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granite or marble fretless fretboard?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by mcdeath, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. Hmmmm.

    I'm making a list of ridiculous things I'd like to try doing and the idea came up about using a very thin slab of either marble or granite as fretboard material. I was thinking of taking a maple fretboard, or equivalent, and cutting so it's 1/2 the thickness and replacing the removed half with a slab of marble or granite.

    I've been checking around and there's a marble/granite place nearby where they can do the necessary cutting. They're not certain if they can do the radiusing, but they might be able to if I go ahead and place the order.

    I'm wondering, has anyone tried this before? Know any problems? Is this a really goofy idea?

    I don't mind if it doesn't work all that well as long as it doesn't end up being something that I had wished I'd done.

    *shrug* what can I say? I'm just thinking of how a white/silver marble fretboard would look with a bubinga body.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. There's already a company doing this.

    Forget the name, believe it begins with an N

    novus? nexus?

    edit: yes, Nexus.
  3. Hmmm.

    Interesting thanks!

    So it is possible then. I've definitely got to try this. Maybe I'll rip a spare neck apart and rebuild it with marble.
  4. I just wonder what they are applying to the two surfaces...can't be anything more than a mechanical bond, and I get leery at the thought of that. I guess I just don't know enough about adhesives.

    What would you be using?
  5. Hmmm.

    Well first off I was thinking of having grooves cut across the width and lengthwise along the bottom of the stone material. I'd match the grooves with the wooden part of the fretboard by milling out the top of the wooden fretboard to match. No particular reason why, except that I imagine the additional surface area might help with the bonding.

    I was planning on getting some small fragments and trying out different glues.

    Really just fooling around with the idea more than anything else. But it's a curiously wierd idea that just doesn't want to die with me. Everytime I say to myself "this is a waste of time", another thought comes back "so what, it's cool.". *shrug* Gotta go with that inner voice eh? :)

    So I'll be doing some experimentation prior to doing any real work. I've definitely settled on white marble though. That'll look really killer on a bass.

    If it works. :)
  6. I like experimentaion. I actually was in the process of trying to make an EURB. I was going to use this extremely dense resin sheet here at my work for the fingerboard...

    I was going to use expoxy to bond...
  7. I suppose that you'll be playing rock music on this bass?

    Better not be doing it stoned!

    It's not etched in stone what a fretting surface should be. In the vein of experimentation, mining unusual ideas is the best way to learn. I, myself, have climbed that mountain many times. But that one rock solid concept that is both unusual and practical can be an elusive quarry. In fact, sifting through the rubble of discarded ideas can sometimes yield gems in the rough.
  8. Dude, you rock. ;) That was igneous. I mean ingenius.
  9. Thanx Mon! :D

    I would suggest some of the 2 part polyurethane adhesives with names like "Plexus". They come in several cure times and are mixed in the application tube as they are squeezed out. We use it to glue aluminum together in structural fabrication. Lotus uses it for chassis construction. It cures to a hard but machinable and paintable solid material. We haven't seen a hard material that this stuff can't stick together - permanently!
  10. I imagine it has good shear strength as well?
  11. Ultimate shear strength along with tremendous torsional strength. As long as the surfaces are clean and have a little "tooth" on them, it'll stick like boogers on a bedpost. We use a DA with 80 grit to rough up the surfaces before gluing.
  12. That's fantastic to hear. Thanks very very much! So noted!

    Any online suppliers?
  13. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Do you have any concern that if your sweat is too acidic, it will eat away at the marble, either pitting it or just discoloring the white? If so, you wouldn't have that problem with granite.

    Pretty cool that you found a place to do the work. After seeing the Nexus basses, I've wondered whether it would be possible for your average stone countertop type dealer to do it.
  14. What do the "cultured" marbles and granites do? I know they aren't just resins.

    Here's our distributor for Plexus - just around the corner from us:


    Plexus is it's own company but it's sister company has a lot of the same type of things. You can see them here:

  15. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I really don't know for sure what's in cultured marble, but if it contains marble, it will be vulnerable to attack by a strong enough acid. The question is, how bad would continual exposure to sweat be? Enough for damage? I don't know. I believe, however, that if you have marble countertops you have to be careful about exposure to lemon juice, tomatoes, and the like, as well as some cleaners.
  16. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    You don't even have to do a radius, I've played some pretty awesome flat (no radius) boards....polished granite would look sweet....although I wonder if the added weight would cause some neck dive concern?
  17. andvari7


    Aug 28, 2004
    And what about adjusting the neck? That's going to be nigh impossible; stone has this tendency to want to remain rigid. But it would probably sound either really bad or incredibly cool. I'm betting on the cool.
  18. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Well, if we could deal with the weight, a stone neck would probably have the same properties behind as carbon fiber necks. Super stiff necks and all. Plus, Modulus didn't need no steekin' truss rods for the longest time, so a no-truss-all-stone neck isn't actually all that out there. Just really, really heavy. Heavy as a really heavy thing, if you will.
  19. Hmmm.

    What I was thinking, subject to experimentation, is to see how stiff the neck is with the thin stone fretboard. Basically I'd probably end up making a few of these at around the same time. The first one I'd string up and overtighten considerably to put as much stress as possible on the neck. Then I was planning on shaving down the neck to reduce both the weight and the profile. At least until either I end up with a ridiculous thin neck or a catastrophic failure. If it fails then I'll know how much I can take off and how much to leave on.

    Plus I could use a heavier wood for the body, to help balance it, and use a relatively heavy bridge as a counter-weight.

    What I'm thinking though, other than shaving the neck a bit, is to keep the stone as absolutely thin as possible. If it's granite then I couldn't imagine how much playing it would require to scratch that surface. High quality kitchen knife companies advise customers against cutting on granite countertops because it'll dull the knives almost immediately.

    Another thing is to maximize leverage while reducing overall weight. I could do this by using an alder body and custom machine a very heavy brass bridge that is specifically designed and weighted to counter the neck.

    I'm not thinking of removing the trussrod because I'm pretty sure the stone will add some stiffness, but not that much.

    Hmmm. I wonder if a very thin slab of stone would resonate more than a thick one. After all what I don't want is anything to dampen the neck vibrations. I think a very thin slab would be probably be the right selection.
  20. andvari7


    Aug 28, 2004
    Interesting. I don't know how thin you can go without it becoming wobbly. What if the slab were the same dimensions as a wooden fingerboard, but hollowed out? Well, it would have to be chambered, and it would be a two-piece deal (one thin strip on the bottom to give a maximized gluing area), but I think that would still cut down on the weight pretty well.