Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

how do you brighten up a fretless bass with a rosewood board

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by plankspanker04, Jun 18, 2004.


  1. plankspanker04

    plankspanker04 Guest

    May 6, 2004
    keller texas
    i just bought a fretless bass..a lakland skyline 55-01.i love the way it feels and playes and i didnt want to sink too much into it.although i love the way it playes the sound seems soft and dull compared to other fretlesses i have played.im wondering if it is because of the rosewood board and if there is something i can do to brighten it up.some people say to coat the fingerboard with a resin ala jaco.others have said the sound is the sound and coating the board wont do that much.can anyone offer a suggestion.thank you.
     
  2. McHack

    McHack

    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    I'm a fretless n00b, so I probably shouldn't say anything here... But, I always thought rosewood was one of the softer fingerboards used, & it seems kinda weird to me that one would use rosewood as the fb wood,,, on a fretless bass...
    I thought ebony was pretty much the standard for that.
     
  3. plankspanker04

    plankspanker04 Guest

    May 6, 2004
    keller texas

    i agree.i think the lakland skylines are a great value for the money though.they feel great and the tone is nice.maybe they find it cheaper to do this as the lakland usa fretless basses have ebony boards.id love to brighten it up a little.it sounds good now,id just like it to "sing" out more.i was checking around and noticed other builders that use rosewood,some fairly high end ones too.i was a little suprised as well.
     
  4. McHack

    McHack

    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Yea, I've got a skyline & really like mine as well... However, back to your issue...

    Back to my disclaimer, I'm a fretless n00b... BUT...

    I wouldn't put anything on the fb, to try & strengthen it... Rosewood is really porous, & will soak it up, & if you don't like it,, you're kinda f'd.

    I guess my first thing would be, that because rosewood is kinda tender as an fb wood,, & it being fretless,,, I'd make sure you use flats, so it doesn't get tore up.

    A lighter gauge string to try & lighten it up... See what THAT gets you. I'm not a flats guy either, but there's GOTTA be someone who makes SS flats. SS strings tend to be a little brighter & zingier than nickel.
     
  5. plankspanker04

    plankspanker04 Guest

    May 6, 2004
    keller texas


    thanks ill give it a shot.the bass in no way sounds bad,in fact it sounds good and for the price it sounds really good.im really just splitting hairs and i have been spoiled and have gotten used to expensive basses.its very usable and im still amazed at the quality of a bass that is way under $1000.ill try flats and see what happens.thanks for the advise on the fingerboard coating as i was leaning that way.
     
  6. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Flats are going to take you in the opposite direction, although they are easier on your fingerboard. Almost all flats you see these days are stainless wraps.

    You want roundwounds if you want bright. If the strings are/were not new then this might be all it takes. Coating the board may give you a sharper/more clearly defined attack, if that is what you are looking for.
     
  7. plankspanker04

    plankspanker04 Guest

    May 6, 2004
    keller texas

    well----

    the strings are far from new.i think they are ghs super steels by the looks of them.the ones lakland uses.i guess id just like it to project and "sing"(theres that word again)out.it sounds a little dull,which i attributed to the fingerboard.my friend has a lakland usa model fretless with an ebony board.it sounds great and maybe that is just the sound i hear.ive heard some people like the sound of rosewood boards.

    have you ever tried this(coating the board) and what were your results??what is the cost???
     
  8. McHack

    McHack

    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Yea, I know they'll be a little thicker sonically, but for some reason I'm freaked out by a fretless, rosewood fb... As I said, I'm a fretless n00b,,, so feel free to disregard my commentary.
     
  9. plankspanker04

    plankspanker04 Guest

    May 6, 2004
    keller texas

    i dont disregard it at all,i appriciate you taking the time to offer your opinion-which is what was looking for.i realize sound is so subjective.please feel free to submit whatever you wish.im not really a fretless player so those of you that are can point me in the right direction.
     
  10. Yeah, start with new strings. Roundwounds. See where that takes your tone...it should improve.

    As far as rosewood being a suitable fretless board material, they've been doin it for years, as you know... I wouldn't coat it with anything.

    You COULD always have a luthier put an ebony board onnit.

    I'm just always in awe of peeps who can work a fretless.

    Mick Karn, Tony Levin, Mike Manring, Pino, just awesome.
     
  11. McHack

    McHack

    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Lemme propose this...

    If you're going to go through the effort of replacing the fb, you could call Lakland, & see if they'll swap the neck out for a diff one... How long have you had it?
     
  12. McHack

    McHack

    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Actually, after checking thier brochure, I think they only offer fretless, w/ a rosewood fb... Scratch my prev post.
     
  13. rdhbass

    rdhbass

    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    One time I made a fretless out of a fretted bass with a rosewood fretboard and put polyurethane on the board and sanded it very flat, changed the sound, made it a bit brighter. The polyurethane gives it a glassy, waxy, slick feel. You have to let the poly cure though before u start playing it, maybe a week or so. If you don't know what you are doing, I wouldn't try this on your new bass.
    R.H.
     
  14. plankspanker04

    plankspanker04 Guest

    May 6, 2004
    keller texas
    thank you everyone for your input.i bought a skyline as this is somewhat of an experiment.i didnt want to tie a whole lot of cash if playing fretless turned out to not be my thing.again i think it sounds good and i hope it doesnt sound like im dogging the skyline stuff.i know there alot of other builders using rosewood.ill try new strings and see where that goes.
    by the way i think lakland uses ebony on their usa models.if they dont now they used to.

    the poly finish sounds interesting.by the way did you do it yourself?

    who knows i may just leave it alone and play it as is.if it turnes out i crash and burn on this fretless venture ill make someone a good deal on it. :hyper: :hyper:
     
  15. Skips

    Skips

    Feb 19, 2003
    New Stainless roundwound strings will brighten it up a lot.
    A zero-load tone pot will help a tiny bit as well (or getting rid of it if you don't use it--even all the way off it reduces some treble).
    A 0.01uf cap between the vol pot leads will prevent treble loss when you're not playing on full volume (no effect otherwise.)

    A heavier bridge will help as well.

    Finally, a piezo bridge will solve all your problems, but with the new bridge and pre-amp, you're looking at $200-300.
     
  16. rdhbass

    rdhbass

    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    Yeah i did, with a can of spray polyurethane and sandpaper you can do wonders. Beginner luthiery stuff thats all.
     
  17. permagrin

    permagrin

    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    just to add to the already-given advice...

    no-cost things to try are to play with the eq some, pluck closer to the bridge, use more of the tips of your fingers (vice the meaty part). experiment with your setup: file the nut slots, flatten the neck somewhat, lower the action (these will help get the mwah tone if that's what you mean by 'singing') - other than filing the nut these are all reversible.

    i use ghs brite flats. in general, machine ground flats will tend to be a bit brighter than reugular flats. there are ss flats but i've never tried any. roundwounds are brighter but will eat into a rosewood board.

    if you decide to coat the fb, you might want to try the water-based poly - relatively cheap and easy to work with. go with several very thin coats and realize your bass will be unplayable for a couple weeks.
     
  18. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    You could also try multiple coats of wipe on polyurathane. Tom
     
  19. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    I'm not completely familiar with the Laklands, but is it currently a passive bass? If so, maybe on onboard pre-amp (Like an Aguilar or similar) would give you some additional headroom for adding in up to 18 dB of treble?

    :^)~
     
  20. McHack

    McHack

    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Bone stock, Lakland 55-01's have passive soapbar style pups,, w/ a 3-band pre-amp. The base model pre is a fishman, but an upgrade to a Bart NTMB is available.