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Failed fretless conversion: this bass might be dundies

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Toastfuzz, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. Toastfuzz


    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    So I had the bright idea to convert my old Ibanez GSR190 to fretless.

    Pulling the frets out went great. Sanding, filling with food filler, sanding and staining the fretboard went great. Had a beautiful, smooth, ebony-stained fretboard, and the stain turned the wood filler a nice gray so I still had dim lines. All is going swell.

    So I go to Lowes and pickup 60-minute Locktite epoxy. I know this isnt the "classic whatever-brand boat epoxy that Jaco used", I really didnt care, all epoxy is supposed to do the same thing, Loctite included. I put a coat on, let it dry 24 hours, and was still tacky to the touch. It'd be raining those few days, so I figured maybe cuz of the humidity it'd take alittle longer.

    So after a week of the same tackiness as when I'd started, I figured it was time to do something with this. Tried scraping the epoxy; no good. Tried sanding it off; biggest mistake, it now looks like crap and has little clumps of epoxy goop in random spots. Tried cleaning it with alcohol and solvents, no dice, probably made it stickier.

    I'm thinking perhaps epoxying in high humidity was a bad idea, or maybe I hadnt mixed the epoxy well enough. I dont have any options available to me to strip the neck back down, so I'm going to try to get it nicely smooth and do another epoxy coating, and hope it dries better. If anyone else has suggestions, let me know.
  2. ChrisPbass


    Jul 18, 2006
    Fairfax, VA
    Call Locktite.
  3. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    yeah, you might have to scrap the board and make a new one if nothing will clean it. But calling the manufacturer for advice would be a good step.
  4. ibanezcollector

    ibanezcollector Yoyo's Hurt When You Crank It Into Your Face

    Feb 18, 2007
    Cleveland Ohio
  5. Toastfuzz


    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Lol pics or it never happened?

    I'll try to get some photos up of this monstrosity. Calling Loctite is actually a good idea, I'll try then when I get home, thanks.
  6. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Methinks your best remedy is going to be a healthy application of elbow grease.
  7. I ABSOLUTELY wouldn't add more epoxy until removing all the botched stuff, or at least figuring out exactly what went wrong. It sounds like the mixture was off(not enough hardener, likely)& if you put more stuff over it, the 'bad' coat will never cure. And do call Loctite. Many of us have done dumber things, BTW. :)
  8. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    Hardener my friend, hardener.
    Also the tackiness is characteristic of the gel being mixed well with enough with the hardener, I once had this issue too.

    Mix well, but don't put too much hardener in it either.Don't stir the mix real hard either, creates too many bubbles.

    Also, FYI, use a test piece before attempting this again.
  9. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Oh man! I'm a few days away from de-fretting my dumpster Ibanez...your story was inspiring and engaging. I too would like pics please.
  10. 4Slater


    May 23, 2008
    I've been playing fretless bass for 18 years now. I've unfretted many and bought a few.

    In my experience, epoxy is a big mistake.

    I've done it. The mixture has to be a perfect ratio of hardener to resin or it will not cure.

    Second, you probably wont like your tone after the epoxy. It's very clanky...

    Get a dual action sander and work off most of the product and then use a block or squeegee to wet sand the rest off with 220 wet to 400 wet.

    When you fill you fret spaces with filler just leave the raw material.

    If it's rosewood it'll last a while but not forever.

    I've had best results with replacement necks and various wood combinations.

    Everyone seems to gravitate to ebony. I use ebony also. But my favorite wood for the board is Pau Ferro. It is hard and sounds warm.

    So when you've sanded this product off just know that your board still has some epoxy in the pores. This means it is sealed. It will last a bit longer now.

    But honestly you don't have to epoxy the board. Even if it's maple it's okay to play on it.

    Just know that round wound strings will wear it down. But you're cutting corners already by not buying a fretless bass.

    The world isn't over. It's just going to take some work and all will be good.

    When you get it finished, try DR nickel rounds...
  11. Toastfuzz


    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks for all the advise, it must have been something in the mix of hardener and resin. I was working on it yesterday, sanding it until my arm hurt, its alot better now but still tacky...needs a bit more sanding.

    I didnt mention that I plan on playing it with Flatwounds (I have a set of Fender Flats that I bought for it when it was fretted and I hated the sound, but like the flats sound on fretless.) So you're saying the epoxy is not necessary, that I can put flats on bare rosewood and it won't damage it? If thats the case then thats excellent.

