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"Unlining" a lined fretless.


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#1 oldslapper

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 06:25 PM

I have possibilty of buying a very nice lined fretless jazz bass, however I prefer unlined boards.
The neck is beautifully aged, so don't want to swap necks.
Any suggestions on refinishing/painting a neck to a plain finish? I'd have to do something about moving the side dots too.

Any help appreciated.
Thanks,
John

#2 roman_sub

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 06:59 PM

I think the only way to do it properly would be to replace the fingerboard entirely. That's likely to be £200+ job... unless the bass in question is really, really special, I wouldnt recommend it!

For what it's worth, I found playing on lined boards easier, having previously only played unlined ones.
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#3 oldslapper

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 07:08 PM

 roman_sub, on 11 July 2017 - 06:59 PM, said:

I think the only way to do it properly would be to replace the fingerboard entirely. That's likely to be 200+ job... unless the bass in question is really, really special, I wouldnt recommend it!

For what it's worth, I found playing on lined boards easier, having previously only played unlined ones.

Thanks for the reply. Hoping to not have to replace the board, but might be an option. Funnily enough, I find lined boards more confusing. 😊.

#4 walbassist

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 08:00 PM

Unless it is proper vintage or valuable, I'd just have a nice unlined board fitted. Eliminating the lines and moving the dots on the existing board will devalue it anyway, so why not just have what your want?
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#5 oldslapper

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 09:27 PM

 walbassist, on 11 July 2017 - 08:00 PM, said:

Unless it is proper vintage or valuable, I'd just have a nice unlined board fitted. Eliminating the lines and moving the dots on the existing board will devalue it anyway, so why not just have what your want?

Sounds like replacing the board is the only option. Shame, as I thought there might be a simpler solution.
Thanks for the suggestions chaps 🙂

#6 ikay

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 06:47 AM

A suitably coloured marker pen carefully applied? Cheap and cheerful, but then I am!
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#7 Beedster

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 07:27 AM

Halfway between marker pen and new board is wood dye; many DB boards are blonde but dyed to look like they're a darker (and more expensive) wood. Go careful!

#8 oldslapper

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 07:39 AM

 Beedster, on 12 July 2017 - 07:27 AM, said:

Halfway between marker pen and new board is wood dye; many DB boards are blonde but dyed to look like they're a darker (and more expensive) wood. Go careful!

Thanks Chris I'll check that out.

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 07:41 AM

Coat the board in black epoxy?
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#10 walbassist

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 08:04 AM

If you decide to go for a new board I would recommend Brook Guitars down in Devon. They did a superb job on this P bass I used to own.
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#11 oldslapper

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 11:05 AM

 walbassist, on 12 July 2017 - 08:04 AM, said:

If you decide to go for a new board I would recommend Brook Guitars down in Devon. They did a superb job on this P bass I used to own.

That is a lovely job. What did it cost (was that the 200 you mentioned in your earlier reply?)

#12 oldslapper

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 11:05 AM

 Norris, on 12 July 2017 - 07:41 AM, said:

Coat the board in black epoxy?

Another option to consider cheers.

#13 walbassist

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 11:27 AM

View Postoldslapper, on 12 July 2017 - 11:05 AM, said:

That is a lovely job. What did it cost (was that the £200 you mentioned in your earlier reply?)

I think it was £220 all in IIRC.
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#14 Beedster

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 02:16 PM

I think a new board on a neck that already works for you is a risk and an expense too far. I had a fretless ebony board put on a Precision neck a while back and it never sang as well as it had with the old, albeit worn out, fretless rosewood board. I don't think it was a bad job, just that for some reason it changed the response of the instrument in a way I didn't really care for. It could have been the mass, density, depth or even simply the surface of the new board, but either way, I wish I'd left it as it was.

Lovely looking neck all the same walbassist :)

#15 Marc S

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 02:27 PM

I'd go for the option of at least just trying the marker pen first. You never know - it might just work...
Failing that, Beedsters suggestion of wood dye is the next step.... Always try the cheaper option first, especially if it does the least "damage"

Beedsters point above, re a new board not "singing" right or sounding and even feeling the same is also a valid point. A pal of mine used to have an old Precision, which had been de-fretted. The board had been treated rather poorly in the past, the fret slots hadn't been filled very tidily at all - looked a bit of a mess. However, he had a new board put on it, at considerable cost, and it never quite felt or sounded the same again. So much so, that he sold the bass, and bought... you guessed it - another old Precision (with worn frets) and de-fretted it.....

