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Fretline materials (on fretless basses)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Fran Diaz, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    What are the most common materials used for fretlines?
    Pros and cons (of the different materials)?

    Anybody knows what's on Sadowskys?
  2. A lot of companies use thin pieces of maple. Custom companies will use anything you want, which can make for more or less contrast, despending on what the buyer wants. Unless you're using the same wood for the fb and lines, either have the potential for expanding/contracting at different rates.
  3. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    My Carvin lined fretless has some sort of powder / paste in the fret lines. Pipe dope?
  4. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    I hadn't thought about this. Any 'horror stories' about it?
  5. Nothing dramatic enough to ruin a gig, but asthetically annoying. I guess I shouldn't say too much since I'n an unlined guy myself. Nothing against lines, but they confuse the hell out of me.
  6. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    My old essex fretless had what I think to be plastic lines, on a maple fb. They did end up sticking out a bit and being annoying. Affected the tone when played on the line. Sold that bass before too long.
  7. It's personal taste. For every person who thinks they're aesthetically displeasing, there's someone like me who think they look fine and who appreciates the visual reference they provide.

    My fretless is one (probably a Lotus, but the brand is unknown) I de-fretted as a learning exercise, and it came out beautifully. I considered the issue of how to fill the fret lines, because I agree it's important that they be filled with a dense material that won't allow the fretboard to curve forward. In my case I used white styrene strips .020 wide. They filled the gaps nicely and are no more compressible than the surrounding rosewood. I decided not to use wood strips for two reasons: (1) I couldn't find them in the right thickness, and (2) I thought that wood cut along the grain might be more prone to compress than the end-grain of the fretboard.

    At any rate, it worked out just fine. The styrene strips are easy to trim down with a razor blade, and sanded even with the fretboard quite easily during a light finish sanding. No problems with protrusion at all.


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