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Fretless Bass Help?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by AnaliseRock, Dec 21, 2005.


  1. AnaliseRock

    AnaliseRock

    Dec 21, 2005
    Hey, im really a guitar player, but i recently picked up a Fender fretless Jazz Bass. I was wondering, if i picked up fret wire, would i be able to actually get this thing fretted? Well, i would take it to a professional luthier, of course. Any help?
     
  2. It would be a lot easier and cheaper to just trade it in at your local music store for a fretted Jazz bass (unless there's something really special about this bass).
     
  3. AnaliseRock

    AnaliseRock

    Dec 21, 2005
    So would it be too costly? or would it just be a pain to do?
     
  4. parttimeluthier

    parttimeluthier

    May 7, 2005
    Why not just get a new fretted neck for it! You have all the other parts there already it's just a matter of screwing on the neck( just predrill the neck first) changing over the tuning keys, strings and doing a fresh intonation setup.
    There are plenty of companies Mighty mite or All Parts if you want a less expensive neck or something like Warmoth or Fender custom shop if you want to go upper tier. With the last two you can specifiy options like neck profile etc.
    The beauty of Fender Basses is customization and this is a perfect opportunity!
     
  5. I'm no luthier, but I'm sure it's both costly and a pain to do. parttimeluthier had a great idea about replacing the fretless neck with a fretted one. I'm sure either of those options beats having frets put on.
     
  6. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Why ruin a good instrument?
    A fretless is way more rare than a fretted, and is a special individual that doesn't take kindly to tampering with it's personality. I mean, you wouldn't take kindly to being put behind fretwire bars, or see your home street being equipped with speed bumps in shorter and shorter distances.

    I think Mr Gone hit it in the first reply: trade it for a fretted.

    Or, better: learn to play! You will find yourself rewarded, in terms of musical improvement and achievement satifaction. I did, anyway, immensely.

    And it is a rather tricky job, it will cost you more than any other alternative.
     
  7. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    FWIW:

    not a luthier either but to my knowlede fretting is ballpark about $300. Don't know what Fender you've got but I would definetly consider resale. There's no way I would fret a fretless neck or defret a neck (which I did and regretted).

    Swapping necks may be a viable option if you keep it reverseable (don't have to make any permanent alterations) and don't trash anything in the process. But in my experience, you could be in for some grief getting another neck to setup up in it right. I can only assume that a fretted neck is not made as thick as fretless and, even though that doesn't amount to much, it may be enough to make for no fun.

    I'd personally be more inclined to go with just getting a fretted bass. There's plenty of them out there and I'm sure there's plenty of guys who wouldn't mind having the fretless you've got. There's some pretty decent low end basses so you could probably pocket some coin in the process.

    Also, if you're a guitar player, I think you'd find a fretless much more appealing as a guitar/like instrument than a fretted bass. In the sense of a fretless being a very melodic, solo, voice type instrument. To me it was harder to setup a fretless up correctly than to learn to play it. Give it a go for while before making a decision. You might be real glad you did. If not, you won't be out anything like you may be if you just jetison it cause it doesn't have frets.
     
  8. I don't know why you'd assume this. IME the fretless version of a (production) bass is the same neck with lines (wood or plastic) in the fret slots instead of frets.
     
  9. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    FWIW:

    I assumed it based on something taking up the space for frets although no doubt there are other means of addressing it. At any rate, that's why it was expressed as an assumption.
     
  10. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    In practice, it would be more feasible for mass production to use the same neck.

    Thus, the fret height will be added to the height of the fretboard. This may, or may not, make it hard to set the bridge right, depending on the bridge and how it is mounted on the body.

    Still, if one wants a fretted instrument, one should get a fretted instrument. Not ruin a fret free instrument.
     
  11. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    FWIW:

    yep agree.

    While practicing I thought a little more about my comment and I realized that I was thinking of what could go wrong with such a swap and that was the first thing that crossed my mind. I guess because if one thing is critical in a fretless it's the action. As Hambone recently posted in the pup forum about a million different panel washers, my first thoughts about any change is what can go wrong. The thought of anything just dropping in doesn't even cross my mind cause, if it's ever occurred, I don't remmeber it.

    Initially I assumed that manufacturers in deed would make anything the same they could but apparently there are other factors in cost savings cause I'm not surprised any more whenever I see something a manufacturer does that seems like wasted tooling. Maybe cause parts are made all over the planet nowdays by somebody else, assembled someplace else, and sold here. If it wasn't for the fact that's it's cheaper to buy another rather than have something fixed, the blacksmith trade would be alive and well today. Of course you can't buy a new one of the old models if you want one, you have to get the new "improved" version.
     
  12. Biagio139

    Biagio139 Dealer: Hipshot Products, Inc.

    Dec 23, 2005
    Ithaca N.Y.
    heres what would have to be done. first neck taken off along with nut. fretboard would have to be radiused again "if I was doing it" then each slot would have to be cut by hand this isnt real easy fretboards r usually cut on the table saw with a special jig and blade takes about a minute to make a fretboard" but its possible. youll then need a new nut made frets pressed frets leveled frets crowned then frets dressed. it is possible but heck Id keep it the way it is theres not that many frettles p basses around. you may be able to heat the board and take it off and start fresh but again its just alot of un-nessasry work.