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Fiddle Lovers Online


Sep 27, 2022 - 8:20:23 AM

bees

USA

104 posts since 6/16/2016

I have managed to wear grooves in my fingerboard and the fiddle sounds muffled/muddy on some notes, particularly the low E on the D string. Are the grooves in the picture deep enough to cause that lack of clarity?
I am a fairly competent woodworker. Should I just sand these out with some 220 grit sandpaper while maintaining the curvature etc or is this something for a more competent luthier to deal with? It is my favourite fiddle...

Thanks

Bob


 

Sep 27, 2022 - 10:51:20 AM
Players Union Member

carlb

USA

2469 posts since 2/2/2008

You should have the fingerboard refashioned by a luthier. It has a specific shape you'll not get that by sanding a worn area. When the fingerboard gets too worn, as on one of my fiddles, I had a luthier put on a new fingerboard.

Sep 27, 2022 - 10:59:23 AM

907 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by bees

I have managed to wear grooves in my fingerboard and the fiddle sounds muffled/muddy on some notes, particularly the low E on the D string. Are the grooves in the picture deep enough to cause that lack of clarity?
I am a fairly competent woodworker. Should I just sand these out with some 220 grit sandpaper while maintaining the curvature etc or is this something for a more competent luthier to deal with? It is my favourite fiddle...

Thanks

Bob


This is something to take to a luthier. Planing a fingerboard is takes training to do properly. It's not just a matter of sanding out the grooves--the curvature and scoop need to be maintained or corrected, and the fingerboard needs to be completely free of bumps and depressions.

Sandpaper isn't the tool to use for shaping the fingerboard because, instead of smoothing out irregularities, it tends to exacerbate them; its use is in finishing the board after its shape has been established.

Getting it right will help with ease of playing and intonation. A poorly shaped fingerboard can make double stops impossible to play in tune and will be trickier to work with in general. 

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 09/27/2022 11:09:20

Sep 27, 2022 - 11:00:16 AM

Erock77

USA

140 posts since 9/3/2022

Mine was just resurfaced and then painted. Def take it somewhere!


Sep 27, 2022 - 11:06 AM
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5746 posts since 7/1/2007

It's a pretty easy job, but it takes specific skill. You have to keep the radius right, and control the relief (scoop) in the board. Some luthiers insist on planing, and make it a bigger job than it needs to be. On a board like yours, if it checks out OK otherwise, I have a special set of sanding blocks that I made years ago that let's me dress a board in a little over half an hour, and removes only enough material to restore the proper board shape. The nut will usually have to come down a little, as well.

Sep 27, 2022 - 11:19:12 AM

907 posts since 3/1/2020

If the plane is set up properly and has a sharp iron, it may actually save time to plane the fingerboard and will not require any more material to be removed than is necessary. There are cases where a sanding block will be enough to smooth out the blemishes, but the OP’s fingerboard has some pretty substantial grooves and scratches.

Sep 27, 2022 - 3:24:25 PM
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bees

USA

104 posts since 6/16/2016

OK. It's off to a luthier I go.

Thanks for the input.

Bob

Oct 1, 2022 - 8:01:37 PM
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905 posts since 1/25/2008

Take an ebony peg or scrap and sand it or file it to create some dust. Mix the dust with fresh epoxy. With a toothpick, scrape the mixture into the fingerboard grooves. Round off the excess leaving a little extra relief proud of the fingerboard.

When dry, file off the excess, if any, make the curve of the fingerboard.

If your fingerboard is rosewood etc., use that.

This does not alter the acoustics of the instrument as could, or might, sanding or re-surfasing the fingerboard removing beaucoup wood.

Next time a groove appears in the fingerboard, repeat.

Oct 2, 2022 - 5:12:34 AM
Players Union Member

carlb

USA

2469 posts since 2/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by dogmageek

Take an ebony peg or scrap and sand it or file it to create some dust. Mix the dust with fresh epoxy. With a toothpick, scrape the mixture into the fingerboard grooves. Round off the excess leaving a little extra relief proud of the fingerboard.

When dry, file off the excess, if any, make the curve of the fingerboard.

If your fingerboard is rosewood etc., use that.


I've used a similar technique on my banjo fingerboard taught to me by a banjo builder and repairer. For my dyed pearwood fingerboard, I made some powder pearwood. I then put a bit of it in the depression. Then, in a well ventilated area, I added a few drops of crazy glue; stay clear of the brief puff of smoke. I repeated this a few times until the depression was filled and then sanded it smooth. Works well but do have to repeat it now, about 20 years later.

Oct 2, 2022 - 9:18:04 AM
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41 posts since 4/11/2022

quote:
Originally posted by carlb
quote:
Originally posted by dogmageek

Take an ebony peg or scrap and sand it or file it to create some dust. Mix the dust with fresh epoxy. With a toothpick, scrape the mixture into the fingerboard grooves. Round off the excess leaving a little extra relief proud of the fingerboard.

