Fretboard leveling on both Fretted and Fretless basses....

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by ElBajista, Feb 21, 2006.

  1. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    Prepare for a long and rather newbie-ish list of questions....


    I have one of the elusive SX '75c basses. Although being a great bass for the money, it needs some help on the fretboard.

    I did a search, but I still am confused as to how to level the frets without screwing anything up. Is there any literature I could get on doing this? What is the bare minimum I need in the way of tools? Keep in mind that I'm working with a tight budget.


    I plan on working on another SX bass, a PJ body with a replacement maple fretless neck. I've heard that SX fretless necks need to be leveled.

    Am I right in assuming that all I'll need is a radius block and some sandpaper? What kind of sandpaper should I use? What should I finish the fretboard in after leveling, and what is the proper way to do so?

    I plan on finishing the backs of both necks with Tung Oil for a satin feel, so some help on doing that would be very much appreciated as well.



    P.S. I asked in the SX megathread about the radius of the 75C, but I also need to know the fretboard radius of the fretless necks. Anyone know?
  2. fookgub


    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I can help with some of these questions. I'm pretty sure Essex uses a 12" radius on all their basses. I believe Hambone mentioned something to this effect in the megathread.

    As for leveling the fretless, the grit you start out at will probably be determined how uneven the fretboard is. If it was mind, I'd probably give it a quick pass at 120 grit to make sure I got all the high/low spots, then work my way up to 600 dry. Then I'd start wetsanding with a bit of lemon oil to 1000 or higher. It's overkill, but your fingerboard will look great. Since you're planning on tung oil for the back of the neck, you might as well use it on the fingerboard instead of lemon oil.

    EDIT: Oops, I didn't notice you were planning on a maple neck. You'll need to finish the fingerboard with something hard. Tung oil or tru oil might be ok, but I really don't know.
  3. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    Should I put epoxy on the fretboard? I will most likely be using flats on this, but I would like the added protection.

    thanks for the tips!
  4. Linas


    Jan 6, 2005
    if your using flats, you should be ok without any hard coating such as epoxy. Rounds are what really do the wear and tear.
  5. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    anyone lend any help on leveling the frets on the '75?

    I think I have the fretless figured out, in theory.
  6. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    I used tru-oil on a rosewood fretless board and it's still fine. I'm using flats on it. Been over a year...
  7. Hey Scott French! Do you use you big bad beltsander to radius or do you do that with a hand block? Just curiuos
  8. Scott French

    Scott French Dude Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    I rough it in on the belt sander but finish it off by hand with a block.