Fretless Bass side dot material

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Cameron White, May 11, 2017.

  1. Cameron White

    Cameron White

    Dec 25, 2014
    Just researching what to do about a cheap Torch unlined fretless bass with the dots in the wrong place (between the "frets", not on them *grr*) and I had a brain wave — 3d printing 'filament' is usually just under 2mm, and comes in lots of different colours, including "glow in the dark" green, and can be bought on eBay for a couple of dollars for a few metres. I haven't done it yet, but I think it should work.........

    Now to make sure I put them in the right places.
    Will_White and tlc1976 like this.
  2. Frederiek


    Aug 8, 2016
    Would you remove or hide the old dots? I think just twice as many dots would be a bit confusing, even if they are in a different colour. Maybe an easier solution is to use lines on the side on the fret positions and use sheet plastic (or old credit cards) to fill them.
  3. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    If there's a Michaels craft store near you, they have 3doodler filament in various colors, so you wouldn't have to wait on an eBay shipper.
    Will_White likes this.
  4. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    I have an old Spanish half sized acoustic (that I play slide on) that has the fretboard dots on frets 2, 5, 7, 10 and 12 that threw me every time I played it.

    I used a leather punch to cut discs out of a sheet of glow in the dark stick on material then drilled shallow holes on the edge of the fretboard, popped a disc in each hole, add a drop of CA glue and level it off when set and polish up with a piece of denim.

    It has come in handy having the glow in the dark dots a few times playing on dark stages. I hold it close to a light for a few seconds before I go on stage to charge up the dots.
    RobRWA123 likes this.
  5. Mark Wybierala

    Mark Wybierala

    Apr 24, 2017
    Central NJ
    Take a step back. The dots are where they would be on a fretted bass and having them between the fingering positions shouldn't throw you off as you get better at playing fretless. Eventually the goal will be to not be looking at the neck at all. If you want markers, consider this. Use the fret calculator at stewmac and print out the fret postions for the existing scale. Pencil the fret positions on to the fingerboard. Using what ever kind of jig you can devise (A mitre box of some sort) cut what would be the equivalent of fret slots but only at the edge of the fingerboard -- the full depth of the fingerboard but only about 1/4" across the fingerboard. Select the saw you use to determine the width of these slots. Then you can either use a contrasting color of wood or plastic as inlay. I do something similar on my fretless basses and I use a fret slot saw and colored guitar picks as my inlay material. Use the stewmac black super glue to secure the inlays. Just cut your inlays so they dry fit a little proud of the surface, let the glue cure and block sand for a really nice custom inlay of position markers.
    Nickweissmusic likes this.
  6. tlc1976


    Aug 2, 2016
    I'm wanting to do this on the Zdressy. I've done side dots before on other basses. I'm thinking of drilling out the old ones, and filling them with plugs made of scrap rosewood (a dowel would give me end grain and not sand so friendly). Then adding dots in the proper place, at the "frets".

    The in-between dots are a headache for me. I use my ear to play in tune. But to get a glance at where I am and what's available for where I can go, properly placed side dots are what I need.
  7. Mark Wybierala

    Mark Wybierala

    Apr 24, 2017
    Central NJ
    Check out the position marker style used sm.jpg sometimes by Gretsch -- those half circles... This is my take on those. They are bone and the full thickness of the fretboard. I use coins to mark the cutting route to achieve half circles and then just carve bone to fit. From the side of the fretboard they are really big rectangles that are easy to see.
  8. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    I've used the 3D doodle sticks that @HaMMerHeD mentioned and they work really well. I think I used 2 sticks for a 17 position neck and I used the Stewmac calculator for position on this one but I usually use Fret find 2D.

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