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I've found a local luthier and a near-local luthier who, though they've never done it before, seem like they could actually do a good job of coating a fretless neck (Since the bass is a neckthrough I don't really feel like shipping it to far corners).

I'm looking for two things:

(1) The brighter sound/sustain. Actually it's more a "I want to check this out" type thing : }
(2) The ability to choose from a greater selection of roundwound strings without incurring additional fingerboard maintenance

I've read quite a bit about different methods spray, pour, brush) - and various polyesters/polyurethanes versus epoxies. I want something that will be very hard and won't itself need MORE difficult maintenance later on.

Any thoughts, experiences?


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Hello Greenboy,

I play a couple of fretlesses (fretli?) one with an ebony board and one with a jatoba board. I've tried some different things to harden the boards for roundwound strings. What works best for me is tung oil. You can pick it up at any DIY store. Just rub the stuff onto your fingerboard with a soft cloth (use gloves) and allow it to dry for 24 hours. The tung oil basically works its way into the wood and makes it much harder. You can apply several coats for a more glossy finish, but I prefer just one or 2 coats so that my boards still feel like wood. The great thing about this method is you can do it yourself and reapply a couple times per year and your roundwound strings will not eat up your board. I've used this method for the last several years and have no wear on either fingerboard.

happy mwah-ing!


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Hi bubbaupright,

I decided I wanted to try the SOUND that a coated board gets too. That was point #1.


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I had Mr. Lull convert my very first bass to a fretless a very long time ago. He finished it/coated it like a Pedulla buzz bass. It sounded wonderful and I kick myself to this day for ever parting with that bass (I was young and dumb... and a poor college student). Give Mike a call and ask him what the hell he used to coat it (some sort of epoxy I believe) I highly encourage giving that a go.

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Sorry, man. Got caught up in my own ingenuity (ha, ha)

You'll find that coating the fretboard as I described brings you much closer to that 'Jaco coated fretless' sound. Highs sing more, but you'll find that you need to boost more bass than before. All things equal ( EQ, string type etc.) you'll find that you have much more treble bite. I used to have a fretless with a poly coating on the board and I have to say that the tung oil-thing has better bass response and doesn't feel "sticky" under your fingers. Hope that helps with your SOUND inquiry.


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Hey Bump,

I read the Pedulla site and some luthier comments about Pedulla. I've played the Buzz fretless and it sounds great! I think their Diamondkote is a polyester or polyurethane. I'm getting conflicting reports of its long-term durability; I think this relates to thickness of coating but I'm still digging more.


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/me digs for Dann Glenn comments on his Hot Wire bass.


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Hey bubbaupright,

I'm after something a little more like what HG Thor is doing - only looking at those prices and adding 2-way shipping for an entire bass, don't want to go with them.


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Quote:
Originally posted by greenboy:
Hey bubbaupright,

I'm after something a little more like what HG Thor is doing - only looking at those prices and adding 2-way shipping for an entire bass, don't want to go with them.
Wow, that's slick. No pun intended. I dig.

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Quote:
Originally posted by greenboy:
Hey bubbaupright,

I'm after something a little more like what HG Thor is doing - only looking at those prices and adding 2-way shipping for an entire bass, don't want to go with them.
That looks very cool, and also very similar to the buzz bass finish. I'd like to play a bass with that HG Thor finish on the ol neckola. I would imagine that it brightens up your sound quite a little bit.

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Yeah, that's some nice photo work to show it off too : }

I just read a few more things that suggest that NO WAY are any oils, waxes or penetrating polymers do what good epoxy or polycoats can do, either protectively or tonally.

Pretty much what I thought anyway. I mean, ebony IS a hard wood so it isn't easily gouged, and nothing that can penetrate it is going to be much harder than it already is.


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Quote:
Originally posted by greenboy:
Hey bubbaupright,

I'm after something a little more like what HG Thor is doing - only looking at those prices and adding 2-way shipping for an entire bass, don't want to go with them.
Whoa! I think I just found out what I want to do with that Alvarez RB30C acoustic-electric that I never play anymore! Merry Christmas to me! \:\)

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Just a little tidbit from an old BP; this one has circulated a lot but it always ends up like a party whisper circle - wherein the name of the epoxy is always lost or smeared. Anyway...

