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!  

defretting ebanol

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by eastcoasteddie, Sep 27, 2008.

  1. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    I did a search on defretting ebanol boards, but no one ever posted anything specific.
    I'm thinking of defretting my Squire Deluxe Active Jazz V with ebanol fretboard.

    I'm looking for any insight as to how easy the frets come out, if any chipping of the ebanol can happen...

    I've done one defret job about 15 years ago on a cheap Aria Pro II, and it had some sort of black plastic fretboard. A lot of the fretboard chipped as I pulled the frets, maybe almost every fret had chips. But I'm not sure if that was ebanol or something else.

    Also looking into what can be used to fill the gaps afterwards.

    thanks in advance.
  2. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    well, I started the job.

    I pulled all the frets, and it looked kind of scary at first because the ebanol sort of pulled up as the frets came out; so it was like there were ridges and valleys. I pulled the frets VERY gingerly.

    After a light sanding (150 grit) with a block, the peaks were down to almost nothing.
    I filled the fret valleys with ZAR wood filler. After 1 hour, another light sanding made it smooth. Letting it dry overnight.
    Tomorrow, I'll do a once-over with more wood filler and let that dry. Then I'll sand with 250 and then rub with 0000 steel wool. Hopefully it'll look OK. So far, it's coming along fine.
  3. Paul K

    Paul K

    Aug 15, 2006
    Boy, you sure don't waste any time.....

    I was going to suggest leaving the frets in and just sanding the whole thing down.

    Hope your project works out well
    Paul K
  4. I had my tech do a fretless conversion for me a couple of years ago and it came out great. Ebanol makes a great surface for fretless. If you want some great input on your project contact Gary at Catalina Guitars in Tucson, Arizona.

    Here is a picture of the neck he did.

    Attached Files:

  5. z_nyo


    Mar 10, 2008
    Jakarta, Indonesia

    Did you use radius sanding block everytime ?

    thinking of doing the same thing



    Apr 4, 2008
    Mill Valley, CA
    I was considering that on my Cort Curbow as well. I just didn't know the surface well, and I've never defretted a board before.
  7. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    I din't use one every time. Not at the beginning when getting rid of the high spots where the frets came out. Only when finishing.

    Also as I learned the hard way, DO NOT use anything courser than 240 grit. The 150 grit left too many scratch marks that were a pain to sand smooth. Also, the Ebanol comes off with sand paper VERY easily. You have to be EXTRA carelfu and do not use too much pressure when sanding.
    I still have to do some more finish danding to really get it flat. It's tough to do with the neck off the guitar and no strings...because the neck humps without any "string load" on it. There are a few teeny tiny high spots that you can hear as you play a string up the neck, but you can't see them...

    I'm actually thinking of having a shop do the actual finish sanding, I'm sure they have the right tools to get that done better than I can. If I knew that the ebanol was so finicky to deal with, I would have considered having a shop do it in the first place, but I'm not sure if any shop would take on a half-done project...unless I sign some kind of waiver that I won't hold them responsible...

    One thing I also noticed about the sound of the bass , not sure if it's the ebanol or what, but it is VERY bright. I had to roll off the treble on the bass all the way in order to get it to sound good. It doesn't have a warm sound to it like rosewood or pau ferro. Or it could be the stock preamp in the squire, not sure if it's a cut/boost system or a boost only...where rolling it off all the way makes it "0".

    I'll have some pics up later.

    I just called my local shop
    and the luthier, Tom said to come on down, shouldn't be any big deal. So I'll bring it to him tonight and see what he says...
  8. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    Just got back from the shop, the Luthier told me that I can just get some 800 grit and go slow with it. 800 cuts so slow, and with frequent checking, I should't disrupt the radius of the board. I'll give it a shot.
  9. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    Went out and bought some more sand paper. Finest they had was 600. Did only minor amounts of sanding and it came out baby-assed smooth!!!!

    I also bought a can of spray urethane by MinWax. It's supposed to resist scuffing and chipping. I thought it would make a nice touch for a final coat of semi-gloss. Anyone ever spray urethane? How does it come out?
  10. personally, I would have used a wipe-on urethane...

    600 grit is ok...but you really should look into going a bit finer...

    I'd personally go 300, 600, 800, 1200 and then a THIN coat of wipe-on poly

    spraying is ok...just make sure when you spray that you do NOT build it up and end up with a drippy mess...(go LIGHT)...

    also, to help the spraying...get some hot tap water (NOT boiled water) and place the can in the water for about 5 mins...this will help heat the contents and allow for better flow...
  11. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    I would suggest not putting any finish on the ebonol - it is non-porous and the finish won't last very long as there is nothing for it to hold on to.

    IME it can be defretted as well as most fretboards, but it is brittle - heat it well with a 45 watt iron and you should have zero problems.

