painted-on fret dots?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Stingraymund, Mar 31, 2004.

  1. How does one get a single additional fret marking dot painted on the side of their fingerboard? What's the best way?

    I have trouble finding the position of the first fret on my MM Stingray4 fretless (I wish they painted it on; Warwick has a dot on the first fret of their fretlesses). For now I cut out a tiny square from a minidisc's spine label and put it where the 1st fret should be, and it helped immensely, but when I was polishing my bass today, the label piece got wiped off.

    How do I get an additional dot permanently painted on there?
  2. Perfect-Tommy


    Mar 28, 2004
    (scratches his head)
    errrr..... nail polish? I mean, am I the last dude in the world that paints his nails? :p I mean, if you want it to be permanent just steal some nail polish from someone (female friend, sister, mom, dude friend that paints nail, girlfriend) then take that little brushy doodad and dot that sucker where ever you want to be reminded. If it's not permanent, it will last atleast a bit. Just don't take nail polish remover to it. That stuff eats more stuff then you can dream of....
  3. It's very, very easy - get a small drill bit that matches the diameter of the other dots. You are going to make a new dot in a similiar way to the factory. Wrap enough tape around the shank to give a good grip with your fingers. Now, position the bit right at the point you want to make a dot on the side of the fingerboard. Begin twisting the bit back and forth making sure that you make full rotations. The bit will begin hollowing out a nice hole. Go slow and it will bite just enough to create a perfectly round divot below the surface of the finish. When you've got it deep enough - probably .030"-.060" (by eye of course!) - you can fill this with a single drop of white fingernail polish from a toothpick, let it dry and you've got as permanent and as professional a fret dot as any luthier could make.

    Hope this helps!
  4. unharmed

    unharmed Iron Fishes

    May 19, 2003
    London, England
    I've seen classical players (cellos etc) mark fret positions across their fingerboards with greylead pencil. It's very subtle and eventually wears off.
    My wife is a classical guitarist and she told me they use to use white-out (correction fluid) to mark side dots.

  5. Thanks! I thought I'd have to make some sort of mask. This really helps. I wonder if I could mask the area with some tape and drill the hole.

    I've also done some modelmaking (model railroads) so I probably have some tiny drillbits lying around.
  6. Thanks hambone and unharmed! I've followed your advice and made a 1st fret dot.

    Here's how I did it:

    1. Using a tuner, I made sure the E string was perfectly in tune.

    2. Next I got a guitar capo and clamped it to where the 1st fret should be, nudging it ever so slightly enough to where the note gave me perfectly-tuned F.

    3. I used a modeller's pin vise and drove a 3/32 bit to make a little dimple in the side of the neck, corresponding to the center of the capo bar. I made sure to blow away the excess sawdust. Then I removed the capo.

    4. Using a separate block of wood, I made a similar dimple and used a toothpick dipped in Liquid Paper correction fluid to paint the dimple, to practice (I obviously didn't wanna botch the job on my precious fretless!) The best result came when I dabbed the tip of the toothpick into the dimple and twisted the toothpick to paint it.

    5. With the toothpick, I then painted the actual dimple on the fretless neck.

    6. Voila! Fret dot! It's slightly smaller that the actual dots that were already on there, but I'm not gonna fret over that
    (no pun intended) :)
  7. Perfect-Tommy


    Mar 28, 2004
    Yea, but can you use any of that to give you super sexy viper blue nails?

    What am I? Chopped liver? pfht. I was the first and cheapest answer to your question :p

  8. I'm glad that helped. I intentionally left out the "pin-vise" possibility thinking that it would take another 2 posts to actually explain what one was and where to get one. Your modeling experience (me too!!) didn't let you down.

    This same technique can be done over old dots if you want to change their color, position, or just refurbish what you've got. You can also use white glow in the dark paint for a little excitement when the lights go down.
  9. fiebru1119


    Mar 2, 2004
    Orlando, FL
    how do can you remove existing dots? the dots on my fretless are where they would be on a fretted.. so i'd like to take those out and make the new dots where they should be.. does any company make a fretless with the dots where the frets are on a fretted?