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I did a Jaco...

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by arther daily, Apr 23, 2001.

  1. ...or rather I tried and I failed!

    I "ripped" the frets out of my old Hohner-B Bass on Saturday. I then filled the gaps with wood glue, sanded, then varnished and sanded three times, then polished.

    It actually sounds better tonally than before (it couldnt have got much worse), but the neck is twisted slightly towards the E string (it's old, cheap and hasnt been looked after), so the intonation is way off - it seems like the spacing between notes is slightly different on each string?

    I can play exactly where the fret used to be on the 12th on the E and A strings, but I have to play above the 12th fret line on the G to reach an octave up!...

    I discovered this after playing it for a few hours and thinking. "How come I cant find a right note on the G?"... it took about 1/2 and hour of staring at the fretboard while playing to figure it out..!

    I expected to have BAAAD intonation, but this is almost spooky!!

    I think this is pretty logical, but I may have got the wrong end of the stick?
    The neck is definitely twisted, which means that intonation is totally freaked, is that generally right?

    ...thinking of starting out as a luthier after my invaluable experience... any customers?!?!?!?!
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well you don't mention anything about whether you have done this, but you are going to need to change just about everything in terms of setup to make this work.

    So like you would generally lower the action, by lowering the bridge saddles and filing lower grooves in the nut. If you don't do the latter, this will definitely affect intonation. You might also want to adjust the truss rod, to help with the neck, but if you haven't got dual truss rods, you probably aren't going to be able to help the twist in the neck, but you might get lucky. It would probably help intonation if you remove relief from the neck - it's worth trying anyway.

    Lastly you want to adjust the intonation at the bridge, after lowering the action. You might want to try posting in setup about this, as I seem to remember this has been mentioned there and a few other people have said they have attempted this - some even successfully!! ;)
  3. I havent messed with the bridge saddles at all actually... and good idea, i'll post about this in set-up, I dont even know where to start...

    Dual Truss Rods!!!!! - sounds like something you get in a Capri...
  4. I did this too, with better results, only because the bass I started with -- a Mex Fender -- didn't have any neck issues up front.

    If one string has wacky intonation, I have 2 thoughts:

    1. adjust the saddle for that string!
    2. try a new set of strings?
  5. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    The beauty with fretless playing is that the intonation is in your fretting hand, and not as much in the bass. ;) Don't look at the lines, listen. Who knows, you might even master the warped neck after a while?
  6. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    You beat me to it, Oyster :D

    Seriously, I think the most important issues in Bruce's advice were intonation at bridge and NUT GROVES! The nut is very often overlooked, but crusial to function of a bass.
    Check the action at the nut. It should be very, very little - like .5 mm, or even less if you like low action.
  7. "Don't look at the lines, listen. Who knows, you might even master the warped neck after a while?"

    >>>True, but if I mastered the warped neck, I'd have to re-adjust if I bought a new fretless, surely.

    I'm gonna give the strings saddle a tweak tonight.... I noticed that the notes were higher up the fretboard than on the other strings ... does this mean I need to lengthen the open string or shorten?
  8. Oh, and I'll be sanding down my nut too!
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well if you read through Dan Glenn's "Ask the Pro" forum, you will see that he is very much an advocate of lined fretless as the way to get good intonation and he mentions that Jaco himself felt the same way.

    I think you need reference points or you are really going to struggle for anything above the 5th fret and if your nut slots are too high, even this is going to be hard work!

    You need a needle file for the nut slots!
  10. I think you need reference points or you are really going to struggle for anything above the 5th fret and if your nut slots are too high, even this is going to be hard work!
    >>>I've got the dots on the side of the neck and the board... i'm going to play this bass and think about it... i'd rather play unlined, purely becasue it looks so much nicer, but if i find if/when i go to purchase that i cant handle the lack of lines, it'll be a lined fretless for me.

    I'm determined to get learn to play fretless well.

