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Fretless Bass conversion HELP!!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by _RHCP_, Apr 10, 2009.


  1. _RHCP_

    _RHCP_

    Dec 1, 2008
    Im trying to convert my bass to fretless, and im trying to remove the frets, but i am having trouble finding anything sharp enough that can grasp the fret to pull it out, anyone who has done this before, I really need help!! thanks!
     
  2. Mike151

    Mike151 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2008
    Sherman Texas
    Holy crap! Post a pic of your bass.
     
  3. _RHCP_

    _RHCP_

    Dec 1, 2008
    Here are the pics of my bass if it helps, its a Yamaha RBX170
     

    Attached Files:

  4. pringlw

    pringlw

    Nov 22, 2008
    Seattle Area
    Don't do eet!

    You've been warned.
     
  5. Mike151

    Mike151 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2008
    Sherman Texas
    +1
    I don't have any experience with this but it just seems wrong.
    :crying:
     
  6. _RHCP_

    _RHCP_

    Dec 1, 2008
    I ignored your warnings and persevered, and i am grateful i did. After learning how to pull the frets, and after getting them all out, i filled the empty slots with Plastic Wood wood filler. I then sanded it down and polished the new fretless fingerboard. I am very happy with my first mod ever to any guitar, and I know i wont be stopping here! :)
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Congrats on your mod!! I've defretted 2 basses and have been more than happy with the results, I'm waiting on the body of my last defret(Dean Edge 6) to come back from the shop with a new pre-amp installed:bassist: and don't forget that roundwounds will rip up that rosewood fingerboard pretty quick if you don't put some kind of protective "coating" on it. I found even the flatwound Chromes I use still leave some wear on "un-coated" boards and have been thinking about epoxying or CA coating mine.
     
  8. pringlw

    pringlw

    Nov 22, 2008
    Seattle Area
    Glad it worked out. It so often starts well but ends in tears, recriminations and general badness.
     
  9. Congrats on defretting the bass.....looks nice.....
     
  10. Gadolinium

    Gadolinium

    Feb 3, 2007
    Wiltshire UK
    i did the exact same thing - defretted my Yamaha RBX170. its beautiful now, sepcially when you get the setup right
     
  11. Ezbass

    Ezbass

    Apr 3, 2008
    U.K.
    Well done, nice work. I did this to a Westone Thunder III with the plastic wood thing about 20 years ago. OK not as neat as a pro job with wood fillets for the slots, but worked a treat as you will have discovered. That Yamaha is a great piece for modding. Making mods to basses is like GAS, it's addictive. Post some pics when you're finished.
     
  12. hightwelve

    hightwelve

    Apr 11, 2009
    I've been doing bass repairs for 10 years, first as a hobby, then professionally.
    An alternative method to pulling out the frets is to leave them in place, sand or grind away the majority of the "bead" of the fret, then sand away the little bit that is left with a radiused wooden block and a sheet of coarse sand paper. Finish with a finer grit. If you think that the frets are slightly loose before you start, tap them down lightly with a fret hammer and then weep some very thin superglue into the slot from the end of the slot near the edge of the neck. Wipe off the excess and let it set for and hour before sanding. Make sure that you adjust the neck as straight as possible using the trussrod before you start, otherwise the fretboard won't be even.

    You will need to determine the radius of the fretboard, then purchase a radius block that matches (Stewart MacDonald Guitar Supply has them in different radii), unless you want to change the radius to a flatter one (like going from a 10" radius to a 16"). It's best to remove the neck from the bass if it's a bolt-on, or protect the surrounding areas of the bass with masking tape beforehand (de-tack the tape by sticking it to you shirt several time before use of the bass' finish.

    This method is labor intensive, but it gives great results. The tang of the fret stays in place in the fret slot and acts as a discreet metal fret line, as well as maintaining the rigidity of the neck. Another advantage is that you don't have the usual risk of chipping the edge of the fret slot when pulling the fret out (preferably with proper fret pulling pliers - see Stewart Macdonald, and no, I don't work for them.). As well, if the fretboard is uneven, the sanding with the radius block will help to sand out the high spots.

    You can choose to coat the board with some kind of hardcoat afterwards to prevent gouges, or simply use lemon oil if you are using flatwounds, or if wear is not an issue for you.

    I've done this several times on a variety of basses and have excellent results each time.
     
  13. hightwelve

    hightwelve

    Apr 11, 2009
    PS: Don't try this with a gloss finished maple fretboard unless you are willing and able to have the board refinished afterwards. Use it with rosewood, ebony or similar woods only. Also, don't try this on a neck with fancy block inlays - it will gouge and/or dislodge them.

    Happy sanding.

    PPS: To sand away the majority of the fret bead, tou can use an electric sander with coarse grit paper ( orbital is slow, but safer - a belt sander may be too hard to control.) If you don't have either, lay a large mill file of the fret tops and run it the full length of the neck until most of the fret tops are gone, then swith to the radius block and sandpaper.

    Also, remember that you will need to lower the nut slots slightly to get the best action in the first position.
     
  14. _RHCP_

    _RHCP_

    Dec 1, 2008
    Thanks for all of the replies! what would you use as an epoxy, because i can see that the roundwounds are scratching up the fretboard already.
     
  15. Maxicooper

    Maxicooper

    Mar 17, 2009
    Columbia, MD

    Some good discussion about Epoxy, Here and Here. :D
     
  16. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford

    Feb 15, 2008
    OH/WV

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