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Thread: Build #1 JB-4 Fretless

  1. #31
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Jan 2016
    Miami, FL, USA
    I just read through your build diary, and found the dot-on-fretless discussion really interesting. I am converting one of my basses (very slowly) to fretless. It's different than yours, because I pulled the frets on a rosewood board. I then filled the frets with a light colored hardwood veneer. I didn't fill the dots, but one of the advantages of filling the slots with veneer is that you can see where the frets were. Different than yours, but it got me thinking...

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    ...why a dot? Why not a slot filled with a little veneer? You would not have to have the slot cross the fingerboard like a filled fret slot. you could just put a little slot right on the top edge of where the fret would be and fill it with a light hardwood veneer. To me that would be more intuitive looking than a dot, since the "line" would show you where to "fret".

    Just a thought...and probably not a particularly good one...

  2. #32
    Just a thought...and probably not a particularly good one...
    on the contrary, a very good thought, that got me thinking now!

    First thing, congrats on starting converting one of your basses to fretless!
    I genuinely wish everybody could have a fretless instrument in the house, lined or unlined, to appreciate even more the possibilities and range of string instruments. Fretless opens up a huge amount of tones, expression, nuances, harmonics... and of course all the considerable and ongoing challenges of a decent intonation... but that's also fun, rewarding, and helps rediscover music under a different light.
    I have been playing fretless for the last 3 years or so, it might not be for everyone but I am loving it. I still own one fretted bass, but everything else is or is becoming fretless.

    Now, your slot on the top edge of the fretboard is a very interesting idea and it could look really good! Thanks for sharing!
    I would love to try it on a piece of scrap wood. How would i cut that slot though just on the side of the fretboard? a hand saw, slowly slowly, with a guide to avoid cutting too far? or gently with a Dremel maybe, just on the fretboard?
    Sorry for the questions, I am relatively new to wood work, but I love your idea and would like to explore it a bit more. I have found this conversation on Talkbass, but the tools and skills used there are definitely well beyond my current ones!

    Answering your question, dots vs line on the side of the fretboard.
    For me it's goes down to personal preference, primarily aesthetic, no difference otherwise.
    In terms of intonation, the difference between a small dot and a thin line is very minimal compared to the size of a finger tip pressing on the string. In my opinion dots or lines (on 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 17, 19, 21, 24) on the side both provide a reference point, and that's all it's needed. The rest is hearing the note and adjusting in the context, if needed, in an elegant and musical way.
    I have tried a lined fretboard in the past; initially I thought my intonation was a little better, maybe, but I was relying on looking at the fretboard way too much, and it was tiring for me to play that way. I know some people prefer lines and more reference points, and that's perfect if it works for them!
    Personally I find that a little dot (or tiny line) is more than enough for a many musicians don't need even that! (double bass, cello, viola, trombone players, singers etc...).
    Last edited by FaustoB; 14-09-2021 at 12:34 PM.

  3. #33
    Had a good session this afternoon.
    I've recorded some audio with PBG stock pickups.
    Took the entire bass apart, removed the old plastic dots in the fretted position, filled with timber filler.
    Did a small test of Tru Oil under the pickguard and under one of the machine heads.
    Added copper tape near the control plate screws.
    Desoldered the stock pickups and started to install Tonerider pickups, and discovered that they don't fit!!! They are slightly larger than the stock pickups provided by PBG.
    After an interesting moment, and quite few words out loud in ancient Italian, I realized that it wasn't too bad.
    Took some measurements, used a pencil to mark the excess, and used a Dremel to gently sand the bridge pickup slot, and the pickguard, they both came out very well!!!
    Now waiting for the timber filler to dry, tomorrow will sand the side of the fretboard and add the new side dots.

  4. #34
    Here some photos from yesterday's session.

    These are the old side plastic dots drilled out and filled with timber filler, new holes drilled (with toothpicks to keep dirt and whatnot away).

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    This is the Dremel sanding the neck pickup slot to make room for the Tonerider upgrade. In fact the stock PBG pick up and the Tonerider are almost identical in width, I didn't have to make the slot larger, but the curved section of the plastic cover sits slightly wider in the Tonerider.

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    New slot after Dremel. Notice that I had to cut the copper tape neatly with a knife on the curved section before using the Dremel, and I had to fill the screws holes in the timber where the stock pickups used to be because the Tonerider are sitting slightly wider.

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    Pickup cover in place sitting happily. Will reapply the copper tape on the curved sections and where the old screw holes are, the tape should arrive in the mail today or tomorrow probably.

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    I did the same at the pickguard for the neck pickup, using a much lower Dremel speed. No photos but you get the idea.
    If you listen closely you'll still hear some ancient Italian echoing in the background, but honestly it wasn't too bad and I enjoyed working on the modifications.
    Last edited by FaustoB; 16-09-2021 at 09:04 AM.

  5. #35
    Overlord of Music McCreed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Tidy work all around Fausto. I can't tell where the old holes are by the photos. Nice!
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by McCreed View Post
    Tidy work all around Fausto. I can't tell where the old holes are by the photos. Nice!
    well, photography is all about lighting and camera angle...

    Good session today.
    Bamboo side dots are in place, I am happy with the mild contrast and it felt good to add timber to timber.... will swap the plastic nut at some stage for sure.

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    This is a detail of one of the bamboo dots

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    Neck refitted, pick ups aligned, drilled and soldered... tomorrow tune test!

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    I have sanded the back of the neck a little more and I a happy with the feel.
    I have conditioned the fretboard with Daddario lemon oil, the fretboard smells fantastic and feels great!

  7. #37

  8. #38
    Overlord of Music McCreed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Hah! You went with the bamboo! Glad it worked out for you.
    That was just spontaneous thought that popped into my head when I was typing that post. Cool!
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  9. #39
    Thank you Simon, as you can see in the photos I have implemented a lot of the suggestions you made. Among other things I've added the copper tape where the control plate screws are, and the lemon oil on the fretboard is incredible, I didn't realised how much difference it made even after applying it once.

    And yes McCreed, I took your bamboo suggestion seriously! I have used normal tooth picks for the side dots. They look great!!
    Time will tell how they'll last, if they discolour etc... in which case it will be easy to drill out and replace with something else. For now they look great!!

  10. #40
    There are few more little details here and there to look after but otherwise the bass is finished and ready to be played.

    Tuned and set up #1 today, will do another one in a week or two.

    It plays wonderfully!! I am very happy with how the back of the neck feels.
    The Tonerider pickups certainly add a lot of depth.

    Anyway, here it is!

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    and here I have recorded few clips.
    I'd suggest to listen with headphones.
    The recording came out a little quiet, I was keen to play and didn't want to spend too much time on the mic placements etc... Maybe I'll try to record few more clips later on in the week.

    For whoever might be interested, both pickups set at full, tone almost all the way fully counterclockwise (brand new strings I guess), no EQ or post, just a little bit of reverb, otherwise straight recording from DI, and a XY mic in front of the bass speakers (15" and tweeter).
    At the moment everything stock from PBG kit, except custom printed pick guard, Daddario XL round strings, and Tonerider pickups.

    This thing is a lot of fun to play!
    Last edited by FaustoB; 19-09-2021 at 01:31 PM.

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