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another Jaco legend and going fretless


Robitaille59

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Jaco's kinda like Bruce Lee, there are all these stories floating around about him. Legends.

 

Anyway, I read an article about Jaco when I was 13 or 14, it was an interview (this would have been 1983 or 1984). In the article I remember he mentioned that he had two fender j basses, and he took one and just ripped the frets out with a pair of plyers then sanded it and varnished it. And there you go, instant fretless.

 

Ok so now here's my situation and question. I have a squier fender p bass. It's my spare bass, I've never played out with it but used it to record some ( I had all the electronics replaced with emg active pick ups, this cost almost as much as the bass but anyway...). I want to get a fretless but can't afford to make a purchase. I asked a local luthier if her could make the bass a fretless for me and he told me it would be more cost effective to purchase a new neck that was made to be fretless from the begining (I guess he was going to charge me at least $200 to do the job). So I kinda put the idea on the back burner.

 

Now I'm considering doing what Jaco said in that article, just taking a pair of plyers and pulling the frets out, sanding and varnishing it. My concern is that the kind of wood that the neck of my squier is made of is not nearly as hard at the wood of this vintage J bass of Jaco's and chances are that I'll pull a fret and the wood will just start pulling apart and the neck will get ruined.

 

Anybody ever done this before? Any advice?

Rob Robitaille

 

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I suggest getting a Warmoth or Mighty Might fretless neck. eBay is a great outlet... if you are patient you should be able to snag a decent neck with tuners for less than $100.

 

If you do a Jaco conversion, do your homework. Have a plan of what you want to do and find someone here who has done this in the past. Most of the folks here are more than willing to give you advice. We'll let you buy us new gear as well.

 

Welcome to the LDL.

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Rob - try searching here. There have been other threads about this, and they often point to "how to" sites. Or take Getz76's suggestion and use Google.

 

Can you do it? Maybe. Can you just take pliers and rip at it? Yes, but it won't be as successful.

 

Start with the Mike Lull site.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Worked for me! I did it all wrong and it still worked out. However, if you search for defretting on here you should find plenty of info to help you do it right.

 

But, fundamentally, pull out the frets, fill the gaps with something suitable, sand down the board to smooth it out, and add a few layers of hard floor vanish.

 

Alex

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Originally posted by getz76:

Oh, ironic analogy; Bruce Lee to Jaco Pastorius. I didn't think Bruce Lee ever lost a fight.

Boo. That's in poor taste. I'm surprised that it came from Maury though. It's reminiscent of the 'At least he went out with a bang' comment in the Dimebag Darrell thread.
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I did it!

 

I pulled the frets right out.

 

I didn't have a pair of plyers that really worked so I sort of wedged a flatblade screwdriver under the frets and just sort of dug them out.

 

One website suggested that once the frets are removed to take a crayon and rub it accross where the fret was, and it will fill the space with wax. From there it's a simple matter of sanding again and varnishing (which I have yet to do).

 

I have a fretless bass now and I really love it.

 

I'm seriously considering selling my other bass (the one I use for playing out with) to raise money for a really good fretless.

Rob Robitaille

 

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Dude I'm gonna try the same thing to my Squier P bass right now.

 

I"ll report back with details soon. Only I think I need to make a trip to the hardware store for wood filler and varnish! Crayon? possibly...but what color? Hmm...

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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OK I just finished. Wow, this was almost too easy. I managed to use my swiss army knife to wedge the frets out from the side of the fretboard. I came in from the underside (opposite the tuners) with the bottle opener, which has a handy sharp flat edge to it.

 

It's almost as if these frets were designed to be pulled out. I just filled the gaps with wood filler. I'm gonna sand down the board later, very carefully. Then varnish it and viola-fretless bass.

 

Thanks to this thread for getting me started. Now maybe I'll change over the pups.

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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Oh, ironic analogy; Bruce Lee to Jaco Pastorius. I didn't think Bruce Lee ever lost a fight.
That's just sick. Why don't you just make fun of Jesus and your mom while you're at it.
"Women and rhythm section first" -- JFP
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Originally posted by justinruins:

Originally posted by getz76:

Oh, ironic analogy; Bruce Lee to Jaco Pastorius. I didn't think Bruce Lee ever lost a fight.

Boo. That's in poor taste. I'm surprised that it came from Maury though. It's reminiscent of the 'At least he went out with a bang' comment in the Dimebag Darrell thread.
Bad analogy, justinr; Dimebag was on stage doing his job and got attacked without provoking an attack while Jaco put himself in a bad situation. It wasn't right what happened to Jaco, and it's tragic. However, it's not like he was playing on stage and someone just shot him.

 

Don't blame me if you don't see the irony of comparing someone who died getting the living sh*t beat out of them to a guy who made his living portraying a character that beat the living sh*t out of people.

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Originally posted by bottle12am:

Oh, ironic analogy; Bruce Lee to Jaco Pastorius. I didn't think Bruce Lee ever lost a fight.
That's just sick. Why don't you just make fun of Jesus and your mom while you're at it.
If you insist... so the Roman Soldier asked Jesus, "What are you doing around these parts?" Jesus responded, "just hanging around."
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Originally posted by getz76:

Originally posted by justinruins:

Originally posted by getz76:

Oh, ironic analogy; Bruce Lee to Jaco Pastorius. I didn't think Bruce Lee ever lost a fight.

