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Fretted/Fretless bass - thoughts?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dee-man, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. Dee-man

    Dee-man Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Howdy. I have an unlined fretless bass that I've decided I need lines to play better. It's a great bass that I've been trying to sell to no avail, so now I'm thinking of modding it to make it easier for me to play. That got me to thinking whether to make it a lined fretless, or fretted (not fixed on particular type of frets, but not too large).

    I seem to recall seeing a bass here on TB a while back that was both fretted and fretless - say, the first 12 positions were fretted, the rest fretless, or vice versa. So now I'm thinking about this as a possible option, but not sure which way I'd do it (leaning towards fretted in the first 12 positions) or whether this is a totally stupid idea.

    Anyone with any experience with this? Pro/cons? General thoughts?

    Thanks, DM
  2. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    that's a big project! is it a fender-type? if so, a different neck would make more sense.

    as for fretted+fretless, you can't just slap some frets on there; the last fret would act as the nut for the fretless zone, and would be way too tall.

    the fretless area would have to be raised up almost to the height of the last fret, say by laminating a veneer over it.

    again, huge project.
  3. John Payne has a hybrid bass. Pretty cool!
  4. Dee-man

    Dee-man Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Thanks for the feedback and cool pic. Looks like Payne's bass put frets at the 24th (or so) position, which might solve walterw's concern?
  5. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Walter's engineering is correct. If the frets at the end of the fingerboard are raised about the fretboard the strings will buzz and note out. The fretless portion of the fingerboard on this signature bass is flush with the frets.

    The two frets at the end of the fingerboard, sometimes referred to as thunder frets, are also flush with the raised fingerboard. Can you say fretless metallic slap?
  6. bssist


    Jun 23, 2007
    St. Louis, MO USA
    To the OP. I think a MUCH simpler mod would meet your original goal. Instead of cutting slots to place frets or fret lines just drill into the top edge of the board and plug dot markers in. Another simple option that Walter already suggested it to simply swap for a lined fretless neck, leaving your original neck intact.
  7. Dee-man

    Dee-man Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Thanks for the feedback all. Doesn't sound worth pursuing. This is a custom bass, so I'd rather not add a neck, and if I can't sell it, I want to minimize the additional dough I put into it. Thanks again, DM