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Epoxy for a fretless bass?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by 5intheface, Jan 10, 2006.


  1. 5intheface

    5intheface

    Dec 18, 2004
    I mentioned this in another topic on this board, but I have a Sammick J-bass with the fret ground even to the fingerboard to make it fretless. It works well, and is a great beginner fretless, but now I'm getting better on it, but still want to get mileage out of it.

    I know I could get better pickups and what not, but that costs money. My real question lies here: The Frets aren't always perfectly even to the neck at spots above the G string. It isn't obviouis unless your just missing them, but it creates a subtle yet offensive buzz.

    Is there an epoxt that one would use normally when defretting thier instrument (like Jaco did) to smooth over these areas? I figure a few coats would smooth it over nicely. What kind if recommended?
     
  2. 5intheface

    5intheface

    Dec 18, 2004
    Also, I am currently using roundwound strings, not really heavy, but sharp egded nonetheless. Would flatwound be recommended also for the this fretless? Any suggestions for deep sounding, yet punky flatwounds? Able to produce both a Jamerson/Santana bass player sound from the sixties and a Jaco tone?

    And can you slap at all using a fretless, flatwound bass?
     
  3. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Wait, you ground down your frets instead of pulling them? I had a friend who did this and the neck on his '70's Ripper banana'd right up. Those frets should be pulled.

    Any epoxy should do, as long as it's sanded smooth and allowed to cure all the way. Many have done this with a simple coat of polyurethane.
     
  4. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I don't think you'll really find that tone in flatwounds, maybe groundwounds or halfrounds (ground down roundwounds that still retain some punch but are gentler on the fingerboard) or perhaps a modification of your style would be most beneficial.

    I started playing fretless with roundwounds, never liked the sound of flats, I've got my upright for that tone. Play with a light touch, lower your action for the mwah you're after, and if you use vibrato, learn to do it properly, along the string, not bending the strings across the board. THAT'LL tear up your fingerboard quicker than anything.

    A year on my fretless, entirely with rounds, averaging an hour of play a day, there's almost no marking on my rosewood board.
     
  5. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    NH
    Builder: ThorBass
    I'd really like to hear from anyone else on this issue. I have a potential customer asking me if I can epoxy the fingerboard because he uses rounds. I have never done it and I feel like it might have a negative impact on the tone. I have a Pedulla and I feel that the coating takes away from the natural sound of the instrument. With an Ebony fingerboard I think you should get at least 1000 hours of play time before you would even think about resurfacing. What do you guys think?
     
  6. Linas

    Linas

    Jan 6, 2005
    Chicago
    Personally, i love the tone of a pedulla ebony with the epoxy coating. But i think if you are using a hard enough wood such as ebony, it does not need any finish to save itself from the damage of roundwounds. Of course, after a certain amount of play time, there will eventually be some damage.
     
  7. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    Using epoxy to get rid of the high spots that are causing buzzes is not a good idea. You'd have to build it up pretty thick. First, level those spots.

    I've epoxied several fretless rosewood fingerboards with good results. I used a 2 part epoxy I got from a hardware store advertised for coating bar tops. Marine epoxies such as System 3 or West would work well too.

    It can be a messy job and you must mask off where you don't want the epoxy to be (nut slot, back of neck). Level the fingerboard first with a sanding block and sandpaper, clean off the dust then mix the epoxy and apply. I used a foam brush which will fall apart quickly. You'll only have a few minutes to sork before the stuff thickens too much to brush. I used a hair dryer to gently blow over the epoxy to remove the bubbles that build up as it cures.

    After it's cured enough to sand (12 hours or so), use a sanding block with 600 grit to level the surface, then apply a second coat the same way. After it's cured enough, sand smooth again with 600 grit. Let the epoxy cure for a few days before playing it.

    You'll get a lot of life out of it before wear. I use TI flatwounds on mine because I like the sound. It's simple enough to sand and recoat when needed but that wouldn't be for a long time.

    I defretted my 62 P bass (rosewood fingerboard) in 63 and played it without any coating for over 10 years professionaly. I only had to lightly sand it level once. That was using flatwounds, the only strings available then.

    The epoxy coating does change the sound a bit. Gives a bit brighter highs.

    If the bass is defretted you must fill the fret slots and sand level before applying epoxy.

    It's not easy to get a professional looking job but it can be done. I'd mix up a small amount and test the technique first on a small piece of hardwood. That way you'll ssee what you're up against.
     
  8. username1

    username1

    Dec 28, 2005
    alberta canada
    I would try to remove what is left of your frets and fill the holes with either small strips of wood or you can even clean the slots and fill them with epoxy before covering the board. I would then put masking tape on the sides of the fingerboard to keep the epoxy from running over the sides. When it has all cured find a carpenters level about 2feet long and rubber glue a light gauge of sandpaper along the bottom edge and use this to sand your fingerboard level, works great to keep it level and is also a great way to level a rosewood fretless fingerboard. good luck
     
  9. Volk

    Volk

    Dec 18, 2005
    South Jersey
    Why would you level the fretboard? Do you radius the epoxy?
     
  10. username1

    username1

    Dec 28, 2005
    alberta canada

    The fretboard needs to be level or you will get alot of string buzzes you dont want, just like on a fretted bass which needs the frets leveled ocasionally for good action. You can work a bit of a radius in while your leveling the board. i prefer to have a little flatter fretboard than the stock fender jazz so i just do it by eye while I'm leveling the fretboard. You could also make up a sanding block with your prefered radius on it but be shure to true it up after with a level like i mentioned for best action. If you have more questions just email me, i was a repairman for years and also did some building and i might be able to help you with your questions.
     
  11. Volk

    Volk

    Dec 18, 2005
    South Jersey
    Ah, I thought by level you meant flatten it out