--------------------

Jaco: I used Petite's Poly-Poxy; it's boat epoxy. You can find it in any boating supply store around Florida. It's the toughest epoxy they make. You apply it with a brush, and it takes several coats. I used about six coats on my fretless, and it took about a day for each coat to dry.

BP: Did that harm the action?

Jaco: Not at all. It's essential. It saves the instrument from getting eaten up by the roundwound strings. When you remove those frets and use roundwound strings, there's nothing left of the neck. They eat right through it.


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Hey Greenboy!
You helped me I'm gonna help you! In case you hadn't come across it in your reading or looking at other basses, some repair people will coat a fretboard with Crazy Glue! I was very dubious but it's been done now for about 25 years and it looks crystal clear and is very hard when done properly.

I've owned a Pedulla Hexabuzz for 10+ years now and my finish on my board shows only the tiniest of string ridge marks under the low B and E and that may only be because some mook slapped on it a bit. Pedulla's coating (diamond coat, I think they call it...) is VERY hard and last a heavy gigging player about 5 years on average. Somebody like Bumpcity who glgs a LOT, doing funky thangs may go through in about 3 years. I believe it's a Polyurethane. Call Pedulla, they're very nice folks.

Gary Willis' site http://www.garywillis.com may have a section about how to coat your board. I think he did when the site was new. He talks about how he did several of his own basses in the past with boat epoxy if I remember right. He talks about it at seminars...

I'm sure he'd give you a detailed answer in his contact email.

Hope all that helps. My limited experience working on boats is that it would be easier to get a transparent finish with Poly than epoxies but there are so many out there...

Paint shops (real ones-Ma and Pa since 1948 or Sherwin Williams stores are good sources for info on their products. I had them help me select a spray finish for a banjo I built years ago.

By the way, the singing, zingy sound is so addictive!!!

Jim


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Hey JimT,

I'm gonna seem very hard to please here, a real schmuck ; }

...I know a lot of luthiers use Cyanoacrylate for filling gashes in a board (mixed with wood dust a shade or two lighter the the neck wood). But I recall Ed Friedland getting a crazyglue coat done and it must have been a year later he was already saying it hadn't held up.

We all know he's a slappin' monster, and it's probably hard to build crazy glue up thick enough to really handle that kind of thwackage. Also, Ed's tale got me to thinking about how superglue reacts to moisture too. Not pretty.

Ah - I forgot about the Willis site! Funny, considering how many times I used to point to it ; }


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greenboy,
Yeah, now that you mention Ed's comment, I remember that. I hadn't heard of anyone else having that problem but I'd prefer polyurethane myself after using a bass with that finish for those 10 years.

Have you tried a hard finished fretless with a volume pedal yet? Yowza!


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Yeah, it seems like more overtones further up the series have longer sustain with a coating. I can see where THAT would be neater for volume pedal enveloping : }


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WB green one, it is good to see you here again.
I am currently doing a conversion on an ebony board, and seriously considering a combo epoxy/fiberglass treatment that my buddy E highly recommends.
Fiberglass overlay in an epoxy bed, if I have it right. Typical boat finish, supposed to be super hard.

I am definitely eager to hear your findings...

Peace,

wraub



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hey hey Wraub : }

Indeed, talking of boats...

The web is awash with egg-spurts, repetitions of rumors and ignorance, with the occasional detailed and intelligent life raft floating along to dispel all the flotsam. I'm still looking around but I've come to some conclusions.

Any oil, gun oil, or wax, is NOT going to be of nearly the same order of hardness as a stable coating. Penetrants like those will slightly alter tone and give softer more porous woods a chance to deal more gracefully with non-roundwound string wear more like ebony already does. I've found something that might even be better than that as far as really penetrating and sealing and adding some amount of surface strength: CPES (Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer) .

That's a product used in marine applications. Hey, I want a real DECK ; }... The same company has recommended to luthiers a wood-resin-dervived epoxy, Layup & Laminating Epoxy Resin . Supposedly, because the resin is obtained from wood instead of petroleum byproduct, it is flexible yet still hard, so it doesn't have "shatter" tendencies when the neck wants to move through humidity or truss adjustment. Also, it supposedly bonds better, and since I've seen a fair amount of references to "delaminating" elsewhere, I'm all for THAT ; }

It occurs to me that I'll have to raise my nut a little to accomodate the thick surface I'd prefer.

