Fretting an unlined fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Scopaz, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. I have been considering purchasing an unlined fretless bass with the intent of having it fretted. The bass is a custom bass that even though it has a bolt on neck, getting a new neck made for it is not an option I want to explore. I spoke with a friend who is also a repairman who suggested that it might be difficult to properly fret.

    Are there any luthier types around who can chime in on this and help me understand why I could or should not fret this fretless bass? I also know the bass has a 34" scale and has side dots already where the the common fret positions would be noted like 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, etc... The bass is a Fender Steve Bailey bass.

    As a player with limited knowledge of luthiery, please help me understand this guys. Thanks.
  2. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Instead of an entire new neck, I would advocate looking for a luthier (or the original builder) to put a new fretboard on it, this time with frets. It's going to be spendy, though.
  3. I guess it wouldn't hurt for me to add that it is a fretless Fender Steve Bailey bass.
  4. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    There was a fretted in the TB classifieds not too long ago, might be better off going that route.
  5. The thing is I don't want the fender frets or fret job. I want banjo frets and I am scrapping all those lame Fender electronics. I don't mind spending the dough to have it fretted, but if it is not going to play in tune properly, that would be a waste of dough. And that is what I DON'T want to do.
  6. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Every bass neck is fretless before the frets are put in. I don't see why this bass would be any different.
  7. Part of what I was told was that because of the location of the nut. I feel like you that why is that any different? That's why the bridge has adjustable saddles.
  8. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan. Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    I wouldn't bother, just get something fretted you like from the outset.
  9. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Don't just TalkBASS - PlayBASS! Supporting Member

    I agree. Why take a bass that is probably not that common to begin with and change a bunch of stuff on it?

    Re: the nut location; it is in the same location as a fretted neck, but the strings slots are a lot lower so that too would have to be changed out on this bass.
  10. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    If you have a luthier in mind, talk to him about it. IMO, there should not be a problem doing it, especially if the neck can come off. And yes, it will probably be a little spendy; but if that's what you want to do to that bass, by all means do it. I understand these "Project Urges"; I have a few of them going on right now, myself. Good luck with yours! (But, Banjo frets....?)
  11. I appreciate everyone's comments. I do.

    However, my question isn't about whether or not I should do this mod to this bass, more so about whether or not it can indeed be done properly.
  12. I have banjo frets in all of my other basses and they are what I like. Try them, you might like them.
  13. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Don't just TalkBASS - PlayBASS! Supporting Member

    It can be done properly, even the side dots can be filled in and new dots drilled and inserted, if I understand you correctly that the dots are at the fret positions.
  14. Your question has been answered.

    It will most likely need a new nut slotted to the appropriate height and the frets need to be installed as if it were a new neck under construction.
  15. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Gold Supporting Member

    Not a fan personally.

    I am no luthier OP but I really do not see how this could be a problem, the bass is a 34" Fender bass, aside form the 2 extra strings I would think it is pretty standard.

    Please post results if you do decide to go through with it.
  16. Thanks guys. I appreciate your time.
  17. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Absolutely! Why not? As the other poster mentioned, every neck started fretless. No, the nut is not in a different spot.
    The luthiers (or repairman) have a fret-gauging pattern that lays out on the fingerboard, it starts wherever your nut is which is the same as a fretted bass. This conversion job happens all the time around the world.

    I had my first Wal bass converted to fretted. It was an unlined board. Turned out beautiful and played flawless.
  18. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Gold Supporting Member

    I can only imagine the response if this thread was about fretting an unfretted Wal... BLASPHEMY!!! ;)
  19. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    If you ever read through the Wal registry, you's see many Wals have been converted to fretless, and many others converted to fretted. A few of them belong in the Wal club here, just not announced.
    You should see basschat, it's a regular occurrence in Europe. The didn't affect the sales of any of them