1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

@#%&* off-center fretless side marker dots...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by eli, May 24, 2001.

  1. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    I love my new-to-me Conklin Groove Tools fretless 7, but I have to say I still have NO idea why bass makers put side marker dots BETWEEN the fret positions (the fretboard is lined) and not AT the fret positions. There seems to be an even division among makers on this issue.

    Well, at least the solution was simple. The fretboard material is a composite that is dead black. So I took a black permanent marker and colored in the @#%&* dots, then I bought a white paint marker and added my own dots where they're f***ing SUPPOSED to be. No, my dots aren't perfectly uniform and it was REALLY weird messing with the appearance of such a gorgeous instrument. But at least it is now usable.

    So here's the question: do ANY fretless players here LIKE the dots in the between-frets position? And if not, why the heck are the manufacturers still putting 'em there?
  2. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i've given bill a bit of a hard time about this before- i know a couple of other fretless players have done the same. he did that to one guy - put the dots where they would be on fretted, and it was an UNLINED fretless - talk about confusing. he ended up remaking the fretboard for him.

    i don't understand what's up with the dot thing - doesn't make much sense to me. i'll ask him at the namm show
  3. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Gosh, I never thought of that... But yes, certainly on a fretless that would be really distrcting to have dots in the wrong areas. :rolleyes:

    I really learn new stuff here a lot. Thanks for posting your discovery. :)
  4. Rickenbacker do a similar strange thing with the dot markers on their fretless basses. One of my 4001s has the original side-dots (where the frets would be) but retains the dots on the top of the fingerboard (in between where the frets would be), and a previous owner has carefully added side-dots to coincide with the fingerboard-dots are. There are so many damned dots on the side of the neck that it's very confusing if you're relying on visual clues to navigate, but it doesn't really bother me, as I try to rely on my ears to tell me where I am.

    - Wil
  5. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Does anyone remember the old Westone fretless basses that had a dot for EVERY fret on the side? I played some in the store once, and, boy, you could go crosseyed in about 5 minutes....

    Was the Conklin 7 made as a factory fretless? I thought that it only came fretted. Of course, I could be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last....

    When I got my first Curbow back in '89, he had two for sale. Mine (Brazilian rosewood neck/fretboard with side dots and a mahogany body), and another that was about 1/4" thick with a purple heart neck with no side dots at all. That one gave me a headache, too.....
  6. Guys, I think there is a simple explanation for this.

    The fingerboards on lined fretlesses are the same boards used for the fretted models. It is likely that slots and dots are put into the boards at pretty much the same time in the production line process and then they are pulled for making the lined fretlesses.

    Of course this doesn't explain why they would put fretted dots on an unlined fretless but it might explain the phenomenon otherwise.

    By the way, to make a decent side marker dot on your own do this:

    Take a small drill bit that matches the dot size you want and, with your fingers spin it around in the location you want a dot. Press down and as you twirl the bit, it will cut down into the side of the fretboard just enough to leave a nice clean hole. Don't go too deep but it's sort of hard to anyway with this hand method of drilling. After the hole is deep enough use a white crayon, tire marker, chalk, oil pastel, or any other soft marking material and rub it over the hole. It will fill up pretty quickly. Then wipe off the excess and you've got your white dots that are just the right size and position. You can also use small plastic rods (toothpicks, knitting needles, hair brush bristles, etc.) to make fillers for your holes. Just put a drop of CA in the hole and fill with your rod. After drying, trim them off and you're ready to go.
  7. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    And the Robelli fretless at sCam cAsh goes to the other extreme... one dot at the 12th fret and THAT'S IT. Talk about DIY...
  8. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    they also come lined fretless, with an ebanol (linoleum-like) fretboard.
  9. Yeah, I've got one. I did the magic marker trick to it.
  10. Take the white off, play without dots. No need for them, that is the thing that made me want a Warwick. No Dots. Just my view but I find the movable scales more movable with out the dots, yea I know its all in the head but that is my experience. Plus less things to look at make it easier not to look at the fretboard.
  11. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    That's the weird thing -- that doesn't appear to be the case on these basses. The fretless boards are Ebanol (a phenolic, I think) but the fretted boards are purpleheart. And the fretted boards have a kind of cool half-moon mother-of-toilet-seat marker that's set at the EDGE of the board so it's visible from the front ot the side. The point is, NONE of the manufacturing processes are usable from one to the other, so Bill had to MEAN it when he put those dots where they are on the fretless.

    So, yeah, Turner -- give Bill a hard time for me, K?
  12. I think it boils down to builders not thinking;)

    The dot per each fret thing is still IMO the dumbest thing I've seen. The Carlo Robelli dot conservation program is right up there. I'd think side dots' position on a lined fretless wouldn't be that big a deal.

    My preference? Unlined with dots at 3,5,7,9,12 etc. fret position.
  13. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    me too. but then again, that means i'll never play in tune. :D
  14. I'm not kicking that hornets' nest;)