSELF. I'm talking about a luthier doing a proper job on it. I know that the resounding answer will still probably be "DON'T!", but I just wanted to make sure.

    Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned what kind of bass it is, and just asked for luthier recomendations for this kind of thing. That's really what I was after. I wanted to know if it can be done, and if so, by whom. I never intended to ask or sound like I was asking whether or not I SHOULD do it.

    Also, to those who seem sure that it would ruin the bass, do you hold this position from personal experience, or are you reacting more to the thought of major surgery on a nice piece of wood? How do you know wenge would be no good for a fretless fingerboard (not that I disagree...)? How do you know that it couldn't be replaced with an ebony board? Seems like I've seen some pretty amazing things done as far as instrument repair/customization goes, and a new fingerboard doesn't seem outlandish.

    I'd be perfectly comfortable with a fretless as my main and only bass. I'm not playing bass with any bands now, I've played a good bit of fretless and always felt it was a better, more rewarding and more natural vehicle for my own personal musical expression, and damn it, I've been fiending for a fretless for a long time, and even more so for a fretless thumb. I'm not in the least bit worried about moving to fretless. I'd much prefer to have a nice fretless and a a cheap fretted bass than the other way around.

    Thanks though for all the opinion and input. Keep it coming.

  12. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    i understand that you would have a luthier do it (only musicians know what that word means - check it out and ask people, it's fun). i still think it's taking a huge chance. why wouldn't you simply sell it and put the money you would put into having the work done towards a new fretless? it'll probably cost you more to risk having a bass you might not be happy with, than to just get a new one, or better yet - used. you'd even save money if you sold your present one and bought a used one. i'd imagine it would cost at least $200 to have a luthier do the work you want done. and that would be cheap.also, i agree that wenge might not be the best wood for fretless. it IS really grainy and textured. i believe the smoother the neck, the better it is for fretless. not sure on that though. it seems that there would really be a risk of the wood splintering also, mine almost seems splintered at places simply from the grain alone.

    still wouldn't do it.
  13. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    This is just what I wanted to say - you can have a fretless neck maed if its a bolt on, and if you later decide you dont like it, you can switch it back.

    If I remember right, nojazzloco or now NJL has something similar, he has another neck for his Corvette Proline - ask him whom he had it made by and how it worked out for him
  14. $30.00 - - SOLD!!

    I hear ya, man. I know what you're feeling, and I know that a skilled luthier can do wonders with wood. I just know from experience that it's hard to undo what's been done. That's all. I wasn't assuming you'd be doing the work yourself.

    I used to have a $399 Ibanez Soundgear...and I paid $149 to have the frets pulled out, and the neck died 6 months later. It was a rosewood board, and I didn't switch to flats or stop slapping, so the whole thing just got chewed up. I regret it in a much smaller scale than I think you'd regret it if it happened to your Warwick.

    As for Wenge not being a good fretless wood...I haven't been able to find ANY custom bass builders that use Wenge on a fretless board. It's not that you can't, but it's that dozens (or hundreds) of professional luthiers have experimented with it before now and have decided it's probably not a good idea. I'm no expert on the biology and character of wenge, so I don't know...but I know that I DON'T know, and that's enough for me to fear it.
  15. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I f you haven't already started here a a coupla things to consider:

    1.Wenge is a very open grained and splintery wood so pulling the frets may be a splintery nightmare.
    2. the slots should be filled with wood
    3. If it is a bolt on you may have to adjust the angle of the neck either by sanding an angle into the neck pocket or gluing another piece of wenge onto the neck and gently sanding an angle onto it,

    By taking the frets out you are allowing the neck to release pressure towards the front of the bass and you have to alleviate that by adding wood lines and adjusting neck angles.
  16. Senor SQUID

    Senor SQUID Guest

    Jan 11, 2004
    Don't do it bro, especially not to a pre-factory one. :bawl:
  17. leftybassdog

    leftybassdog Senior Supporting Member

    dont do it !!!!!!!! I did it to my corvette and wish i did not. warwick wont sell a neck. find a fretless and sell your other bass :hyper:
  18. maxbass


    May 22, 2002
    Milano Italy
    Another DON'T DO IT!!!
  19. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA


    I won't.

    Any inexpensive yet high quality fretless recomendations? ;)
  20. maxbass


    May 22, 2002
    Milano Italy