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Fretless----->Fretted

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by cliffemall, Dec 24, 2003.


  1. cliffemall

    cliffemall

    Dec 8, 2003
    Ok so i found a bass in the trash. That says it all right there. I love challenges so i picked it out and set to work. The body is done and looks almost perfect. Now I'm workin on the neck and its really makin the punching bag usefull. The neck is beautiful in a way. No nicks, dents, or other wise. It was hidden under this horrible black paint which ive stripped to find a maple BOUND fretboard and im not sure what the neck itself is made of but the grain is VERY strait and i think its too dark to be maple. The only problem is the idiot that put the bass in the trash filed off the frets VS pulling them out (lazy bastard) So my question is, is it possible to get the bases of the frets out of the neck and replace them with some warmoth frets? The bases of the old frets resemble the wire of a lined fretless. If theres no way on gods green earth that i can get em out, can I replace the fretboard and if so how? Or should I just buy a new neck because any of these things are impossible? Keep in mind, i dont mind a challenge...or i wouldnt have taken it out of the dumpster to begin with... thanks
     
  2. He may HAVE been a lazy bastard but the route he took is a legitimate method of gaining a lined fretless. Of course, this makes pulling the fret "tang" out a bit harder, but it can be done on most necks...

    ...then there's YOUR neck :(

    It being bound is gonna make a world of trouble for getting the tangs out. I'm not so sure I would even try. I would fear damaging the fretboard too much if I were to try getting to the tangs from the top. The only other way would be to remove the binding to expose the ends of the tangs, but if the neck was built correctly, the tangs are likely recessed a bit to allow for the binding. Doubly difficult to expose and get a grasp on.

    Give us some pics. Maybe there's something overlooked here.
     
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    A fingerboard replacement is a viable option, too. If you're in this for a challenge, this is a good way to get deep into the repair world.

    You'll probably want to take a clothes iron to the fingerboard to get it heated up. Work on one spot at a time, with something like a putty knife - but thinner if possible - to pry the board up as the glue begins to heat up. I use a cheap chisel to lift a corner of the board up and then I switch to something that I think is called a "frosting knife". It's basically a long, thin spatula that you could probably get anywhere they sell cheap cooking stuff. Pry the whole thing off, clean up the glue, and put a new board on.

    It's lots of work, but in my opinion it is one of the hardest repairs you will have to do with any consistency, and so it's a good measuring stick of where you're at with your repair chops.
     
  4. cliffemall

    cliffemall

    Dec 8, 2003
    Okay well i got some pics this time, and as you can see, aside from the fretboard, this neck is too beautiful to give up on. Im hoping the fretboard is just a diamond in the rough. Im gonna be pissed if i get zirconia for christmas...Anyway i got to thinkin last night and i realized...ok metal, how do i cut metal...HACK SAW! Sounds odd but i trotted out the the garage and cut a perfectly good, fine tooth hacksaw blade into 1/2 in and a corser tooth blade into 1 in sections. Starting right after the binding, I slowly sliced the blade along the line of the fret. After a substantial groove had been established, I used the 1 in piece of corser blade in a slow controlled sawing motion... Low and behold 5 hours and change later the frets were out (i think...i hope) Im not sure this will work with anyone elses because as you can already see from the black lines in the pics, mother nature had taken her toll upon the frets and corrosion had begun. Ok here are my new batches of questions...I cant figure out what kind of wood the neck itself is made of...I thought mahoghany but the grain is soooo fine and straight that the thought of padouk has crossed my mind. Is that possible? Next now that i have the frets out...im planning on using some medium jumbo frets from warmoth.com which are .036 in deep. As you can see, slots are a pretty wide (just short of the total width of the fret itself) If I mount the frets using super T glue which claims to be a thick, gap filling glue...will the frets hold or am i crazy? (the glue is found on warmoth.com as well if you are not familiar with it) If this wont work, is there a one product solution that will fill and hold and flex with the neck? If not what do I use? I hope the pics help. I apologize for the poor quality.
    PS: Should I be worried about those black lines? To be honest, I think they add quite a bit of character to the maple and accent the bining nicely...but is this a form of rot or something? It doesnt seem to be soft or "rot-like"
    Thanks again -nick
     
  5. cliffemall

    cliffemall

    Dec 8, 2003
    Sounds really easy...it cant be. And for my repair chops...well lets just say my only woodworking credentials are 2 semesters of wood shop back in 8th grade and trial and error on my basses (usually error followed by more error then maybe some sucess) But aside from time...can i really do this with my skills? Will it ruin the iron? If i were to try this and F**K it up (about %99.99999 likelyhood of that happening)...will the neck be toast? Also...How do i put binding on? cuz it looks damn good... appreciate all the responses and i apologize for the stupid questions but theres only one way to learn. Thanks again!
     
