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fretboard swap

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by dabber, Apr 26, 2001.

  1. dabber


    Jan 22, 2001
    After "pulling a Jaco" unsuccessfully, I believe my only option left is to put on a new fretboard. I would replace the neck however the bass is a mid 80's Bass Collection and I'm pretty sure the neck pocket specs are unique(i.e. not standard P or J sizes). Any help from experience or any cool links on fretboard removal/installation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. Boy, you probably couldn't have picked a more technical and difficult repair to ask about. For solid bodied guitars, this is it!

    This is not a do-it-yourself project even if you feel comfortable with your tools. An experienced luthier should look at the neck to make a determination if it is worth saving. Part of the problem lies with the fretboard removal. This requires some special tools to soften the glue between the top and neck to ease removal. Then you've got to get a new slab or pre-cut fretboard that will fit and attach it like the original after prepping the neck. My luthier charges just over $250 to swap a fingerboard in ebony. Keep in mind that is WITHOUT frets so frets would be extra. The ebony fingerboard could be acquired for less than $30 so you can see where the time and attention have to be spent.

    My advice would be to make a tracing of your neck and neck pocket and do some actual comparisons to more standard products from Fender and the like. Since you've only guessed at whether it is standard or not this could be revealing. Then if things aren't to out of line, you could alter your pocket for a Warmoth neck for less than the above cost.
  3. dabber


    Jan 22, 2001
    Thanks Hambone.
    looks like a new neck it is...

    The neck pocket is about 2 3/8" wide and 3/4" deep. End of neck to lower horn 3", upper horn 4 1/2".

    Would a J style neck be heavy or unbalanced on a light, small body? if it fits at all

    Anybody, anybody... (ben stein voice)
  4. You just might be in luck here. You are right that your neck pocket isn't standard compared to a Fender but it IS smaller! That means that you could get a neck with the more standard 2 ½" width (J or P) and, with a little routing, make a neck pocket that fits snug. The assumption here is that your bass is 34" scale and you don't mind a Fender type headstock. Warmoth is the best place for necks by far but...ebay is also a pretty good source. Magic Dragon regularly has maple P width necks up for auction and they usually go for under $100. That is a steal. I have one of these and have found it to be quite a decent piece. My new custom creation that is in the design stages now will be using this type of neck.
  5. dabber


    Jan 22, 2001
    Once again thanks.

    a P neck for under $100? I just might change my tune on the old P/J issue...

    I got married, bought a house, got a 2nd dog, had to replace my car, all in the last year. It's amazing how quickly the "Bass Budget" gets trimmed...
  6. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon

    Have you explored the option of simply refretting the neck without replacing the fingerboard?? There may be several ways to go about it, depending just how 'unsuccessfull' you were in yanking them in the first place...

    If the frets were pulled without significant damage to the slots, you may be able to press or 'pound' new frets in, with a little super glue to secure them. If there was 'some' damage to the slots, you may be able to slightly widen them, then use a special crimper to crimp the tang of the fretwire, slightly widening it. Again, press or pound new frets, using glue to secure...

    A third option requires significantly widening the slots, inlaying them with an appropriate wood, recutting new slots, and re-fretting. Actually, this would be a good way to make your bass into a lined fretless... Just use an opposing colored wood to inlay, (Maple works well on Rosewood, Ebony, or any dark fretboard... Any dark hardwood would be fine for a Maple fingerboard.)

    All of these techniques require careful planning and preparation to execute successfully. Any skilled luthier should be able to handle these without breaking a sweat. Cost may become a factor, but that's where you need to use judgement. A guy could undertake this himself, (I mean, what the heck... you're already calling the neck a loss...)

    I've used all of the above methods at different times, (I'll admit that I botched the third technique, inlaying and then re-cutting the slots, but that was purely my fault. Those ol' timers were on the mark with that 'Measure twice, Cut once' rule!! I decided to make a lined fretless outta that one!)

    The Stewart MacDonald site has any tools you'd need, as well as fretting tips and techniques...


    Good luck with whichever way you decide to go... Replacing the neck can be kinda exciting in it's own right!

  7. dabber


    Jan 22, 2001
    now I'm gonna have to explain what I did :oops:

    I loaned this bass to a friend who was getting back into playing. During that time, we we're both talking fretless and since I traded stereo equip. to another friend for it in '87(?) I figured "Jaco". My friend pulled the frets and did an initial sanding. No prob. Here's where it goes downhill... During it's downtime, I ended up buying a 5 st fretless(DeanEdge) AND my friend got a 4 st fretless (MIMJazz) . So, the old Bass Collection sat and sat. Since I can't afford a new one (my friend did get a walnut BTB since...nice)I figured I'd finish the neck and have a 4 fretless also. I ended up not waiting long enough between coats and when I thought the board was totally ready ... it wasn't. Trying to fix it ended up in it getting progressively worse. I tried to take it back to the rosewood but was slightly overzealous and well, it wasn't, isn't pretty...

    So, after that longwinded explanation, I can't refret because I( being of Polish decent :rolleyes: ) messed it up too much.

    I looked on ebay last night and a new neck seems plausible. Hell, I saw an Epiphone neck that would look weird but neat for under $40 (I think). The Bass Collection body is kinda like a Soundgear with a P/J setup, I did successfully strip the black paint and have a nicely grained body waiting for a coating...

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