Boo. That's in poor taste. I'm surprised that it came from Maury though. It's reminiscent of the 'At least he went out with a bang' comment in the Dimebag Darrell thread.
Bad analogy, justinr; Dimebag was on stage doing his job and got attacked without provoking an attack while Jaco put himself in a bad situation. It wasn't right what happened to Jaco, and it's tragic. However, it's not like he was playing on stage and someone just shot him.

 

Don't blame me if you don't see the irony of comparing someone who died getting the living sh*t beat out of them to a guy who made his living portraying a character that beat the living sh*t out of people.

I thought the comment was insensitive, as was the comment regarding Dimebag. I agree that the comparison of the two is ironic, but did it need to be pointed out? I get the irony, but I don't see the point.

 

As far as the Jesus comment goes, while I am not a Christian, I don't understand why you would want to offend those who are. At least the inappropriate Jaco comment has some relevance to a bass forum.

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I'm gonna try and be an unofficial moderator here. Obviously this thread has been helpful, and may be a good resource to future lowdowners that may want to have a fretless bass in their arsenal without spreading too much dough....so let's try not to get it deleted. Jaco was an amazing musician and composer that unfortunately had a disorder which interfered with his personal life and social abilities. It is unfair to compare Jesus Christ to Jaco Pastorious, I will leave this as it lies and hope we can come to respect each other's religions on the forum and not prejudge anyone by their religious beliefs. Dimebag Darrell was murdered by a crazed fanatic with a sick obession. Jesus christ died for his beliefs, Jaco's death was caused by a mental disorder, and Dimebag was heinously murdered. I hope anyone that had to go through what any of these men had to endure in their lives would have a chance to rest in peace without mockery unfairly placed upon them. I hope we may now return to our regularly scheduled discussion regarding music, gear, and what stevec just bought and/or sold :)
Hiram Bullock thinks I like the band volume too soft (but he plays guitar). Joe Sample thinks I like it way too loud (but he plays piano). -Marcus Miller
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Originally posted by musicfiend:

I'm gonna try and be an unofficial moderator here. Obviously this thread has been helpful, and may be a good resource to future lowdowners that may want to have a fretless bass in their arsenal without spreading too much dough....so let's try not to get it deleted. Jaco was an amazing musician and composer that unfortunately had a disorder which interfered with his personal life and social abilities. It is unfair to compare Jesus Christ to Jaco Pastorious, I will leave this as it lies and hope we can come to respect each other's religions on the forum and not prejudge anyone by their religious beliefs. Dimebag Darrell was murdered by a crazed fanatic with a sick obession. Jesus christ died for his beliefs, Jaco's death was caused by a mental disorder, and Dimebag was heinously murdered. I hope anyone that had to go through what any of these men had to endure in their lives would have a chance to rest in peace without mockery unfairly placed upon them. I hope we may now return to our regularly scheduled discussion regarding music, gear, and what stevec just bought and/or sold :)

Fair enough. Bass is good. :)
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Originally posted by C. Alexander Claber:

Originally posted by Rick Hoffman:

...Then varnish it and viola-fretless bass.

Is that like a slightly larger violin-fretless bass?

 

Alex

Yes! I just need to get a bow and a stand and I'm all set.

 

I think I put too much wood filler on the fingerboard though, I was sanding all night last night and I'm still not done. Now, what brand of finish would you guys suggest? I'll do a search, but should someone feel resourceful enough feel free to comment!

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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Originally posted by justinruins:

As far as the Jesus comment goes, while I am not a Christian, I don't understand why you would want to offend those who are. At least the inappropriate Jaco comment has some relevance to a bass forum.

I agree, why would you want to offend a Christian by implying Jaco was somehow as sacred as Christ?
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Didn't Jaco use a self-leveling marine poly-coat? Check some local marine stores. There should be plenty on Long Island. ;)

 

Are you going to try to get the finishes built-up? If so, are you going to set up a dam for the fingerboard and coat-sand-dry-repeat for a thick finish?

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Maury, I was considering taking the tuning machines and the nut out completely, and then dipping the whole neck in finish, and hang dry with a string through the tuning hole. My only concern is how fast this stuff will dry, and drip marks. I do intend on re-using the same nut and tuning machines.

 

I think a brush application may be best, but I have not yet considered the dam suggestion. I like the sound of that idea, just wondering what would be suitable-painter's tape, perhaps? I do need to apply a few layers, because when I sanded the board I definately took a little bit off. I tried to follow the radius of the board, I think I did a pretty good job, and it's nice and smooth over the "frets".

 

I was tempted to throw her back together and see how she sounds, but I know if I do that I'll never get around to finishing the neck.

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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Hanging is only good for spray applications, and unless you have access to a good spray room, it can be tough to do.

 

I'd be leary of dipping the whole neck; focus on that fingerboard.

 

I don't know about the dam; I'm not sure painters tape would hold up. I like the idea too, though.

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I did many bad things when defretting my bass but it worked out so well I may as well spread the 'alternative' word:

 

I pulled the frets out with pliers, filled the fret slots with car body filler, sanded the fretboard down with an orbital sander (yes, it's no longer radiused and it feels great!), marked the fretlines with black indelible marker pen (rosewood board so they're fairly subtle), painted the board with ultra-hard polyurethane floor varnish, sanded off the odd high spot and sanded off the fretboard edges to give a worn-in feel. Et violoncello! ;)

 

The key point is the 'Ronseal Diamond Hard Polyurethan Floor Varnish' - it works really well: This bass was defretted back in 1999 and has worn stainless steel roundwounds since then and it's still looking and feeling good.

 

Alex

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