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Removing fretless fretlines

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JTGale, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    I just picked up a Jazz fretless with plastic (I think?) fretlines. Seeing as how this bass didn't cost me too much, I am going to try a few things on it (like TruOil on the body -- I have never messed with TruOil and it should be fun).

    But what I am wondering, I don't like the starkness of the white plastic fretlines on the fingerboard. So, I was thinking of giving a shot at trying my hand at black veneer in the slots. Anybody have any ideas what will be the best way to get the plastic out? Should I just use my fretsaw to resaw the grooves? Or would that gum-up my saw too much? Is there a way to heat the plastic to loosen it and ease it out without melting it?

    When all is said and done, I also plan on trying epoxy on the board since I like to play roundwounds. This is going to be a fun project! :D (Heck, I am even thinking about rewiring the pickups into split coils! :eek: )

  2. Someone once told me that acetone would melt plastic and that most strong glues use it as a base. Is glue some sort of acetone and plastic composite?

    When I was considering whether to use veneer, he stated that plastic can also be used by placing it in the fret slot and pouring acetone in to melt it. I didn't go this way though 'cause I felt more comfortable with veneer.

    Anyway, the point is that maybe acetone can melt the plastic enough to remove some or all of it.


  3. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Acetone on rosewood? Don't like the sound of that. Acetone may well ruin the wood!

    But perhaps a little of it, just to remove enough to make sure the fret saw gets in the right place.
    Sawing it out would be the most precise way to do the job, and you do want precise slots to refill with veneer!

    The plastic will gum the saw up a bit, but most thermoplastics are also pretty easy to remove. And if it doesn't, this will be the place to use acetone!
  4. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    Thanks for the replies. I wondered the same thing about acetone. I have had no experience using it. But, like I said in my first post, this is an experiment and if I have to or it seems like the best thing to do, I am game.

    As of now, I think I am going to give sawing a shot. As long as I can keep my fretsaw square and purpendicular, I should be able to ease the slots clear.

    And as for veneer, I think I saw a recent post by Hambone that talked about using copier toner to blacken epoxy. That would be an interesting way to fill the slots. Then, after radiusing the board, I could put clear epoxy over all of it and reradius and polish to taste.

    Hmmm ... :meh:
  5. Yeah, you're right. Using acetone to melt the plastic in the slot is one thing. Trying to get it out is something else. If the acetone does melt it, it would be a messy job with melted plastic everywhere and may well damage the neck. I like the idea of using the saw, a much cleaner method.