When dry, file off the excess, if any, make the curve of the fingerboard.

If your fingerboard is rosewood etc., use that.


I've used a similar technique on my banjo fingerboard taught to me by a banjo builder and repairer. For my dyed pearwood fingerboard, I made some powder pearwood. I then put a bit of it in the depression. Then, in a well ventilated area, I added a few drops of crazy glue; stay clear of the brief puff of smoke. I repeated this a few times until the depression was filled and then sanded it smooth. Works well but do have to repeat it now, about 20 years later.


I imagine that this method is acceptable and even much preferred with a fretted inlaid  fingerboard, but not that of a violin. 

Edited by - fiddler135 on 10/02/2022 09:18:41

Oct 3, 2022 - 6:48:41 AM
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907 posts since 3/1/2020

Filling superficial pits or tear out spots is fine, but the surface needs to be completely smooth. Leaving bumps anywhere on the surface is a major issue and it can make intonation impossible. Epoxy is not a great adhesive for this, as there is a tendency for it to come loose.

As a luthier, I don’t want to have my plane damaged when I plane a board.

Oct 5, 2022 - 1:49:45 PM

905 posts since 1/25/2008

quote:
Originally posted by fiddler135
quote:
Originally posted by carlb
quote:
Originally posted by dogmageek

Take an ebony peg or scrap and sand it or file it to create some dust. Mix the dust with fresh epoxy. With a toothpick, scrape the mixture into the fingerboard grooves. Round off the excess leaving a little extra relief proud of the fingerboard.

When dry, file off the excess, if any, make the curve of the fingerboard.

If your fingerboard is rosewood etc., use that.


I've used a similar technique on my banjo fingerboard taught to me by a banjo builder and repairer. For my dyed pearwood fingerboard, I made some powder pearwood. I then put a bit of it in the depression. Then, in a well ventilated area, I added a few drops of crazy glue; stay clear of the brief puff of smoke. I repeated this a few times until the depression was filled and then sanded it smooth. Works well but do have to repeat it now, about 20 years later.


I imagine that this method is acceptable and even much preferred with a fretted inlaid  fingerboard, but not that of a violin. 


The suggested repair is seen as least intrusive and not limited to fretted instruments. The idea that a .5 mm groove in the fingerboard would call for wholesale use of a plane on the entire fingerboard to reduce the amount of wood, is potentially not the first solution to come to mind.

The violin is a vibrating unit and reducing wood or altering the distribution of wood that vibrates can affect the unit. When repeated the removal of wood with a plane becomes substantial. In response to your invitation I can state I have seen instruments that went to the luthier for various problems and came back with different, lesser acoustical characteristics. These good characteristics might be preserved using lesser intrusive repairs.

If we believe that the epoxy or other adhesive will fall out it can be easily replaced. From experience the repair will wear out and will have to be replaced periodically; mine have lasted several years and have not fallen out. This is a go to fiddle that gets played weekly at jams.

Recognizing we are saying that this type of repair or epoxy glue is not appropriate for any other part of the violin other than the worn grooves on a fingerboard.

Oct 6, 2022 - 11:16:36 AM

907 posts since 3/1/2020

Putting that much glue into a fingerboard is not a good idea. Players sweat and get oils and dirt on their fingerboards that can loosen the epoxy.

The fingerboard vibrates to some extent as a part of the instrument, but making it thinner is not really a significant concern acoustically. The issues that arise when a fingerboard gets too thin have more to do with the structural integrity of the neck. I have replaced many fingerboards for players, and I have yet to hear a complaint about a negative impact on the sound as a result. 

I am conservative in my approach to working on instruments, but there is nothing sacred about violin fingerboards. They need to be planed from time to time and eventually replaced. A board that’s a patchwork quilt of bumps and glue spots is a problem, not a conscientious solution.

As I said earlier, a properly set up plane will not remove massive amounts of wood. This only happens if the board has problems that need to be corrected. Getting the scoop and curvature is so crucial to the performance of the instrument, and planing the board is a routine part of a setup. One should never assume a board is correctly shaped.

Just this morning I planed the board on a violin for a very discerning teacher in the DC area. Because of the poor shape of the board and the grooves that were worn into it, it was impossible to play parallel fifths, and the teacher was quite frustrated because the student who owned it was being held back by a violin that wouldn’t perform properly. I planed the board and smoothed it all out and had it playing properly in under 15 minutes. There had been a bump in front of the E string nut groove, so I lightly filed that side of the nut to follow the corrected contour. The rest of the nut didn’t even need to be lowered. The thickness of the board overall didn’t change perceptibly and the amount of wood removed was very small, but the difference it made in the violin’s functionality was substantial.

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 10/06/2022 11:23:37

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