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Silver Fretlines?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Sindri907, Mar 26, 2009.


  1. Sindri907

    Sindri907

    Feb 24, 2009
    Virginia
    Last night I was contemplating defretting my bass, among some other customization projects, when I had an interesting idea.

    I actually got the idea from a project my uncle did a few years ago and wanted to apply it to my bass. Hes a blade smith and he made a beautiful skinning knife and had some scrimshaw work done on a bone handle for it. To go with it he made a mohogany box and created a design to complement the scrimshaw. He routed out the design on the box top and filled it with sterling silver square wire. Then he was able to sand it all down even and polish/coat it.

    Has anyone done this or something simliar before? I mean, physically I dont see why it wouldn't work. Ive seen a lot of the tutorials where people take a hobby saw and open up their fret slots so they can use pieces of veneer maple. Why cant I open them up and press in strips of sterling silver wire? Would this affect the sound/tone of my bass?
     
  2. hover

    hover

    Oct 4, 2008
    Massachusetts
    I don't see why it wouldn't work either, but a similar effect could be acheived by grinding off the fret crown and just leaving the tang flush with the fingerboard (I've heard of this being done)...it might not look as neat tho, dependent on the profile of the fret's tang going into the wood.... How would you seat the silver? There has to be something beyond a chemical / glue bond holding that wire in place...at least imo. Best of luck.
     
  3. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Roscoe do something like this.
     
  4. Yup, we inlay an aluminum line in our diamondwood fretless fingerboards. I'm not sure how well it would work in a WOOD fingerboard, as diamondwood is very stable (it's mostly epoxy, essentially) compared to an untreated wood. I think that if it were on something that will expand and contract over time (humidity and moisture will cause any wood to do that), it may eventually cause the metal to start to come out of the board, and it will need to be addressed (sanded & releveled).
     
  5. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    On a regular wood board, I'd also be worried about the wood wearing faster than the lines, now that I think about it, so, I'd expect an epoxy coat, or poly even, would help this.
     
  6. JC Basses

    JC Basses

    Mar 12, 2009
    Rocklin, CA
    I sanded off the frets on an old guitar awhile back leaving only the fret lines. It looked pretty cool. I never played it enough to tell if the wood wears quicker than the frets, so I can't help you there.
     
  7. Porkbun

    Porkbun

    Mar 10, 2010
    Stamford, CT
    *Thread revival action*

    Im trying to get some silver fretlines for my fretless, but nothing Ive tried has worked. Would end nippers be able to get enough of the fret tang? Anyone have any ideas? :crying:
     
  8. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Remove the frets, and fill the slots with .023 german silver inlay strips or nickle. Aluminium will also work, and none are too difficult to find through inlay or marquetry supplies.
     
  9. Porkbun

    Porkbun

    Mar 10, 2010
    Stamford, CT
  10. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Actually, those prices seem pretty reasonable to me. Silver is a "premium metal", I'm not sure what you think "cheap silver metal" is, but silver is basically traded at it's commodity value anywhere you go...
     
  11. Porkbun

    Porkbun

    Mar 10, 2010
    Stamford, CT
    Ah, I meant silver colored metal! :rollno:
    Ive been staring at the computer for long. Im thinking of going with this which should work out with some pressing, if my brains calculations are any good in this state.
    Everything Ive tried so far hasnt worked out, so im not too fond of the idea of dropping $120+ on Silver If I wont use all of it and if it wont work out.

    Wish I could just cut up some tin foil use the fret tangs but nothing I have is powerful enough to grind the frets down without taking forever.
     
  12. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    The problem with grinding the frets is that the tangs are a bitch to get out if you decide to change again, where as inserts will come out with a little heat and a thin blade(much less damage).
     
  13. scojack

    scojack

    Apr 1, 2009
    Scotland
    Must say the aluminium lines in the Roscoes are particularly fetching.
     
  14. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Btw, you will need 5 to 6 of those wires for the project, also look to aluminum sheet in .022....easy to cut and sand, silver, and about $20 wil get you plenty for the job.
     
  15. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Aluminum also should wear fairly evenly with the wood, unlike nickel which is likely to stand proud and act as a fret once wear starts.
     
  16. Porkbun

    Porkbun

    Mar 10, 2010
    Stamford, CT
    This looks like the place Order Aluminum 5052 Sheet in Small Quantities at OnlineMetals.com
    I cant see myself using more than the 12x12
     
  17. pnut166

    pnut166

    Jun 5, 2008
    alabama
    How `bout this idea: if you`re going to coat the fingerboard, go the regular, tried-and-true route of using wood veneers. Once you have`em shaved down flush, tape off the fingerboard and use a silver paint pen on the veneer edges. Coat the board. Done :)
     
  18. Porkbun

    Porkbun

    Mar 10, 2010
    Stamford, CT
    :eek:
    It makes so much sense...the guitar body is a sparkly silver that will match the silver sharpie look.

    :rollno:
    Thats too simple though. :p I managed to squeeze some solder small enough to be glued into the slots and have already done half the board. I dont feel stupid, not one bit...nope :crying:
     

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