Using binding for fretlines

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jerry J, Sep 16, 2003.

  1. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I recently bought a very nice J bass neck from Warmoth. I've given the neck to a local guitar repair guy to install fretlines. The neck came with no frets but the slots are cut.

    I really want fretlines that show up in dim light so I'm thinking that the maple strips that are normally used might not be light colored enough. Or that they might darken up over time.

    The guy says that the material that is used for fingerboard binding should fit in the fret slots.

    Do you think that this would work out ok? I have no experience with this and apparently neither does he.
  2. Hey Jerry

    I don't have any experience with using binding but I do have experience with bright white fret markings. I asked a freind (guitar tech) to use something extremely bright and he ended up using this white plastic. I was able to see the fretlines in almost all playing situatonis. On the down side the plastic didn't like being glued to wood and so the line would constantly shift. This required them to be reglued and the neck reshaved (major pain:( ).

    I guess that since binding already ticks to guitars it might be ok (but you may want to check since there is a fair bit of actviity over the fretlines). I've also found that using the line has improved my intonation substantailly but that I ahve grown to think of them as kinda tacky looking. I don't mind lines but I wish they were slightly less bright.

    Oh as for my problem I think I'm gonna solve by coating the fingerboard. While I think I prefer the sound of an uncoated board I think it will just be easier in the long run. I hope this helps or at least gives you something more to think about. C-YA

  3. Jerry,

    A friend of mine here uses white teflon stripes glued with CA glue. Works great.

    I'm gonna use it for Geoff's Plume singlecut fretless bass on the side markers.

    Peace, JP
  4. bwbass


    May 6, 2002
    I recall some graphite necks with white styrene plastic lines - the kind you get from a hobby shop.
  5. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    Thanks for the idea, guys. I appreciate it.

    And Brian, the neck was one of the ziricote/birdseye J necks from the Thrift shop. I'm very pleased with how that neck looks and feels. It really is very beautiful. The luthier that is working on it was shocked that the board wasn't an incredible piece of Brazilian rosewood.

    I was going to go with the maple lines that you guys do there at Warmoth but I thought that maybe the maple might not stand out enough. Plus I thought that maybe the maple might darken with the oils from my fingers or from the lemon oil that I use to oil my finger boards.

    The guy wants to stick with the binding plastic. I guess if the binding material doesn't work out it can be pushed out and something else put in it's place.

    BTW is ziricote pronounced zee-rick-cotee?
  6. I have a dobro with New Zealand Paua shell inlaid fret markers. They are visible in most dark rooms. But on a bass I usually can't see any more than the side marker dots when I'm playing. For the ultimate in visibility, I saw a steel guitar once with fiber optic fret markers and a "hula girl" with swinging hips. I can guarantee you would see that.

    I've done this and it works great. The plastic has no problems with adhesion to the wood and the lines look very professional. I'd suggest leaving the plastic wide and high and gluing the strips in very well, then trimming and planingthe strips flush, and finally radiusing the board along with the strips. I did a decent but not perfect job on a defretted neck and it still looks and plays very very well. If the binding isn't oversized, then I'd have no problem with that. You don't want too tight of a fit because of the potential to backbow the neck.

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