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Evening guys, this is for all the frettless players out there. I was heard somwhere that playing a frettless will eventualy destroy the fretboard. Is this true and if so how the the hell do you avoid it. Ta
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You can't avoid wear on the fretboard any more than you can avoid wear on your frets with a fretted bass. Your strings are made of steel.


Roundwounds (the most common string for fretted basses) have that Jaco sound, but their round windings devour a bare wood fingerboard. Jaco coated his fingerboard in epoxy to minimize the wear, which also gave his fingerboard a very glassy sound.


Pino Palladino preferred the sound of a bare wood fingerboard, so he just replaced his fingerboard every couple of years.


You could also string your bass with half rounds or flatwounds. Half rounds (also called "groundwounds") are roundwounds that have been either polished, ground, or pressed to have a more slick feel, but still retain a brighter sound than flatwounds.


Flatwounds are wound with flat windings instead of round wire. They're considerably "thumpier" than roundwounds and won't have as much sustain.

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  • 2 years later...

I played GHS Pressure wound strings on my fretless for a while, and noticed considerably less wear than the stock round wounds.




Originally posted by BenLoy:

Half rounds (also called "groundwounds") are roundwounds that have been either polished, ground, or pressed to have a more slick feel, but still retain a brighter sound than flatwounds.

I've always thought of Half rounds as being a groundwound string, made like a round then ground and polished to produce a string with a feel similar to a flat wound string, but the internal profile of a roundwound - and therefore not as dark and thumpy as a flat..


The pressing you describe is what I've always thought was the process used to create the pressure wound string, a different string to halfrounds in that it has an oval profile, and sits somewhere between a halfround and a roundwound in the brightness stakes (all other things being equal).


Is that the way it is, or am I misinformed?



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It definitely true with what BenLoy pointed out with varying string types...also another point to consider is fingerboard wood. A harder wood like ebony will last a lot longer than rosewood. Which is the reason why Jaco had to coat his fingerboard with epoxy.

I do what Jeremy C recommends...sand down the fingerboard every once in awhile.

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We were discussing something along these lines not too long ago. My take is this: you can take preventative measures to protect the fingerboard. You can vary the type of strings (flatwound, pressurewound, roundwound, etc) and you can also consider coating the fingerboard with some kind of sealant or epoxy as Jaco did. Steps like these will prolong the life of the fingerboard. But are you prepared to do that at the expense of your tone?


On the string front, I've actually A/B'd a couple of fretless Musicman Stingrays that were stung with pressurewound and roundwound strings. The instrument with the roundwound strings had a far superior tone to the instrument with the pressurewounds. It had better sustain and a crisper high end.


Then there's the fingerboard options. A traditional fretless will usually have a rosewood or pau ferro fingerboard. Those fingerboard woods are the most likely to give you that "MWAH" sound that a lot of people are going for on fretless. Of course there are a lot of other options. Ebony is used by a number of luthiers and tends to be on the bright side. There's also cocobola, maple (Fender did that in the '70's) and some synthetics. These all tend to be on the bright side and lose some of that warmth. But the harder the fingerboard surface you have, the less likely you are to have serious wear on the fingerboard from the strings.


If you're willing to sacrifice those elements for the sake of preserving the instrument then you should do just that. Otherwise find a good luthier or repair person who can check your fingerboard every couple of years.

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