Is it possible to convert to fretless bass by just sanding down the frets?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by surfaday, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. surfaday

    surfaday Guest

    May 15, 2011
    Wilsonville, OR
    I was just watching youtube videos and reading threads about converting basses to fretless.

    Do you think it would be possible or advisable to just sand down the frets and refinish the fretboard when they're flat or just re-oil as in the case of a rosewood fretboard.

    I was thinking you'd even be left with the fretwire in the fretboard to act as fret guides.

    Hope this isn't too dumb of a question. Kind of like the ultimate fret-leveling job.
  2. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    That's how I did mine.

    Is it advisable?

    Does it work?
    It did for me.

    Would I do it again?
    If I was in the same position..probably.
    My first choice would be to just get a second neck.
  3. Internet Police

    Internet Police Guest

    Sep 4, 2011
    You do whatever you think will work. I'll be over here watching.
  4. 1bassplayinfool

    1bassplayinfool -Nowhere Man-

    Sanding them down sounds like a real PITA. If you were careful you could pull them out with end nippers and fill the grooves with a lighter colored wood.
  5. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Much easier to pull them out and fill the gaps.
  6. Baird6869

    Baird6869 Supporting Member

    Really? Sand the metal down to the wood? With a belt sander?

    Crazy IMO.

    Pull the frets and fill a lighter colour.
  7. darkstorm

    darkstorm Guest

    Oct 13, 2009
    Lol. No. Your sanding down hard metal unless is super cheap soft chinese fret bass. Getting that super even with the fretboard wood would take tons of skill most dont have to do pro job of. Is much better to get a fretless neck or have fretted bass defretted & fret grooves filled properly and evened out with fretboard wood by a pro luthier. Buying fretless bass just makes more sense in the long run cost wise for pro job of. imo
  8. surfaday

    surfaday Guest

    May 15, 2011
    Wilsonville, OR
    But would you lose a certain strength or rigidity by removing the frets and replacing with softer wood putty? Would the would putty crack out with truss rod adjustments?
  9. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    No you'd be fine. It's a relatively common procedure. Fretboard isn't very structurally significant.
  10. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    Westchester, NY
    I would think that would be a huge PITA. Pull the frets and fill with wood filler.
  11. Geroi Asfalta

    Geroi Asfalta Guest

    Aug 23, 2011
    I thought about sanding down the frets on one of my basses. After about 10 minutes with an orbital sander, I asked myself what I was smoking (now I remember...)but then I had a brilliant/ stupid idea- mask the board then pour epoxy directly over the frets. Very random idea, but I wish i thought of it before pulling the frets, I would be interested to see if anybody has tried that...
  12. waleross

    waleross Guest

    Nov 27, 2009
    South Florida
    I guess if it was a low cost bass turned into a project bass but I would just buy another bass if it were me . You could also put together a fretless bass from parts etc. Good luck with it and remember to take pics showing work in progress.....:cool:
  13. ethanbowen666

    ethanbowen666 Guest

    Jan 8, 2011
  14. 1bassplayinfool

    1bassplayinfool -Nowhere Man-

    I want to see before and after pictures also. This sounds like an accident waiting to happen. :bag:
  15. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    It's been done, and I suspect that it's easier than some here are making it out to be. However, one drag about lines is that the side dots are now not at the note position. So, instead of having one mental note to make, now you have to make two:

    1. ID correct fret dot; and
    2. Find line (if you can crane your neck over the fingerboard to see).

    Of course, if you are playing in close position without much shifting, this is not such a big deal. But I shift large intervallic leaps regularly, and it becomes too much thinking, not enough creating.

    For me, side dots at 5, 7, 9, 12, 15 and 17 on the note is a much more useable solution.
  16. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    Grinding metal frets down to the FB, IMO, is a hack job waiting to happen.
    If you have to, need to, want to defret, do some research on defretting. There's a few tutorials here on TB.
    Or... buy an entry level fretless, there cheap enough from the folks at Rondo.
  17. slaerts


    Aug 3, 2006
    I've played a bass like this, high end one too. The big problem is when you want frets back. The re-fret is more expensive and has a much greater chance of chipping the fretboard as you pull out the ground down frets to replace with new ones. If its a cheap bass you don't want anymore go for it.
  18. surfaday

    surfaday Guest

    May 15, 2011
    Wilsonville, OR
    Thanks everyone for the advice. I think I shall go another route and create a thread entitled: Rogue or SX fretless bass...

    Thanks again.