easy fretless conversion idea

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Atef, May 26, 2004.

  1. this Idea popped up in my head:

    wouldn't it be possible to construct something that you could attach something thinto the fretboard which would cover the fretboard to the heigt of the frets(and very thin pieces over the frets
    if thus was a normal fretted fretboard


    it would become like this:

  2. Jaye


    Jan 30, 2004
    Portland, OR
    I'm almost positive I have seen that done somewhere before but I can't for the life of me remeber where.

    I am sure someone here will shed some light on that.
  3. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000

    There was a company who made a device that would convert a fretted to a fretless. I saw it at a guitar show a few years back. But, I don't remember the name or the website address.

    You may want to try doing a web search on something like " fretless conversion" and see what gets pulled in.
  4. Copycat

    Copycat Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2000
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA
    When I saw Victor Bailey with Steps Ahead some years ago, he had a detachable board that was magnetic on the back that he slid onto/over the fingerboard of his fretted bass. I think I asked him about that once before in a letter. I'll have to see if I can find it and what he told me about that contraption. But yes, it has been done, albeit infrequently. Mustn't work all that well or I'm sure it would be done more regularly.
  5. smperry

    smperry Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    Not exactly what you're describing, but...
    I used to have a 1979 Musicman Sabre that had a conversion kindof like that. It had Novatone "switchboards"--basically the original fretboard was taken out, a thin metal strip was placed on the neck, and magnetized "boards" (one fretted, three fretless) could be switched without changing strings. I probably have some old pictures if you're curious. Some basses with the modification seemed to have neck problems, due to losing the fingerboard wood I'm guessing but since the Sabre had a thick neck, it was fine.

    Your idea, if it could be executed, wouldn't weaken the neck. I wonder about the action issue.

    Steinberger also once tried a prototype bass where the frets could be "dialed" up or down.


    [Edit : Just saw Copycat's post...Victor Bailey's bass had the same Novatone system I'm describing above.]
  6. Copycat

    Copycat Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2000
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA
    Aha. Thanks for the clarification. Now I won't have to dig for Victor Bailey's letter to me--he sent me something when I asked him about this a few years ago. Didn't realize that the original board had been removed.
  7. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
    there is such a thing, an steinberger prototype that had a big knob on the top of the neck (streinbergers are headless basses for those who dont know it). so if you roll that knob in one way it would raise the frets and in the other way it lowered the frets. I thought it was useful 'till I saw some gaps near the corners of the frets so it looked like a cheap fretless fret board
  8. Vox Populi

    Vox Populi Reggae Loving Honkey

    Jan 27, 2004
    Poulsbo, WA
    I had a really farfetched conversion idea once.

    Yank the frets out of your bass, and put little slices of sponge (your choice of color) in the empty slots. Laquer the fretboard, and the sponge will soak up the lacquer and harden. Now you have a fretless with convenient fretlines.

    Hehe, there are probably tons of problems with this. I think I came up with this when I was half way asleep. ;)
  9. iamthebassman


    Feb 24, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    Marshall, cool Hondo. I bought one of those new in the early 80s, same finish as yours. I always loved that shape but it was tuff to find a Dano then. I sold it a few years back to a friend and still see it every once in a while(last night actually). Got a few Jerry Jones Longhorns now.
  10. yeah...well what I've heard isn't exactly what I was thinking about..I was more thinking about maybe a very thin sort of thing..hardwood or some artificial material with ok tone which should be able to be applied to all necks(or maybe different for precision/jazz necks)(I'm talking 4 string here) and secured with straps round the nek

    it should also cover the frets really thin

    the action us a problem though...maybe it would work from 3rd fret on or something
    otherwise a nut/bridge with 2 easy to switch positions might be feasible

    and it shouldn't be too costly...otherwise someone would just buy a fretless bass
  11. smperry

    smperry Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    Thanks. Good eye! I am quite happy with the Hondo, it's a great sounding bass, I like the finish and the shape is cool. Those Jerry Jones Longhorns are very nice...and much lighter!