i dont know what to do after defretting my sterling ray34 (rosewood)

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by decena96, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. decena96


    Jul 12, 2013
    im new to the fretless world and my friend recently defretted my sterling ray34. it sounds great but it is a rosewood fretboard and i heard that nicklewound strings can mess it up. so i heard that putting a coating on the board will help protect it but i don't understand how it should be done. im going to take it to a professional in nyc but i would like to know more about it before i send it in. i heard epoxy is good. thanks for the help in advance.



  2. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    Wear on a fretless fretboard is caused by a combination of the strings you use and your fretting hand technique.

    Roundwound strings generally contribute to fretboard wear to a greater degree than flatwound strings. Rounds have the ability to "dig into" the fretboard easier than flats. And some folks maintain that stainless steel windings have greater potential for fretboard wear than nickel wound strings because stainless steel is simply a harder material.

    Other folks say coating your fretboard with either epoxy or cyanoacrylate is the best way to protect the fretboard against premature wear.

    I'm primarily a fretless player, and it's been my experience that fretting hand technique is the main contributor to fretboard wear. Poor technique with a heavy hand will wear out a fretboard in no time. Good technique with a light touch will cause minimal wear. And that's regardless of whether you use rounds or flats. I've tried fretboards with various coatings. It does change the tone of the instrument. Some folks like the change in tone and some don't. I'm in the camp that doesn't particularly like the tone.
  3. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Failure to do your homework before taking action like defretting a bass has its consequences.

    I just hope you didn't butcher the neck in defretting it.

    But...no coating is needed. Fretboards wear eventually, you refinish them, all is well.
  4. decena96


    Jul 12, 2013
    @pilgrim i did a lot of research on fretless basses besides the need of finishes and stuff like that. i read through the forums but im still trying to process all the information.
  5. decena96


    Jul 12, 2013
    i play lightly with my fretted hand since the actions are pretty low
  6. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Did the person who defretted it fill in the slots where frets was? If not you got major problem waiting to happen imo.
  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Good for you! As long as the job was well done and the empty slots were filled with a good solid material, you should have a nice instrument to play.

    There are different schools of thought on fretboard wear. I use tapewounds on my fretless, so the wear factor is nearly nil. Flats would be next in line, and stainless rounds probably would be the highest-wear. As noted above, if your action and technique allow you to play with a light touch, that will minimize wear.

    Unless you play a lot and use rounds, I'd suggest that you won't wear the fretboard all that fast. A sanding every couple of years followed by one coat of tung oil as a sealer won't go through a fretboard too fast.
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I agree that technique is what most often causes wear. I have long term fretlesses that didn't show wear with nickel roundwounds. The strings chosen can have a major effect on tone. So can coating the board.
  9. decena96


    Jul 12, 2013
    Yeah filling in the fret slots was the one of the last things he did after defretting the board for me.
  10. king rew

    king rew

    Feb 18, 2009
    New Hampshire
    In terms of technique, playing vibrato parallel to the strings is key. Never do a blues guitar style bend, stretching the string. that's where string windings tear into wood. I always use nickle rounds on my rosewood fretless and there is hardly any wear at all. In 10 years, maybe there will be a little wear, but it's really easy to get the surface re-planed if it needs it.