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New To Defretting

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by :DChilis:D, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. :DChilis:D


    Dec 23, 2006
    I have no clue of what to do...Read the defretting guides on this forum and still don't understand it. What's the difference between epoxy and polyurethane. Should I heat the frets or not... Do I use a hammer or special tools to take them out.... If anyone can give me some advice that would be great. Some links to more guides would be appreciated...

  2. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Do yourself a big favor. Spring for the defret tool at stewmac.
    It will make or break your project.
  3. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    either that, or make your own by grinding a set of end cutters.

    But I agree, I don't really see how I could have done a decent job on mine any other way. The whole "Pry them out with a knife" thing is really messy and will leave you a lot of extra work to re-surface it.

    Epoxy and polyurethane are completely different materials. Assuming you mean for coating the board, I'd say go with epoxy or superglue.

    Search a bit. This comes up all the time, so most of the info you need should be around.

  4. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    The fret pullers are out of stock. I bought a grinder for 20 dollars and a pair of regular cutters for 5 dollars and made my own. They worked great. There are a bunch of great writeups on pulling frets out there.
  5. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars

    Definitely get the right tools like SBassman says.

    I'd also recommend that you read through Dan Erlewine's book Fretwork Step-by-Step. That book has a short section on removing frets and a lot of other information that will go a long way to making your defretting job as good as you'll want it to be.

    Take plenty of time to gather information and get the right tools. Your bass will be a lot better after the defret if you do.
  6. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    There's got to be fret pullers somewhere besides stewmac then.

    I wouldn't do the job without real fret pullers.
  7. :DChilis:D


    Dec 23, 2006
    I live in Canada so I'm pretty sure we don't have that store... By the way what's the difference between polyurethane and epoxy?
  8. :DChilis:D


    Dec 23, 2006
    I think this is a great video, By the way do I coat the whole neck with epoxy....? Or just the slots
  9. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    "real" fret pullers are exactly what we made by grinding conventional end cutters.
    Stewmac describes them as: "Specially ground mini end-nippers"

  10. I'm almost done with my defret. I didn't have the money for the Stewmac pullers (plus they were out of stock), so I tried my luck at the old flat-head and knife method, though I don't recommend it.

    I gently banged the smallest flat-head screwdriver I could find under the fret ends to give a bit of leverage, then I worked my way along the side of the fret until I could lift one end entirely out of the slot. Then I slid the knife under the tang and pulled it across the fretboard which in turn pried the fret out evenly. The frets weren't glued in so it wasn't too bad (didn't need heat) and I got basically no tear-out. It was a bit of a pain, so next time I'm definitely getting the Stewmac pullers.

    Epoxy is highly regarded. Depending on the poly, it can be good or not so good. Some dudes used two-pack poly with epoxy which is said to be good. Personally the easiest for a novice (like me) is CA glue. There's a few threads on it. It's quite easy to do, and solid as a rock once it's sanded and buffed.
  11. Epoxy dries a little bit harder than your off the shelf polyurethane. Most people use epoxy or super glue for fretless boards. I think 2 part polyurethane is very hard also but would be tricky without spraying equipment.
  12. Yeah, forgot to mention that. Definitely if you're going to use two-pack, get a pro to do it with proper equipment. I wouldn't bother with the wipe-on Poly either.
  13. :DChilis:D


    Dec 23, 2006
    Btw is there a way that my fretboard will be unlined? And do I cover the whole fretboard with epoxy or just the cracks ?
  14. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    well, if you fill the slots with epoxy the lines won't be very visible. If you fill them with a mixture of epoxy and wood dust (keep the dust when you sand the board smooth) it should be quite invisible.

    I don't have any real experience doing that though. I wanted a lined board, so I filled the slots with bondo.
  15. Fill the slots with wood veneer (not birch), or plastic binding, then shave them down to meet the fingerboard.
  16. nickn


    Oct 6, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    If you weren't going for looks, couldn't you just fill in the slots with epoxy (assuming you plan on finishing the fingerboard with epoxy)? Wouldn't it have the same effect?
  17. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    Yeah, and OP wasn't looking for visible fretlines anyways. ;)

  18. JPMiers


    Aug 31, 2006
    San Antonio, TX
    I just finished my year long defretting project. I actually did it on two necks. The first was to learn on, and the second will be used. I recommend this as you're bound to make some mistakes on the first try.

    I bought the stew mac tool, it works great, but since I don't need it I might be willing to sell it.

    I used marine grade 24hour cure epoxy. I came in a dual tube bought two at home depot for 5 bucks each.

    On the first neck I tried just filling the slots with epoxy first, but I had a lot of trouble getting the stuff to distribute evenly. It turned out to be too thick.

    I ended up buying some denatured alcohol and and dilluted the epoxy a bit so that it was thinner. I went with just coating the entire board and letting the slots have indentations. They're covered, but I was too worried about screwing up the radius from sanding too much so I didn't take any extra measures to fill the slots. Plus I read some people have great results by not filling the slots at all.

    My experience.
  19. If one would want to tint/stain the fretboard in a dark nuance in the end, would epoxy or woodfiller be the better choice to fill the fretholes with?

    Will the color "bite" on the filler/epoxy?

  20. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    You could probably find a dye which you could mix in the epoxy when you coat the board. No it won't "bite" well if you try and put it on top. As far as epoxy goes, generally stay away from the cheap hardware store types. Get a slow curing epoxy, preferably one that's fairly thin. I picked up some West System stuff a while ago. It's expensive, but much nicer to work with. It doesn't stink, cures slowly, so you have lots of time to work, and you can buy different hardeners for different purposes, all using the same resin.

    I can't say how it works on fretboards, since I did mine with bondo and superglue, but I used it for gluing in some graphite rods, and it's definitely good stuff.

    My bondo/CA job:
    neckgrain. shinyboard.

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