Fretting the fretless
May 30, 2012 11:50 AM   Subscribe

Getting frets added to a fretless bass?

I have a clunky yet funky early '70s Japanese Beatle bass copy. Fretless. In the world of vintage gear it is not particularly desirable, for a variety of reasons, and is not worth a lot of money. Less than $1000, likely much less. But, for roughly sentimental reasons, I don't want to sell it. I dig it, but I would dig it about ten times as much with frets.

So, bottom line: I'm not (particularly) worried about wrecking a rare or fabulous instrument. I'm more concerned with viability, process, and cost. I would farm out this work.
posted by dirtdirt to Grab Bag (3 answers total)
I suspect your bass is worth much less than you think. As The World Famous says, if it's a bolt-on neck you'd be better off just buying a fretted neck for it. Otherwise, just buy another bass and leave your old friend as-is.
posted by tommasz at 12:04 PM on May 30, 2012

I play a little guitar and sit next to a bunch of acoustic bass players while playing clarinet in the orchestra. In other words, I know nothing about this. But I'd think this would require a major change in the nut, saddle, etc., might change the relationship of the strings to the pickups, but this is something the luthier would presumably know about...

This came up as a related thread below the comment box. But I wouldn't let that bother me if I were you.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:08 PM on May 30, 2012

I asked a luthier friend this question a while ago and he suggested that, if I remember correctly, a fretted neck and fretless neck are different enough that the easiest AND best thing to do is just swap necks rather than trying to convert one to the other.
posted by lekvar at 12:13 PM on May 30, 2012

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