Fretless bass build

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by englishman, Dec 27, 2018.

  1. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Age:
    61
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    I'm not a fretless player, but how hard could it be?

    I like to read the posts at the 'Luthier's Corner' over at Talkbass.com.
    Every winter they have a build-off, last year it was a 65% minimum Walnut build. This was my build for that:
    WB1.jpg

    I tied to sell it but nobody was even slightly interested, so I'm using it with one of the bands I'm playing with, they tune down a half step so the 35" scale length makes that sound good.

    Anyway, this year's build off just began. This years theme is "Mash Up". Some of them are going off the rails merging styles of basses, I decided to go with a carved-top Ricky body with a Fender-style fretless neck.

    I had this giant poplar blank laying around, I got it for nothing and so I determined this would be a good use for it.
    1.jpg

    This is the mandatory pile of wood shot to enter the build off including the 'tag' they said to put in to make sure people weren't cheating.

    2.jpg

    I used the same old ragged paper cutout that I've used twice before for Ric shape. Just added a spot for the bolt on neck.

    3.jpg

    Then it's off to the bandsaw.

    4.jpg

    The poplar blank was almost three inches thick so I used the home made router sled to thin it down to one and a quarter (took a while).

    4a.JPG

    And then set about chambering it:

    5.JPG 6.JPG

    As you can see I didn't spend a great deal of time cleaning up the chambers, it was damn cold in the garage.

    I got the maple cap cut out and more or less to size (this pic before I thinned the poplar).


    7.jpg

    Then glued the top on.

    8.jpg
     
  2. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Age:
    61
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    Got the 11º headstock glued on (I like 11º compared to the 17º Gibson angle or the Fender flat).

    9.JPG

    Sizing closer

    10.jpg

    Got the truss rod installed and the neck rough shaped.
    And a mockup pic to help me visualize.

    11.jpg

    Pickup is a 1974 4001 Ric pickup. Neck pickup is a 2004 Ric Hi-Gain. Bridge will be Hipshot A style, tuners will be Hipshot ultralights with the clover keys.
    Fingerboard wood should be here today, smooth ebony. I'm going for the side dot approach rather than the cheater lines across the board, I just love the blank looks.

    That's where I am now.
     
    Grez, audept, dak55 and 8 others like this.
  3. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    A fretless Ricky? How cool is that!
    Good luck, David.
     
    englishman likes this.
  4. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Honestly, I can't believe no one bought the walnut bass. Looks pretty nice to me.
     
    englishman likes this.
  5. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Age:
    61
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    Ebony board arrived. Got it cut down and started sanding. Nice piece of wood.

    IMG_4662.JPG
     
    JC higgy, Tinman46 and nickurso like this.
  6. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Age:
    61
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    Routed the neck pocket, got the heel to size and checked the deck height from the fingerboard. Looks like it'll work :)

    IMG_3397.JPG IMG_8222.JPG IMG_3189.JPG
     
  7. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Age:
    71
    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    You had me at clamps.......;)
     
    englishman likes this.
  8. Armygirl

    Armygirl Country Gent

    Mar 14, 2014
    Edinburgh
    That's amazing! Great photos.

    Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk
     
  9. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Age:
    69
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    As always, that's some amazing craftsmanship!
     
  10. Tinman46

    Tinman46 Country Gent

    Age:
    50
    Dec 19, 2011
    Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
    I'm intrigued by the idea of a fretless but intimidated at the same time. I keep thinking I'd get lost on the fretboard. But I suppose it would all come with practice.
    Enjoying the build.
     
  11. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    Very cool build, eman.
    As a child starting on violin, we started with strips of electric or other tape as fret markers. I think you start removing some until they're all gone. I do remember it becoming intuitive eventually, but I only played for 2 years.
     
    Tinman46 likes this.
  12. gtttrrr

    gtttrrr Synchromatic

    Age:
    51
    685
    Dec 7, 2011
    United States
    Wow! Last years was badass,, lookin forward to newest completed.
     
  13. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Age:
    61
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    Started the carve on the horns. I have to wait for the Pickguardian pickup bezel to arrive so I can map out the middle of the body as I'll have to keep that part flat.

    carve.jpg
     
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  14. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Age:
    61
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    Kinda like the way it's going. Trying to think what color would look good with this top.

    IMG_2034.JPG
     
  15. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    Eman, what's the scale length?
     
  16. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Age:
    61
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    I'm using a template of a Fender P bass so it's a 34" scale.

    Of course with a fretless, the scale is wherever I put the bridge :)
     
    Bertotti, new6659 and Henry like this.
  17. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Age:
    61
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    Carve is strating to resemble a PRS so I'm officially adding it to the mashup list.
    The Ric/Fender/PRS fretless bass!

    IMG_9013.JPG
     
  18. speedicut

    speedicut Country Gent

    Jun 5, 2012
    Alabama
    Great job with the carve eman, looks awesome
     
  19. gtttrrr

    gtttrrr Synchromatic

    Age:
    51
    685
    Dec 7, 2011
    United States
    Love the curves!!!
     
  20. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    What color are you going for? I saw a pic of a orange metallic burst that was crazy!
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019