  6. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Let me ask you something. Given that you've created fret slots that are almost as wide as the top of a fret, and obviously much wider than the tangs you will be seating, how in the world are you going to seat the frets evenly across the fretboard? Personally, I'd have just replaced the fretboard and been done with it, novice or not. Please keep us informed.
     
  7. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Well, getting the fingerboard off is the easier part. The neck should be fine when you're done. Things get a little harder when it comes time to put the new fingerboard on. You have to line it up right, which can be a trick since it will tend to want to slip around (the glue is slippery until it sets). Just getting it clamped on can be tricky since there are no flat surfaces for clamping to. Then you've got to trim it and bind it (this is optional, of course). Then radius it and fret it.
     
  8. cliffemall

    cliffemall

    Dec 8, 2003
    GOOD QUESTION! That thought rolled around in my head a few times, and made me VERY uneasy... After many hours of deep contemplation, I think ive devised a way to solve that problem. I went to my friend who is a FAR more accomplished luthier than I, and got a medium jumbo fret from him to use as a tester. While I was there I asked for any advice he could give me...here what he said "Bro, you got balls for trying, but if someone asked me to do that for em...theres no way on gods green earth I could even try" God i love friends that build your confidence! Anyway I got home and did some measuring and fitting and cursing and punching...The grooves are not quite as wide as i thought...BUT they are too wide none the less AND the bottoms are rather uneven and its hard to seat the frets because there is no pinch point....Then it hit me! The frets were a bit too tall and I was planning on trimming the tangs, but then I realized that if I found an INCREDIBLY sharp blade, I could carve a center channel in the groove to seat the tangs in and fill the rest with the filler/glue im using. To make the channel I used some form of glass cutter, which ive NEVER seen before and is quite old. (if you would like a pic of this or the home made hacksaw/box cutter lemme know) I took the cutter, and dug in a channel in the bottom of the groove. ***NOTE: To those of you who are trying this...While making these cuts, I was working through a magnifying glass, and to make sure the channels were perfect I used machining type guages (highly accurate, small scale, rare and EXPENSIVE tools) This may sound a bit extensive, but even I know as a novice that this type of step is crucial! MAKE YOUR GROOVES EXACT!*** Anyway the tangs are out, the grooves are cut, and the frets have been ordered. There will be more pics of the fretting in the next few days so check back! ..A few questions...If this doesnt work, I would like to use an ebony fingerboard with stainless steel frets...Will that sound good on mahoghany? Also I need a donor body for this bass. Id like it to be jazz 4 string. Ive found one from TNT and mighty mite for $109...finished. This sounds cheap and I know the paint wont be custom shop quality AT ALL, but all I care about is sound. Are those bodies any good or am i gonna get a rouge by affinity by squier by fender quality body? (sry for that its kind of an inside band joke but you gotta admit fender is gettin crazy with these branches...why dont they just say **** by fender :) ) If these are crap...where can I get a good one or is there anyone out there willing to sell me one for a reasonable price? In a perfect world I'd love a mohagahony one to oil up and match the neck! But if this works...from here on out im going pretty high quality since i got a bunch of parts lying around from my last project. (IE: EMG PU's, aguilar OPB-2 pre, brass nut, gotoh tuners, and a really sweet hipshot rip off from customshopparts.com. Which is a GREAT place by the way) Anyway Im gonna get back to work and I'll keep it updated at least untill i blow up and set the neck ablaze....IF ANYONE HAS A BODY THEY'D SELL ME PLZZZZZ PUT UP A POST! Thanks for your interest, support, and answers!
     
  9. RobbieK

    RobbieK

    Jun 14, 2003
    Hey Cliffe, I'm reaching out through cyberspace, from Australia, putting my hand on your shoulder, and gently saying, "walk away cliffe..., just walk away...". :crying:

    If you must keep that crappy fretboard (sounds like you're on a mission now), get hold of a dremel with a router bass and try the (still contraversial) Don Teeter epoxy fretting method. Its outlined in his book from the 70's called "The Accoustic Guitar". (A great book BTW.)

    The only other thing I can think of is to remove the binding, fill the slots then re-slot and re-bind the board. (A big job.)

    Of course if you've gone this far you may as well replace the fretboard any way. I also use a clothes iron, but I usually also use a piece of baking paper or similar over the fretboard. This stops the resins, oils, lacquers etc. from marking the base of the iron.

    Having said all this, beaten up junky necks, bodies, and parts are a great place to learn luthiery techniques. This may be a great chance to learn a good technique or method to a tackling a difficult refret. With all due respect, I doubt you are learning much at all by persisting with your current approach.