Homemade Fretless...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by ezdrul, Apr 11, 2002.

  1. ezdrul


    Mar 31, 2002
    Hey there...

    i want to pull the frets out of an old AccuBass I have lying around.
    How should I proceed?

    How do I pull them out and how do I fill the holes afterwards?

    Is there anything else anyone would like to add so I don't ruin my bass? :)

    thanks a lot

  2. I myself have just done this to my Squire P, and it's not that hard. Just get a chisle or flat-head screw driver, and SLOWLY tap out the frets, using both ends of the fret. If you go fast, it will tear at the wood (as I found out :rolleyes: )

    I used Maple Veneer to fill the slots. Just place it in the groove, and use a razor blade to trim it to the right shape. After a little sanding, it comes out looking very professional.

    Rock on
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Heating the frets (e.g. with a soldering iron) helps preventing fretboard tear.

    Good luck!
  4. I've read this before, does anybody know why it is like that? Shouldn't the heat cause the frets to expand and therefore be harder to pull out?

  5. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    On most basses, frets are held in place by glue. Heating the frets melts this glue, allowing the fret to slide out easily.
  6. ezdrul


    Mar 31, 2002
    thanks for all the input guys
  7. I'm a newbie considering defretting. So, help me out here.

    I heat up the frets (to melt the glue), remove the frets (with a flathead screwdriver), then fill it (Maple Veneer? Where would I get this, and how much would it run me?) Is that all there is to it?
  8. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I don't know how well this transposes across to the delicate art of defretting, but I've found that stuck screws can often be freed by heating them with a soldering iron, letting them cool and then unscrewing them

    The theory, as I understand it, is that the heat expands the metal, which pushes it against the sides of the screwhole and slightly enlarges them. When the screw cools, it shrinks back to the original size but the hole remains slightly larger than it originally was.

    The fretwire I've seen had a patterned surface to grip the sides of the slot, so my screw trick might work on those.

    Needless to say, be very careful of hot metal - and watch where you put that soldering iron, especially if you're then exerting yourself to extract the fret!

  9. Slap that G

    Slap that G

    Apr 16, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    I'm actually about to defret my P Bass as well. Apparently the best way to heat the frets is to steam them. take of the strings (oviously), hold the thing over some boiling water, and i dunno, i guess tapping them out with a screwdriver would be a good idea. then fill 'em in with that stuff that the other guy was talking about.

    oh, and you might want to get some flat-wound strings, cause playing with roundwound could end up damaging the fretboard deprending on your style of play.

    good luck.
  10. what about using wood filler? does that work well?
  11. I used a wood putty when I defretted mine. If you have a rosewood fretboard, you might want to coat it so you won't damage the fretboard. Rosewood is fairly soft compared to maple and it can get chewed up, depending on the situation. If you have a light touch, it really doesn't matter what type of strings you use. I have rounds on mine, because I don't like the feel and sound of flats. So far there has been no damage to the fretboard or the acrylic coat.
  12. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    I have filled fret slots with a mixture of Superglue and wood-dust from the fingerboard. It worked well.
  13. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I fill & coat mine with 2 part epoxy. I only use stainless steel rounds on my epoxied rosewood boards and haven't seen an further damage then the fret removal processes.

    Don't forget you may need to cut the nut and shim the neck to get it set right as a fretless.

    Take your time and Good luck. I had fun doing it

  14. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I don't know how advisable it is to use steam. 1-it will probably saturate the wood, warping the neck backwards; 2-unless you have some method in mind of pinpoint steam application, the broad heating of the fretboard may loosen up the glue that holds the fretboard on - ouch!
    I have heard several times of using a soldering iron to heat just the frets, to break down the fret glue bond.
  15. I used polyester resin to fill my fret slots. Worked great. And don't even waste your money on flat wounds. They are expensive and terrible IMO.
  16. I defretted this old jackson bass i had lying around.

    I got a very thin butter Knife ( a thin flat head screwdriver or similar would work too) and carefully wedged the frets out. Once all the frets were out, i got a dark coloured wood filler putty ( rosewood board) and pushed it into the fret slots, not being shy with the amount used. Let it dry for a while, then lightly sanded it off the fretboard.
    It sounds and feels as good, if not better than any factory fretless i've played.
    It took like 30 mins from start to finish as far as i remember.
  17. and the Zombie thread of the day award goes to...
  18. BassCycle


    Jan 6, 2006
    Temecula, CA
    Builder: Classic Bass Works
    Where did you dig up this old thread? Someone must have been using the "search" function.
  19. Grant Bass

    Grant Bass

    Oct 14, 2010
    does no one use their fret end
    cutters for this; you press the flat head of the clippers on the board and squeeze the fret out like a zit; no heat no tapping; and if u wanna go overkill, run an exacto along the edge of each fret which should keep splitting on the surface down;
    and i like veneers and the thin binding