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Fretless == easier to build and play
Truss rods aren't necessary but if you have heavier strings or weak wood, it will help. I don't put in traditional truss rods. I put in 1/8"x1/2" bar stock set perpendicular to the fingerboard. Also a separate fingerboard will add strength.
I have some red oak and poplar but I was going to put a finger board of an exotic Bocote wood just for looks. Thanks for the advice on the truss rod I figure the oak is pretty strong and the Bocote is dense so I will probably be alright with that combo
Do you leave your fret board flat or do you give it a slight radius?
I agree with Wes. Most DBGs are three or four string (you don't say how many you are planning for) and if you choose a suitable wood you will have no problems. Also it is less critical on a fretless than on a fretted, so rest easy. I only use recycled wood. Old wood is much more stable and normally completely free (I like free) and you can go around feeling eco smug if that pleases you. Most hardwoods are more than stiff enough and some soft woods. Oak, mahogany, maple are all good, but there are loads of others. If you are gluing on a fretboard, just the fact that you have laminated the neck in that way will help a huge amount (except for the bit that's inside the box where the fretboard doesn't extend). I have made several three stringers with parana pine (a softwood) but with a mahogany or beech fretboard (also one with rubber wood). Really no problems.
Good luck and all the best.
Thanks John I should have mentioned I am building a 3 stringer I figured it would be fine with a hard wood as long as I didn't go to crazy with the string gauges. Thanks for all the great input looking forward to getting started on it.
Plenty of first builds are 3-string fretless with a 1x2 stick of poplar and no fingerboard. That will get you through your first batch of mistakes pretty quickly. Save the exotic stuff for your 2nd, 3rd or 4th guitar when you won't feel so bad about monkeying up a perfectly good piece of wood.
Sorry. I've just got to disagree with ED. Save the exotic stuff for your fourteenth fifteenth an sixteenth. Only kidding of course. A three string fretless with a hardwood neck will be fine. Put whatever strings you like on it. Having said that, I prefer nickel wound strings (normally lighter) to phosphor bronze wound even acoustically. Did a comparison with Martin bronze and Martin nickel and much preferred it even without an amp. Of course that doesn't mean that you will prefer them. Just saying.
Hahahahahaa. I thought who would dare disagree?
Use the oak for the first one, they are so simple it will come out great and who wants a great CBG with a warping poplar neck. : ) I don't think the oak is much more at the lowes than the poplar. 3 string fretless is the way to go, and no truss rod is needed if a hard wood is used, I have not had a bent neck yet, from string tension anyway. I've used Cherry and black walnut. Both hard enough but I think the oak is stiffer.
I am going to use the oak with a fret board of another wood. I have a lot of exotic wood left in my shop so I will be building a bunch of these little guitars
Thats pretty awesome I always put a power lam in my bows the same principle this is something I may do for the looks and the strength cool bass neck by the way