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Fretless fretboards

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jankjo, Jun 29, 2002.

  1. jankjo


    May 22, 2002
    What woods have you seen on fretless fretboards?
    Would rosewood or wenge work?
  2. BigBohn


    Sep 29, 2001
    WPB, Florida
    Ebony and rosewood, for starters. I've seen plenty other types of fretboard wood, but on fretted basses.
  3. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    Yep - rosewood and ebony are excellent choices. Don't know about wenge.

    Another option is to coat the fretboard with polyster or epoxy - then you can use just about any wood you want.

  4. Yeah, I've heard of ebony and rosewood most of the time. Unless your a slave to the sound of rosewood, ebony is probably the best choice as far as durability goes. Then again, as mentioned, you can have it coated and not worry about wear as much.;)
  5. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I've had a bass when a Wenge board, and it was pretty good, but pretty bland. Better than rosewood, IMO, but nowhere near as good as ebony.
  6. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    Lots of woods are used on fretless boards. Of course ebony and rosewood are popular. Music man uses pau ferro, Ric uses padauk, Warwick uses wenge, old Fenders used rosewood or maple, some custom builders use purpleheart. Many more I'm leaving out.
  7. I'm a fretless newbie, but have learned stuff along the way.


    It has the highest specific gravity and Janka hardness of all the popular fingerboard materials. This means it will wear the best, and have the brightest sound. Duh... Stradivarius and others figured this out several hundred years ago, and I'm just now getting the point.



    My MIM J fretless has lines, which means the side dots are between the fretlines. I habitually finger "to the dots" like I do on my fretted basses, so this causes me confusion.

    Unlined necks have the side dots directly on the fret positions. No confusion. And it looks cool, if you care about that sort of stuff.
  8. FractalUniverse

    FractalUniverse Guest

    Jan 26, 2002
    Valparaíso, Chile
    "Guayacan is 14% more dense than Ebony and completely saturated with oil. Making it the perfect wood for fretless. Unbelievably dense." From Acacia basses
  9. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    warwicks use ebony on their fretless boards, wenge's only on their fretted.
  10. jankjo


    May 22, 2002
    Ok...so ebony is hard and bright, what if you don't really want bright. Looking for a warm and thumpy sound, or does the fretboard really make that much difference?
  11. I think the fretboard does make a difference in the overall tone of the bass. If you feel ebony is too bright than rosewood is probably your answer. With that said, I would also say that rosewood doesn't hold up to the wear and tear of a fretless as well as ebony so, if your playing a lot of fretless bass, you'll need to resurface your fretboard more often and eventually replace the neck sooner than ebony. It's one of those give and takes.;)
  12. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Maybe you should change your habit? Even on a fretted bass, you should be placing your finger close to the fret, not in the middle between the frets.
  13. Ya want hard and durable? Phenowood/rockwood/diamondwood. Reminiscent of an epoxied/finished board, but less susceptible to wear. I love my phenowood fretless Zon. :D
  14. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia In Memoriam

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    agreed- phenolic is cool, lasts for ever- however, i just noticed MTD Kingstons now come with ebony board and not phenolic-- though the phenolic gave it more zing.. i like the ebony better-
    Keith Roscoe offeres diamondwood and now you can get just about anything that has been thru a process called "stabilizing" - ive have seen quilted maple fingerboards ( Hi Geoff!) as far as durabiltity- theyre too new to tell yet..
    other woods ive seen on fretless boards...
    pink ivory
  15. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    bubinga is a great rosewood alternative on fingerboards - if i'm correct it's a little denser but it's still in the same family, right?

    i'd LOVE to have a bass with a snakewood board, that stuff is crazy!
  16. Sorry, I disagree.

    IMO, this has the same merit as "you should play with a pick".


    On unlined necks, the manufacturers specifically place the side dots at the intonation points. They specifically place the dots midpoint between intonation points on fretted necks. If close-to-fret was vital, why not place the dots there? Just a thought...
  17. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    Between phenowood, and phenolic. I think you knew that, right?


  18. Dude!! A fretless bass doesn't have a fretboard .... It's called a fingerboard on a fretless bass. No frets no Fretboard, get it?... Ebony is warm but bright.it's prolly the best wood to go with but a nice poly or epoxy coated Maple board it really sweet! Please no ugly lines OK! and please make sure that the freaking side dots are located at the note and not placed like it was was a freakin fretted bass.....There's a lot of unlinned fretless basses coming out of Korea and China that have the side dots fu#cked up... it's so un Fung Shway(sp?):D :)
  19. jbay


    May 23, 2002
    Actually Feng Shui is a Chinese thing, not Korean... :p
  20. you know, this thread would be perfect for the luthiers forum. why don't you ask them?

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