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why do some companies charge extra for fretless builds?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MMiller28, Nov 15, 2003.

  1. MMiller28


    Apr 27, 2003
    This really doesn't make sense to me. Wouldn't it be cheaper to build since they don't have to go through the process of adding frets to the neck?
  2. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I've often wondered this myself. Of course, my knowledge of luthiery is very limited, so there might be a perfectly good reason I'm not aware of.

    I can, however, understand the extra charges in making a lined fretless bass.
  3. Maybe its cause there isnt as big of a demand for them so its more of a pain for a manufacturer to make??? :meh:
  4. That's my guess. Theres more demand for fretted basses, so they mass produce more fretted basses. Same with lefty guitars - building one means reversing all the templates and machinery, which takes time, and time = money. So any change in the production line costs money.
  5. I don't see making a fretless as taking more time and effort, i think its the opposite. Instead of setting the neck on the table to cut the fret slots and then press the frets in you just have to level the fingerboard like you would do with a regular fretted. So wouldn't this mean taking less steps, less time, which equals less money to make a fretless?
  6. why do some companies charge extra for fretless builds?

    Same answer as why do dogs lick their private parts: because they can.
  7. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Why don't you post this in the Luthier's forum?
  8. jenderfazz, I think you hit the nail on the head.

  9. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Also, the surface and finish on a fretless fingerboard is much more critical than on a fretted bass, so there may be more labor involved.
  10. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    That makes the most sense ;)
  11. kboyd


    Jul 6, 2002
    Stephen, that does make sense too, but any manufacturer who is building basses on a smaller scale and does most of the work by hand should charge less or equal for fretless. It is easier in my opinion.
  12. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    It doesn't make any sense to me to try to justify it in terms of being more labor intensive...it simply isn't...:confused:
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    1) We make and slot our fingerboards before gluing them to the neck. Every fingerboard is re-leveled by hand during the carving stage.

    2) For a Fretless Bass we use a thicker piece of ebony (more$$) to make up for the height of the frets so the Bridge can be adjusted the same as well as the neck angle and tension.

    3) For a lined fretless , we thickness some
    re-sawn maple (not veneer stock) to .025" on our thickness sander with a backing board to keep it flat.

    4) We then cut strips and inlay them into each slot with epoxy.

    5) Next, we chisle off the excess and re-level the board again and polish it.

    I think this warrants an extra charge. Don't you?

    Note: Blank Fretless boards are leveled as necessary throughout the process as well but most of our fretless orders are are ordered with lines.
  14. Down at GB Guitars in Croydon they dont charge anymore for fretless, or lefty's

    They have jigs already made up so changes in production lines machiney isnt an issue, the only major added extra on a fretless is the fingerboard finish (i.e the epoxy resin) that is more expensive than buybing lengths of fretwire as this can be got fairly cheaply but balance it up against time and needs to meet the demands of customer needs companies shouldnt never charge extra.. they should never change extra just because someone is left handed..

    its bassically what mr Goody good said.. its cause they can.!!...

    marketing i dunno... pfft...:)
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
  16. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I know Brad already addressed this, but I was in mid thought, so...

    After visiting the Lakland factory, watching how they carefully insert, level, crown, trim, and polish each and every fret, I've got to believe this is far more labor intensive than adding a little extra wood to a fretless fingerboard...

    Personally, I'd think THIS warrants the extra charge. You can charge what you want for a bass, and if people are willing to pay it, more power to you. But, last time I checked, FRETTED Ken Smith basses had some pretty high quality fretwork. Is that less valuable than the fretless basses you put out?

    Maybe to you it is...:rolleyes:
  17. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    I think Ken's way of pricing is, in fact, more honest.

    You're paying for whatever is done to the bass you are purchasing.

    If you understand economics at all, you'll realize that any manufacturer that does lefty or fretless for "free", is actually spreading the costs of manufacturing those basses across their entire line, regardless of the manufacturing process.

    Nothing...but nothing...is ever done for "free".
  18. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I see your comments guys on what you think may or may not take time or money to produce.

    1) We inlay 3mm Mother of Pearl (real pearl!) side dots on every fingerboard. Since the blank fretless has no fret slots cut, we have to measure for every dot, using a cut fingerboard. This takes a bit of time.

    2) We stock and dry our fingerboards for several years before using them for a Bass. Only a small fraction of them will be suitable for Fretless due to thickness and density combined.

    3) How much extra do you think is is worth for a builder or company to vary from the norm?
    Our Fretless option is $200.List and $150./Street$. Do you think that is 'unfair' pricing for the extra work we have to do???

    Try it yourself ,and after making several of each 'successfully', let me/us know your thoughts & comments.

    Oh, and by the way, we make all of our necks in-house from lumber cut and aged in our building. We pick 'stiffer' neck billets for fretless models since they won't have the frets pushing the neck back after being fretted.
    See??? Another free lesson !!
  19. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Economics? Ceteris Paribus, my friend.

    But, you're making an assumption here, which is that fretless actually costs more. Ken tells us it's more expensive. Other luthiers say not. Believe what you want.:cool:
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
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