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Screwed up defretting job, what to do?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by phxlbrmpf, Oct 3, 2005.


  1. phxlbrmpf

    phxlbrmpf

    Dec 27, 2002
    Germany
    I had my father, who trained as a toolmaker ages ago, help me defret my old lefty Ibanez ATK a while ago, but apparently we screwed up, as there was a lot of buzz all over the fretboard, no matter how high the action.

    We added about three additional coats of lacquer, but things didn't improve much. Now I was wondering: how much do you think it would cost to have a luthier replace the fingerboard? As my ATK is a lefty, getting a replacement neck is pretty much impossible. What would you do? :help:
     
  2. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Hmm, sounds like you screwed up the fingerboard.

    Question; how thick is the fingerboard? If you have enough wood left, maybe an experienced luthier could sand down the board and make it back a-ok.

    Just a thought...
     
  3. phxlbrmpf

    phxlbrmpf

    Dec 27, 2002
    Germany
    It's about 4 millimeters, i.e. not as thin as some paper-thin MIM Fender fretboards I've seen. The fretboard is maple, by the way.
    I'll think I'll be taking the bass to a guitar shop near me tomorrow, they have a luthier show up once a week to take care of mutilated instruments. I have the feeling I'm gonna have to pay through the nose for this, but it still beats hunting for an affordable lefty fretless.
     
  4. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Indeed, I had a ****ed up fretboard too on my Warwick, and it was choosing between coughing up the money for adjustment and refretting or buying a new bass.

    It was an easy choice.


    Good luck with it.
     
  5. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
    The trouble you're having is most likely caused by the wood swelling up a bit at the edges of the fret slots. To get rid of them, you'll have to remove the neck and nut and adjust the truss rod until the neck is completely straight and the fretboard is all on one plane.

    A jig would be best, that would make sure the neck didn't move at all once straight.

    You will have to fill in the fret slots so they don't compress under tension. This could be filler strips of wood or just superglue. Either way this should be done before the next step.

    Then you'd want a long straight plane (I use a steel level) with double sided tape on one side holding sand paper to the plane, sanding in a straight line up and down the fretboard. Use pencil to shade the entire fretboard surface - by seeing where the sandpaper removes the pencil and where it leaves it you will be able to see any high and low points.

    Be very careful not to re-radius the fretboard while doing this.

    You will have to completely refinish the maple fingerboard when done. This is one reason most people use rosewood, ebony, or some other unfinished wood for fretless necks.
     
  6. phxlbrmpf

    phxlbrmpf

    Dec 27, 2002
    Germany
    Thanks for the great advice, Lyle. I think I'm going to leave the steps you described up to a luthier, though. :/

    Back then, we used wood paste to fill the fret slots. I have the feeling, we should've used something else, like the materials you described.