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Wal Bass fretboard repair - suggestion needed

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Cebe, May 9, 2010.

  1. Cebe


    Jan 29, 2008
    Novi Sad, Serbia
    Some time ago i bought 1991 Wal Mk1 fretless for really low price but with fretboard in really bad shape. It was played by previous owner for 15 years with roundwound strings and fretboard got devastated and now is totally unplayable in some positions. Now i have two options - to repair fretboard by taking some wood of with sandpaper and tools, or to place frets (it has fabric inset option). I would like more to leave it fretless but i`m afraid if all wood that should be is removed there will be no more fretboard left on guitar.
  2. dblbass

    dblbass Commercial User

    Mar 24, 2007
    Beacon, NY
    Owner of MBJ guitars, Maker of fine sawdust for Carl Thompson Guitars
    how thin is the fret board?
  3. FINGERBOARD, not fretboard!

    Why not replace the fingerboard completely?
  4. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    I think that the OP was fretting about the board on his bass; thus "fretboard" in lieu of the proper term of fingerboard. ;)
  5. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD Supporting Member

    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    I would think the best solution would be to have the fingerboard replaced. I think just about any luthier should be able to fit a new one, and if you want to DIY, I think LMII sells pre-machined fingerboards.

  6. BlackElan


    Feb 26, 2009
    Just contact Paul at Wal basses and he will fix it for you. Info@walbasses.co.uk is the address.
  7. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    You seriously think Paul will fix it for free? And what about shipping both ways, the OP is in Serbia dude..
  8. BlackElan


    Feb 26, 2009
    Just making a suggestion a lot of people still are not aware that Wal is back in business. Shipping from Serbia to the UK should not be too bad...
  9. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Sorry dude, reading my post back it does come off kind of snotty. Wasn't my intention - I realize we're all here to help...
  10. I've heard that Wal has excellent customer service. I would contact Paul anyway for starters.

    PS you can't post enough pics of a Wal ;)
  11. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    My 1990 Mk I was originally fretless, and the fingerboard was a mess too by the time I got it. It had been levelled before and someone did a terrible epoxy coating job on the fingerboard. So with the levellings it had, that was the last time that fingerboard would have been useable, and the next service would have meant a replacement board.
    So I decided to have the bass converted to fretted instead, and I also went with stainless frets since I will never wear those frets out, and had it plek'ed also. I'm sure glad I went this way...while it was cool as a fretless, I love it much more fretted, and is such a great player it has become my main player for two years now.
  12. miziomix

    miziomix Über on my mind Commercial User

    Sep 28, 2009
    Milan, Kuala Lumpur, Paris.
    Bass builder @ MüB.
    A '91 Wal Mk1 f/less is a one of a kind creature. Its market value is pretty high. I'm sure you are aware of it.

    Its f/b is typichally quite thin - such a beauty! I wouldn't sand it down if it's that worn out.

    In fact, I would ship it to Paul for the f/b job and for some long overdue TLC - Wal are very sturdy but 20 years of heavy playing must have left a mark beyond the f/b wear.

    Or give it to a very very good luthier. Then again, the bass is a Ferrari - If I had one I would only take it to a Ferrari shop.

    Out of curiosity...it's a Walnut top and back, isn't it? ;)
  13. miziomix

    miziomix Über on my mind Commercial User

    Sep 28, 2009
    Milan, Kuala Lumpur, Paris.
    Bass builder @ MüB.
    true....but I have! :D here!
  14. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    This is a pretty straightforward repair. You can have the trenches filled, the board leveled and sealed, or you can go with 1 of 2 replacement fixes. 1- have the board planed to level and square then have a new 3/16" replacement glued, shaped, cambered and trued, or 2- have the whole FB removed and replaced. Anyway you go, it should be no problem for a competant luthier with the proper tools to complete this job.
  15. DaLoCo


    Jun 16, 2010
    South Africa
    What type of wood is the "fingerboard"? I had a slip when I was working on my bass, a rosewood fingerboard. I sanded it till the sandingdust filled the grooves, and put superglue on the sanding dust. I then sanded it down again and repeated till the groove was filled. On the rosewood it did make the area darker, but I was going to coat it with epoxy in any case. Now it is completely invisible.

    Another cheaper but rather more labour intensive fix is to take a hobby blade and cut along the grain inside the groove, and then use a pin to lift the cut grainup to the surrounding level. snad untill the area is filled with sanding dust and fill with superglue. The raised grain strands will give the impression of the grain continuing.
  16. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    Wait... What? That sounds like WAY more of a nightmare than heating up the fingerboard and removing/replacing it, or planing it down (and again with the replacing).

    Seriously, this is a collector's item at this point, right? Then treat it like it's worth something and either have the repair done by a competent professional in your local area, or send it to Wal and have them do it.
  17. miziomix

    miziomix Über on my mind Commercial User

    Sep 28, 2009
    Milan, Kuala Lumpur, Paris.
    Bass builder @ MüB.
    +1000 (do I get a bit emotional when it comes to Wal?... :smug:)

    well... you can always sell it to me and I'll take care of the f/b:bassist:
  18. Thanks mizio, but I have since seen your blog! Great stuff on there!:cool:
  19. modulusan


    Sep 8, 2006
    I think (if is possible and if you have place to lower more the strings) is better try to level the fingerboard with a radius sanding block.
    I would take this option before remplace the entire fingerboard..
    good luck.
  20. .
    Quoted for truth.

    People make way too big a deal about this type of thing. This is standard maintenance. Just have it resurfaced by the best repairman you can find. A typical well put together fretless can have this done quite a few times before you have to worry about replacing the board. Your guy will tell you pretty quickly if it has already been done to the limit or not.

    Just had my F Bass AC-5 done by Clarke over at Schroeder Guitar repair for $230. Had the action slightly lowered, too. Plays like a dream.

    I know it seems like voodoo to the rest of us, but it is all in a days work for a experienced luthier/repairman.

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