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Wondering about defretting my starter Ibanez bass and putting a tremolo on it....

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by suitlandkid2005, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. suitlandkid2005


    Sep 23, 2008
    I was wondering about defretting my starter Ibanez bass and putting a tremolo on it. I'm about to get an ATK and I want to leave that like it is; but I want to get a feel for a fretless bass with tremolo. I was going to go to this luthier that does it. I wouldn't right now; but in the future. I am just wondering what it sound ok or would it mess up the bass and it would be a waste of money.

    Here is the bass:
  2. I play fretless and have a few basses with a Kahler. I don't really see a reason to have a fretless with a trem. There's a lot of natural vibrato you can do on a fretless without the need for a trem.
  3. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    That would be a ton of work on a starter pack bass.
  4. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    As long as you take the bass to a luthier that knows what he's doing you should be fine. He'll tell you if it will mess up the bass (it shouldn't, unless it is a really lousy bass).

    You might also consider that it may cost you close to the price of a new bass to have those kinds of modifications done...

    I've never seen a fretless bass with a tremolo before...but it seems like it should be OK in terms of the modification working out.
  5. There's someone on the forum with a STUNNING fretless 5er with a kahler trem. I think he's from Finland.

    If you do so- you might want to coat your fingerboard- as the friction caused using the tremolo might dig into the wood. If you can't afford an epoxy finish by a luthier, you might want to get some Polyester Mylar film, 2 mil thick (I think that's the thickness, not quite sure though) and "coat" it yourself. Use something like a credit card to flatten the bubbles and use some fine sand paper to sand the edges of it off the fretboard. There are some helpful forum topics about this process, and I'm sure others can help you better than I can- since I only got to read about it and never do it...

    Good luck!
  6. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    If it is a cheap bass, then I wouldn't waste money having someone else defret it. Do it yourself. Read the defret walkthrough here or elsewhere and go slow. It is time consuming but it isn't rocket science. If you are going to coat the board with epoxy or something comparable, a LITTLE damage on the fingerboard from removing the frets isn't the end of the world. The epoxy hides a little damage from all but the most intense scrutiny and you obviously can't feel the imperfections.

    I'd defret first before bothering with a tremelo bridge. There is a reason you've had a bunch of people say that it would be redundant. If after you've played the sucker for a while fretless you still want one, then add it on.
  7. Captain_Arrrg


    Jan 23, 2008
    Mountains of Colorado
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses

    First/cheap basses are great to learn set-up and repair.
  8. Toastfuzz


    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I defretted an Ibanez GSR190 (the same starter package bass, but a few years older, it had a split P/J configuration) and it worked out fine. I just followed online guides for heating and pulling the frets, filling the slots with wood filler, sanding and staining. If you put flatwounds on it all you'd need to do is sand it smooth and stain it with a few coats and your good to go. It was very good for learning how to defret and play a fretless bass. However after a few months I realized it still sounded like a cheap bass, and eBayed it up (and subsequently bought an ATK).

    So my advice, don't fork over that kind of cash to defret it, because it will still be a cheap bass. If you can do it yourself (and you can, I did it in my apartment, with no bench or real tools, just my lap, 3 grades of sand paper, a razor blade and pliers. I stained it with an old sock.)

    The whole process cost me maybe $15 in supplies also, and took me about a week. I'd recommend not to bother epoxying the fretboard, its alot more work and if you screw it up (like I did) then its ALOT more work to get it nice.
  9. suitlandkid2005


    Sep 23, 2008

    Thanks for all the info you guys. I appreciate it. When I think about it, yea..it would be insane to put those mods on a starter bass; but could anyone recommend a cheap bass that sounds decent that I could defret?
  10. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Are you wanting a cheapo fretless, or are you wanting a cheap bass so you can learn how to defret yourself?

    The Squier Vintage Modified fretless is a good value in the already fretless camp. I've not been knocked out by the SX's I've encountered thus far. Although they seem to get recommended on this board a lot, I personally wouldn't waste my money on one.
  11. suitlandkid2005


    Sep 23, 2008
    I am going for the cheapo fretless. Thanks for the info.
  12. Mr. Ray

    Mr. Ray

    Feb 20, 2009
    If you going to turn it into a fretless it is not that difficult to do it yourself. I wouldn't spend the money on a trem. BUT I would install a jazz pickup in the bridge position. The jazz pickup will really enhance the fretless tone. The p/j combo is nice on fretless. The silly thing is you can buy a Squier Modified Fretless Jazz for little money. Sell or trade your starter. Hope these options help.
  13. Toastfuzz


    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    As biases as I am against traditional Fender-style basses, the Jazz pickups really do make the fretless board sound good.

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