Converting my Starfire to fretless

lungimsam

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Hopefully gonna do it on my 2013 NS Starfire (you can stop clutching at your heart now) in the spring when it’s warmer and I can sand outside without risk of shocking the wood and finish from cold temps.
Still torn about putty fret line filler vs. wood veneers, but leaning toward maple veneers. I’m not gonna epoxy/cyanoacrilate seal the fretboard after. Just oil it. If I mess it up I can always have my local luthier do it with an unmarked slab fretboard. But why not try myself first?

Any tips?

I’m hoping to do it this way:
  1. Remove nut.
  2. Eye drop water on high side of fret. Heat fret with solder iron til steam exits other side of fret. Remove fret starting from one end with nippers by letting the nipper pinch out the frets -no pulling.
  3. Clean out fret slot
  4. See if veneers need to be cut to radius of fret slot or not. Dry run putting veneer in and then trace fretboard top on it with a pencil. Cut bottom with scissors. That’s your slot radius.
  5. Wood glue in the veneers, making sure they go all the way to bottom of slots and dont rock. Let dry over night.
  6. Trim veneer with nippers and chisel
  7. Sand down veneer with radius block
  8. Adjust truss rod to straighten neck, check with straight edge.
  9. Level fret board with beam/use white pencil/check with straight edge
  10. Sand board with radius block to reestablish radius
  11. Sand fretboard side edges
  12. Oil fretboard
  13. Reinstall nut.
  14. Setup and play!
What am I missing?
 
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I think your biggest issue is going to be chipping the fingerboard when you get the frets out. I'm not sure you are going to need to sand much with veneer, not enough to mark up the fretboard, anyway. If you cut up a soda can into fretboard guards, you might be able to sand close enough to use 0000 steel wool just to level the veneer.

Btw, I can enthusiasticly endorse Eagle Abrasive sanding products. It cuts very well, but doesn't leave sanding scratches, and lasts much longer than normal sandpaper. You don't have the issue of abrasive particles breaking off while you are sanding either.

 
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chazmo

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Oh, maybe I do.. If you can mix in ebony (or rosewood, not sure what you have) dust into your wood glue you can probably fill the slots without cutting veneers (I think that's what you're talking about??) to put in the slots.

Anyway, tallyho!
 

HeyMikey

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I’m curious. Wouldn’t it be easier, look and feel nicer to replace the entire fretboard? Then if you decide you don’t like it you can put the original back? Curious because I’ve never done it and have no idea how much work it would be.
 

chazmo

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Wouldn’t it be easier, look and feel nicer to replace the entire fretboard?

Well, given this is a Newark Street, I wonder how easily the fretboard can be removed from the neck, Mike. Good question, though. My guess is that it would be extremely difficult, but that's just a guess.
 

mavuser

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I wouldn't do that. 2013 is a first generation Korean NS SF bass. Even if you added a second pickup already, de-fretting it is significantly de-valuing it, imo. Maybe look for a hot deal
on the cheaper SF bass w the pbass pickup?

I'm not sure if I have ever seen a fretless SF bass. has anyone else?
 

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I wouldn't do that. 2013 is a first generation Korean NS SF bass. Even if you added a second pickup already, de-fretting it is significantly de-valuing it, imo. Maybe look for a hot deal
on the cheaper SF bass w the pbass pickup?

I'm not sure if I have ever seen a fretless SF bass. has anyone else?
I have. It was fretless, with tape wound strings. It was definitely channeling it's inner standup bass. Wonderful sounding bass.
 

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I'll put it this way. This was 1982 and I still remember it. I think it was 600-700 dollars. The apartment that I shared with my brother in the shady part of town was $200 a month, and my take-home pay was $400 a month. There was no way I could buy that without time payments, and they didn't do those.

And I still regret handing it back to the clerk.
 

lungimsam

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I’m curious. Wouldn’t it be easier, look and feel nicer to replace the entire fretboard? Then if you decide you don’t like it you can put the original back? Curious because I’ve never done it and have no idea how much work it would be.
I’d have to pay a Luthier to replace the entire fretboard which was my original plan. But since it’s going to cost me next to nothing to convert it if I do it myself at home (and I have fun doing projects like this) I figured I might as well take a careful crack at it first. If I mess it up, or it doesn’t work out, I can always give it to the luthier to just replace the fingerboard and let them finish the job.
 

mellowgerman

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Sounds like fun! I toyed with the idea of de-fretting the old '67 sunburst Starfire I had (it was a rescue with heavy mods and repairs already) but then a local music buddy expressed interest in it, so I passed it along to him instead.
 

lungimsam

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Is that a blue Starfire in your avatar pic mello?
 

mellowgerman

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Just some blue skies and sunlight from outside when I took this photo of the black m85
IMG_20230923_115107932~2.jpg
 
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