More laterz : }


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Quote:
Originally posted by greenboy:
... a wood-resin-dervived epoxy, Layup & Laminating Epoxy Resin . Supposedly, because the resin is obtained from wood instead of petroleum byproduct, it is flexible yet still hard, so it doesn't have "shatter" tendencies when the neck wants to move through humidity or truss adjustment. Also, it supposedly bonds better, and since I've seen a fair amount of references to "delaminating" elsewhere, I'm all for THAT ; }
I have also looked into the "delam" issue, and it is a concern to me as well. This wood derived resin sounds, indeed, like just the ticket. Do you only know of marine "real world" use, or have you seen/heard of any musical instrument applications?

The link you included only made me more curious, but the description sounds like the method E and I discussed.

Peace,

wraub



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wraub,

How far are you in your fretless conversion? Can you describe what you've done so far? Have you been taking photos along the way for posterity (and your friends on the LDL!)?

Nice to see you on the board after a brief absence! Check your PMs.

Peace,
--sweet'n'low


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hey wraub,

I didn't keep track of most of my deep trawling through the ocean of posts and forums and message boards and newsgroups (man, there are bass forums galore beyond the 5 or so I've read, some moribund, some in semi-hibernation, some having no real centers of respectable authority) but there are still two links that trace back to that site, that were corroborated elsewhere.

Here are those links:

http://www.rotdoctor.com/L/MiscL/QA079.html

http://www.rotdoctor.com/L/MiscL/QA104.html


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I have two fretless Zons with coated boards. They use some sort of catalyzed polyester resin. It lasts forever! Really amazing stuff. I WISH I knew what it was.

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At the risk of stating the obvious, as hard a finish as you seem to be looking for, you may need to start with bare wood. While my experience with finishes is limited to "shop class" & refinishing a few furniture pieces at home, it seems like applying finish to wood that has already absorbed a different finish won't work as well as dry unfinished wood.

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I haven't really played my fretless enough since I applied this to know quite how durable it is (though it's looking good so far) but I used Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Varnish which is a water-based polyurethane coating. It's not as hard as epoxy, so I presume the tone is a little less bright, but it sounds and feels great.

However, if I'd been able to find the boat epoxy when I defretted this bass I'd have gone down that route. This was just the easy option (very simple to apply, as well as cheap and easy to find) and I've been very lucky!

Alex

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Click here !!

I bet you'd get some good results with this one..

Allow me to help you to connect directly to one of the products listed above

Why don't you just fashion a metal plate to go on top of the neck instead of a fretboard and stop all this "wear and tear" talk

Tom


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Don't like the metal tone or feel, Tom - especially after the bass has been in the van during winter. Makes me sing sharp ; }

Actually mention of West and the Gougeon Brothers was what got me checking out RotDoctor - those prices! But the more I think about that the less I care : }

PhilMan99 - I've got bare ebony, and I'm pretty sure that the lemon oil will dry right out with an application of acetone or whatever.

Thanks guys!


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Quote:
Originally posted by greenboy:
PhilMan99 - I've got bare ebony, and I'm pretty sure that the lemon oil will dry right out with an application of acetone or whatever.
Lemon oil?!?! For SHAME greenboy!

Trust the guys who handle wood for a living; use boiled linseed oil. \:D

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Quote:
Originally posted by Tom Capasso (Zarkov):
Why don't you just fashion a metal plate to go on top of the neck instead of a fretboard and stop all this "wear and tear" talk?

Tom
Signor Capasso -- a fine idea. Perhaps someone has already thought of this and put it into action... check out what these French folks are using for fretless \'boards!


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Quote:
Originally posted by Sweet Willie:
wraub,

How far are you in your fretless conversion? Can you describe what you've done so far? Have you been taking photos along the way for posterity (and your friends on the LDL!)?

Nice to see you on the board after a brief absence! Check your PMs.

Peace,
--sweet'n'low
Thanks for the kind words, Will. I will check PMs.
Actually, life has intruded on my plans somewhat. Am now seriously looking at methods, as well as tools and whatnot.
I will definitely take pics.

Peace,

wraub



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