Round wounds on a fretless ?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by johnvice, Mar 21, 2005.

  1. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    My set-up guy is telling me that wear is going to be insignficant but I am leary.

    I'd be interested in knowing people's experience of rounds on an untreated ebony finger board.

    Also, has anyone tried "Jacoing" a finger board buy coating it with marine epoxy ?
  2. RunngDog

    RunngDog Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    No great amount of experience here, but I've read in previous threads that wear will be as much a function of playing style as of string type. If you do a lot of string bending and the like, and you have a relatively soft fretboard (e.g., rosewood, rather than say ebony or diamondwood), you're probably well advised to avoid roundwounds or coat the fretboard. I've seen a number of "How To" threads with respect to the latter approach. You can also outsource the work here:

    Thor Epoxy Coating
  3. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    I have a fretless with a coating like that. When I had it done, my luthier friend (who often has different ideas) used thinned-down CA, also know as super glue. Worked out great, wears like epoxy and has a nice sheen.
  4. Rosewood+rounds+string bending- I'm not seeing a ton of wear, but I don't play/practice as much as I should.
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Never had a fingerboard problem with rounds. I use nickel rounds, low action, light ouch and I don't bend the strings.

    I have one bass with a polyurethane finish and at 3 years old it still looks practically like new. I have another that has a raw Ebony board and is in the same condition.
  6. spc


    Apr 10, 2004
    South of Boston
    I have a parts jazz with an ebony board (no coating) and I've seen a ton of wear. I had the board sanded down to get rid of the wear a few times. I was using Rotosound rounds which I absolutely love, and I was really noticing a lot of wear, I switched to TI superalloys, and I am now in love with those as well. They seem a bit easier on the fingerboard (nickel vs. stainless?). I have a jazz with a coated board, and I'm not that happy with the sound. It took me having both to figure out that I like the bare wood board, even with the additional maintenance. Now I'm jonesing to have something built with a macassar ebony board...
    Not enough money or time for all the basses we want... :eyebrow:

  7. SPC,

    What type of difference are you seeing in the sound? And do both basses have the same FB wood?
  8. I have roundwound on my fretless and I find that the strings are quite abuseive to teh fretboard, espescialy on thte thicker strings, still sounds fine though, the maraks from teh strings on the fretbaord tdont really affect playing
  9. jpo259


    Feb 2, 2005
    Corona, CA
    MY first fretless I bought back in 1987. ALL I have ever used were roundwounds. Yeah, there is wear, but it STILL plays like dream and intonates' just fine. MY newest fretless, a Warwick Corvette, I've had since August of last year. Just the other night, the guitar player in my band said something about that bass like this,"Oh, I can see where your favorite notes are on that bass!!" Meaning: he could see the roundwound 'file' marks on my fretboard!! No big deal at all. Oh, both my fretless' have unfinished ebony boards.

    The bass I have had since 1987 is completley playable in my opinion. SOME DAY....I might think about getting the fretboard planed. It's just not much of a concern for me...................
  10. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    IMO Milage and Technique play a huge role. I used to practice 3-5 hours a day, and I play quite aggresively. I used to use "ground-wounds" with good results. Someone that has a fretless on stage and uses it for 2 or 3 songs a night, it may take 20 years to wear anything out...
    Try some flats, or grounds first, especially if you are concerned with resale value, but good ebony is pretty hard wear out quickly..
  11. spc


    Apr 10, 2004
    South of Boston
    One has bare ebony (lined!), the other has a coated rosewood board(the "buzz" coating from Pedulla), they sound really different. They both have a ton of sustain, the bass with the coated board is a USA Joe Os, and it's a killer. Plays pretty fast, and is dead quiet since I have some Bartolinis in it. The other "parts" jazz has a set of Jason Lollar singles in it (which rule btw), and it literally sounds woodier with the plain ebony. If you're curious about the Pedulla buzz basses, you should really go play one for awhile, see if you like it.
    As far as wear marks on the board go, they would get to the point where certain notes would just sort of buzz out (not in a good way), so that is when I would have the board sanded. I was playing that bass tons at that point though.
  12. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    i have an '87 graphite fb with nickel rounds and have only used "legit" vibrato and even the graphite wears over time.
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings

    OTOH I have a 97 Zon Legacy Standard 5 that's only had Nickel rounds since new... and it still looks new.

    And I slap on it.
  14. I have EXL-220 rounds on my MIM J fretless, and am starting to see wear marks in the rosewood board. These strings mwah like crazy, which is why they stay on this bass.

    My overall impression of the stock bass with these strings is "thin" sounding. When I take the TI Flats off my MIM P, I will put them on the fretless to see if this is any better, or worse.
  15. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Bending the strings is the board-killer. If you bend a lot, an untreated ebony fingerboard will last just about five years. A rosewood board, maybe two and half, three at most.

    If you can refrain from bending the strings, your expected lifespan just doubled. There's other factors too, like whether you pluck a lot, or slap, stuff like that, but mainly it's the bending that kills the board.
  16. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    The 'standard' opinion is--don't put rounds on a fretless. That used to leave people in a jam when they preferred round strings and they had to resign themselves to refinishing the fingerboard at some point. Now, however, we have coated strings (Labella tapewounds, for instance, are tape wound roundwounds, and there are some strings with a black coating or the Elixir strings coating) and we have have half/ground wound strings. With these options, why risk damaging your fretboard? Then you're free to play however you wish.
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Why "risk" it? Because they don't sound like bare true roundwound strings on a fretless.


    The "standard" opinion is IMO uninformed... but hey, it's their loss.

    And in spite of my experiences, I can see where someone might need to have a fingerboard leveled at some point. How many here don't use rounds on a fretted bass because someday they might need a fretjob?

  18. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I used stainless rounds on MANY fingerboards over the years. Bare Rosewood, Bare Ebony, Marine Epoxied Rosewood, etc. All of them had scoring, but I don't across string bend much and even though I slap and play hard with my right hand... I play with a light touch with my left hand. Finger boards can be planed like frets are dressed... and replaced like frets too (If you dig your bass enough)

    I currently have groundwounds on ALL my basses, but because I've been after a darker & thumpier tone in general. I'm seriously thinking about trying my fretless 6 with Stainless Rounds (Stablized fingerboard)... but really dig the tone with my D'Addario Half-Rounds. I've ordered a new fretless 6 that will be more mid aggressive... it will ship with some ProSteels on it for sure :bassist:

    You cannot eq that Stainless Round Zing and crunch into flats
  19. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Two rules #1 Hard fingerboards will last longer, Wenge or Ebony boards (unfinished) will outlast rosewood by at least double, Don't even think about maple, it is a hard wood but commonly has "soft spots"that will leave you with gouges. #2 Use nickle roudwounds, even Pedulla with there "coated" boards reccommend nickle. Stainless is harder and much more abrasive.
  20. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Have you ever tried the Thor coating?