I love to repair things, and rebuild things, and generally am good at it. But, I'm learning the hard way on fiddles, and need some help. I've just discovered that fingerboards that you purchase are not all the same in thickness. Is there a standard thickness that they should be reduced to? What is the recommended way to reduce thickness? Also, I just attempted to reset a neck. I was very careful to get the correct height at the bridge end of the fingerboard. Unfortunately I was not careful enough on getting the neck straight in line with the body. What is the best way to gage whether or not the neck is straight in line with the center line of the body. I guess that I attempted a repair that was a little over my head and my abilities for now. Fortunately it's an old fiddle that is not valuable, but I'm determined to get it right, for my own mental well being, and the satisfaction of it. Your help will be much appreciated.
For Neck alignment this is the process I use; . Check the angle of the neck to the center line. Tape a thin thread to the neck on the center line at the string nut. Extend the thread to the end pin side butt joint. Adjust the dovetail until the center lines line up on the neck and top plate. Make corrections as required to maintain the angle of the neck and neck gauge.
The Fingerboard is shaped before installation. Once the neck alignment is correct, tack glue the fingerboard and string nut in place. Adding the scoop of the fingerboard; This I normally do after I have the instrument assembled. Then when tuned to the proper pitch for the strings, the correct spacing can be marked on the fingerboard for first, second, third and fourth positions. As this measurement varies for each size instrument it is not one set dimension.
The next step, is to find the correct finger positions on the fingerboard. I normally us an electronic tuner to aid this process.
Mark each pitch for each position with a pencil. Then the strings need to be removed out of the way so that you can shave the fingerboard. Using the lowest string and finger position that has the mark in the direction of the bridge as a base line. Shave the fingerboard removing the higher pencil marks as a guide where to remove material. You will need to do this for each finger position (first, second, third and fourth positions). The idea is to get all the strings and finger position to match the required note ( horizontal line at that positions baseline). Warning this is a long and drawn out process but it is well worth the effort in ease of playing the instrument.
Hope this helps
if your Fb is thicknessed equally the whole length, won't the strings have the same stop length? not sure I understand the concept? thanks
Fingerboards, bridges, endpins, pegs, nuts, and saddles, all come as blanks, and must be fitted to the individual instrument. The preferred method for shaping a fingerboard, is with a plane, followed by some minor finish sanding and polishing. Keep in mind that you need to do proper thickness, width, curvature, and scoop, when shaping a fingerboard. Strobel's book. "Useful Measurements For Violin Makers" might be useful for you.
I have removed the fingerboard and nut from my previous botched repair. Fortunate, no obvious harm done. The above answers will certainly help me to properly align the neck. Now on to the next question. It seems to me that the measurement from the bottom of the neck to the top of the fingerboard should be more critical than the actual thickness of the fingerboard. My new, now removed, fingerboard is much thicker than the old one. Shouldn't the thickness be reduced, (adjusted), to provide a proper thickness of the combination of the neck plus the fingerboard? Sorry if I sound like a novice, it's only because that's what I am.
Yes Mike, the new finger board blank requires adjustment. Thickness, width, curve and scoop. I would suggest that you get a book on building violins. This will help you to understand the theory and process involved. Strobel's book is a good start. Johnson and Courtnall's book "The Art of Violin Making" is also a very good book. Lucas has provided many great illustrations that help.
If you don’t have access to the books mentioned above, the links below will give you a little guidance.
I find a sharp scraper to be really helpful in shaping the fingerboard (especially a concave curved one)
'Fiddle by-the-Sea' 8 hrs
'String "tightness"' 11 hrs
'Round Barn' 16 hrs