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

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

  1. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Inactive

    I think it would look even better, or even essential, if applied to a fanned FRETLESS. Or maybe not. Lines and simple practice would do. Don't take offense. To wit:

    About a year into playing, I placed some sort of adhering stickies (is that redundant?) into each space and wrote the note names on each sticky. It was a silly idea that didn't last long, not because of the bit of goo that was left behind but just because it was a silly idea. Ear and muscle memory is one's best bet.
    kirkdickinson and SamanthaCay like this.
  2. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I disclose nothing
    What happens when you play in a different key?

    What happens if you detune?

    What happens if you drink a beer and look at the fretboard and say ***???

    Or just do this on the fretboard and then you can say what the hell note am I playing?

    Ductapeman and Will_White like this.
  3. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    I don't see this as a player visualization aid really. I can get by just fine with an unlined fretboard. I rarely look at the lines on my two lined fretless. And I occasionally dabble in 5th tuning on an unlined fretless. This is more a design element. Just used standard sharps and naturals to dictate design.

    Man that is a lot of inlay on that guitar.
    ColdEye, FunkHead and Will_White like this.
  4. I have no idea how a neck built that way would feel or sound but it sure seems like a great project with a fun goal.
  5. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    That is one of the more unusual but perfectly logical visual designs I've seen in a long time. I think its a clever idea. I really like the look. :thumbsup::thumbsup:
    Pumpkin and Kubicki Fan like this.
  6. I really like this idea, hopefully someone tries it one of these days
    Kubicki Fan likes this.
  7. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG!

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    Beat me to it! I have no desire for a multi scale bass but damn that would look cool.
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yeah, I assumed that you were suggesting this mostly for visual design reasons. The blocks might be a little bit useful when playing, but not much. With a fingerboard like this, the bass should be all gloss black, with sweeping carved edges and lines. Like a Steinway. Elegant, played in tuxedo gigs.

    A fanned fretless version is certainly possible too. I'd build it up by the same basic method. A bit more expensive, because of all the fussy angle trimming.
  9. Super expensive ... sound effect? Maybe it can be painted over?
  10. Baa

    Baa Happy hobbyplayer

    Jan 10, 2006
    stockholm, sweden
    I think it would look great!
    And as you said:
    The pattern beeing "tonally correct" gives it a kind of "method to the madness".
    Now i'm seriously thinking about doing it with adhesive vinyl on one of my fretted basses.
    Since the strings don't touch the board it should last a while.
    I work with that stuff so i can pretty much print any color/pattern i want.
    Anyone have any ideas? :)
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  11. Blackjac97

    Blackjac97 Supporting Member

    May 27, 2012
    Apparently half the truck in people in this thread didn't bother to read the OP. I read it, and it didn't say anything about this being a visual aid for beginners.

    I also disagree that it wouldn't work in other tunings. You're just changing the patterns of notes that fall on the transition blocks. You need to know your s#!t to play double sharps/flats or play in C# major no matter what your fingerboard looks like.

    I think this would be a great idea. I saw someone offer to build one in an earlier post. Have a nice neck made for a bass which has a high enough value to make the extra investment on. E.G., if it costs $1000, I wouldn't have it done for my cheap P bass, but I would on a nicer bass, like $1500 or more. IMO anyway, that's just how I think.
    Thisguy and ColdEye like this.
  12. sxaxsx


    May 23, 2012
    Harrisburg PA
    It's not at all a "beginner" thing, it's emulating a piano is it not, he mentioned using ebony for the flats/sharps just like a piano correct. I think its a cool idea. Are all piano players cheating by having different color keys for flats?
  13. GnomishViking


    Dec 16, 2015
    I think that could look pretty neat if it was two different woods for it. Like maple and rosewood.
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  14. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I think 99.99% of people would just see it as a geometric pattern - VERY inside joke. Cool concept, though.
    tlc1976 and kirkdickinson like this.
  15. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    I like the idea. (though it might confuse me, mediocre player that I am) :eek: :confused:

    One thing to be aware of... dissimilar woods will expand and contract at different rates from temperature and humidity changes, which could create some problems with true-ness of the fingerboard. I can tell you firsthand, pearl inlay creates the same problem as the wood drys and shrinks the pearl doesn't. It sounds different when the notes terminate directly behind a piece of pearl than on the bare wood as the string 'mwahs' off it.

    It could still work on a fretless, but I suspect there would be very little margin for error. An epoxy coating would provide some forgiveness. No problem with a fretted bass though. White holly and ebony would be my first choice. Both are very dense, with little pore. Plus, you can't get much more contrast than that. ;)

    Good luck. :thumbsup:
  16. Plutonium244

    Plutonium244 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2015
    Just looking at the board without knowing what the master plan is, it would, to me, simply look like an interesting, a-symmetrical pattern, and not like a "beginner's tool." it would probably require playing it to really take note that light pieces are naturals and dark pieces are sharps/flats. Generally when I play I am not thinking "this is C sharp" but rather, "this is the major third of A" and so on.
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  17. dalahorse


    Apr 14, 2010
    The first two of us who didn't like it said it gave the appearance of being a learning aide. It was clear early on that it's not what the OP was going for. It's just how the design came across to us.

    I'm absolutely certain the OP must know his fingerboard very well.

    Not really. A day 1 beginner starts learning what a major scale is and what pattern it makes on the fingerboard. A day 1 beginner also learns the open notes of all 4 strings. Count up on the A string until you find C# then play the major scale that starts there. No special badassery required.
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  18. A "sticker" approach would work well on a fretted bass. For a fretless, I guess you could print the pattern on a couple long stickers and just lay the whole thing down over the board, but you'd have to take fretboard radius into consideration when making the sticker.

    I've used inlay stickers on fretted guitars and basses with success.

  19. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    I have this urge to play chess and I don't know why;)
  20. I am not an expert but, wood is subject to swelling and shrinking usually caused by humidity changes in the environment. That might lead to visual intonation issues, even though its fretless. Also, different woods would react differently to the environment. That might lead to spaces or crowding where the different wood types meet. Might be hard to control. The concept appears solid though. Perhaps use only 1 type of wood and mark light and dark using dyes or stain.
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