Fretted to fretless

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by LeftyBass, Aug 29, 2000.

  1. LeftyBass


    Jul 20, 2000
    Ok, I have this older bass (my backup) and I'd like to make it fretless. Anyone know how to do this other than take it to someone or buy a new neck? I play a lefty so getting a new neck is a pain in the butt. ANd the bass isn't really worth the $ to get someone else to do the work. Any suggestions would be welcome!

  2. Hey Lefty,
    I am a lefty bass player too. I am in the middle of creating a fretless from a fake P-bass I have. I removed the frets a few months ago and have been playing it with the fret holes still in it. Last night I filled the fret groves with a wood filler and did a good sanding job on it. Tonight I plan on putting on my first coat of Polyurenthane (sp?). It has been quite easy and fun so far. I wouldn't be afraid if of doing it if I was you. It is a cheap bass anyway, right? Check out this site. This guy sounds like he knows what he is doing, but I think the gold marker thing is kinda cheesy IMO. Peace.

    Fretless is awesome. Good luck and have fun.

  3. LeftyBass


    Jul 20, 2000
    Hey, cool. So you just followed what he did? Did your board splinter really bad? I'm worried about that.

    Anyway, yeah, I just got an old-as-dirt Steinberger copy. It's really a peice of firewood with an aluminum neck and some fender j-style pickups. It sounds ok... sounds best when effected, which is what I'll prolly use it for. ButI'm going to give converting it a try.

    Thanks for the refrence man!

  4. No, my finger board didn't splinter. I think the key is to pull the frets with slow, stedy, even presure. There were a few tiny little spots where it chipped, but the wood filler got it with now problem. I followed what this guy on the web site did, but not that closely. I have some wood working expirence so I kinda know what I am doing. I am not going to do the silly gold marker thing. I think it makes his bass look bad IMO.

    So, I did my first coat of Poly last night. It went on okay, but since it was the first coat I think a lot of it came off when I was lightly sanding. That is fine though because it will fill in the deep cracks in the grain. I will give it another coat tonight and then a few more over the weekend. I will let you know how it comes out. k?
  5. LeftyBass


    Jul 20, 2000
    Yeah, Bro! Please do keep me posted. I may have to wait on pulling the frets out of my steinberger copy (a friend of mine dubbed it the Hamberger since it's not a steinberger) because at this next gig I have to replicate a solo thingy that is done on a fiver when all I have is four stringers. So, I have to drop one of my basses into drop C tuning (crazy huh?). And the only bass I can do that with is the Hamberger b/c it's the only one that has enough string tension (due to it's short scale) so that the low C doesn't sound to terribly floopy (I made that word up:)). Wouldn't be a prob except that I'm still adjusting to the short scale and taking the frets off would just assure that I don't find the notes I'm looking for on that low string. So, I have to wait until after this gig to tune back up to D (my usual tuning) and yank those annoying little frets off.

    Keep me posted!
  6. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    What may help preventing splintering is to heat the frets before pulling, e.g. with a soldering iron.
  7. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    I've also taken an interest in your project, Lefty. I have a bass that I plan on defretting in the next few months...
    IF....I can talk myself into it...:)
  8. LeftyBass


    Jul 20, 2000
    I've heard of heating hte frets, but I've never been told HOW to tdo that. Soldering iron makes a lot of sense. I always had this picture of a bass suspended over a fire or on a stove top or something. I know, I know... what a horrendous thought! Thanks for the help on that score!
  9. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    Just did it to my MIJ Fender Jazz, worked great. I took it to my local luthier, and he said I could leave it with him for 4-6 weeks, or he could show me how in 15 minutes! He said that the best thing for pulling the frets was to buy an "end nipper", which I found at the local hardware store hanging with the wire cutters and needle-nose pliers. He told me to grind the nose flat by touching them to a grinding wheel for a second or two. They worked great when pulling the frets; I did not know about heating them, but it worked fine anyway. (necks with bound sides may need something different) I filled the slots with .020 styrene strips purchased at my local hobby shop, held in with crazy glue (don't get it on the body finish or the back of the neck!) Sanded the neck with 400, then 600, then 800 grit paper and gave it a coat of lemon oil. Sounds great (too me, anyway) and beats spending $300 dollars on a replacement neck from Warmouth or someone else(Fender will NOT sell you one) Good luck!
  10. Bass Cadet

    Bass Cadet

    Jul 7, 2000
    I finally converted my Washburn AB-20. I also have an AB-25, so I thought it'd be a good complement. I'm really happy I did it. It was a lot simpler than I expected.

    I used a small flat screwdriver and a hammer to lift an end and then used end nippers to pull out the fret. Didn't bother heating the frets (read: "I'm lazy"). I found some glow in the dark lacing I was thinking of using to line it but decided it was too much work (read: "I'm really lazy"). So I used wood filler. The lines are visible up close but not noticeable >5 feet away. Sanded it mostly using a palm sander. 3 coats of Varathane's DiamondKote Glossy. I think Pedulla called their fretless "Diamond Finish"(tm) or something. It sounds like that's what they use.

    I'm using Fender's 9120 black tapewound strings. It looks and sounds great.

    Thought I'd share my results after reading everyone else's experiences.

  11. Player


    Dec 27, 1999
    USA Cincinnati, OH
    I did an old bass about 10 years ago (just sold it recently). I used a putty knife to pull the fretwire. Take your time and do them evenly (a little at a time and move across the fret) and you should be able to avoid any splintering. I just filled the holes with wood putty.