Relatively new acquisition.... have some technical questions...

Discussion in 'The Squier Bass Place' started by BobRuth, Nov 24, 2020.

  1. BobRuth

    BobRuth Squier Talker

    Age:
    65
    15
    Oct 13, 2018
    Deer Park, TX 77536
    Greetings to all.
    A couple of months ago my wife spotted a nice looking Squier Bass in the local FB Market area. Knowing I wanted a bass in the fold... she showed it to me. We got in contact, the deal sounded clean, so we went to look at it. Turns out that, by serial number, it is a 2002 (CY02 beginning) red P Bass with a black pick guard. While looking at it... I noticed someone along the way had converted it into a fretless (pulled the frets and glued in VERY SLIGHTLY LIGHTER strips of wood and sanded it back to level). I almost nixed it....but the guitar looked like the basic platform was in decent shape...and the price was right... so I went ahead and took it.

    Now, here is the fun part: the thing is really hard to play... hard on my fingers. I got to measuring the "action" with ruler....... at the 17th fret... the action across the board is right at 14/64" which sounds insane. Then I went down to the nut end.... and it is about the same. At the area where the first fret would be....the action height was right at the same (14/64 maybe as low as 13/64).

    Here is where I am asking for some help.

    Bearing in mind that it is "fretless" so there are no frets.....

    a) does that action sound like it is insanely high?

    b) can one start working on the saddles and nut slot height to bring it down to normal values OR would one expect to see any trouble with the fretboard not being flat enough or perhaps relief settings would not allow me to drop the action that much?

    [edited to add] when working on the action on a fretless... can you use the string height off of the fretboard the SAME WAY that you use the string height off of the fret tops? Will that work out right in the end?

    c) what would be a reasonable plan for bringing that action down to something more realistic?

    While I have played and worked on my own guitars for 55 years now.... this is my very first bass.....and it is fretless..... and I am just not sure what I can and can't get away with here.

    I have even given some thought to carefully cleaning out those slots and putting frets back on it.... I would appreciate any comments on that idea as well! I know I could get another neck and be more sure of the results.

    Anyway, thanks in advance for any comments that you might be willing to provide.

    Bob
     
  2. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Squier

    Sep 27, 2014
    Left the Forum
    Hey Bob! What comes to mind IMMEDIATELY to me, is the truss rod, it's probably super loose and you hav too much relief, the neck is probably slightly like a banana. If you put a capo or press behind first fret, or where the fret SHOULD be, and then push down where the last fret should be, there should be just a slight gap in the middle of the neck, we're talking a business card thickness or slightly less....but I'm betting you'll have WAY more than that. That's the first place to start....every other measurement relies on this first one being right....saddles and nut can be dealt with after...

    Check that and then you can move onto the next step which is string height and intonation......

    We should be able to get it to half the current height or even a bit less......
     
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  3. radiotech

    radiotech Dr. Squier

    Apr 23, 2014
    Freedonia
    Even once you get the action better... I have to ask, what kind of strings are on it?

    Roundwound bass strings are tough on the fingers no matter what, and you really feel them vibrate under you finger when playing long notes, which tends to make some guys press harder… Don’t, unless there’s buzzing. Flat wounds, or tape wounds will be much easier on your fingers. Roundwounds give you more “MWAH” on long notes.
     
  4. late2guitar

    late2guitar Squier-holic Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2016
    Middle Tennessee
    You jumped in deep going fretless on your first bass! Sounds like a good pickup though. I agree with ^^^^^^. The truss rod has to be the first place to look. 7/32s sounds insanely high to me. That's greater than 5 millimeters. In googling what it SHOULD be, that's about double the "middle of the road" bass setup.
     
  5. beagle

    beagle Squier-holic

    Nov 19, 2017
    Yorkshire
    If the action at the first "fret" is 3/16" it doesn't have a nut, it has a diving board. :D
     
  6. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Squier

    Sep 27, 2014
    Left the Forum
    Or a relief of like .100" :p
     
  7. BobRuth

    BobRuth Squier Talker

    Age:
    65
    15
    Oct 13, 2018
    Deer Park, TX 77536
    "You jumped in deep going fretless on your first bass!"

