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What strings for my fretless? What to be like Jaco

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by bkchang79, Aug 21, 2002.

  1. I'm getting ready to get my MIM modded fretless. I tried the stock MIM fretless bass and I HATE the flatwounds with a passion. Feels slippery and the tone is very boring and dead. I would like to put on the roundwounds, but I've heard alot of people on this board will say that it would chew the finger board up. How would the GHS brite flats compare to some DR Lo riders? I'm kind of skeptical that the GHS would sound as good as the DR rounds. Also I have a problem with my fingers slipping off the strings of flatwounds. Is there some polish or oil that protects the fingerboard from being messed up by roundwounds? How do you get epoxy on wood to look good? Seems like it would be a messy job.
  2. rotosounds, thats what he used
  3. Pharmecopia


    Jul 31, 2002
    jaco used rotosounds, but i hate those strings. they only laster about 3 weeks for me, but, they arent very expensive. i can get a set for $24 here in town. when i get a fretless, i will probably use rotosounds. have you taken into consideration that roundwound strings eat your fingerboard? well, hope i helped a little. :rolleyes:
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I don't think Rotosounds are essential for the sort of sound that Jaco is famous for - it's just that there were less choices in strings when Jaco was alive.

    I think any roundwound strings will do - nickel-plated ones will probably do less damage to your fretboard than stainless steel but still sound good.

    Jaco mentioned on his intructional video that he only used the fretless for gigs and rehearsed with fretted as the strings ate up the fingerboard.
  5. Pharmecopia


    Jul 31, 2002
    well bruce, i know jaco played fretted basses sometimes, but i have an issue of guitar player magazine from 1984 and jaco states exactly how and what expoxy he used. he said it worked like a charm. he also went on to explain how he got his bass, and why he played it all beat up.
  6. Does anyone have an article, directions, type of epoxy? I want to do this to my fretless and hopefully I won't screw it up.
  7. bad dog

    bad dog

    May 7, 2002
    Jim Thorpe, Pa.
    This is from Tom Stroud's Jaco website (very cool site with a complete discography) :

    Subject: Re: Epoxy

    A friend of mine told me that Jaco Pastorius used something called epoxy to cover the fingerboard of his fretless. I was thinking of doin the same because the roundwounds are my faves but they eat a lot of wood....
    where can I get that epoxy thing, how you put it on the fingerboard?
    Also, what other materials would be good to protect the fingerboard?

    Subj: Re: Epoxy

    Taken from an interview from Guitar Player, August 1984:
    Jaco said:
    "I used Petite's Poly-Epoxy; it's boat epoxy. You can find it in any boating supply store around Florida. It's the toughest epoxy they make. You apply it with a brush, and it takes several coats. I used about six coats on my fretless, and it took about a day for each coat to dry. It's essential. It saves the instrument from getting eaten up by the roundwound strings."

    Subj: Re: Epoxy

    I've heard of crynoclacylate (i'm sure i didn't spell that right) adhesive (also known as superglue) being used, but that sounds like even more of a nightmare to apply.

    Subj: Re: Epoxy

    Superglue works okay, I have done several that way. Epoxy is very dangerous, as the dust from sanding it is a carcinogen. That's why I switched to super glue. Better to use ebony though, much less maintanance.

    Subj: Re: Epoxy

    Back in the late seventies I got ahold of Mark Egan who was kind enough to explain the process of applying marine epoxy to a bass neck. I did it for my own bass and the basses of several other players in town. Each neck took many hours to complete. I had real problems with high spots and brush marks. I had to sand almost the whole last layer of epoxy off to get it even. I never got that bwwooowww sound though the necks did stand up to roundwounds. A couple of years later I met Jaco and he handed me his bass while he showed somebody an arrangement on piano. I had a big laugh when I looked at the neck and saw brush marks and high spots all over it. It looked like he just put the stuff on thick and wailed. I have a couple of frettlesses that a local luthier put epoxy on in a spray booth. It's the only way to go. The sanding will take for ever and you won't be happy with it in the end. One problem; As I grew up I found that I was only using the epoxy frettlesses on commercials and industrials when they wanted that now cliche bwwooooww. Having the epoxy frettless sound does (or should) force you to find your own style. It's too easy to sound like just another a**hole trying to do Jaco.

    Good luck & let us know how it turns out

  8. JOME77


    Aug 18, 2002
    Several years ago Rick Turner wrote an article for Bass Player Magazine that discussed coating your fretless fingerboard with Polymerized Tung Oil. It's easy to apply (goes on with a rag) and can be sanded with 0000 steelwool between coats. I built a Warmoth fretless bass 8-9 years ago and coated the finerboard (and walnut body) with Polymerized tung oil and it still looks great (I've used D'Addario XL170 Nickle plated steel strings most of the 8-9 years)! It has a few marks on it but no grooves at all. It can also be recoated whenever needed. I put about 20 coats on. It takes a minumum of 24 hours drying in between coats and you should lightly sand with 0000 steelwool between coats. You typically have to order it thru the mail (I haven't found it locally) and it is subject to "Spontaneous Combustion". This isn't a problem as long as you throw away all old rags or keep them soaked in mineral spirits or something equivalent. I attached a picture of the bass but you really can't see good detail of the fingerboard.
  9. Forget all this coating crap, just use it as is. When the wear gets too bad, just get a luthier to dress it. After several dressings, you'll run out of wood and have to put on a new fingerboard, but given that you'll probably get more than a couple of years per dress, you'll likely have a new bass long before needing a new board. The sound of wood against string is way preferable to that of string against epoxy, IMO. BTW; why do ya want to sound like Jaco? Would'nt it be better to sound like you?
  10. JOME77


    Aug 18, 2002
    If you down loaded the picture you were probably wondering what my fretted Roscoe had to do with coating a fretless fingerboard! Sorry I attached the wrong picture. Try this!
  11. Well, I said hell with the roundwounds and got some rotosound flatwounds. I actually like the sound of the flatwounds.
  12. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    By "bwwooooww" does he mean mwah?

    Also, can anyone give me an idea of how much epoxy costs? In whatever quantity is required to do a fretless neck with it.

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