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First Post: Making a 5 string fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by J Bass Flats, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. J Bass Flats

    J Bass Flats

    Dec 23, 2011
    D.C. Area
    I've been lurking for a long time, but I finally had a question I thought was good enough to post, and went unanswered by the search bar.

    For awhile now I've wanted a cheap 5 string frettless, but I've been able to find one that I like. However in the process of looking, I've found plently of 4 string frettlesses, and 5 string fretted bass that I like. So my question to you is: what do you think would be easier for me to do by myself, defret a 5 string, or replace everything, and add a low b to a fretless 4 string?
  2. LowEZ

    LowEZ Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2011
    Central NJ
    Defretting a 5 would be less work and less expensive than making a fretless 4 into a fretless 5.
  3. J Bass Flats

    J Bass Flats

    Dec 23, 2011
    D.C. Area
    After reviewing how defretting works, I'd have to believe that you're right. Do you know how hard it would be to re-install frets, if I ultimately decide that frettless isn't for me.
  4. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs

    Don't do it!!!

    buy a cheaper fretless to start off and keep your 5er "as is".....that way...no destruction!
  5. J Bass Flats

    J Bass Flats

    Dec 23, 2011
    D.C. Area
    I don't really see any real potential for "destruction". I'm fairly handy, have access to a wide array of tools, and am particularly careful about my basses when doing mods and setup work. The worst I can see happening is either me slightly nicking the fretboard, or not having the time to finish this project for a matter of months.
  6. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Hard. When you defret, you have to fill the fret slots with wood (usually some kind of veneer) to maintain the strength of the neck. They are glued in. To refret, you'd have to get a fret saw and attempt to re-saw the slots. Not a job I'd want. Cripes, if fretless isn't for you then just SELL the fretless bass.

    I really can't believe that cheap fretless 5ers are that hard to find. My $99 Rondo SX fretless is a killer bass. (of course the bad news is that I just checked the Rondo website and Kurt is currently out of stock on all cheapo fretless 5ers.) But I'm sure they are out there if you look in the right spot.

    While the work you propose is highly educational, my advice would still be to try to find a nice cheap fretless first.

    Turning a 4 into a 5 leaves the neck too narrow. And defretting a 5 does take some work and specialized tools. And not only that, you end up with a fretless with fretted side markers. This is not what you want. Fretless markers are ON the fret positions not between them.

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