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My Squier Fretless Conversion

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by vai777, Apr 3, 2013.


  1. vai777

    vai777

    Feb 8, 2012
    Well...I have this squier bass with some pretty crappy frets...I have 3 other fretted basses so I figured what the hell...

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    After removing the neck I had the genius idea of trying to file down the frets (grind them down with a Japanese whetstone...it works but it’s slow going). So when I got down to the fingerboard, guess what? The fret tangs didn't go all the way to the ends of the fingerboard (no pics of this)...so I proceeded to pull the frets. You can see the mark where the stone hit flush with the baord in the first pic...

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    You get the idea... I would have taken a pic of me with the soldering iron and an Exacto knife removing them...but I didn't really want to push my luck with a 500 degree iron in my hand.
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    Sanding with a 12” radius block, note the dark spots… they are wax that these foreign guitar makers somehow think is appropriate to apply to a rosewood board...it isn't.

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    more sanding and MORE WAX....also enlarged the fret slots with a .035 nut file... took way too long (10-12 hours or so to get it right)...I don't have any power tools so...in fact nothing motorized was used during this project, and only one device, the iron used any power at all....they rest was done by hand.

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    After cranking the truss rod and filing the fret slots there was a little more sanding... (I tightened the rod because it gave the neck a little back bow which eased the filing on the slots a bit.

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    Next up is the installation (or should I say endless fine sanding, cursing and smashing with a hammer) of the fret markers (some white binding measuring .040 inches). In all seriousness they were hammered in with a friggin ****** hammer not made for this type of work...but it got the job done. I also had to sand in a 12" radius on the bottom of each of these little plastic pieces...annoying.

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    More of the fret markers AND GLUE...used THIN CA glue, which is a PITA to work with and after wet sanding off the amount that got on my fingers (A LOT!) I continued to do the rest of the board.

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    Next is the cutting of the excess tops and clipping of the ends of the fret markers... usually done with a small hobby saw... I used one of my beater Japanese kitchen knives...basically a 6 inch razor and some old wire cutters...worked great and I still have all my fingers.

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    Next was the sanding of the entire board and sides again in order to get the markers flush with the wood...again using a 12" radius sanding block with 320 grit paper.

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    Notice the wax still around that fretboard dot.

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    Rollling the fingerboard edges (sanding and smoothing out the sharp edges of the fingerboard). Used a hard felt block and my fingers...fingers worked better.

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    First coat of fretboard oil...at this point with the oil on I progressed through a 320, 600, 1000, 2500 and 8000 grit oil sanding... you could watch TV on the fretboard.

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    Had to file the nut down as the fingerboard lost a bit of depth... didn't makes the slots deeper I flattened from the bottom...easier to control the final outcome.

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    set up and ready to play...low action too (could go even lower)...4/64th Low E at the 15th "fret" and 3/64th high G at the 15th

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    Everything used (except the finer grit sand papers).

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  2. vai777

    vai777

    Feb 8, 2012
    P.S. First time doing anything like this... I got lucky...
     
  3. InternetAlias

    InternetAlias

    Dec 16, 2010
    Serbia
    Great job man, really looks like a factory job :D Mad props for not ruining the fingerboard.
     
  4. vai777

    vai777

    Feb 8, 2012
    It is amazing what sandpaper and a radius block can do...lol
     
  5. Portphilia

    Portphilia

    Jun 8, 2012
    SATX
    That turned out good! Made me want to try that one day.
     
  6. vai777

    vai777

    Feb 8, 2012
    Thanks....it was a cheap squier...$150 for the whole thing..maybe...figured what the hell...
     
  7. InternetAlias

    InternetAlias

    Dec 16, 2010
    Serbia
    Also, you happened to get a really beautiful grain on that rosewood!
     
  8. vai777

    vai777

    Feb 8, 2012
    Yeah the grain pops after you remove the wax that they put on there. You could oil the board all day but with that coating from the factory it never really did much for me. After I removed that and got down to the bare wood...the oil I used (Fret Doctor) really did it's job.
     
