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After enjoying this wonderful video of a Vigier fretless guitar with a metal neck I have decided to defret one of my cheaper Les Paul copies to see what it feels like, but I have a couple of queries, as I have never defretted a neck before.

I assume most of the answers on this question about defretting a bass guitar are relevant, but specific issues for a guitar occur to me:

  • bass strings are nice and thick, but will normal guitar strings chew up the wood of my neck?
  • do guitar strings have enough mass to make this sound well on a wooden neck? The one in the video has a metal neck.

If no-one knows, I'll find out and report back, but I'm sure someone must have tried this.

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Roundwound bass strings may be thick, but they still chew up the wood after a while, especially if it's something softer than ebony. I believe the treble strings, much like flatwounds, are less of a problem in that account. –  leftaroundabout Jun 11 '12 at 15:32
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

One thing not mentioned in the post you link to about de-fretting a bass guitar is that after the frets are removed, and the fret slots are filled, it is common to apply a thick hard finish to the rosewood fretboard with marine epoxy or super glue (cyanoacrylate). This usually involves multiple coats of the finish and drying and fine sanding inbetween layers, followed by buffing to create a glossy surface. The purpose of the finish, I have read, is to protect the rosewood from being "chewed up" by the roundwound strings, but also to increase sustain and brighten the tone of the instrument.

Marine epoxy coating on the de-fretted fingerboard was popularized by pioneering fretless jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius. In more recent years cyanoacrylate has become a more common alternative.

You can find discussions on finishing a fingerboard in epoxy or cyanoacrylate on talkbass.com.

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Love the reference to Jaco, very sweet. –  filzilla Jun 8 '12 at 18:20
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