Fretted To Fretless Conversion Question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Big Ce, Nov 17, 2005.

  1. Greetings Playas!!!

    I am looking into converting a TuneBass (TWB53) 5 string from a fretted to a fretless bass. I'd like to know if there is anyone to whom might have converted there bass or basses. If you have did you do it yourself or did you have it done for you.

    Also I'd like to know if there is someone out that does the conversion if they do, what does it cost how good is the work and contact info if you got it. Thanks!!!

    Big Ce :bassist:
    Marcus Miller Fender Jazz
    TuneBass (TWB53) 5'er
    Yamaha TRB1006 6'er
    Roland Cube 100
  2. Groundloop


    Jun 21, 2005
    I've converted 2 of my basses to fretless (both have since been sold). The biggest part of the job is, IMO, removing the frets. To remove the frets, I got a small pair of end cutters and carefully ground/filed the jaws flush, so that the cutting points are right against the fingerboard. On the basses I've converted, I also applied a liberal coat of lemon oil on the board the night before pulling the frets, because if the board isn't dried out, it's less likely to chip. Lastly is a tip I read about from Rick Turner. Use a soldering iron to heat the fret up before starting to pull it. It seems to help them slip out easier. Lastly, be patient. Take your time. Gently rock the fret back and forth. Rushing to pull the frets can result in many hours repairing chips later. Fill the slots with wood veneer of your choice, and sand the board (Stew-Mac makes radius sanding blocks. Very handy).

    Almost forgot. The above method was only used on standard compression fretted (the frets were hammered or pressed into place) necks. I don't know what you'd have to do if the frets are epoxied in. As afr as I know, most factories use compression fretting. Epoxy is still kind of a "boutiquey" method.

    As far as having someone do it, any decent repair shop should be able to do it. Ask at a local guitar store for recommendations.

    Good luck.
  3. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    I used a pair of (clean) toenail cutters to remove the frets. The blades are already flat and thin...going easily and in small steps (nearly) prevents any fingeboard denting and chipping.

    I filled the slots with strips of polystyrene held in with superglue.

    A sanding block flattened out the lines and gave the fingerboard a nice smoot finish.

    You'll need to shim the neck differently. Follow Gary Willis' set up tips to maximize mwah...

    You'll want to boost the midrange on your amp too to enhance mwah...

    I left my fingerboard uncoated and chose to use Elixir strings to minimize fingerboard wear.

    Go slow and have fun...