    You need a needle file for the nut slots!
    >>>I was going to remove the nut and file down the bottom side, then re-glue it. Maybe your way will be easier if i can ind a needle file?!
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Just for you, I have copied the reply from Dan Glenn's forum on how to get good intonation on fretless bass :

    Semi-tones from hell!
    Hi Bootsy,

    Great question. As you move forward exploring the fretless electric bass guitar, you will undoubtedly
    be pummeled with everyone's opinions on intonation.

    I have been praised in the press for my dead-on intonation, so please remember this as you draw your own conclusion, Ok?

    When asked in an interview years ago about protecting a fretless fingerboard with epoxy, my dearly departed friend Jaco Pastorius said, "it's essential." He used these same two words to me speaking about the fret-lines. We have Jaco to thank for ripping out the frets on his old bass refilling the fret slots, thus marking the intonation.
    Not all pioneers rode in covered wagons.
    Some go into outer space, and some....well...just listen to Jaco Pastorius.

    When some smarty pants tries to bust my chops asking me "what's the shortest scripture in the Bible?" I say "uhm...that would be..."Jesus wept."
    I know this from being forced to go to Sunday school when I was a child. When someone says "what's the shortest scripture in the Fretless Bible?" I say...."It's essential."

    Please don't ever let anyone shame you into thinking "you're not a real fretless player unless you play an unlined fingerboard." BULL!!!

    Listen to great players (hey no names...many of them are my friends!) who play unlined fretless.
    Awesome as they may be, you will always detact a pitch problem. Especially when they solo. Listen to some great players who play a lined fretless, and you will hear flawless intonation, because they had the common sense to give themselves a head start.

    On a fretted bass Bootsy, (as you know) the finger falls just 'behind' the fret. Conversely on a fretless bass the finger is pinned directly 'on' the line.

    Excuse me, but how in the heck are you supposed to nail this if the fingerboard is barren? I read a post once from a younger player advising "play a lined fingerboard until you have some experience, and then move on to a lineless fingerboard, because you can't consider yourself a "true" fretless player if you play a lined fingerboard."
    WRONG!!!!!!!! :0 ahahahahahahahahahahahah!
    Sorry, that was me pulling out my hair.

    I've been playing fretless for almost 30 years. My first fretless was a lineless maple fingerboard. Then I heard Jaco about a year later. Duh. A simple case of 'this won't hurt....did it?'

    Do you approve of, and like Jaco's intonation?
    Yeah, yeah, there are players out there that choose to play a lineless fingerboard that are good players, and they sound fine....blablabla......bla.

    Do yourself a favor. When you go fretless, get a beautiful bass that sings nicely...and insist on a lined fingerboard. From then on, whether you're playing an exposed melancholy solo, or roaring away fighting for a point of reference as part of a volcanic ensemble....you'll have one less thing to worry about. Lineless players have a tendency to give the listener a bloody nose from questionable pitch...all in the name of some dogmatic purism
    that doesn't really exist. Try it for yourself and you'll see that I haven't overreacted to your question due to drinking too much coffee.
    I personally feel all lineless fretless basses should come equipped with curb feelers and a white cane.

    Enough said? I have a column on fretless pitch at my website on the "Bass Columns" page. Click on the (I think) 'Bass Frontiers' with Geddy Lee on the cover, and please read my column "Musical Weather" titled 'Fretless Focus." I go into depth about playing long tones and simple mundane melodies to dial in your pitch. http://www.dannglenn.com

    Only after spending much time playing SLOWLY and practicing nailing that string on the LINE, will you find your soul's inner voice showing up in the playbacks. Ok? Too much information? I hope not.

    Listen to Jaco's first solo album. Yes, we all know Jaco could have played a kazoo and brought tears to our eyes....but remember...he played a lined fretless Jazz.

    After reading my tirade, if you decide to play a lineless fingerboard, I suggest playing upright.
    If not, hit those notes squarely on the line, and be careful not to apply too much vibrato. A tad of vibrato gives the note a poignant/weeping...almost vocal quality...whereas too much sounds like you're not sure about your note choice. Best of luck Bootsy!

    Dann Glenn

    Last edited by Dann Glenn on 04-04-2001 at 05:51 PM
  12. point taken... and a very good point it is too. I've commited that one to memory for use later.

    unlined does look darned nice tho!

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