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Questions about Superglueing a fretless neck

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by BillyRay, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Since I had nothing better to do this morning (day off), I decided to pull the frets out of my SX. I've wanted a fretless for a long time (had them in the past, sold them), but I can't afford one right now, plus, I will rarely play the SX now that it has become the backup to two other p-basses.

    Now that the frets are off, with acceptable chipping, I want to coat the rosewood board for protecton since I will be using fat rounds on this.

    Epoxy seems to be difficult/messy to work with and I doubt Tru-Oil will be enough for this application. I then remembered Erlewine trick, mentionned in detail here: http://www.bassplayer.com/article/superglue-savior/jun-06/20674

    Anybody has experience going this way ? Do I really have to use superglue accelerator (whatever that is), to burnish the neck ? Couldn't I just and rub it more ?

    Since this will be a major DIY, I will be happy with something that might not be all the pleasing to the eye, but that does the job right. Sand up to 800, wetsand until smooth, polish with denim.
  2. WRXbase


    Jan 14, 2009
    Clayton, NC
    I recently finished my OLP MM2 like that. I filled the slots with epoxy. In retrospect, I should have taped the slots off prior to filling them.
    -- I also had a problem with the neck "front" bending after I defretted it. I had to heat it in a jig to put the back bend BACK into it.

    After I had that solved, I got to the [glue]finish. I'd tape off everything that you don't want glued. Even if you think you won't get glue on it. Make sure the neck is level when applying. Another prob I had, was the glue on the treble side was thinner, due to the neck not being level.

    Yeah, I n00bed it up. I did finish it and get everything right. Also, get a radius block from StewMac, Allparts or somewhere to get the fingerboard flat.
  3. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Thanks, I will probably use either wood veneer or Superglue to fill the slots, altough I'm leaning towards superglue since wood veneer will sure look clean, but I'm having trouble securing some and I don't have a fretsaw on hand (and I'm not springing up for one either).

    The neck on my SX is still very straight (even after stringing it for fun), let's pray it stays that way. The fretboard is all kind of uneven though. I sanded it very quickly with 220 just to get rid of some "hanging" and tool marks, but I'll sand everything down to baby smooth after I get my radius block. I played the bass briefly and it doesn't sound half-bad, but I'm seriously thinking about adding a j back there. I have an old pickup lying around, a dremel and a chisel and I don't care about looks :bag:

    Any opinion on accelerator ? I don't know what this is.
  4. do not use superglue to fill the slots...use thin wood veneer if you can help it...

    Also, make sure that you have a little bit of backbow applied with the trussrod or you may end up with a problem like WRXbase.

    accelerator is a spray that you spray over the superglue after it is applied and it speeds up the drying. not really necessary...

    look...take your time...think about everything that you do BEFORE you do it...research it...and do a good job...
  5. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Why ? I see a lot of stuff spouted as facts on Talkbass without stating the reasons. Same thing with adding back bow: you don't need backbow in the neck, you need to have it as straight as possible. If that means tightening the truss rod, so be it. If that means loosening it, so be it. There's really no voodoo to it.

    I know what you meant, but I can picture someone going overboard, or getting so spooked that they don't try their hand at defretting. Fact of the matter is, it was tiem consuming, but it wasn't hard. Not even medium hard. It was downright easy, especially since I'm not gung-ho about looks.
  6. wood veneer looks better

    slight backbow (slight!) to prevent slots collapsing ...a little truss tension is all...

    no...don't get spooked...just take your time and do a job that you're happy with in a year's time :)
  7. I agree with PilbaraBass. Empty fret slots weaken the neck. A slight backbow will tighten the filler pieces in the slots. Ideally, a neck without tension from the strings should be perfectly flat. I usually tighten the truss rod prior to installing the strings, to give a little backbow. Then when the strings are tuned to pitch, everything will be close to where you want it. I don't tighten truss rod while they are under string tension.
  8. I do. but only if the nut moves easily.
    but generally TR access requires detuning to some extent.
    for instance, my current basses:
    5-string (must remove "A" string, so I slacken "E" & "D", as well
    Carvin (no need to detune)
    P-bass (TR access is on body end...slacken all strings, loosen neck joint)
  9. ghiadub

    ghiadub Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2006
    Auburn, CA
  10. If you do decide to go the super glue route, look for high end CA glue. Because it comes in thick and thin versions. I should the think that the thick version might be better for filling fret slots.

  11. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    I finally found some wood veneer thin enough*. It was glue-backed, but I sanded the adhesive off before putting the pieces in. All in all, it took a good while to do, but it looks sharp.

    What I did was basically give each fret slot two passes with a fine hacksaw and then widen the hole using a miniature flat screwdriver. Sanding was needed to get the pieces in, but they were VERY snug. What helped timewise is to only sand the part that would actually go into the fret. I used a fair amount of carpenter glue on the piece itself and then tapped it in lightly with a hammer if necessary. After a few hours, the veneer was strong enough to lift the whole bass, so I doubt I will have to worry about them lifting anywere in the future.

    I started shaving the veneer and a good, sharp utility knife IS necessary. When it stops cutting change it. I'll probably give it some rough sanding before my block arrives, bring the bass to my audition in two days (98% sure I won't need it) and then wait for the proper tools to arrive before using epoxy.

    Yes, I'll use epoxy since I couldn't secure good Super Glue in sufficient amount at a fair price. 9$ for a tiny tube, when I'll be looking at 3-4 tubes minimum, doesn't seem like a good deal to me.

    * I bought it at Rona. It was cheap, something like 3 dollars for a couple dozen feet of maple. They also had birch, cedar and another kind of domestic dyed wood that I can't remember the name of.
  12. Hold on there cowboy - what kind of epoxy did you get? You need to be REALLY careful about this - if you got the cheap hardware store stuff, I think you will be sorely disappointed in the results with a month of playing on it, as more often than not it does not cure hard enough for a fingerboard surface. On the other hand, it comes off pretty easily with a little heat!

    If you're going with epoxy, you need to get the good stuff. System 3 Mirror Coat or West System 105 resin + 207 hardener.

    $36 is a bit steep for CA - but it is not too much to spend for a good fingerboard surface. If you have a Michael's craft store in your area, you can get 2oz bottles of Zap-A-Gap for $4 each, one or two bottles should be enough.
  13. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Haven't bought any yet, but blyacht.com caries WEST Marine Grade epoxy. I'll go there this week and ask for the slow curing stuff. They also have East system stuff wich is marginally cheaper due to smaller quantities being available (they have the resin and the slow hardener).

    I think my father in law needs some marine epoxy for his boat so we'll probably split the cost too. If not, what kind of superglue are suitable ?
  14. for super glue in several types, I would recommend, stewmac.com under Glues and Adhesives, they will ship anywhere.
  15. I used the mirrorcoat which looks sharp how many coats are good if you want to play rounds ??
  16. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    My father is an avid flymaker and I remember using some form of ZAP glue when he tried to teach me years ago, so it's only a matter of knowing where he bought the stuff from.

    I prefer not to use stewmac. Their shipping outside of the US (or at least to my place) starts at 13,95 wich is highway thievery and ridiculous.
  17. I typically use 2 - one to bond with the underlying fretboard wood and fill in any pores, the second to make nice for the playing surface (sanding with 400-600 grit in between).

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