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Unlined Fretless --> Lined Fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by youngheo, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. youngheo


    Jul 30, 2002
    Dallas, TX
    hello.. Tbers..

    I have a unlined fretless bass and i am having real hard time playing..

    is it possible to put fretline on unlined bass?

    if it is, how much will it be?

  2. Sure, it can be done, but you want to make sure it's done by a really good tech, not just any old body down at Guitar Center.

    As for cost, I couldn't tell you exectly, but I'd guess it would have to be a couple hundred at least. If you had something like a MIM Fender, I'd say it probably wouldn't be worth it--it would be easier to pick up a replacement neck and slap it on. But since you seem to have some very nice and expensive gear, it would probably be cost-effective to do what you envision.

    But before you do anything, maybe give some hard thought to whether you really need or want to go lined, or whether it's just a matter of putting in a little more time with the unlined to get the results you want. I say this just because I have a personal bias towards leaving high-end, high-quality basses more or less alone if possible, at least as regards anything involving a saw. (With beaters, anything goes.) Myself, I'm a big fan of lined fretlesses--my own fretlesses have always been lined--but that doesn't mean I think everybody is obliged to play one.

    If you do go for the conversion, consider having it done with a light colored wood rather than the white plastic that's sometimes used.
  3. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    I agree with Richard, with the quality of the equipment you own you wouldn't want to have some local guitar shop trainee drawing all over your fingerboard with a Sharpie then whacking it with a hand saw. Those basses are worth the cost to have some lines installed on the fingerboard if you really feel you need them.

    Just remember that the side dots will be lined up directly in front of the lines, not in the usual "fretted" bass position. It might mess with your head a little bit at first .....

    I also agree that you might want to give another effort at the unlined and see if it can work for you. I play both lined and unlined, so I don't have any issues one way or the other .... :cool:
  4. alanbass1


    Feb 8, 2006
    I would only trust this work to a luthier as, unlike refrets/defretting and the like, whoever does the job will need to ensure that placement is correct for the scale length is correct and that the cutting follows this precisely. This is best done either by a very skilled person or someone with the appropriate tooling and jigs. Guitar techs at shops tend not to be trained or have the equipment for this work, unless of course they themselves make guitars which (in my book) makes them a luthier.
  5. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    This may sound silly, but with a little bit of work, you could potentially use some thin pinstriping and put it on yourself. The purpose would be if you intend to go back to an unlined look once you get more proficient, and especially if you hope that won't be a very long time. There's some pretty ultra thin pinstriping out there, which I think might work ok without affecting playability much, but I haven't tested it... just a theory...

    I've seen this done on string basses as a training aid/guide.
  6. eots


    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    Why not just buy another lined fretless til you have your ears and fingers tuned? Carvin makes some really nice fretless basses that you could try.
    I don't play my lined lb75af much if at all anymore.*cough cough*
  7. eots


    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    We did this to my son's violin when he was starting out.
  8. Take a page from uprights, or at least from me when I play a different upright for more than a night (loaner, etc) Put a little graphite from a pencil in the middle on the fingerboard, or on the side of the fingerboard, it's not permanent and all it takes in a little time, pencil lead and ear work to do. Make a line, a dot, whatever. I would only do every other "fret" or the "frets" that normally have inlays (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12....). The pencil will ware off, or you can just erase it.
  9. eots


    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    You may want to post this in the luthiers forum as plenty of them hang out there. you might be able to send one of your babies to one of them. Could even get some wood to offset the fb color.
  10. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Just get some white tape and put in on the edge of the finger board. Mark every postion and then start taking them away as you get used to them.
  11. Oh and the pencil lead does not show up from a distance on an ebony fingerboard, it'll still look unlined from 5+'