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Fretboard woes (on my Custom)

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Brendan, Nov 25, 2001.

  1. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Custom. Bah. What a deceptive word that is. Try "Future Monstrosity." Anyway, I am building a 35" 5er as my first bass. I've run into a couple of problems. Actually, the fret/fretting/fret board issues are all that stope me from starting.

    How in the word do I slot a 35" bass? I have a couple of fret calculators, but, do they take into account the for the fret slot?

    How wide do I make the slots? Stewmac seems to like .024"

    Now, I'm a complete neophyte to this (though I hope to fix that)...are there ANY pre-slotted 35" fretboards out there? I know Stewmac makes 24", but I think that if I could get a 35" then I could make at least reference slate/legend so that I could replicate it on future models.

    More questions will indubitably follow.
  2. You could try warmoth. I think they make pre slotted boards.

    I am building some projects lately and have considered doing a neck. But to me "making" a fret board seems a lot more dangerous then buying one or even having a custom fretboard made.

    I think the caculations should be the place to cut the slot. Or the center of the fret if you want to look at it that way.

  3. The fret calculator will give you the center of the fret, which should also be the center of your fret slot. Its not so scary. Practice on a piece of scrap first.

    (this is also why so many people make a fretless bass as their first instrument, though most people can't play them :D )

  4. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Fretless are more correct instruments anyway. :D

    Brendan, I'd love to see the bass when you finish! Got any specs ready yet?
  5. mac315


    Nov 11, 2001
    Ellijay, Georgia
    A fret calculator gives you the location of the "center" of the fret slot as previously stated. Here is a hint. When you measure out where your fret should be, mark the location with a very sharp tool. I have a special scribe to mark fret locations on a fingerboard. It is very sharp and pointed like a needle. I have also heard of people using a razor blade to mark the spot. If you use a pencil the line will be to thick and when you make the cut you will be ever so slightly off, putting your fret more likely than not ahead of the position it should be in.

    Not a big deal you say... well if all of your frets are a pencil line off, as you closer to the body (up the scale) your notes will become flatter.

    Just a hint.

    Joe Weiss
    Weiss Custom Basses
  6. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Well, after I make a couple of prototype/failed experiments out of poplar (to get the wood working down...the electronics come later) The ends I plan (hopefully the first of many):

    5 string
    35", Neck-though, 24 frets
    Maple/? neck Pau Ferro Fretboard
    Bart soaps and harness
    hipshot tuners
    AMB bridge (black hardware)
    Top is in debate...looking at Walnuts along with the old standbys of QM or FM, single cap to cover through lines.

    And maybe, if I can get the stains right on a dummy, a blue or crimson burst on the body.

    But, Like I said, more than one bass dummy will be made before this. The mock ups though, will be working toward that bass, so they (the mock ups) will be of simmilar measurements and details. I hope to make the first dummy out of poplar over christmas break, and hopefully be able to start on the real bass by feb/march, depending on how many tries it takes to make a bass right out of cheap woods, before I go blowing all my money on the expensive pups/woods/hardware. (See my thread "I'm Starting Luthiering" or some such in Misc.)
  7. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Oh, and Mr. Weiss...

    Thank you for the information avout the fretting. That is/will be most helpfull. And, you, apparently being a luthier yourself, I hope to glean/learn/steal very much from you in the information department, if you would be agreeable to helping a lowly (cue violins), inexperienced, 17 year old kid out with his far fetched dream of building his own basses and (dramatic swell) maybe even do a bit of buisness at it!

    Well, any info you'd care to pass along would be mightily appreciated.
  8. mac315


    Nov 11, 2001
    Ellijay, Georgia
    1) Collect all the tools you can collect.
    2) Get every book you get on the subject. This includes books on guitars as well. Books on building, repair, setup, etc.
    3) Read, read and read some more.
    4) Practice, practice and practice.
    5) If you can take classes take them every time you can. Even if already know some of the stuff. I always try new techniques, and read what-ever I can get my hands on.

    Matter of fact, I have time scheduled with Larry Robinson and Frank Ford in a few months. I also am going to be working with Bill Moll, something you should attempt to do (http://www.mimf.com/bass.htm). He has an online bass building course over a 16 week period for $200. The way I see it, if you want to be the best, learn everything you can, from everyone you can learn it from. Every class, book and luthier you meet will have something different to teach you. If you stop learning you are in trouble.

    Currently I am working on new prototype bass myself. A signature series if you want to call it that. As well I do not limit myself to just basses (okay nobody read that last part) Actually I am making my way into a custom line instead of only making repairs or modifications. I am working on guitars for Bill Hart, and have a prototype bass in the works for Adam Nitti to name a few. (okay so that last bit was a shameless plug).

    I will be happy to assist you anyway I can.

    Joe Weiss
    Weiss Custom Basses.
  9. Welcome and thanks for your informative posts, it's great to have pro's involved with the forum (particularly one from Atlanta). Are you working out of a guitar shop or your own place?

    Wow, Bill Hart? I haven't seen him in years, since I was at AIM. Tell him Joe Fleming says hello.
  10. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Hey Brendan, you going to have a body on that bass? :D

    Good advice, Joe Weiss! I may have to take that online course! Thanks for the tip!
  11. mac315


    Nov 11, 2001
    Ellijay, Georgia
    My own shop in my home at the moment. Doubt I will go anyplace else and get a shop, because I can't beat the price. :D

    Yeah, I chat with Bill all the time. I took classes from him both in private and at AIM myself. He is a great guy and I learned a ton from him.

    Like I said, you guys should check out the Bass Course by Bill Moll. You can't beat the price, and I have heard really really good things about him from other people.

    Thanks for the warm welcome to the Forum.

    Joe Weiss
    Weiss Custom Basses
  12. Player


    Dec 27, 1999
    USA Cincinnati, OH
    Luthiers Mercantile International (http://www.lmii.com/) will Slot (to whatever scle you want) and Radius (I think they only do 16" currently) a board for you for like $7 for each process. Keep in mind that no matter how nice the rest of the bass is if the board is not layed out properly it'll suck.
  13. T-birdfan


    Jan 29, 2001
    Ontario, Canada
    Brendan, as someone from Canadia, I take offense to your quote....oh wait I'm from Canada, not Canadia,....nevermind.:D

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