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defretting

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bsplyr54, Mar 24, 2001.


  1. bsplyr54

    bsplyr54 Guest

    Mar 3, 2001
    Champaign, IL
    i was thinking of defretting my bass. what are the advntages/disadvantages to it. its my only bass, so will it ruin it. will it sound as good as a regular fretless. thanks~paul
     
  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    checkout www.bassplayer.com and click on the "Gear" link/box. They have an excellent article on the defretting decision, "Fretless Tech."
     
  3. sampsonite

    sampsonite

    Aug 27, 2000
    personally i like the fretless. i don't have much experience playing with it but all the ones i picked up sound great. also if you are playing real fast and you accidentally miss your fret you don't get that crapy sound but rather you're just a bit off key.
     
  4. DanGouge

    DanGouge

    May 25, 2000
    Canada!
    You can defret your bass however there is a risk that your neck will lose stability if you do. Depending on the type of bass you have, it might be a safer bet to order a fretless replacement neck.
    Just a thought,
    -Dan
     
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I've never heard of anything like that. And I doubt defretting can make a neck less stable. Can you tell us where you got that info? Or is this just speculation on your part?
     
  6. DanGouge

    DanGouge

    May 25, 2000
    Canada!
    I've read/heard of these stability problems from a number of different sources. The thinner the neck the more risk there is of this sort of problem. I guess it all depends on how well the defret job (I've seen fretless conversions where huge chunks of the fingerboard were pulled out along with the frets) is done and how inherently stable that particular neck is.
    YMMV
    -Dan
     
  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Still I seriously doubt that is a danger. I know a lot of people who either build or service basses and guitars, and they never experienced anything like this.
     
  8. KeithPas

    KeithPas

    May 16, 2000
    Poulsbo,Wa
    I've spoken with several luthiers hwo have said that defretting a bass without filling in the slots could harm the neck. Look at it this way; take the cumlative area occupied by all of your fret spaces and consider the affect of losing that much wood on your neck.
     
  9. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Who in their right mind would defret a neck without filling the slots?!?
    I agree that it <b>could</b> happen. But it's so rare that it's a negligible risk.

    BTW: The amount of lost material would only be a fraction of a percent in relation to the whole neck. Nothing to worry abut.
     
  10. I'll offer my observation here cuz it's easy and I need it for my 700TH POST!!!!

    If you added up all of the material removed by a fretsaw in a standard 20 fret neck, you'd take out just over ¼" total. Now, since 5 - 8 of those slots are at the end where they are either over the bolted section or past the effective area of the truss rod, they wouldn't have any effect whatsoever. The first one or two at the top are so near where the strings terminate that they wouldn't de-stabilize anything either. You are left with the 10 or so in the middle and that is a negligible amount of material. The theory that these guys are working on is that as the neck bows under string tension, the fibers of the wood in the fretboard are compressed. By breaking the top layers of fibers into sections the neck curve would in effect "close-up" the neck slots allowing for more bow. The only thing this doesn't take into account (at least in a rosewood style neck) is that the slots don't go through the wood completely. The remaining material in the fretboard is more than enough to maintain stability. In a maple neck, where there isn't a top wood, the stability of the maple alone is enough to maintain the shape. If it HAS happened, I might be inclined to believe that it was with inferior or sub standard woods and construction. At any rate, all of the work done to defret a neck would be accomplished with the neck off of the body, so it is unlikely that any additional neck bow would be noticed. If anything, there would be some noticable back bow until the instrument were re-strung, at which time it should adjust into the proper position easily.

    Just my 700th opinion!! woohoo
     
  11. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Removing the frets can cause the relief in the neck to increase because you relieve the cumulative wedging effect of the frets which tend to make the surface of the fingerboard longer.

    A very slight adjustment is all it takes to correct the relief. I've never heard of or had a problem with instability from removing the frets.

    If a bass has had the surface of the fingerboard destroyed by fret removal there is no telling what else the butcher did in making the modification.

    If done carefully I don't see why defretting would present a problem. If done haphazardly, lots of problems may be introduced.

    Another thing to remember is that a defret job can be reversed if one doesn't like the outcome. A splintered up fingerboard can only be replaced though, so take the time to do it right.

    A little backbow in the neck and a weller soldering gun will almost always allow fret removal without damage.