    I'm going to work on it some more today or tomorrow, and I'll have picks up after that.
  12. KPAX

    KPAX Banned

    Mar 22, 2005
    Get some sharp stanley knife blades and scrape the crap off while being careful to not remove wood. Epoxy can be weird. Even when properly mixed in correct proportions, every once in a while it doesn't set up right. I wonder if it's poor quality control by the mfr.
    I used to work making Rickenbackers in Santa Ana CA and when prepping for finish we used epoxy to fill in missing chunks on the raw instruments coming in from the woodshop (those are the ones that got finished in solid colors). Every once in a while the epoxy didn't set up right.

  13. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Definately. Alot of folks play fretless with flats on bare rosewood. That's pretty much standard for MIM fretless jazz basses. I would suggest that you clean and oil the board very well first, but that's recomended with any fretboard anyway. Hope it all works out for you.
  14. Captain_Arrrg


    Jan 23, 2008
    Mountains of Colorado
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    Yet another insanely helpful thread! I've been doing a Defret project of my own and one of the question's I've asking was "should I coat the whole board in epoxy?" I didn't even know it was an option before TB.

    Now I have my answer- Epoxy with board sandings for the lines and nothing else (epoxy wise, and I will definitely test it first). If that doesn't work, I'll dig it out and use wood-filler.

    Toastfuzz, what stain did you use?
  15. Hi,

    Sorry for my poor english (I'm from Spain) ... but I must say that I'm in the same situation. Before received my incredible Benavente Standard, I defretted and epoxyed my old Peavey Fury (the epoxy it's from a local chemical manufacturer). I'm sure I did a good mixture, and I epoxyed it 3 days ago ... and still waiting, it's drying so so slowly. I think the problem it's that I applied a big coat. I think I will rasp the epoxy and try again with a very thin coats ... I hope it could help you.

    Edit: In this case, the manufacturer says it must be dry in 24 h.
  16. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    I had that issue once with the first stuff i ever bought, this was like 10-11 years ago...

    it didnt dry clear, it was like a gray color... was a bitch to get off...

    i eventually ended up sanding and sanding for hours till i reached fingerboard again..

    then left it unfinished
  17. Yes!! similar to what it's happening with mine. Slapingfunk I'm considering to left it unfinished ... then, if any problem with the fingerboard, I will always be able to epoxy it. Well, I'll wait to see what happens during the next days and take a decision.

    Thank you for your help! :smug:
  18. cadduc


    Mar 4, 2006
    did you call locktite

    i know they sell a solvent to remove this stuff if it doesnt set up
    if they dont, ask if acetone, or naptha, or mek, or someother solvent would work
    then call fender and ask if you can use the solvent on the neck without damaging it

    when you use epoxy, buy the stuff with the integrated mixer and applicator, they look like a double hypodermic needle

    you get a much better mix and a better applicator

    good luck
    let us know what happens eh
  19. Toastfuzz


    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA

    First, to reply to some questions:

    Captain_Arrrg, I used Cabot Penetrating Wood Stain, ebony colored. The tiniest can was like $2.80 at Lowes, and I only used one heavy tab of it with an old sock to coat the entire board. Stain, make sure to cover it fully and rub it in alittle, then take a clean rag (or sock lol) and wipe off all the excess. Not a hard rub, but it basically looks dry when you have it wiped off correctly.

    Cadduc, I did not call Loctite, rather I down with a sheet of 180 grain sandpaper and, as Benjamin Strange recommended, give it a hard application of "elbow grease." Totally sanded the whole thing to where I thought the epoxy was gone, cleaned, sanded with 400 grain, cleaned...still sticky. Did this AGAIN, only sanded HARD until I got through the epoxy and the old stain (down to bare rosewood). I sanded hard and spot sanded, then sanded lightly down the whole board to ensure it was even, then cleaned and sanded with 400 to clean it off nice.

    So I was SUCCESSFULLY back to square one, only better, as the hardcore sanding really smoothed out the board. I applied another coat of the ebony colored finish, and its currently next to my drying. Feels perfectly flat to touch, even better than on the first round.

    I'm letting the stain dry for the full 24 hours. Then I'll adjust the nut, string it up, and provide you all with pictures. As of now it looks amazing, can't wait to see what it looks like strung up and ready to wank on.
  20. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    Did you get Boat Epoxy? Turned out thats what happened with me... back then no forums so I just got somethign that said Epoxy on it... meant for underwater use or something but doesnt say on the bottles...

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