Converting an electric bass to fretless

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Paulie
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Converting an electric bass to fretless

Post by Paulie » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:35 am

I have a cheap Ibanez electric bass that I'm considering turning into a fretless. I love the sound of a fretless but don't want to trash this little guy. Is this an easy project or will I just ruin my cheap bass?
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Telefunkin
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Re: Converting an electric bass to fretless

Post by Telefunkin » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:21 am

Hi Paulie,
I'm no luthier, but I believe its a fairly easy job, provided you can get the frets out without causing too much damage to the fretboard. Then you can fill the gaps with a contrasting colour wood filler so you get fret markers on a smooth board. Cleaning up can be time-consuming, but simple enough. However, the whole job is more difficult if the fretboard has bound edges - in which case it might be better (safer) to seek pro assistance.
Anyway, check out..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xm6Qk80BzDA
and...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyBsbNf9-p8 ...if you enjoy bluesy-jazz :)
The latter vid shows the guy shaping his own wooden fret replacements,
but I don't know anyone who has that kind of time on their hands :lol:

Then.....practice like crazy until you can fret accurately over the markers...which I fail to do in a convincing manner. Glissandos are fun though! :)
Graham (UK).

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mojobone
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Re: Converting an electric bass to fretless

Post by mojobone » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:13 pm

YMMV, but fretwork is something I leave to the pros, and particularly when it comes to bass. Obviously, a de-fret isn't as critical or as complex as a crown-and-level, but it does require a special tool or two, and it's possible to damage one's fingers during the procedure, as fret tangs can be very sharp. On a scale of beginner to pro luthier, it's at least a 5 on a scale of 10; I wouldn't recommend it for a first project. (in fact, building a partscaster is on my do-list, unless I find an intriguing basket case to resuscitate) I reckon you're the better judge of your own proclivities, but I'd rather spend time playing instruments than working on them. You'd might be time and money ahead to buy and install a fretless neck, if your bass is of a common Precision or Jazz pattern.
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Re: Converting an electric bass to fretless

Post by jazzstan » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:26 am

I had a friend (RIP, Brian Asher)... who did this, with good result, but he was very skilled with wood-working projects.

But the GOLD STAR goes to MOJO for a brilliant answer: the neck swap.

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Re: Converting an electric bass to fretless

Post by fuzzbox » Sun Jan 29, 2017 11:41 pm

Hi Paulie,
I was in a band many years ago and the bass player did that. He changed the neck from fretted to fretless as it was all the rage in the UK at that time. Not sure the model though but it was a Fender! It sounded great... no more bum notes! :shock:
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