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Fretless Hofner Violin

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by LennyPenny, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    Thought I'd share the result of my first defretting project on a Hofner Ignition Violin bass. Too bad I don't have a 'before' picture, but there you go. I apologize to all respectable luthiers on here for using a potato knife, a putty knife and wood filler. The chipped look of the lines is most likely a result of carelesness, but I think it gives it a nice effect.



    After with LaBella nylon tapewounds:

    It did have Pyramid flats on it (which I'd ordered along with the bass, it came with rounds on it), but the tension was a bit too high and they felt a bit too thin. I definitely prefer the tapewounds because they're thicker and feel more rubber-bandy, which I normally don't like but I do in this case. I did have to file the nut slots and it was a bit tricky getting the E-string through the tailpiece. Also, the ball ends are the same size as regular strings, I thought all Beatle bass strings had the smaller ball ends, like on the Pyramids. To my surprise, the tapewounds are a lot louder and have more sustain. They don't sound that good acoustically, which is probably true for any bass. The regular flats were a lot more thumpy and upright-bass-esque, wich also sounded great.

    Anyway, I'm happy with the result. Let the flaming commence!

  2. synaesthesia


    Apr 13, 2004
    Man that was a rough defret job you did. My original Höfner 500 was defretted around '82 or '83, I still have it and maybe the ignition uses wider tangs but mine certainly doesn't like like there was barbed wire there before. Also try the fish man acoustic arch top piezo pickup (built into the arch top bridge) if you can find it. I got mine from Stew Mac, it was designed for arch top 6 strings but will fit a Höfner perfectly. It gets a acoustic string bass tone convincingly, and yes I play that so I am not just saying it because it sounds different to an electric.
  3. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    I know, I tried to be as gentle as possible, but for some reason it still chipped pretty bad. There wasn't any glue as far I could tell, so maybe the frets were just heavily barbed. It does feel very smooth now, though, and I'm happy about how it plays/sounds.
  4. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    For what it's worth, I love it! It's kind of a Frankenhöfner in that it has stiches, and lots of 'em! But seriously, I really like it.

    And, try that piezo: I bet it would sound awesome!
  5. banikek


    Sep 14, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    It cost me 60 bucks to have one of my basses defretted by a luthier. Just sayin.

    I have always wanted to try a fretless Hofner.
  6. I love the effect on the fretboard (assuming it is structurally sound). That looks unique and interesting compared to all the boring same looking basses out there. Love it.
  7. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    ^ +1
    (kyna irked me this post wouldn't show up in searches - good, it does now)
  8. makaspar

    makaspar Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2009
    Austin, TX
    Did you fill the slots with a veneer of some kind before you puttied them over?
  9. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    Thanks, appreciate it. Got to remember that nickname!

    Even if I did know that, I probably would've still done it myself. If I'm vague optimistic that I can pull if off, I'd rather try it, especially since it's not a very expensive bass.

    That's what I kept telling myself, at first I was a bit bummed about how it turned out, but it grew on me.
  10. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    No, just putty. I know someone who has done the exact same thing (with a screwdriver instead of a knife) to one of his old basses. He said that was 5-6 years ago and it's still holding up just fine.
  11. Peacefrog35


    Dec 26, 2009
    I think it looks cool personally. It doesn't have to look like every other fretless to be cool. More importantly.....how does she sound???
  12. vmabus


    Nov 1, 2013
    looks like barbed wire
  13. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    I've never played an upright before, but as far as I can tell there's an upright quality to the sound that wasn't there before. Still sounds very woody and bottomy, just like before, but with a slight mwah.
  14. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    It's obviously not the cleanest defret job, but if works, it works. It does actually look kinda cool. On a slightly unrelated note, the unlined fretless violin bass from rondo is great. Very uprighty and well built.
  15. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    Does look good, especially with the flamed front. I never understood why my Hofner has a beautifully flamed back and a plain front.

    One question: I'd like the side dots to be in line the the fret lines instead of in the middle of the fret. And I'm thinking of cover the dots on the fretboard. Can I use a regular sharpy (or industrial strength if I can find one) to cover the existing dots? And what could I use to put the new side dots without them coming off by friction and sweat?
  16. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest