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Defretting an Ibanez GSR 190

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by grunlohd, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. I've been thinking I might play my GSR 190 more if she were fretless. But I don't want to wreck the instrument in the process. Anyone out there with advice to share on how I might accomplish this properly, your input is appreciated. The instrument in question is a four string, rosewood fingerboard, phenolithic nut, two-pickup with chrome hardware. I'd like to keep the basic setup intact, and just get rid of the frets. Suggestions as to how I might do that most easily are most welcome. Devlin...
  2. llatikcuf


    Aug 24, 2007
    Sitting in the mix well
    I did this on a cheapie Washburn with rosewood board.
    The only things I needed were a soldering iron and some "nippers" that I modified by grinding to make the top flat like real (and expensive) fret-pullers.
    I used the soldering iron to heat up the fret, and I worked carefully with the nippers to pull it up. It worked surprisingly well - I didn't pull up and big chunks of wood, just a couple of splinters. After I was done I just filled in the lines with some light-colored wood filler (Minwax) to make visible fretlines, and sprayed the whole thing with some clearcoat sealer stuff.
  3. GAAAAAS! Every time somebody posts a thread up about defretting, I get more and more close to the edge. I've been wanting to do this for a long long time now, but I've only got one bass!

    www.geocities.com/charlesarms/ is probably one of the better resources for learning to defret. Otherwise, do a search on these forums and you will come up with LOTS of info! Best luck and I hope to see pics!
  4. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    First things first:
    a) Do you know the radius of your fingerboard ? You will need a radius sanding block. There's a guy on eBay that sells them, or $tewmac.
    b) What type of strings will be used on the bass ? If you plan on roundwounds, you'll need some kind of coating.
    c) Can you replace the nut ? It will probably need to have the bottom part sanded down.
    d) What will you fill the fretholes with ? Some fill them, others don't.

    The actual defretting of the bass is the easy part, it's the aftermath that can be headache inducing. The FAQ has good tutorials on how to remove the frets. Myself, a cheap soldering iron and a mini-flat screwdirver is all I needed. I basically heated on end of the fret, got the tool under the fret and pulled a bit. I then heated the middle, did the same thing and then the end, if necessary. It took the better part of 2 hours.

    It did an okay job with some chipping, but I'm fine with it. I filled the holes with cheap hardwood veneer that I found at the hardware store (the kind used to trim plywood furniture). 3$ for 25 feet. I sanded the glue off the back of the strips and carefully inserted them in the hole, using carpenters glue.

    Overall, it doesn't look factory made, but if looks aren't much of a concern, defretting is actually very easy to do. You just have to take your time, go slow and take your time some more. I'm waiting for my block to arrive to finish with either epoxy or super glue.

    - Mask the fingerboard except for the frets to avoid tool marks and chipping.
    - Start at the very end and work up to the first position frets. This way, if you mess up on your first frets, it won't matter as much.

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