Jump to content

Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Fretless and Flatwound


Recommended Posts

I jsut put flats on my fretless and I love them. I may not like going back to roundwounds on any bass because I feel giddy with excitment and joy at the tension. I love high tension stings and there feel.


My question is... is there something I can do to prolong the life of my fretless neck? Some coating that doesnt affect the sound much?



Also, can someone please explain how the hell to post avatarpics, adn pics in posts?

Thanks, Jonathan






Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 12
  • Created
  • Last Reply

The flats will go a long way to preserve your fretboard. If it is unfinished Rosewood or some other dark hardwood, don't worry about it. You could put an Epoxy or Superglue finish on it but that will probably wear in time. If it is clear coated maple, it is going to come off in time.


"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most put flats on their fretless to prolong the neck. It's rounds that eat up the fretboard.


For pics in posts, use the "Full Reply Form" button instead of "Quick Reply". Click on the "IMAGE" button and enter the URL.


What? Don't have a URL? You need some sort of a server. Several places are available to host your pictures for free. Upload your pics to your server and figure out the URL.


If you're comfortable, you can enter the image tags yourself instead of using the "IMAGE" button. It's slightly different than the "URL" button tags. You need to use the square brackets, "[" and "]", but I'm too lazy to look up escape sequences in UBB to figure out how to do that, so just replace "<" with "[" and ">" with "]".



Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a pretty little lady she is.


Linseed oil. Goes for $7 a quart in Home Depot but you won't need that much. Apply a thin coat on the fretboard once every 6 months or so, wait 5-10 minutes and wipe off the excess with a rag. Dispose of the rag carefully as linseed oil-soaked rags are combustible. I'm told there's a "safer" variety available from health food stores, but I have to check up on that. Over time the linseed oil replaces the remaining moisture in the wood cells and hardens, which is part of the petrification process that happens to wood. Can't remember if you need boiled or raw, someone else here might know that one.


Lemon oil (from a furniture store) works wonders to clean both finished and unfinished woods. You might want to get a big bottle of that because it'll also remove particles of food from your furniture. I haven't used a paste or wax in years because that stuff tends to discolor some clear finishes, which happened to a Les Paul I waxed some years ago.


I've read about mineral oil (the kind you get at a pharmacy) and I happen to have a bottle in my medicine cabinet that's been untouched for a few years, and I'm game to try that on a piece of wood to see the results.


Skip the epoxy, superglues, and all that man-made crap; the oils take time to work but they'll provide lasting protection. Also epoxy tends to stick to the wrong places (like your fingers) at the wrong times (like when the phone rings) and the fumes are carcinogenic. Go natural with wood as Nature intended.


Recommend you wash your hands before (to avoid streaking body grime into your work) and after (wipe off the excess oil before it stains your clothes) for optimum results.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like you have black tap wound strings on your bass Great choice I use these strings on all my fretless basses A Custom Warrior Signature with a Purple Heart fingerboard and a Tacoma thunderchief acoustic a Washburn AB20 Rosewood fingerboard and my Frankenstien Jazz bass also with Purple Heart fingerboard wipe down the fretboard with fretboard oil or Lemmon oil every 6 months heat the oil up so that it is very warm NOT HOT wipe your fretboard let stand for 10 minutes wipe off excess your fretboard will last forever. I use LaBella black tapewounds (N760) not sure of the serial number for 5 stringer I personally think the are the best tape wounds ive tryed and ive tryed them all. you can order then from Carvin Guitars a lot cheaper than what you will pay for them at all the misic stores I`ve been playing bass for 30 years and fretless for 20 and I have distroyed 2 fretless necks uncoated and poly coated by useing round wound strings NEVER NEVER NEVER PUT ROUND WOUND STRINGS ON A FRETLESS NECK!!!!!!!! You might read articles about players like Jaco, Manring, Paladino, who use rounds but rember they can afford to have there fretboard replaced If you want to sound like them take the time to learn how to EQ your bass the settings will be differant for each bass use a lot mids slight treble and slowly work in the bass for that thump and you will be fine. Ok ill stop talking now its just that I think fretless bass players are the best bass players to me good fretless playing blows away all other styles of playing and can talk about it all day . NO DISRESPECT TO ALL THE OTHER STYLES!!!!!

Thanks for listening Ironstorm

Alembic SC Standard slim neck taper

Warrior Signature fretless

G&L L2000 Spalt top w/Maple fretboard

Ibanez SR500

Genz-Benz Neo-Pak 3.5

Two Genz-Benz Neox 1x12T cabs

Genz-Benz XB2 4x10 cab

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with the Ironman. Flats are best for the fretless neck. The tape wounds probably sound great. I tend to cut the tape with my fingernail on my picking fingers, so I use D'Addario Chromes or,even better, Dogal Jaco flats from Italy. I have also heard great things about Tomastik-Infeld flats, but have never tried them
"Shoot low, most of 'em are ridin' ponies"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Depending on the wood--that is the variety of "rosewood" used (and there are differing grades of of the rosewood family---high grade rosewood is all but non-existent anymore. What is left of the few piles of Brazilian Rosewood is now used in ultra-expensive acoustic guitars like those $30,000 Jeff Traugott models. A lot of fingerboard rosewood is actually Nato (a member of the Rosewood Family) or something similar from Indonesia---but that too is rapidly being depleted thru deforestation) Lemon oil can actually dry the wood out.


I have found that using Tung Oil (Formby makes it) and applying it to the board in several light coats greatly preserves the wood. It penetrates the upper levels of the wood where it hardens and seals to protect the wood from wear. I picked this trick up from the esteemed Luthier Rick Turner. Works wonders. Not as protective as a clear coat of boat laquer or epoxy...but actually can keep nickel rounds from scoring up a board. Because it adds a very slight hardness, it improves the mwah factor esp. when using flats (which I do btw...TIs). The Tung oil wears off and so I have found redressing it every 12-18 mos works fine (which is in line with general maintainence checkups for a fretless).


My Godin has an unlined ebony board which I have treated with Tung Oil. It really holds up well.


Nice bass, btw....



...it's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you like the sound of flatwounds on your fretless then everything will be fine.


I've never done anything to the fingerboard of a fretless (and have owned fretless basses for many, many years).


And if you like the sound of roundwound strings on a fretless, then use them. Every once in a while (but really not very often) your bass fingerboard will need some sanding or planing. It will be many years before you need a new fingerboard. And in the meantime you will be playing an instrument that sounds the way you want it to sound.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Flats on fretless ... nah.


Rounds sound better IMHO. I've had my Jazz neck coated with epoxy.


I hope that I always use rounds (DR Sunbeams) on my fretless Jazz and on my ABG (TI Acousticore).


It's bad form for the forum if everyone agrees.



"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The sound is the thing.


I almost always play fretless and I always use roundwounds on fretless. They give me a sound which matched the character and expression of the fretless - the specific attack and delay of the notes. I also love the feel of roundwound strings on my fingers.

Mind you, the (DR) strings now on my Wal are very old (at least three years old) and sound better and better with time. I'm dreading having to replace them.


I know I won't be replacing them with flatwounds though!

I've played the same bass almost exclusively for 13 years and other fretlesses before that and I've only had to have the neck smoothed down 3 times as far as I recall.


Funnily enough I enjoy the sound of flatwounds more on fretted bass!

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...