    Yeah I did!!!!! I'm that guy that runs off the end of the high dive over the deep end without bothering to check if there is even any WATER IN THE POOL!!!!!

    I should have mentioned.... from my years of working on regular guitars... I did just put an eyeball on the relief/scoop on the fretboard and it does NOT look very high at all. I usually set my guitars at .010" - .012" and, to my eyes, this looks about like what I have here. Soince it did not look particularly bad... I did not go grab my gauges and measure it.

    If either of you think that this is really important I can go do it....but I am inclined to say that I think it is pretty good as-is.

    Bob

     
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  8. BobRuth

    BobRuth Squier Talker

    Age:
    65
    15
    Oct 13, 2018
    Deer Park, TX 77536
    As I am totally inexperienced on bass... I have no idea about brand ..... but I did whip out a micrometer and I believe that these are in a failry light range of sizes...and are definitely round wound...and (guessing) feel like steel. (and another thing... when I hook it to my amp .. which admittedly is a guitar amp... my finger movement/glissando is VERY noisy to my ears. THAT may just be inexperience on my part!)

     
  9. BobRuth

    BobRuth Squier Talker

    Age:
    65
    15
    Oct 13, 2018
    Deer Park, TX 77536
    I think whoever cut the slots used a #2 pencil for a spacer......

     
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  10. wraub

    wraub Squier Talker

    47
    Feb 27, 2012
    az
    It's possible the nut slots are too high, raising the action.
    On a fretless the string height at the nut is usually low, like business card thickness low.

    When I've done conversions from fretted to fretless I've usually removed the nut and sanded the bottom of the nut to lower the strings.
     
  11. BobRuth

    BobRuth Squier Talker

    Age:
    65
    15
    Oct 13, 2018
    Deer Park, TX 77536
    You know.... But tried that once with a Tusq XL nut..... Failed to keep the nut square on the sand paper and it got horribly "off square" and I never could get it squared up right again. Not quite sure how to handle that.

     
  12. Jes Woodland

    Jes Woodland Squier-Meister

    Age:
    53
    133
    Sep 4, 2020
    Nottingham UK
    Best thing to do is to make a little Jig to hold the nut tight and square whilst you sand and take off a little at a time...its easy to take a little more off but impossible to put it back.
     
  13. wraub

    wraub Squier Talker

    47
    Feb 27, 2012
    az
    A proper jig for the job is the right way to do it, like this one here-





    but, if without...

    It helps to have a surface that is as dead flat as possible, I use a piece of granite countertop. Measure everything, draw pencil lines, sand using even pressure, and go slowly, checking often.

    One of the characteristics many players like about a fretless is the quality called "mwah". It's that whining kind of sound you can't get from a fretted instrument. If that's what you are looking for, you should aim for near zero relief (4-5 thousandths perhaps) and low action. The fret slots should be cut so that the string is about the thickness of a business card (not a credit card) above the fingerboard right at the nut.

    With the frets removed, you’ll want to lower the string height at the nut. Instead of filing down each individual string slot, it’s far easier to sand down the nut’s base. If the previous setup was good—in other words, the open strings sat as low as possible without rattling on the first fret—you should sand off the exact height of the fret from the bottom of the nut.

    This isn’t as easy as it sounds. For one thing, if you have a curved nut slot, you need to maintain the fretboard radius. Conversely, if the slot is flat, you need to keep the nut bottom dead level as you sand it. Also, you’ll want to be very careful not to sand too much off the base. The operation takes time and patience, and you’ll probably need to restring, retune, and check the action of the two outer strings several times.

    What happens if you end up just a tiny bit too low?
    An easy way to incrementally regain height is to use paper and superglue (this also works when adjusting a nut on a fretted bass). Here’s the trick: Apply superglue to the base of the nut and press it onto the paper. Once the glue has dried, use a knife to trim off the paper surrounding the nut. The superglue soaks into the paper, stabilizing it so it won’t compress. The key is to use enough glue to impregnate the paper and not so much that the nut adheres to the workbench. (Tip: acetone works well for removing superglue.) Once you’ve found the ideal height for the nut, use a lighter glue to attach the nut to the neck. Any all-purpose adhesive will do the job. I use simple Elmer's white glue for this particular job, it's cheap and holds well enough while being fairly easily removed if needed.




     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2020