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Lining a fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Joris, Aug 17, 2000.

  1. I'm sure this has been brought up before, but whatever.

    I've been playing a bit of fretless bass for a few months now on a Samick 5 string with rosewood fretboard.

    Does anybody have suggestion on how to line a fretless, without having to inlay the lines. The purpose is to have lines while I'm improving my technique and to remove them (simply put) when I'm done. Not only for the appearance of the bass, but also for not getting confused once I know where everything's at. It's ok if they wear off a bit, since I plan to remove them anyway after, say, a year.

    So, paint, chalk, other stuff?

  2. Player


    Dec 27, 1999
    USA Cincinnati, OH
    Is there a finish on the fingerboard? (I think you only call it a fretboard if it has frets ;) ) If there is you could use a magic marker or something like that. If it's bare rosewood then I don't know because anything you put on will probably soak into the wood and be hard to remove later. Chalk might work, but it seems you would have to draw new lines everytime you pick up the bass and I don't know how good it would be for the wood.
  3. Why not line the back of the neck. We recently did some tests at work on coatings to make signs graffiti resistant. What we found out was that clear coats, when cured, offered the best resistance to markers and spray paint. Here is how I would do it - in a very inconspicuous place use a thin line Sharpie marker to make a small mark on the clear coat of the neck. Let it dry, then try to rub it off with your fingers. If it comes off, perfect! If it doesn't, use some Naptha, if that works great. If you can't get if off at all, stop the project. Then after you know what would take it off, make a small mark on the top of the back of the neck where the fret would be. This would probably have to be determined by comparison with another guitar of the same type. A mark in this area is safe from being wiped out with the thumb and is where you can see it easily. Then just wail until you are confident with the placements.

    I do suggest,however, that using just the marks provided and training your ear for all the rest is probably the better way to learn this instrument.
  4. Lines don't help that much. There should be position markers on the side of the neck, they are the same as on a freted bass except they are usually on the note position instead of in between the notes. I started on upright also and use the simandl fingering on the lowest positions of the fretless bass and four fingers (one on each half step) above that. Playing open notes even when are in the mid or high part of the neck realy helps playing in tune (and sounds cool too).
  5. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I don't know what the stuff is called but for orchestra the teacher uses a thin fret size tape to mark the position of the note.
  6. Thanks for the replies.

    Lining the back of the nech won't do much good, cause it doesn't have a glossy finish. More kinda matte, which feels great (as in: not sticky)

    Cam, that sounds like a great idea! I never thought of tape. I'll give it a try, when I can find the right stuff. Maybe ordinary painter's paper tape will do.

  7. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    If you must temporarily line it, I'd suggest hitting an auto parts store for pinstriping tape. You may want to wrap it around the top edge to the side of the neck, also.

    I'll suggest you try to avoid relying on the tape, except for jumps. Ears are better and more accurate than tape.


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