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removing fretboard

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by poomwah, Feb 21, 2008.


  1. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    what does it take to remove the fretboard on a set neck without destroying the neck. I have a 76 gibson ripper, that was the victim of an amature defret, and an even more amature attempt at refret. I think I could probably re-de-fret it better than the last guy, but I don't know if I might be better off just replacing the whole fretboard. I dont' really want a fretless, but I dont think it would be playable as a fretted bass without having a LOT of money dumped into it, some frets are arched differently than others so they lay properly in some places but not in others, they are all drastically different in height. I figure a de fret would at least make it functional, since I can't afford to have a pro fret job.
    Ideas greatly appreciated, Thanks everybody
     
  2. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    I sharp jack plane would go a long way... just be careful. :)
     
  3. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    is it really that simple? just clamp it down and literally shave the fret board off?
     
  4. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    In a repair shop, heat is the tool of choice. Not near the mess of grinding and shaving and ultimately faster and more accurate. Heat or halogen lamps are employed to get the fingerboard hot. Various palate knives are inserted at the seems and the fingerboard is worked off. It is important to score the lacquer at the fingerboard/neck seam. If you are lucky and have access to some silicon heaters the process will go much faster. But remember, when applying a lot of heat you cannot leave the area.
     
  5. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    202dy - remember, we're most likely not talking about taking it to a well-outfitted guitar repair shop, we're likely talking about doing it at home, in the garage or home shop...

    It depends on the glue used, of course, but at home, you can either plane it off (as I mentioned earlier) or you can loosen it with heat/steam (you can even use your clothes iron if it comes down to it...)... I have often attached fretboards with polyurethane glues (like gorilla glue) that clean up *much* easier than PVA glues, but don't seem to release as easily with heat. Some builders use epoxy... heat is the ideal solution, but not always the most practical for the home user.
     
  6. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Clothes irons work very well. I always hesitate to recommend because the casual user may forget to ask permission first. :D

    I realize that we are not talking about a well equipped shop in most cases. Still, the heat method has a lot to recommend it for the amateur. What I like most about it is that the possibility of damaging the neck is minimal if the user is careful. Of course, if they are careful the fingerboard can be planed down to a paper thin strip that can be peeled off easily.
     
  7. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    we're definitely not talking about a well equipped shop, we're talking an ill equipped table, LOL
     
  8. herndonbassist

    herndonbassist Low Down Thumper Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Herndon, VA - NoVa
  9. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    thanks :]
     
  10. I used a heating pad (like for sore muscles and stuff) layed it on the fretboard, sat down and watched tv with it in front of me for like an hour or so, came back and pryed it off with a putty knife ( i sharpened the front edge of the knife a bit for this) It came off really clean, just needed to do some glue clean up
     
  11. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    I had NO idea I could get a fretboard off without ruining it!!!! this is great, I was just hoping to get the old fretboard off and buy a new fretboard if I ever have money again, LOL, but I've got an old neck lying around with a really nice fretboard and really nice frets (pretty even, crowned nicely) hopefully I can take that fingerboard off and put it on the ripper :]
     
  12. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    you guys are the greatest :] I've got the fretboard almost half way off of my donor neck :]
     
  13. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    You may be in for a surprise. Almost every complete fingerboard re-glue will require some fret work. It could be just a popped fret end or two, a full dress, or a partial refret. This procedure is not like swapping out a bridge or some pickups.

    Good luck.
     
  14. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    hopefully it works out ok, thanks for the heads up :] Whatever happens , its got to be better than it was :]
     
  15. herndonbassist

    herndonbassist Low Down Thumper Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Herndon, VA - NoVa
    so how'd the board come out? i am curious to know if this really is something that "anyone" can do :)
     
  16. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    I, too, would like to know how things turned out. :)
     
  17. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    well, so far so good, but I'm stuck at the moment, I'm totally broke and I have no glue, LOL
    the boards did come off fairly well, I got one crack in board I'm going to used but its not bad and it should glue up fine. Ironically the board I'm NOT going to use came off perfectly. LOL
    Here's the weird thing though. both boards are the same dimensions, but the original board is a 20 fret, and the "new" board is a 22, is that going to cause a problem?
     
  18. herndonbassist

    herndonbassist Low Down Thumper Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Herndon, VA - NoVa
    I am SO not an expert on these matters, but if the dimensions are identical, then it sounds like the 22 fret board was for a 32" (or shorter) scale bass, while the 20 fret board was for a 34" scale. Look at the 2 you will probably notice that the 22 fret board frets are actually closer together than on the same frets with the 20 fret board. Maybe someone here knows... what's the scale of that Ripper?
     
  19. poomwah

    poomwah

    Jan 26, 2008
    yes, the board with 22 frets has them a lot closer together.
    the ripper is a 34 1/2 inch scale according to gibsonbass.com
    the donor was from an aria pro zzb deluxe, not sure what scale it was, but obviously shorter. What would happen if I put that on the gibson? would I have intonation issues?
     
  20. herndonbassist

    herndonbassist Low Down Thumper Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Herndon, VA - NoVa
    if you were going to put that fretboard on the ripper you'd have to move the bridge 2" closer to the neck. while this is possible, it would be terribly inadvisable as your pickup would now be in the wrong location. in short "yes" you'd have intonation problems, but it's much worse than it might seem, you would be HORRIBLY out of tune by around the 2nd or 3rd fret.

    i'm going to offer my opinion here, and suggest that you reglue the wrong scale neck back together (giving you a good opportunity to test your reassembly process) and find another cheap donor neck. the cool thing is that you could probably get one of those "b stock" necks of ebay for like 20-30 bucks shipped to you. again, this is my opinion, but you should NOT put the wrong scale fretboard on that neck!

    peace
     

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