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Getting a new fingerboard

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tash, Feb 17, 2005.

  1. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I've determined that neither Warwick, nor ESP will sell me a replacement neck for either of my basses. I really want to turn one of them into a fretless, probably the ESP since its a 5 and I don't want to give up my B.

    I'm wondering if there are any luthiers who will take my bass as is and replace the fingerboard for me. I don't want to just defret because I just don't have the confidence to do the job correctly. I would also rather have an ebony fingerboard with no fret lines or marks.

    Anyone know of a luthier who could do this kind of work at a reasonable price?
  2. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Sorry. I live in MD. There is no one here I know of who does this level of customization work, I would have to send the bass out.
  3. Offbase


    Mar 9, 2000
    Michael Dolan will do it, but even he will charge you an arm and a leg. You'd probably do just as well having Michael, Karl Hoyt or someone else build you a new neck.
  4. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Having the FB replaced is possible, but a good bit of work - read: it will not be cheap.
    Having a luthier do a defret job would be much cheaper.
    Having a neck built to your specs is another idea.
    Also, sometimes necks pop up on eBay.
  5. hoytbasses


    Mar 30, 2003
    Cape Cod
    I build stringed instruments.......
    I heard someone was using my name in vain: thanks :cool:

    defretting and leveling a fingerboard can be very daunting if you don't have a lot of experience with woodworking, but if you do, it's not so bad: There are probably how-to guides around the net. If you're not currently a fretless player, I'd suggest getting a fretless beater bass to be SURE you want to go for it prior to carving up any basses in your stable.

    unfortunately, most modern bass necks are built to be thrown away rather than replace a fingerboard (and believe me, I've tried! very tough and expensive proposition) Check the 'scratch and dent' section at warmoth and fretless necks are coming up all the time on e-bay.

    here's a trick I've seen used successfully (and done a couple of times) : get a medium cut flat file and file the frets off!!!!then sand the board level and re-oil with lemon oil. The leftover fret tangs make excellent markers and it disrupts the board the least. you even get a TINY bit of percussiveness if you try slapping the board. You can then 'jaco-ize' it with an epoxy coating if you so choose, but it's fine w/o it

    .....just don't do it to your $2000 boutique bass: do it to bass you won't lose any tears over if you mess it up AND............ consider this: some basses sound great fretted and just don't have 'it' when defretted. Single coil basses sound the best when fretless IMHO, humbucking basses... not so much

    I defretted a bass I built for a customer. after a few months he realized that the bass sounded WAY better as a fretted bass, so it cost him another $250 for me to re-fret it again.
    We're still friends but just barely, I know I'll never refret a bass I had fretless-ized with epoxy filler in the slots

    I'm not currently taking on any work but thanks for the vote of confidence, all.

    hope this is helpful


  6. Hmm can you give me a direct link to it.. or perhaps tell me how to find it. Cant seem to find it?

  7. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I'm going for this approach I think. After looking carefully at he costs it just makes more sense to trade my junk warwick for a 5 string J bass and drop a ready made Warmoth replacement fretless neck onto it. Fender it seems does not make a fretless 5, nor does anyone else for less than a grand that I can find.