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Defretting TIPS

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by MurvintheWalrus, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. MurvintheWalrus


    Sep 21, 2007
    HI, FIRST LUTHIER Post, and i am a newb. The only adds to a bass was a chrome bridge cover on a fender jazz. Anyway, i am thinking about buying a 5 string fretted (Spectr Classic 5 or Wasburn Taurus 5) and just read the making lined fretless post (very helpful thanks) and a guy mentioned defretting. Anytips, without going insane Jaco on the beautiful new fretboard.
  2. uethanian


    Mar 11, 2007
    i started a similar project recently...

    first get some painters tape on all the fingerboard between the frets. it can hold done some wood chips that would normally come out.

    u can heat up the fret with a soldering pen, but it really depends on the make of the neck. if the frets are glued, the pen will really help, and if they're not, at least it will make the fret softer and easier to pull.

    DONT do what i did: wedge a small screwdriver or pick under the fret and wiggle it up

    DO this: get a pair of end nippers, and grind them if they are not perfectly flush, and then u can grab underneath the edge of the fret and lift across the board.
  3. fookgub


    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    ^^^ what he said

    Also, if it's a maple fretboard, score the finish around the frets with a straight razor. Go slowly when pulling out the frets. Try to chip out as little wood as possible (some will chip out inevitably, but you can minimize it). Once the frets are out, clean the slots (I use a .23" kerf saw from stewmac), and glue in the veneer of your choice. Then it's business as usual, level the fretboard and apply finish if it needs it.
  4. I defretted a neck i had from my old bass today actually. i used a soldering iron to soften the glue, until i found the frets were only pressed in.

    I used a paint scraper to lever the fret ends up then slowly pull it out.

    It turned out great, no major chipping at all. Although, i used wood putty to fill in the fret slots. The first coat of polyurethane on the fretboard is drying now.

    Good luck!
  5. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    I did mine about a month ago. I pulled the frets with a pair of cheap end cutters that I ground with a nice flush edge. I heated the first fret with a soldering iron before pulling it, but there was no glue, so I didn't bother heating the rest. I filled the lines with bondo, sanded, and then finished it with a really nice shiny superglue finish.

    I found the best way to remove the frets was just by grabbing them with the cutters. With normal nickel silver frets, they'll actually dig into the metal fairly easily, rather than trying to force them under the edges immediately. Once you have a good grip, just lightly rock them back and forth and they'll work their way loose without much chipping at all.

    The first couple I did by trying to get the jaws under the edges right away, and they turned out alright, but definitely had more notchy edges from the teeth on the fret pulling out.

    Just jiggle it back and forth and it'll come out easier, without as much chipping.
  6. fryBASS


    Aug 8, 2006
    New Haven, CT
    I know on my rosewood fretboard it was really easy to take the frets out. I was all worried about chipping the wood and everything, but they came out like butter on mine. Just stuck a knife under em and gently wiggled.

    Didn't even fill in the slots and it plays great! :D :bag:
  7. rktjky


    Feb 25, 2008
    wynne, ar
    newb, first post. i, too am interested in doing this to my spector 5 (rosewood) anybody got pix of before and after? during? when i lived in las vegas, i was gointo take my bass to ed roman (recommended by spector) but they lost their lease and had closed their repair shop.
  8. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
  9. rktjky


    Feb 25, 2008
    wynne, ar
    can i leave the frets in and just cut them flush to the fret board?
    also on close inspection, it looks like the frets are attached to the surface of the fretboard and do not actually extend below the surface of the wood. any comments?
    korean made spector.
  10. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    You *can* leave the frets in, and use the tang as the line markers, but the wood will wear much faster than the metal, and you might not like that.

    What you are actually seeing is probably just a bound neck. Pretty much *all* frets are pressed or glued in. The tang is much narrower than the working portion of the fret, you wouldn't see it from the top, and if the edges of the fingerboard are bound, you won't see the tang from the edge, either.
  11. Connor


    Jun 21, 2007
    after reading this i picked up my squier P and used a knife to just pop em' out, i think it might be harder on a good bass though...? by the way, watch the fingers, my knife bit me.
  12. saxofunk


    Jul 25, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    There's an enormous sticky thread about defretting at the top of the Setup forum, lots of good info there.

    For my .02 click through to my home page.

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