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Filling fret spaces with super glue?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Bluebard, Dec 28, 2015.

  1. Bluebard


    Oct 21, 2014
    Hey bass dudes,

    So I've got this old Hamer Slammer SB4F short scale bass that I'm thinking of converting to fretless for fun. I've been missing my fretless since I sold it, and I never play this Hamer anyways - I figure making it fretless will give me reason to play it. But I'm concerned about how to fill the spaces left by the frets. I've heard of using wood veneers, but I don't have the skill, know-how, or tools for making wood veneers and I don't have the money (or desire) to have this done professionally - just a fun project for me.

    Anyway, I've heard of people coating fretless boards with superglue, so I'm wondering if it would be feasible to fill those fret spaces with super glue rather than wood, then coat the board with superglue to even it out and make a durable fingerboard. What do you guys think? Good idea? Bad idea?

    On a side note, does anyone know of any pickups that could be a drop in replacement for the soapbars on a Hamer Slammer? Unlikely, I know... but I'm not looking to be cutting any wood away from the body, and upgrading with new pups would be nice.

    Thanks for your wise guidance! :D
    Merry New Year!
  2. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    There's a really in-depth thread in the Pro Bench section of TB.
    Defretting and the use of Wood Filler
    The posters there go over pros and cons of each method of fretless conversion.
    Bluebard likes this.
  3. capnjim


    Mar 13, 2008
    The easiest, quickest way would be to sand it a bit, save the dust, then fill the cracks with dust, add crazy glue. Then sand the glue/dust smooth. I wouldn't think you would need to coat the entire neck.
    If you want to see the lines, take another lighter or darker piece of wood and use the sawdust from it.
    lz4005 and Bluebard like this.
  4. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    It is difficult to control CA glue when it is penetrating a particulate substrate. If it seizes up half way down you have captured dust for filler. That could compromise the stiffness of the neck. CA has a tendency to expand in this situation. If it does, the effect will be similar to compression fretting. It could cause the neck to back bow, which is another problem to take care of. Plus, there is always the chance of the glue hitting a fissure in the dust, running out the end of the kerf, and hardening on the neck.

    Using plastic or wood veneer allows the tech to choose whether or not compression is used on a particular neck. Almost as quick, certainly easy, and completely controlled.
    Pilgrim and Bluebard like this.
  5. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    I agree with 202dy. If you have a hobby store nearby, get a sheet of styrene plastic in .020" thickness. You can easily cut pieces to fit the slots, and glue them in. Cut them oversize and trim after the glue has dried. Easy to do and very effective.
    J0hn, JLS, Pilgrim and 1 other person like this.
  6. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Styrene plastic - easy to cut and sand once installed, and it won't compress. Wood filler is a very bad answer, and super glue is not controllable when it sets up.
    J0hn, JLS and Bluebard like this.
  7. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    +1 more, not hard to do it right with actual strips of plastic or wood veneer.
    JLS and Bluebard like this.
  8. Bluebard


    Oct 21, 2014
    Thanks guys, I'll see if I can get some Styrene plastic! Could this stuff be cut with a knife (since it sounds like styrofoam xD) or must it be a saw of some kind?
  9. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    You're going to be cutting it oversize and sanding after installation. You can cut it with a exacto knife, razor blade, or even scissors.
    JLS and Bluebard like this.
  10. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Styrene plastic is available in thicknesses accurate to thousandths of inches, and probably .020 is about right, if memory serves. Hobby shops carry the stuff in various thicknesses for model-builders.
    Bluebard likes this.
  11. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    +1 on .020 either veneer or plastic. Veneer will glue in easier.

    One caveat: the short scale bass may sound a little thumpy compared to the fretless the OP used to own if it was a standard 34" scale bass. But then again, early Wyman tone is a good tone.
    Bluebard likes this.
  12. Here is a link to a post I did that has pictures of the first and only conversion I did. It is easy to do with some simple tools. I made a radius sanding block by taping sand paper to the neck after I pulled the frets then used a styrofoam block on the neck. It cut a radius into the styrofoam. Then I taped sandpaper in the radius block to sand the neck once I got the wood strips trimmed down. It was a fun project. Good luck!
    First attempt at Converting Bass to Fretless (lots of pictures)
    Dan80sMan and Bluebard like this.
  13. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    In the hobby shop, look at the strip stock in the plastics display. Look for 0.020" x 1/4" white styrene. That's exactly what I use when customers want white lines on a fretless board. Or you can buy a small sheet of 0.020" white styrene. It cuts easily with scissors or a knife.

    Like the others have said, glue it in with CA glue, use a sharp chisel to trim the excess down close to the surface, then sand and polish the whole fingerboard surface. The white styrene makes good permanent lines, plus you can always knock them out and refret it later if you change your mind.
    Bluebard likes this.
  14. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    This fretless conversion used styrene plastic. There are a very few small wood chips next to the fret slots, caused by pulling the frets. I filled them with superglue mixed with dust and chips from the fretborad, then re-sanded.

    Bluebard likes this.
  15. Bluebard


    Oct 21, 2014
    So I figured I'd ask here instead of starting a new thread: what if I used epoxy instead of super glue? Does anyone have any recommendations for what kind of epoxy I'd need and what quanity? How much would it cost me? I'd want to buy as inexpensively but as effectively as possible.
  16. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    There are a couple threads here about the pros and cons of using epoxy. The general consensus is it is not a good idea; go with the CA (super glue).
    how to coat my fretless with epoxy
    Glue vs Epoxy; clamp vs vac bag for neck laminating
    Epoxy on fretless neck: The Pour vs The Wipe
    Epoxy on a fretless Warmoth neck by Lewis Bass and Guitar
    Neck pocket re-setting with epoxy... help
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
    Bluebard likes this.

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