1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

slap in a fretless ebony fingerboard

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mr. BassmanPT, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

    Aug 15, 2009
    someone told me that if you slap in a fretless bass with an ebony fingerboard, it can cause the ebony to splinter and get damaged.

    is this true?
  2. Soverntear


    Mar 17, 2008
    ebony is one of the hardest woods out there, i could't see it. maybe if you were not using flats but still i doubt it
  3. It shouldn't cause the ebony to splinter, but with rounds it will eat into the fingerboard fairly quickly. You could use flats, polyester/epoxy coated fingerboards, or something semi-synthetic like Dymondwood, phenowood, or acrylized maple.
  4. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

    Aug 15, 2009
    yes, i forgot to mention that the strings will be flatwounded!!!
  5. Soverntear


    Mar 17, 2008
    cmara, if its the black ebony (gaboon ebony) i could not see flats doing any damage. if your really concerned, maybe take it in to get a nice finish put on the wood
  6. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

    Aug 15, 2009
    it is black gaboon ebony fingerboard.

    from all your answers it seems i will have no problems with the wood when slaping with the flatwounds.

  7. The act of slapping will still cause some wear on a fingerboard, even with flats.
  8. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

    Aug 15, 2009
    what if i slap near the bridge? will that wear effect be still present?

    i doubt i will slap in that position though
  9. It's not really the slap that causes the FB wear, it's mostly the grinding of the string while popping.

    Also, keep in mind, the tone you get from slapping a fretless is different and perhaps most of us don't find the slap tone on a fretless to be particularly satisfying. I mean, Manring does it, but his Zon has a semi-synthetic FB that's fairly indestructible.
  10. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

    Aug 15, 2009
    yes, i agree with what you are saying.

    the reason i am asking this is because i am currently waiting for my fretless bass. i said to my drummer that i will use that bass for all songs but he wants me to slap and i really do not want to carry 2 basses for all gigs. i ordered the bass to play with it, ALWAYS :)

    then i thought of slapping in the fretless, even knowing that the sound will not be the same as in a fretted bass... and then someone advised me about the wood.

    so the wear problem will come from the pop and not thumb?
  11. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

    Aug 15, 2009
  12. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    I just started playing in a funk band.
    My main bass is fretless.
    I don't slap it. "In ongoing collision between steel strings and wooden fingerboards, the steel will always win".
    So I simply bring another bass, with frets, to slap. Carrying 2 basses is a bit of a chore, but it lets me use each of them the way I like to use them.
    The band digs both basses.
  13. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    Double gig bag solved that issue for me decades ago.
  14. Rockon!


    Apr 26, 2006
    C'mon. Water can erode stone.
    You expect wood to withstand steel strings? At some point you will do damage to your board. If you don't care great! :)
    If you do: buy a fretted bass!
    Hell I saw the board of a Pedulla Pentabuzz "beaten to pieces" just by slapping on it.
  15. I have few fretless basses myself, and I do play slap style with them.
    One of them has an epoxy coat over its fretboard. It shows scratches on it.
    I use a roundwound string set on it. I quite like it. It doesn't seem like the strings are
    digging into the wood.
    And others have ebony fretboards with no coat on it.
    (Oil finishes wouldn't protect wood THAT much, as we all know and can expect.)
    I also use roundwound strings on them, and I don't see fretboards are hurt badly.

    I guess it's all because I don't practice like 5 hours a day.(I practice maximum 2 hours a day due to my lack of stamina and not enough dancing skills.)
    Also I often switch instruments to practice as I feel like.

    Have you guys ever heard of replacing a fretboard on a violin or a doublebass?
    These days they use steel strings(flatwound though), but I haven't heard
    that anyone have had to fix or replace their fretboard because strings gnawed it.
    And you guys know, classical instrument players practice like hell, just to have
    the perfect pitch sense. Outrageous, and wow.

    So I wouldn't worry about slapping or dancing on an ebony board.
    I'd rather imagine of slapping on my fretted bass and someday those frets are
    hit so hard, one of them splits certain point of its fingerboard.

    If you're so worried, you can pour a bottle of exopy on it. Like Jaco did.
    Why did you drink so much, Mr Pastorius...?
  16. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

    Aug 15, 2009
    thanks to all of you for your inputs and comments.

    i will carry two basses then. fretted basses sound way better in slap than a fretless so this argument alone already has some weight in this decision..

  17. I slap the hell out of my Fretless Warwick... I have no damage on the board...maybe time is a bigger factor.
  18. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    If you're playing flats on a fretless ebony board, you shouldn't bother with worrying too much about wear, regardless of how you play it. It will hold up for a long time.

    If you're using rounds, it will chew into the board a bit. What I did on my bass is tape the whole thing off, and then applied several coats of thin CA (super) glue, allowing the glue to soak into the pores of the wood, and then sanded the whole thing back down again, just to the point where I was hitting the wood again. This strengthened the board without changing the way it feels or sounds. I've been playing it exclusively for the past two years with heavy rounds, slapping, tapping, etc., with only minimal wear.
  19. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    You'll get some indentations from the strings on the board, but then once the indentations appear, they don't seem to get any worse thereafter. I've had a few fretlesses and they never "wore out" the boards.
  20. Time and technique are big in terms of FB wear. Truly, wearing through a board isn't going to happen with most of us unless we're playing a ton and only on one bass. I believe Pino had replaced his FB a few times on his main Ray during the 80's.

    Sometimes the fretless threads need to be taken with a grain of salt since a lot of opinions can come from guys who play fretless only from time to time. When you mainly play fretless, you start seeing more guys using flats, coated FBs, and synthetic boards. It's not that you'll wear through it, but there will probably come a time when you wear the FB just enough to need a leveling and it's probably not going to be at a convenient moment. ;)

Share This Page