    I suppose most everyone knows how to modify the tip on a Weller soldering gun for fret removal. If not, I'll explain. It's the easiest way to remove frets without damage that I've found.

    Pkr2
     
  12. bsplyr54

    bsplyr54 Guest

    Mar 3, 2001
    Champaign, IL
    will you explain?
     
  13. bizzaro

    bizzaro

    Aug 21, 2000
    Vermont
    Hey pkr2,I guess most everyone but me knows how to modify a weller gun for defretting. Can you explain it for me? And any other helpful hints on defretting that you think are important. I may be doing my first defretting soon.
     
  14. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Sorry, didn't mean before posting these threads.
    BUT, before defretting. Bob Gollihur posted a web-link here just a few months ago, that is fully instructive. I know of at least two who used this, very successfully.
    If you go along that, you would be, too :)
     
  15. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Simply cut a replacement tip at the point hat would normally contact the solder joint. Bend the tip to the shape of a "Y". spread the two ends of the tip to the width of the fret. Hold the gun so the two ends of the tip are contacting the fret at opposite ends. pull the trigger and the current will flow through the fret, heating the fret and softening any adhesive that might be holding the fret in. Be careful though, if you leave it on there too long, it's possible to burn the fret slot. If smoke comes from the area that you're working on, you are leaving the gun on it too long. Just lift the gun and let things cool down a bit. Don't be tempted to cool it down with a damp cloth cause the fingerboard wood can absorb the moisture, swell the wood and really lock the fret in.

    Chances are that you wont have fret pliers. For a one off job, a 1/2" wood chisel with the bevel turned toward the fingerboard will allow you to pry the fret up enough to get under the edge of the fret. When the fret is lifted enough, use a chisel on each side of the fret to remove it by prying STRAIGHT UP. if you pry it out from only one side of the fret slot, you probably will raise splinters.

    It probably goes without saying that the neck should be removed (unless, of course, it's a neck-through). remove the neck several hours before removing the frets to allow the neck to go into a slight backbow. A quarter turn on the truss rod will speed things along, just let it settle for an hour or so after the truss rod is tightened.

    I have had good luck using a product called Marine-Tex as a filler. It comes in white but any colorant that is compatible with epoxy can be mixed in to make the filler any color you want. Don't be sloppy with the filler cause any excess has to be dressed down. you can always add more but Marine-Tex is a bear to sand.

    One last thing that should be the first step. Mask off the fingerboard between the frets with painters tape to protect the fingerboard while you work on it.

    Hope this helps, Pkr2
     
  16. Here's another tip that goes well with pkr2's process:

    The masking tape on both sides of the fret can serve a purpose other than protecting the fretboard. If you splinter the fretboard, the splinter will be stuck to the tape. As you pull the tape upward, it will lift the splinter. Put glue on the splinter and replace the tape in it's original position. This way it will hold the splinter in place while the glue dries.
     
  17. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Slick trick, Hambone. On the strength of your good tip, I will modify mine a little.

    I use painters tape because it leaves no residue on the fingerboard. I'll start using masking tape with its stronger adhesive so the splinter can't be dis lodged.

    I would be sure to peel masking tape off toward the fret so it doesn't make a splinter by pulling up on the edge of the fret slot.

    I try to err on the side of being overcautious, especially if it's not my instrument. :) Tnx,

    Pkr2
     
  18. bizzaro

    bizzaro

    Aug 21, 2000
    Vermont
  19. I've heard of just taking a hand grinder, like a dremel or whatever and simply sanding off the frets. I know it sounds dumb, but why wouldn't it work? Also, I was just wanting to ask a question, if there are no frets how does it keep from deadening the sound? I thought frets where there to help sustain. Oh well, see ya.
     
  20. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    The primary use of frets is intonation. By introducing them, Leo F thought players should be able to play faster with the same precision - Precision Bass! Unfortunately, these meatl bars very seldom are in the very correct place..... :mad:
    Frets also add some metal to the sound. Leo F moderated this by placing some foam under the strings by the bridge. :D
    Frets add a little to sustain, which was also remedied by the foam.... Fact is, the fretless have a wee bit less sustain, but when notes are correctly stopped and fingertips are well trained (hardened), we're talking minor differences - very small.