Frankly, I can’t think Do Enjoy Life is an easier and more enjoyable project than building a fretless bass, and trust me when I tell you, it’s easier than you think! With a little patience and attention to detail, you can have a top-of-the-line instrument for half the shelf price! If there is one thing I have learned over the years about building my fretless basses, once you take the responsibility of making your ax, you become a master of your sound.

If your bass sounds and plays well or looks and plays crappy, it will be because you took the time to put the parts together and experiment! The best preliminary step to the building is to go to more local music stores and play basses. Note what you like and don’t like, the sound, appearance, and configuration of the bases; that way, when you are ready to drop some cash on your parts, you will know what to get. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you use crappy parts, you will get a crappy sound. Always get the best-grade woods and hardware you can afford. Trust me; it makes a HUGE difference!

Fretless Bass

We will start with the body. In this tutorial, we will be using a simple two-piece Alder body, but as I said earlier, your tastes and budget can judge what tonewoods or combinations you would like. The first step is to sand your new body with 60 to 150-grit sandpaper. This ensures a smooth feel, even grain, and a uniform look on the wood. Remember to always sand with the grain of the wood and not to push down too hard.

Pushing down too hard, especially with lower-grit paper, will destroy the sultry curves of your bass. The idea is to make everything uniform, especially for the feel and texture of the wood. Sanding allows the stain or finishes to penetrate the wood in the evenest way possible!

Once your body is sanded, a good wipe-down with a tack cloth or a damp rag will remove all excess debris and prepare the body for the next step. I enjoy this step of the process simply because you can make your instrument look any way you like. Many options are available to you in the area of stains and paints. For this bass, I used a simple Minwax Water-Based Stain in Fruit Punch. Out of all the colors I’ve used, water-based allows for the easiest application and clean up, not to mention it’s environmentally friendly.

A simple coat or two of this strain can yield luster and beauty, depending on the kind of wood you use for your bass. A visit to your local hardware store can get you started, and there is a wide range of colors and blends to choose from! Another thing to keep in mind is that you might want to go with the Tru-Oil™ finish by itself, especially if you have a nice grain of wood. A simple image search of Tung Oil or Tru-Oil finished instruments will yield many beautiful results. Please explore and experiment.

Once I chose a color, I coated the body with MinWax Pre-Stain. This water-based compound fills in the pours of uneven hardwoods and allows for a more uniform and even stain across the whole body. Please always follow the directions on the can for the best results! After drying, I started to spoil the body. Again, I can not stress how important it is to work in a safe and well-ventilated area. While it may be tempting to do this in a more comfortable

Area, you don’t want to expose yourself to fumes and suffer the side effects! I hung and finished the body in my apartment patio closet, perfect for shelter and ventilation. If you find a coat unacceptable, you can always send it away with low-grit sandpaper. However, it will require the same down to high sanding process, and if you are not careful, the sanding can erode angles and curves.