Inlays prevent defretting????

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by FretGrinder, Jan 22, 2002.

  1. I just got a new 5-string :D and i wanna defret my epiphone eb-3 (which i don't care for much as a fretted instrument). My query is: if i go ahead am i going to run into big stupid problems with the enormous rhomic fake-mother-of-pearl inlays on the fretboard? I'm sure they will wear (and sound) differently to the fretboard ... should i abandon this operation, go ahead, or get them out somehow and fill them with liquid wood?

    bear in mind I'm quite happy to sell this thing .. if i were to defret it would probably just be a crappo "ooh now i have a fretless" practice bass

    thanks all you smart guys
  2. This isn't the usual "I-wanna-defret-my-bass" post so I think I 'll take a crack at it.

    I don't think that the inlays will have a problem at all since the frets are inbetween the blocks. A string shouldn't hit them ever. That said, I DO think that it's gonna look a little weird with the big block inlay and no frets.

    But that's a call you'll have to make.
  3. It'll look weird yes, but maybe somewhat interesting.


  4. elwood

    elwood there is no spoo

    Jul 25, 2001
    Mid-Hudson Valley, NY
    The eb-3 may be worth something, you may want to consider selling it an buying an entry level fretless since there is at least one outstanding one out there in the Kingston. I've seen them go used already for under $400.

    The inlays should present no problems to either the defretting process or playing after it's finished. I did this to a Yamaha 5-string with rather large oval MOP inlays. Board was easy to reshape, never have found an in-tune note over one of the inlays ;^). "Course, I won't talk about where else I haven't found in-tune notes!

  5. extreme


    Mar 20, 2000
    I've got a fretless with a '70s maple jazz neck (pearl block inlays and binding) and it's definitely not a problem having the inlays. Just make sure the fretboard is level. You could always coat the fretboard so that you won't groove the actual neck and inlays...
  6. Nikehawk

    Nikehawk Guest

    Jul 29, 2001
    Yorkville, IL, USA
    Okay... I have the same situation with a Jazz clone neck with "pearl"? block inlays that I am looking to make fretless. Will the inlays effect the tone at all (such as when I slide from note to note on the same string)?
  7. If you put your ear up close to one of those pearl block inlays you can here the ocean......Oh!um this only works if you defret it first..... Defetting.. I still don't understand why people are still doing this when there are so many OEM fretless basses out there...I think the same people who defret their bass are the ones who declaw their cat. or have all their teeth pulled or maybe they have some kind of circumcision issues.. :eek:
  8. I once saw a Rickenbacker 4001 with shark fin inlays that had been defretted on eBay, and it looked damn cool! The guy had the binding redone so that the black dots on the binding were on the actual notes (where the frets used to be) rather than between them. Must have been a hell of a job, but it looked sweet! And, fretless Ricks sound so nice...

  9. The problem with most cheap basses is that they are ... welll, cheap. Both in quality and in price.
    Defretting is a economical option for a fretless bass without having to buy a fretless bass.
  10. Nikehawk

    Nikehawk Guest

    Jul 29, 2001
    Yorkville, IL, USA

    I defretted the jazz clone with some minor problems... 1) The frets tore up the fretboard 2) The fretboard is NOT level (lots of buzzing)

    The buzzing is either because of the wood filler, or the fact that the inlays were actually higher in respect to the frets without inlays. Ive been getting a mild "buzztwang" from the strings when playing a note on the fret mark or anywhere behind an inlay. After numerous sandings (of various grits), I've managed to minimize the problem, but the action is still really high (as the action gets lower the buzz gets lower, thus indicating the inlays are higher). My question is: Should I keep sanding? or should I try to coat the fretboard with something and hope it levels it out? I really want to keep the untreated fretboard sound, but would rather have a playable bass.
  11. pc


    Apr 4, 2000
    Montreal QC
    I defretted my crappy rick clone and had some problems with it (as a crappy bass, the inlays were unevenly seated).

    I coated the fingerboard with epoxy, sanded it and finished with iron wool (sp?) to get a satin look

    The bass already sucked a lot, but now is better than it used to be :D
  12. Nikehawk

    Nikehawk Guest

    Jul 29, 2001
    Yorkville, IL, USA
    That sounds like a good idea... Update will follow...
  13. Nikehawk

    Nikehawk Guest

    Jul 29, 2001
    Yorkville, IL, USA
    Well, for an update, after numerous (more than 8) coats of polyurethane, the fretboard still seems to make noises. Granted, this isnt the greatest of necks (a little curved) but the sound that I seem to get out of the fretboard is a very sharp distinct rattle vibration, which I have figured out is small ridges where the inlays meet the board, causing a small ridge. My follow up question is this: I have determined that in order to level the board and thus the ridges, I need some sort of material that is thicker than polyurethane, perhaps a self leveling material. I have been in stores and asked what epoxy is, and everyone just tells me its a bathtub sealant, or concrete sealant, not something I want to use on a guitar. Is this the same type of epoxy that everyone else has been using? Or is this something completely different and I need to keep looking? Thanks again, Fretless-less in Illinois (Bart:cool: )
  14. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    LOL I would never declaw or de tooth an animal... I don't remember my circumcision... and I don't think I've got any deep rooted issues ;)

    BUT, I found a bass that was perfect for my needs in everyway but having frets.... so I yanked them. If I could have bought it as a fretless, I would have
  15. pc


    Apr 4, 2000
    Montreal QC
    The answer is: sand, sand, sand... 200 grit, 400 grit, and over, up to 2000 grit if you want a shiny fingerboard... :eek:

    I used to have the same problem with my crappy rick clone... I sanded the resin by hand... that was a big mistake

  16. pc


    Apr 4, 2000
    Montreal QC
    I planned a BIG mod on her, so I've been working on the inlayed fretboard for a couple of weeks.

    I had to begin sanding with 120 grit, because the old finish was hard to strip (I think I use about 5 coats). Then I use a 220 grit, just to smooth down a little.

    The fret holes were filled with a dark wood filler, so Im sawing them again to fill'em with a light wood filler

    I think you should use a sand block to do the job... the block will even the inlays and the fingerboard. Believe me. it works!

  17. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    I once defretted a cheap bass with big block inlays and could never get a good sound. I was careful to sand the inlays flush with the board, but it still buzzed. It makes sense; when you "fret" a note on a fretless, the mwah comes largely from the string vibrating against the wood above your fingers, and if an inlay is there that has a different density than the wood, it sounds different. Also, sliding on a string sounded awful.
    The bass I did this on was admittedly cheap, and I didn't try to coat it. Also the inlays were BIG. I would say it is worth a try, just for fun....