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Godin/EMG fretless bass conversion.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by philthygeezer, Dec 17, 2003.

  1. philthygeezer


    May 22, 2002
    I'm thinking of having this done to a solid body Godin BG4 bass with EMG active soapbars. The bass has active EMG soapbars and pre-amp, maple body and neck with rosewood fretboard.

    I have a few questions before I try it:

    1. How would it sound with those EMG pickups? Would I get the 'mwahh' sound?

    2. Is rosewood too soft to use fretless (I'd be using T-I flatwounds)?

    3. How much does a Luthier usually charge for this?

    4. Is this kind of operation easily reversible if I decide it was a bad thing to do?

    5. Do rosewood fretboards usually chip and splinter when pulling frets, or am I pretty safe? The Godin is very well-made and I don't want to damage it.

    Thanks in advance for any information you could provide.

  2. I'll try to answer some of those, keep in mind that I'm not a luthier and anything I say is based on my own, limited experience.

    1. I have no experience with emg's

    2. From what I've read, rosewood should hold up to flatwounds

    3. No idea, did it myself. Hambone suggested $50-$100, sounds almost too good to me (it was a lot of work)

    4. Depends on what you fill the slots with, or if you grind the frets down leaving the tang in the wood.

    5. Mine did, a little, but now I know I should have dampened the noard a little to make the wood more elastic and less prone to chip.

    I just put my bass together fo testing, after pulling the frets, filling the slots with putty and coating the board with CA. it sounds lovely, maybe a bit too buzzy in some places, the finish might do with a little more sanding. The putty I used was beech-colored, gave a nice contrast to the rosewood. The CA finish came out REAL nice, bu as Hambone and FBB pointed out in another thread, it's a pain to sand, and the fumes are absolutely horrid. I have a good airflow in my little workshop, and I still got a bit sick.

    EDIT: added the little "disclaimer"
  3. I can't tell about the EMG's either. But I can say pretty certainly that max mwah comes from a precisely setup neck and a perfectly flat fingerboard. Even inexpensive rigs can benefit from this approach.

    Rosewood is a standard on fretless basses. And your TI's are just fine like OB1 said. You would have a classic setup

    It varies as much as the skill of the tech, type of defret, fretboard wood, region of the country, even continent. That's one reason it's a decent DIY project. I'd give it a 7 on a scale of 10 for difficulty.

    Aside from OB1's suggestion of leaving the tangs in the fretboard, this is pretty much an irreversible modification. In fact you'd spend more on the proper tools to do it correctly than you would to purchase a new neck.

    That's an admirable goal. Keep saying that too yourself as you proceed. If the proper tools and patience are used for the defret, chipping is rare but possible. Pro's keep the chips hanging in place and glue them back down with super glue right as they happen. They don't loose them and the surface remains intact for sanding. You might also keep all of the dust from sanding for filling the slots. And finally, the best way to get that "mwah" is to use a radiused sanding block to keep the curvature of the fingerboard consistent.
  4. philthygeezer


    May 22, 2002
    Thanks much for good help guys.

    In your opinions, am I better off defretting this Godin, or buying a Warmoth ebony fretless neck for my walnut Warmoth jazz with the Lindy Fralin pickups in it? Which do you think would have more chance of sounding better?

    Thanks again,
  5. if I had the cash to buy a new neck, I wouldn't have gone for the defret. Too much work and too much risk involved.

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