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General Set-up for a fretless

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by chutsk10, Jul 18, 2007.

  1. So I took the plunge and defreted my MIM Jazz, so far I have only removed the frets, only took abotu 30 min really clean and easy.

    Anyway, I saw somewhere that it is a good idea to sand down the nut? how much, how low shoudl it be to the fretboard.

    Also, how should the neck be set... absolutly straight or slightly bowed in a certain direction?

    And lastly just out of curisity, are there pick-ups that are specifically designed for fretless basses or are they the same a any general fretted pickup?
  2. Mick D.

    Mick D.

    Jul 3, 2007
    Dunedin, FL
    Independent Asian Sourcing Consultant and Instrument Designer/Builder
    Now that you've defretted your bass, you need to make sure that the fret slots are filled with some sort of hard material that is .022" thick (I usually use pickguard material). Remember that your fretboard is used to having something in that void where the fret tang used to be.
    Next you need to try to get your neck as straight as possible and check the fingerboard with a good straightedge. If you hold it up to the light, you can see the imperfections in the board. You may have to do some sanding with a long, straight sanding block but this will serve the dual purpose of levelling your board and whatever you've used to fill the fret slots.
    As far as the nut is concerned, I usually file the nut slots to the point that there is just enough room to slide a business card under the strings at the nut.
    I don't think there are any pickups specifically made for fretless.

    Hope this helps,
  3. Thanks, I was certainly aware of the filling process.

    when you say you want the neck as straight as possible, you actually men straight and not "flat" as in sand out the radius?

    And am i trying to achieve a straignt neck beofre or after strings are put on, bcause if it's straight before it will bow a little once the tehsion fo the strings ar there.
  4. Mick D.

    Mick D.

    Jul 3, 2007
    Dunedin, FL
    Independent Asian Sourcing Consultant and Instrument Designer/Builder
    Sorry, it's hard to know exactly how much someone knows on one of these forums.

    Yes, you want to maintain the radius. Just get the fretboard as straight as possible. Chances are that you'll have to loosen the truss rod without the string tension pulling the nut forward. This will help you to ascertain any abnormalities that will cause you problems later when you try to bring the action down.

    Hopefully, after you bring your strings up to tension, your truss rod will help to bring the neck back to straight.

    Here's a tip: Overtighten the truss rod and backbow your neck before you put the strings on. Bring them up to tension and back off your truss rod to the point that the neck is straight. This is a lot easier and less traumatic than trying to fight your string tension with the truss rod after the fact.

    Hope this helps,
  5. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    I've never heard of setting the truss rod with the strings off, except for old Fenders, etc, where you couldn't access the truss rod adjustment with the neck attached... What's the advantage to doing it this way? How will you know when it's correct - trial & error? Why not just do it with the strings still on?

    - Dave
  6. Mick D.

    Mick D.

    Jul 3, 2007
    Dunedin, FL
    Independent Asian Sourcing Consultant and Instrument Designer/Builder
    It's just easier on the rod and less traumatic on the trussrod nut to back it down under string tension. If you start with the neck flat and add string tension, the neck will definitely underbow then you have to fight string tension to get the neck back to flat. I've seen plenty of instances of novices breaking trussrods and stripping trussrod nuts trying to bring a neck back to straight under tension.
  7. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    I always pull back on the head-stock slightly while tightening the truss rod..this takes some of the stress off of the neck and keeps the rod from stripping out..
  8. basscandle


    Jun 26, 2007
    Va.Beach area
    If I may hijack this a bit.....

    What is the best solution or conditioner to put on an unlined rosewood fretboard, to acheive the best "MMWWAHH" effect? I have a Stingray and a MIJ Fender Jazz both strung with TI Jazz Flats, both un-lined and have only used Lemon oil as a treatment.

    (I am fairly new to the fretless world).

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