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Pics of a BTB405QM converted to fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Maurice Carr, Aug 20, 2005.

  1. Maurice Carr

    Maurice Carr

    Aug 7, 2004
    Mt Wellington, Auckland, NZ
    Authorised BFM and fEARful cab builder: New Zealand
    Here's some pics of my BTB405QM which I recently converted to fretless.

    A local luthier, Adrian Hamilton, did the work for $NZ 300,00 ( about $US220 ) and he stripped the old rosewood fingerboard off it, replaced it with ebony and as you can see, applied lines with thin slithers of a hard white coloured wood.

    Thomastik Jazz flats were fitted and it sounds nice. I plan to upgrade the pups soon.

    Hope you enjoy these pics;






  2. Aerolithe


    Jan 23, 2005
    Columbia, MO
    I'm not much of a fan of lined fretless basses, but those fretlines seem to really match the finish. Thats quite a well done conversion, your luthier knows his stuff. How does it play?
  3. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    I think that's a absolute steal of a price, considering you got a new ebony board in the deal! The workmanship looks top-notch as well. :eek:

    Usually most major changes would result in a loss of value on resale, but I honestly think should you ever upgrade and sell, the wood change and overall quality would be in your favor.

  4. Maurice Carr

    Maurice Carr

    Aug 7, 2004
    Mt Wellington, Auckland, NZ
    Authorised BFM and fEARful cab builder: New Zealand
    Like a dream, especially with those Thomastiks on.

    I was in 2 minds about the lines, but at my age ( 53 ) I figured I'd keep life easy for me as I haven't played much frettless in the past. As it so happens I don't 'watch' the fretboard much now and go more by feel and ear.

    Yes, Adrian's a good luthier.

  5. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    Wow, looks like a job well-done!

  6. Maurice Carr

    Maurice Carr

    Aug 7, 2004
    Mt Wellington, Auckland, NZ
    Authorised BFM and fEARful cab builder: New Zealand
    Yes, I'm lucky finding a luthier like Adrian. I was going to sell this bass but when I found ot what I'd get for it, I figured it was better to hang onto it. I have a BTB1005 and had always wanted a decent fretless so I decided that I'd get a good job done on this BTB405.

    The beauty of this as that both basses are physically identical so changing from one to another is a breeze.

    No doubt I've over-invested in this BTB405 but I'm really happpy with it, it sounds and plays great and let's face it - you never see a hearse with a towing-bar!!

  7. wow, nice work. Thats a great job. I converted my old Ibanez myself. Not as good, but the lines are as good as invisible which I like. That price is fantastic, good stuff!
  8. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    Exactly my thinking last Spring and the reason I purchased a second Yamaha RBX-775 not 10 days after the first - it fit like a glove the moment I played it, had very much *my* sound (a "modern" one - articulate and fairly bright) and a killer B, was massively discounted due to it being discontinued in the States, and at that price even if I screwed the job up it wouldn't be too much of a loss (I planned to do it myself both to save money and as a test of my skills, and did a more-than-adequate job which I'm proud to say. :hyper: )

    That's all that really maters, and I'd argue that this is the perfect bass to "invest" it. The BTBs are great "bang for the buck" basses and absolutely worth their price as a platform for upgrading. I'm of the mindset that there's a certain mid-level pricepoint to do so: IMO really inexpensive basses like SX's are too cheap and the initial major parts like the body and neck aren't worth throwing good money at, and why bother modding a Sadowsky/Lull/MTD-level bass when you can have a custom made to your exact standards at that price? Your 405 and my Yammy are at a level where the major components are generally good-to-very good, nice players, but not overly valued that it's not necessarily a bad idea to make non-reversible changes... done properly, that is.

    You have me beat on one level, however... should you sell, the terms "professional defret" and "name luthier" certainly add value. My "tools bought from Stewart-MacDonald and done on the kitchen table" aren't quite as eye-catching. ;)

    ...and might I also say, very nice photography as well! :)
  9. Papersen

    Papersen Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2002
    Evidently your luthier knows how to do a good work.
    The final result is amazing. I had a BTB 405QM sometime ago and was one of the best bang for the buck fivers I`ve ever played.

    Congratulations, I think you made an excellent (and incredible cheap) modification. Enjoy it.
  10. The Eristic

    The Eristic Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2005
    Cartersville, GA
    505TKF. Should be '99 or '00. A serial would tell me for sure.

  11. Oliver


    Jun 21, 2003
    Perth, Australia
    Wow! nice!

    I just noticed, are the side dots meant to be directly below the fretline? i always thought side dots were meant to be in the middle between the dots even for fretless?
  12. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004

    I have the Walnut (brown) one. It is awesome. I will never sell it because I haven't seen another one until SMASH posted that picture. Plus it has a great wear mark above the neck pickup.

    It's an oil finish, and it had these awesome strings where one wire was normal steel, and the other was this blue-green color. Had my dealer bug Ibanez about getting more, but they never gave him a straight answer so I told him to give up.

    My receipt says "shipped 1-31-00" and my serial number is F99......

    That configuration didn't last long, but it should have.

    EDIT: The brown is much darker than that link picture makes it look. I remember mine being swamp ash, but I'm not sure.

    Any questions about it I will gladly answer.
  13. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004
    That is a sweet looking fretless. You're a lucky man.

    That bass at thelowend.net has stripes on the back of the neck. Mine does not have those, but it is still a three piece neck. Strange.
  14. Bassosaurus


    Aug 27, 2005

    That sure looks like (Swamp) Ash to me - notice the deep grain. Also is probably an oil finish. Yamaha was doing a similar thing about 10 years ago - ash w/ colored oiled finishes (blue, ambe) - llooked, sounded, and felt great!

    This may be an older model.
  15. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Wow, normally I'm not a fan of conversions, but that guy does fantastic looking work... in other words, this one was done "right", which also means the dots are in the right place. NICE!!!!!