  9. Wow! This is your first time doing this? I must say, I'm impressed! Very neat job, and well done for persisting with it. My first 'project' was a de-fret as well, but it didn't come out half as nice as this (mostly due to being a tight-walleted teenager, which I still am I guess haha)!

    Very nice, you should be proud!
     
  10. vai777

    vai777

    Feb 8, 2012
    thanks
     
  11. tabdog

    tabdog

    Feb 9, 2011
    Very nice de-fret job. The plastic binding looks real nice.
    I've done 4 de-frets. The last one, I used wood dust mixed
    with hide glue to fill in the slots. That stuff is harder and less
    compressible than hardwood. But, the binding still looks
    better.

    Here's with my concoction,

    1-29-2.

    You are so good at this, you should do a nicer one. I worked
    my way up. My first one was a free-be bass.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Tabdog
     
  12. InternetAlias

    InternetAlias

    Dec 16, 2010
    Serbia
    Well, seems like someone will start a rather profitable job here... :D
     
  13. Wow, that neck turned out really nice. To be honest, while looking at the first few pictures I was thinking, "uh-oh, this ain't gonna turn out pretty" but as I scrolled through the photos I was amazed how well it came out and all done by hand.
    Excellent my friend.
     
  14. vai777

    vai777

    Feb 8, 2012
    Thanks...I was going to do the wood dust thing but I figured I would just make more of a mess...the hammering of the plastic wasn't so bad and once they were in and glued the rest was just sanding. I was going to coat the board as well like yours (love that look) but am very unsure about it. I think I've inhaled enough super glue fumes for one week.
     
  15. vai777

    vai777

    Feb 8, 2012
    Thanks man, to be truthful the thing that makes it most satisfying to me is that it was done without any motorized equipment, and if I could have gotten the frets out without the soldering iron I would have. Now on the other hand...if I had the proper tools...and these were by no means the proper tools, except the radius block and the sand paper...this would have gone much much quicker.

    I may do another in the future but I don't really have the proper space...this was all done on the kitchen counter top / living room sofa... much to the dismay of the wife. No clamps, no work bench... nothing. I hammered the fet markers in holding the neck in one hand and hammering away with the other, not exactly great or proper technique, like I said I got lucky.
     
  16. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Congrats - you did it right by taking your time. We see so many hack jobs done with pliers, butter knives and other implements of destruction....the result is usually hideous because people don't do their homework and want to be done in 2 hours. And then they compound their mistakes by stuffing wood putty into the slots...making it a completely amateurish job.

    I'll bet you spent more than 20 hours on that, but IME that's what it takes to get such a superior, clean, professional looking result.

    I salute you! WELL DONE! :cool:
     
  17. vai777

    vai777

    Feb 8, 2012
    Thanks...it was about 20 hours total...but that is only because I didn't have the right tools. If I had the right size saw to widen the slots, instead of using a nut file I could have taken 6-8 hours off the job. That was the toughest part...getting those slots wide enough but not too wide. That and profiling each of those markers with a 12" radius and fine sanding for a tight but not too tight fit was very time consuming. The rest went pretty fast. I mean the markers were hammered in no time after they were the correct width...and the sanding was pretty straight forward. I took some extra time rounding the fingerboard edges and polishing the end result.

    Honestly if I had the correct stuff to do the job I could probably have gotten it done in 4-5 hours.
     
  18. tabdog

    tabdog

    Feb 9, 2011
    That finish is just 3 coats of Formby's Tung Oil low gloss finish.
    I don't remember it having a whole lot of fumes? I think I used
    a cloth or my fingers. I can't remember for sure. It had bubbles
    in the finish and I just used real fine sand paper and then Turtle
    Wax Rubbing Compound and then Turtle Wax Polish. It's quicker
    and easier than most finishes, except Tru-Oil and a few others,

    Tabdog
     
  19. vai777

    vai777

    Feb 8, 2012
    Tung Oil..huh... maybe I'll give it a shot....
     

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