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Should I take off the frets?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by eric arcia, Jul 21, 2004.

  1. i want a fretless but don´t have the cash.... will i screw up my bass if i try to take the frets off? ive heard its been done many times.. anyone?
  2. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    It is possible to damage your bass removing the frets. If you tackle this project, learn as much as you can before you attempt it. Also, how much is the bass worth that you plan on doing this to? It might prove to be easier to sell this bass and buy a fretless of the same value.
  3. GrooveSlave


    Mar 20, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    Personally, I would recommend not doing it. Buy a fretless as a first choice, or have a pro do it as a second choice.

    You don't say if you have another bass, and I would highly recommend that you have a bass with frets while playing fretless. You WILL miss it if you do this to your only bass - trust me on this.... :crying:

    Best of luck.
  4. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    previous comments are something to consider. I have a half dozen basses, defretted one I thought expendable and have missed not being able to play it fretted.

    But you can always refret - probably even if you do a slop job removing the frets. The one thing for certain is that if you can't get that neck dead flat with the truss rod (even a backbow to be certain) or get the strings low enough with your bridge, you're wasting your time removing the frets. You'll also need to alter the nut and you may need to shim the neck. Even then, it will take some time to get the action right to get a desireble buzz. I found it harder to get it adjusted properly than to learn to play. And you'll be able to tell any climate change that occurs, one that you wouldn't even notice on a fretted bass.

    But you can do a search as there of lots of previous posts on defretting.
  5. demolition

    demolition Guest

    Jul 5, 2003
    i consider myself a handy-man,I work construction and do my own repairs in my home and to my bass.
    My point is that when I did mine it came out playable,and I mean "playable"It wont win any contest's or awards but it plays.
    Theres more to it than pulling out fretts and getting the neck in playing condition,theres the nut that needs to be re-worked for just one instance,a home=made frett-less is just what it sounds like,I wish I still hade the neck the way it was.
    If you have a bass that you dont want or need and it dont matter,do it,if its your back-up bass or your favorite whatever,LEAVE IT ALONE.
    Save up and get a Carlo Robelli or Yamaha for 125.00$,at least it will play like a "real" frett-less.
    this is my opinion as a bass tech/luthier in apprenticeship,and not just some bozo with an opinion on everything bass related.
    THINK long and hard... please :)
  6. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Several other alternatives: buy a fretless neck for your bass. Swapping necks can be tedious though. Buy a fretless bryce or essex *cheap* and play the crap out if it:)
  7. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    The swapping neck comment reminded me that I was going to swap necks on a couple of like basses, except one's a thumper and the one I defretted is bright. I actually did get halfway through it swapping the fretted neck off the thumper onto the bright bass I defretted but the tone of thumper followed the neck so there was no point aside from satisfying the curiosity of the affect a neck has on the tone of a bass.
  8. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    If you're low on cash and only have the one bass, I think that it's probably not worth the risk unless you also happen to have access to all the tools needed to be sure of doing a good job.

    If you've only got the one instrument, I'd even be wary of a professional job. I had it done on a spare bass last year and it was relatively inexpensive and gave that instrument a valuable role in my collection again. However, even if you end up with a really good fretless, if you're strapped for cash you'll be stuck should you need the fretted sound back; I'm sure a cheap second hand fretless would be less expensive than ending up going the defret / refret path and you get a second bass into the bargain.

  9. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    another experience I'm having with the defret is that I've thrown a couple different pups in it - Fender and Barts J's. The bass sounds fine unplugged, mwah and all. Sounds very much like an upright. But fired up that doesn't come through, very plain sound that is nothing of any use. I'm thinking of trying an acoustic mic. If that doesn't produce something desireable, I'll probaby refret.
  10. Fly Cooper

    Fly Cooper

    Aug 11, 2009
    South Dakota
    to me it depends on how much the bass is worth. I defretted my old sx and filled it with woodputty and it plays like a dream. definately worth it but be careful taking out the frets unless your not worried about the neck.