Strong fretless fingerboards

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dave Metts, Dec 27, 2001.

  1. So I'm definitely looking into getting a fretless bass here very soon... My question is, which fingerboards are strong enough to stand up to roundwounds and some slap playing? Is a phenowood/rockwood/diamondwood board my only hope?

    I've been looking at a Zon, Sadowsky, or possibly (and a lot cheaper) a Peavey Cirrus.

    The Zon would of course have a phenowood fingerboard, Sadowsky would have a poly coated ebony board, and I believe the Cirrus has a rosewood board of some sort. Which of these can stand up to those rough roundwounds without needing work after a short time?
  2. diamondwood/phenowood are used interchangeably. These are all thin sheets of birch impregnated with phenolic resin and pressed together under high pressure. My understanding is that they really do work. With round wound stirings, you'll get very little fret board wear. With ebony or rosewood, sooner or later the board will have to be dressed, but it's nothing to loose sleep over. You might want to consider flatwound strings. You virtually eliminate fret board wear.
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I've never needed work on a fretless fingerboard for any bass I've ever owned.

    If you bend strings a lot, you can dig into the fingerboard

    Solution: don't. Use a vibrato technique that runs parallel with the string.

    Low action and a light touch help, too. I've had extremely minimal wear with Phenolic, Ebony, Pau Ferro and Rosewood boards. I've slapped on every fretless I've owned, too. Never had a coated board, can't see why the results would be much different.
  4. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    It really takes a lot of work to dig into an ebony board enough to require a planing, even with stainless steel strings. Same thing with diamondwood/phenowood. I've owned both of those, plus wenge, and while all of then visibly got scratched, it was nothing that actually made an indent in the fingerboard, or that affected playability or intonation in the absolute slightest. Scratches you can't really avoid, but you really shouldn't have to.

    Follow Brad's rules, and you should be fine.

    BTW, the board on a Cirrus is Pau Ferro, which is a much harder wood that Rosewood. It's not quite as strong as ebony, but it should hold up.
  5. Yeah, that's one thing I definitely figured would be a problem (bending on a fretless). I'll have to refine my technique, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.