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Fretless Bass Line Markers

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tage, Oct 22, 2004.

  1. Tage


    Sep 17, 2003
    I'm thinking of defretting my p-bass, but I'm a little worried about what I will use to replace the metal frets. I'd like to put a red-coloured wood in place of the metal.
    Can you get pre-cut wood pieces or would I need to buy the wood and sand/saw it down myself?
  2. Cliff Bordwell

    Cliff Bordwell Commercial User

    Jan 6, 2004
    USA , Orlando , Florida
    Owner of CB BASSES
    You can get veneer that is the correct size.
    Bloodwood is your best bet, it will hold it's color
    unlike Padauk.
    The fingerboard and pickup covers on the bass
    in my avatar are bloodwood.
  3. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    At the recommendation of luther Jack Read (IIRC) I chose polystyrene for my fretless lines. He said that they're far more stable when it comes to temperature and humidity.

    I bought a sheet of white polystyrene from a hobby shop. I image that you can get other colors too...

    I used a (clean) pair of toenail clippers to gently lift out the frets. I'd start at one end and work the tool under the fret, then work along the length of the fret being careful to avoid chipping my rosewood fingerboard or creating big dents. There were a couple of each, but none too many...it was easier than I expected. After the frets were out (make sure you release the truss rod since the frets aren't in the slots to resist the truss rod's force) clean out the fret slots really well...including the putty that is used to fill the edges of the fingerboard.

    I cut strips of polystyrene that were oversized but curved like the fret slots and fingerboard, and glued them in with superglue. Once the glue dried, I trimmed them close with an Xacto knife then sanded them smooth with a sanding block. It looks very professional (if I do say so myself) and my two local fretless finatics were quite impressed.

    Be prepared to shim the neck a little more than it was to be able to get the action down. Getting mwah on a fretless generally requires low action and very little relief (truss rod adjusted bow). Gary Willis' site has a nice section on setting up a fretless.
  4. My fretless has maple inlays and then a generous portion of hard epoxy applied.
  5. My rosewood board has rosewood line markers. I chose it because it looks clean from far, or in dark light, but I can still see the markers pretty well from up close. I bought veneers that fit perfectly in the holes. Cost about 8 bucks canadian (~6$ american) for about 8" x 4" of rosewood.