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De-Fretting a bass

1/28/1999 10:28 PM
anonymous De-Fretting a bass
I want to pull the frets out of one of my basses. Can anyone give me any tips on how to do this properly? What should I fill the cuts with? I have (water-based) wood filler and epoxy putty handy (it's a "rosewood" fretboard).
1/29/1999 7:51 AM

To pull the frets you will need a set of end cut (nipper) pliers. The cutting edge may have to be ground so they are flush with the outside surface. Grip the fret, pull and wiggle. You might get some chipping of the board when the frets come out so you will have to do some sanding with a block to smoothen it out again. Use a block 10 to 12 inches long. You don't want to work one spot too long or you will have dips all over the place.  
The best way to fill the gaps is with epoxy and lots of rosewood sawdust (collect if from you sanding). When mixing the epoxy, mix in the sawdust to get a close color match.  
Don't use 5 minute epoxy, use 12 or 24hr type... you need the working time.  
With a spatula or putty knife squash the epoxy mix in the slots. Don't worry about being messy, your going to have to sand it down after the epoxy sets. You can use masking tape to mask off the rest of the board to keep the epoxy just arount the slots.  
It is nearly impossible to hide the fret lines completely (cosmetically). Just think of the lines as position markers!  
You could also use the same method and slip in pieces of rosewood veneer into the slots with the epoxy.  
Hope it helps and good luck.  
1/29/1999 8:13 AM
One of my basses has maple inserted into the fret slots came from the factory that way. I had a chance to play a Pedulla Buzz the coating on the fingerboard is "Diamondcoat" I believe it is cat polyester it sounded good does anyone know where this could be purchased?
1/29/1999 10:50 AM
Mark Hammer

Neil's idea is good.  
A friend of mine yanked the frets out of his EB-0 years ago, and filled them in with plastic wood. It worked fine, and yes, the filling served as an excellent fret marker for someone who had always worked with fretted instruments.  
Just keep in mind that the resulting fretboard should be a truly smooth surface; smooth enough that you can fret low, slide your finger all the way up the string, and not hear any glitches along the way.  
You also want to make sure that the fret gaps are completely filled so that sweat or other moisture doesn't well up in little cracks. Perhaps judicious application of thinned out cyanoacrylate glue (see some of Dan Erlewine's excellent comments in the Stew-Mac catalogs) can solve that.
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