Has this been done? Bass with different fretboard woods for sharps?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by kirkdickinson, Oct 8, 2016.


  1. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    Thinking about something different. How about a fretless fretboard with two woods, a light rock maple and ebony, or two other very contrasting woods. Have the sharps/flats dark and the others light. Like on a piano. I spent 2 hours drawing out my idea on Corel Draw for a five string.

    My idea is to have unlined, but the block edges would be right on the lines anyways. I guess this is dreaming and rambling because I don't have any concept for the rest of a custom instrument, or any money to hire it built, or the skills to do it myself. I know a guy that does a lot of inlay, could have him change up an existing fretboard.

    Since I know nothing about this would it be stronger/easier to do this as one underlying fretboard with the contrast set as a inlays? Or would it be better to put it together like a jigsaw puzzle?

    I was thinking about a good coat of cyanoacrylate for a solid surface and a lot of muwwahh.

    What do you think? bass-neck-jpg.jpg
     
    ICM, Atshen, delta7fred and 31 others like this.
  2. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    I admire the ingenuity — very clever — but I’m too shallow to get past the beginner learning-aid connotation. Not for me.
     
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  3. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    I wasn't thinking of it as a beginner/learning thing. But I guess others might see it that way. I play fretless and have a couple unlined ones. I don't need lines. Just thought it might be something different and I like the contrast between two different types of wood.

    Maybe if the body and the head stock had contrasting wood just like that in tetris type shapes it would tie the whole thing together and not look so much as a "learning aid".
     
  4. Davemonkey2

    Davemonkey2

    Sep 13, 2016
    Central Ohio
    Interesting. I believe you'd have to have a solid fingerboard beneath it (and have your design as a laminate on top) for structural integrity, though.
     
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  5. Will_White

    Will_White

    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    @Scoops isn't this kind of like what your doing with your headless Rick?
     
  6. Nev375

    Nev375

    Nov 2, 2010
    Missouri
    If Entwistle can have the names of notes inlaid on his bass and not have it be seen as a learning aid then this is nothing.

    I think it's a cool idea. Not crazy about the high contrast block pattern myself, but I think there's a lot of people out there who would dig it.
     
  7. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    An interesting idea. I don't see any big technical problem with making that. If you ordered a neck from me and wanted that design fingerboard, it would be an additional charge. I would make up the whole fingerboard as blocks, cut and fitted tightly together, and glued onto the neck. Radius and level the surface as normal. It would be important to pick the two woods to be pretty close in hardness and density, to minimize differences in their shrinkage and expansion. Two dramatically different woods would cause problems, even if you had a top coat surface. I'd go with something like soft maple and walnut, or maybe wenge and hard maple.
     
  8. dalahorse

    dalahorse

    Apr 14, 2010
    US-CO-Aurora
    Agreed. Might as well inlay the note names while you're at it... And then hope the player never deviates from standard tuning. Because then the notes and colors would be incorrect.

    The blocks do make interesting patterns.
     
  9. LanEvo

    LanEvo Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2008
    Manhattan
    What about just using a maple board then laying on a sheet of Mylar (or similar material) with the dark pattern printed on it. Since you're going to pour epoxy over the top anyway, it should work.
     
  10. GroovinOnFunk

    GroovinOnFunk

    Apr 30, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Endorses Cleartone and SIT Strings
    ... As mentioned above your post, you realize this was done by one of the most badass rock n' roll bassists of all time, right?
     
  11. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    Interesting idea. Wouldn't make me buy a bass. Might make me not buy a bass, if poorly executed.
     
  12. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1

    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    looks confusing to me.
     
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  13. Chico Ruger

    Chico Ruger

    Dec 11, 2014
    Western NC
    Kudos to you! I am not a builder so I can't comment on it from that perspective, but it seems like a clever and unique idea. That is saying something for technology and theory that is relatively simple and centuries old.
     
    HaphAsSard and kirkdickinson like this.
  14. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Why? Between watching charts and the conductor I can't look at the finger board.

    Thanks to a great teacher, I learned to play without looking. (OK, an occasional glance when I shift positions is sometimes necessary).

    Sometimes I have to play B# or E# because that's the way it's written.
     
  15. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    Exactly.

    Worrying about what other people think of what your instrument looks like is about your own insecurity.
     
    Matthew Fisher likes this.
  16. Callused Finger

    Callused Finger

    Feb 22, 2007
    New York
    Love this idea.. Not so much tone wise but it's interesting and looks cool.
    I'm tempted to ask my builder to do this on my next bass just to drive him bananas.
     
  17. superheavyfunk

    superheavyfunk 音楽は人生だ

    Mar 11, 2013
    Toronto
    I think it looks awesome. I play with my ears instead of my eyes, so I don't really care if folks consider it some kind of learners aid, or whatever.

    We need more creative ideas and luthiers, and fewer traditionalists, imo. There are plenty of lined/unlined fretboards and conversations about them already.
     
  18. Pudge Fish

    Pudge Fish

    Aug 6, 2013
    MD
    Just a lil devil's advocate, should piano keys all be in a single row, same color and size?
     
    ICM, Thisguy, ColdEye and 3 others like this.
  19. dalahorse

    dalahorse

    Apr 14, 2010
    US-CO-Aurora
    I have no idea what badass bassist did that.

    That being said... It's just my opinion. I think the blocks look cool in a sort of random pattern kind of way. Having them follow sharps and flats just seems like a junior high orchestra approach to learning the fingerboard. That's just the vibe I get from the concept. But build what you like and play the hell out of it! It's not like you're building it to make me happy.
     
  20. dalahorse

    dalahorse

    Apr 14, 2010
    US-CO-Aurora
    Personally, I wish the original design worked like that. It would have actually made more sense from a player following patterns perspective. But... the keys are indeed the same size when you play further back on them. And the spacing is even. It eliminates the need to think about sharps and flats and lets you just worry about intervals. But what's done is done.
     
    ICM and MrWolf14 like this.
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