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Fretless Mustang Bass ?


GrahamNN3
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Hello...

By luck I have two Fender Mustang PJ bass guitars - one with a Pau Ferro fingerboard (which I like) and the other is maple, which somehow I don’t get on with so well.

So I was thinking I might the second Mustang it into a fretless Mustang either by defretting or having a new fingerboard made - something darker like Rosewood or Indian Laurel or Pau Ferro.

Would I be bonkers to do this? Is there anything I should know?

I will be sticking with tapewound strings - is there any problem with this idea?

Am I going to have difficulty with a shortscale fretless bass?

Below is PJ MN Sienna Sunburst I want to modify.

Thank you for your advice.

0D386051-ED94-4021-BC30-3866213154E7.jpeg

Edited by GrahamNN3
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I can't see there'd be any problems with a short scale fretless. String tension and choice will stay the same. 

Whether to defret or get a new board, I don't know. For some reason you don't seem to see many maple boards on fretless basses but epoxying the board on a fretless is definitely a thing so no reason (that I can think of) why you shouldn't use a maple board. Unfinished they get dirty but if it's lacqured/superglued/epoxied then it should be fine. 

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9 minutes ago, Beedster said:

Short scale FL is significantly harder to play in tune, and I would not defret, especially the maple board, but buy a new neck In case it doesn’t work out. 

Only the equivalent of playing a couple of frets higher? And a lot easier than violin...

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1 minute ago, Beedster said:

Easier than violin is not a fair reference really :)

Agreed, but if the other mustang is his main bass then it should be relatively easy to adapt (I obviously don't know what other basses the OP has). 

While it's true that the shorter the scale the more difficult good intonation becomes on a fretless, plenty of people love the likes of Rob Allen or SWB fretless'. 

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Thank you everyone.

I seem to having difficulty working out how to reply on this forum - too many cups of tea today!

My main bass is also a Mustang PJ, so the intonation should be a tad easier. I’m not planning on buying anything else.

 

 

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A second hand fretless neck would be a sensible route to take as it's reversible. But it depends on the value you place on the bass you want to convert and how committed you are to using a fretless. 

I'm in a similar position in that I have two Line6 Variax's and was going to defret one, but they are selling for about £600 ish now so I might try a find a suitable neck to see if it's what I want. If it isn't I can refit the original neck and sell it. 

Ultimately only you can decide I suppose. 

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24 minutes ago, Maude said:

Agreed, but if the other mustang is his main bass then it should be relatively easy to adapt (I obviously don't know what other basses the OP has). 

While it's true that the shorter the scale the more difficult good intonation becomes on a fretless, plenty of people love the likes of Rob Allen or SWB fretless'. 

Very fair points mate 

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14 hours ago, Beedster said:

Easier than violin is not a fair reference really :)

Yes... but if even I can almost p[lay a violin in tune, anyone who can play a 34" scale bass ought to manage a 30" one.

Edited by Stub Mandrel
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If you do decide to defret, consider lowering the nut slots by the height of the (removed) frets. You'll find that you can get a much lower action and the bass should be much more playable at the end of the neck.

Having two identical basses (one fretted, one fretless) should help loads with your intonation. For a while I had two differently shaped basses (a fretted EB MM Sterling , and an unlined Westone Thunder 1A Fretless), and my intonation was dodgy to say the least. As soon as I got hold of a fretless Sterling (also unlined), my intonation improved overnight.

Spend time listening to yourself playing over recorded tracks through headphones, but don't over think it. After a while you should find that your fingers automatically start to find the right places on the neck.

Have fun!

 

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is the maple neck a one piece neck with truss rod in the back or a 2 piece with separate fretboard, if one piece probably better to get a neck made, maybe ask Status ? I recently bought a Jazz with Status fretless neck and it is superb, great tone and great to play.

I did a defret on a mini Jazz some years ago, biggest problem was the lack of choice of strings for short scale fretless

I couldn't find anyone in the UK offering epoxy board work, there must be someone, just not easy to find, same with suitable epoxy but information seems sparse. I don't do FB so may be constrained by that sometimes

Edited by Aidan63
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33 minutes ago, Osiris said:

@GrahamNN3 I have an Olympic white PJ Mustang with a Pao Ferro fretboard that I wouldn't mind swapping out to a maple neck. PM me if you want to discuss the possibility of swapping necks. 

Thanks. 

This could well be a very happy ending :)

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On 02/07/2020 at 21:26, Maude said:

Agreed, but if the other mustang is his main bass then it should be relatively easy to adapt (I obviously don't know what other basses the OP has). 

While it's true that the shorter the scale the more difficult good intonation becomes on a fretless, plenty of people love the likes of Rob Allen or SWB fretless'. 

I completely agree with this, but it relies on the 'if' factor! Yes, if the OP is playing short-scale (and same scale length short scale at that) exclusively then this is a very good idea. I have identical Warmoth fretted and fretless Precision necks and when I play either a lot, the other is generally a lot easier to play also (my intonation is a lot better on my FL Precision neck than it is on my FL Jazz neck, I suspect for this reason also). When I spend a lot of time on either double bass, acoustic guitar or mandolin, my fretless intonation nose-dives. 

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