    If I may suggest - go to an automotive store. NAPA, Schucks, etc., carry grits to 2000. They also carry McGuires auto polish. If you sand to 1500 or 2000 and then use the McGuires steps 1, 2, and 3 you won't need to apply any finish at all. Ebonol polishes to a great natural luster all by itself.

    You can avoid the McGuires if you have a buffing wheel but it isn't too much trouble to do by hand.
  12. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006

    Thanks for the suggestions!!! I always welcome suggestions and opinions.

  13. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    I think I'm done...



  14. skiscem

    skiscem Supporting Member

    that looks sick!, can you please tell us what you did?
  15. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Looks real good. What's it feel and sound like?
  16. unfortunately, you're not done...

    you'll have to pick up another Squier DJAV, defret it, and send it to me...my fretted DJAV needs a brother :)

    beautiful work...congrats!

    how's it play?
  17. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    It actually plays really nicely. ONe thing is that it's probably due to the ebanol...it doesn't have hat rosewood or pau ferro fretless warmth to t. I have to completely roll off on my treble on the bass. Its very bright when the treble is set in the middle (center detent on the pot). I was wondering if changing the pre would give me more warmth out of it...the stock pre isn't very colourful to begin with. Thought about an OBP-3SK, with the switchable mid freq just like the stock preamp, to keep everything looking and functioning as it is.
  18. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    Alright...here goes

    Started with pulling the frets (obviously). I used a gasket scraper tool (can be found in most auto mechanic's toolboxes). I has a thin, sharp edge and is very rigid. I used a 100 watt soldering gun to heat the frets up little by little as I pulled them carefully. I'd put the gun on one side of the fret, and when it got hot, I'd wedge the scraper under the fret and gingerly pull. Then about a quarter inch back, heat it up again and pull some more. I actually had to use a bit of force, hey didn't come out easily, but carefully controlled force. I used a strip of electrical tape on each side of the fret that I as pulling so as not to mark & scratch up the board. I'd start pulling the fret on one end and slowly work my way back to the other end of the fret. Probably took about 3 minutes a fret.

    Once the frets were all out, I took some sand paper to get the board smooth of all the high spots. As each fret was pulled, some of the board kind of pulled up, and the areas left behind where there once was a fret looked like a small mountain range on each side of a valley (on an almost microscopic level, of course). I started with 150 grit, but as I found out the hard way, 150 is way too course. Don't use anything courser than 300. A courser paper will leave too many score marks that are a pain to sand smooth.

    After the initial sanding, I had to clean all the fret valleys of ebanol dust. I found a thin piece of steel to do this, but you can use even a toothpick (or a few toothpicks as I can see them breaking often after a few fret valleys). After that, a good shot of compressed air would probably finish off the cleaning...but all I had was a shot of compressed "breath". I guess you can also use that keyboard & computer dust spray thing that kids like to get high on.

    Then I used ZAR wood filler. When it dries, it is supposed to be hard enough to support nails, and it is stainable. You can sand it after 1 hour and then stain it after 24 hrs dry time. I sanded it smooth, working my way up to 1500 grit paper. Then I stained the filler "dark walnut" because I don't want the lines to be all that visible. I like the subdued look staining gave.

    But it wasn't that easy. There was a lot of trial and error with sanding, a lot of fit & finish I had the neck off the bass more times than I care to remember. I had to re-shim the neck; it was already shimmed from the factory with two tiny squares of different thickness sand paper at the base of the neck joint, in order to tilt the neck back some. I wound up adding 2 more sheets to raise the entire neck outwards toward the strings...to make up for the absence of frets. The bridge saddles can only go so low. I tried so many combinations of paper shims, I almost went bananas. I finally ended at the best possible compromise without string buzz and a good action height that I'm comfortable with.

    There was a time, about the 2nd day into it, where I was almost in a panic, that I destroyed this neck. See, during the fit & finish, I was using the same strings that I used on this bass as a fretted. I was getting a lot of weird sounds, as though there were high spots acting as frets. When you're run your finger up the string, you'd hear that stepped sound under the fretless "mwhuah". I started sanding more and then re-sanding. It drove me nuts. I could not see or feel any high spots. I even used a straight edge and checked the spacing between the board and the straight edge with a .0015" feeler gauge...flat!!!

    It's gotta be the strings!!! Turns out that using these strings on a fretted bass, the frets had formed a low spot in the string itself, and sounded like I had frets on a fretless. Weirdest thing I ever witnesses. I defretted a bass 15 years ago, it also had a synthetic resin fretboard...and I never had that problem.
  19. Bass Below

    Bass Below

    Oct 24, 2006
    New York
    I'm a little late to the party but I defretted my ebanol board with no problems at all. Came out pretty nice. I used white binding material in the slots. Don't mind the filth covering the bass, I took the pics after a long hot reheasal.


Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.