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question about epoxy and fretless conversion

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by poomwah, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    I have read a lot about conversions, I understand that leaving the frets unfilled weakens the neck, basically turning the neck into a piece of kerfing. Obviously, something needs to fill the slots to keep them from compressing under spring tension.
    I was wondering though, could they be filled with epoxy? I would like to have an epoxy coated fretboard, would there be a downside to leveling the fretboard with the appropriate radius block, then covering the fretboard with epoxy and filling the slots?
    I imagine it would be stronger than any wood I could put in there.
    Or would there be issues with shrinkage?
  2. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    anybody done this? I've read about people using epoxy based fillers or epoxy mixed with saw dust.
    I'm wondering about JUST tinted epoxy
  3. owendavis


    Jan 12, 2011
    I de-fretted a jazz bass many years ago. I filled the gaps with wood putty and put a few coats of polyurethane on it. Unfortunately I had no idea what I was doing (and was drunk) and screwed the fret board up. Here's a guide that I wish I had at the time

    Trade Secrets! Newsletter at Stewart-MacDonald
  4. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    Thanks Owen
  5. MattS


    Jan 17, 2011
    Cheshire, CT
    Posted this in a previous thread, thought it might help you.

  6. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    Thanks Matt, I really appreciate it.
    That's really nice work, the end result is really nice, but I have to be honest, I kinda miss the monkey
  7. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    I filled my fret slots with bondo, and then fine sanded and coated the board with crazy glue.

    Some pics here:

    Did that back in mid 2008. It's still perfect, no bowing, etc.

    There's a couple frets that didn't come out quite as clean which have a tiny bit of squiggle from the tangs ripping out, but It's not really all that noticible unless you're looking close.

    Only potential downside I see to the bondo is that your choice of colours might be a bit more limited. The hardener in my bondo was red, leading to a light pink colour. The colour is pale enough that I could easily have overpowered it with a bit of dye if I wanted another colour, but obviously white wouldn't be possible. (I've used bondo with blue hardener too, but it's almost always coloured so you can tell when you have it properly mixed)

    If you're looking for something totally perfect visually, it probably isn't the way to go unless you first clean up the edges of the fret slots with a glue/dust slurry or something. If you just want something that will work well, and look reasonably decent, it's pretty cheap and easy.

    If you do some searching, I think I actually put up a full thread about it somewhere.
  8. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    There's a bunch of unsorted pics here: Index of /pics/fretless

    They're all big, so I don't want to post them directly, but you can look through if you want to see the process I used.
    maestrovert likes this.
  9. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    thanks guys,
    what I'm looking for is an instrument that is going to play well and is going to last. Visually, I want to hide the fretlines as much as possible.
  10. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    how much superglue did it take to do that? how many coats did you have to put on? did you use instrument grade superglue like the stuff that stewart mac sells? or just regular old superglue?
  11. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    It's ordinary superglue. Loctite brand iirc.

    i put on a few heavy coats. I can't remember how much I used exactly. I know I bought 2 small bottles for around $5 each, and had plenty left in the second bottle, and that's including a small spill.

    The last coat was way too thick and i got impatient waiting for it to cure, so I left it on the bathroom counter while I had a shower (CA cures from water vapour in the air)

    if you spill any, be careful wiping it up. It'll cure super fast on the paper towell and fume up and burn.

  12. Arx


    Jan 22, 2008
    BTW, don't try and speed up the curing or anything. It will get white and crusty like you can see in a couple of those photos.

    In that case it was a really excessively thick coat and I knew I would be sanding it off anyway, so I didn't worry about the mess.
  13. maxthebassman


    Aug 3, 2011
    .... i guess i managed a good caveman defretting then. I pulled the frets on an old Ibanez out with a pocket knife, a pair of pliers and lots of masking tape. and no damage. they weren't glued in as far as i could tell though.
  14. DeanMachine


    Oct 6, 2014
    I know I'm about 2 years behind on this thread...but...when applying with the back of wet/dry sandpaper, do you focus on making it as even as possible, or sand smooth and re-coat, saving the final polished look for 2000 grain paper and buff it out?

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