My fretless (Jazz) is lined, and I know I much prefer it. Oddly enough, I don't mind the dots on the side of the neck being in the "wrong" place either - it seems to work for me anyway :)

Edited by Marc S, 12 July 2017 - 02:28 PM.


#16 oldslapper

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 02:57 PM

 ikay, on 12 July 2017 - 06:47 AM, said:

A suitably coloured marker pen carefully applied? Cheap and cheerful, but then I am!

On the lines and dots?

#17 oldslapper

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 02:59 PM

 Marc S, on 12 July 2017 - 02:27 PM, said:


My fretless (Jazz) is lined, and I know I much prefer it. Oddly enough, I don't mind the dots on the side of the neck being in the "wrong" place either - it seems to work for me anyway :)

Just goes to show....whatever works 😊

#18 Grangur

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 03:02 PM

 Beedster, on 12 July 2017 - 02:16 PM, said:

I think a new board on a neck that already works for you is a risk and an expense too far. I had a fretless ebony board put on a Precision neck a while back and it never sang as well as it had with the old, albeit worn out, fretless rosewood board. I don't think it was a bad job, just that for some reason it changed the response of the instrument in a way I didn't really care for. It could have been the mass, density, depth or even simply the surface of the new board, but either way, I wish I'd left it as it was.

Lovely looking neck all the same walbassist :)

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#19 Andyjr1515

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 06:41 AM

View PostBeedster, on 12 July 2017 - 07:27 AM, said:

Halfway between marker pen and new board is wood dye; many DB boards are blonde but dyed to look like they're a darker (and more expensive) wood. Go careful!
As Grangur says, the best route is probably to do nothing - pretty much all mods will reduce the resale value assuming the bass is in original spec.

However, if it really bugs you but you really like the bass and intend it to be a keeper, I suspect it's the position of the side dots that are the issue more than the board itself?

If so, as Beedster says probably the aesthetic issue can easily be sorted with a proper dye (proper so that it isn't going to come off on your fingers!)
The side dots, if they are set into the ebony only, would be a case of drilling out the old ones and filling with epoxy mixed with ebony dust (which can be collected while preparing the board for its dye or I could send you some for free) and then new dots installed in the new positions.
Not a job for someone of no experience in these sorts of things, but not actually a particularly difficult or risky job.

Hope this helps

Edited by Andyjr1515, 13 July 2017 - 06:42 AM.

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#20 walbassist

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 07:45 AM

I totally get the point that a new board is a risk, as there's no guarantee it'll sound as good as it did before: my reason for suggesting it was that the minute you do anything that changes the original neck you are devaluing the bass, so it may as well be an option.
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#21 oldslapper

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 09:23 AM

Thanks again for the suggestions, and the kind offer.
It's the side dots that are the main issue, the lines are irritating more than anything, as I tend to look straight down onto the side rather than onto the board itself. But estheticly I prefer a plain board, no lines, no dots....but it's just personal taste.
I'm not the best person for structural mods, so I'd use a tech for that. The bass isn't hugely valuable (600 approx) but is viewed as a "vintage" pedigree being Japanese.
Cheers,
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#22 Jean-Luc Pickguard

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 10:59 AM

I got a fantastic unlined precision neck with ebony board from brandoni guitars when I built my fretless precision several years ago. I think it was about 100 then, so replacing the neck could be a much cheaper and easily reversible option to modifying the existing neck. In your position however I would keep the lines & get used to them.
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#23 oldslapper

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:51 PM

 Jean-Luc Pickguard, on 15 July 2017 - 10:59 AM, said:

I got a fantastic unlined precision neck with ebony board from brandoni guitars when I built my fretless precision several years ago. I think it was about 100 then, so replacing the neck could be a much cheaper and easily reversible option to modifying the existing neck. In your position however I would keep the lines & get used to them.

That's very reasonable for a replacement neck.

#24 Count Bassy

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 11:51 AM

Take your lined fretless - Close your eyes - Ta Da! instant unlined fretless. :)
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#25 oldslapper

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 12:40 PM

 Count Bassy, on 17 July 2017 - 11:51 AM, said:

Take your lined fretless - Close your eyes - Ta Da! instant unlined fretless. :)
😊

Mind you....I'd probably fall over....or asleep

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 11:02 AM

I've had a fretless neck done with black lines. Pretty much invisible from a distance against a rosewood (actually, pao ferro) board. Carefully applied Sharpie would achieve similar temporary effect.
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#27 oldslapper

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 08:02 AM

Bought a bitsa jazz with unlined warmoth neck in the end.
Thanks for all the suggestions.
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Edited by oldslapper, 21 July 2017 - 07:22 PM.






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