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Chris Knowlton

Emergency fingerboard billet supplier

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My first fingerboard warped after it was attached to the neck, my second ended up too thin to use because I planned it too much getting it flat (I thought I had just enough thickness but after having almost completing it, I found there was not).

Both of the billets came from the same supplier so the second fingerboard was probably destine to warp anyway.

My intension is to finish the violin in the white by Christmas. So…

I’m looking for a supplier for high quality fingerboard billets that are seasoned, that I can have shipped next-day air (which I believe rules out Europe).

Thanks,

Chris

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Both of the billets came from the same supplier so the second fingerboard was probably destine to warp anyway.

Ebony comes from small trees and almost all of the violin suppliers out there don't cut their own ebony so the two blanks mostly had no relationship to each other.

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I'll order my next blanks from Larry Kass.

If you order from him, tell him not to send me no picked-over stuff on account of posting this. :)

To late... I bribed him to send me the choice stuff already. :)

Seriously though, Larry Kass had some nice ebony with him in Portland, but had only Romberg 'cello boards (and I use mostly round ones now; though that won't effect you, Chris), so I looked around at the other ebony there as well.

Another possible source is Taylor. Their "best" grade had a pretty nice color, and an even (though slightly open) grain without carrying too much silica (shiny stuff). Very usable. Maybe not what I would have been excited about 20 years ago... but I haven't seen much I'd get really excited about for 5 or 10 years.

If you order, I'd order several and put a few up on the shelf. I like to have ebony blanks around at least a few years before I use them, if possible.

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Why not order from International Violin Co.? They have a selection of fingerboard blanks that range anywhere from the basic ebony FB for about $10, to a well seasoned select FB for about $26. They're in Baltimore, MD.

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Ebony comes from small trees and almost all of the violin suppliers out there don't cut their own ebony so the two blanks mostly had no relationship to each other.

Hmmm… I am trying hard to understand this logic, but to no avail.

Let’s say his one blank that warped was from reaction wood. The question is, what are the chances the other blank is also from reaction wood.

If such a billet of flawed ebony is sent to for processing and formed into a few hundred fingerboards, those fingerboards will be bundled or packed together at that time, and may move down the line relatively undisturbed. Even if they get broken down at various levels of distribution they may well stay together. I would hazard the chances are very good that the two fingerboards came from the same tree.

Conversely, upon discovering a particularly good sample of a given product or material, I have often attempted to obtain more of the same stock, and this usually entails little more than good timing and an understanding vendor. I think most makers using any material that is variable do the same.

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If such a billet of flawed ebony is sent to for processing and formed into a few hundred fingerboards,

Just how big do you think these trees are? And what percentage of them are reaction wood?

The ebony logs that I've seen for sale have been quite small.

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I have two sections of ebony quarter logs (from different trees) that are 6" from center to outside, which makes for at least a 12" diameter log. I have also seen plenty of ebony that is similarly sized, although there is no disputing that the sizes are greatly diminished over the last few decades. Nonetheless, I think you might be surprised to see the logs that are processed for violin parts in India. From pictures, there are still larger boles going to processing, and these boles could furnish a good number of FB's.

The percentage of all ebony that is reaction wood is not relevent to the problem at hand. If his fingerboard was of reaction wood, and from the only stump of reaction wood ebony ever to exist on planet earth, the chance that his second FB was of the same wood is the same.

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I like to get some ebony parts too. How can I get in contact with Larry?

Thanks.

I believe Larry's contact information is:

Larry Kass Music Products

P.O. Box 1608, Novato, CA 94948

(415) 897-0982; fax (415) 892-3220

larrykass@novato.net

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Thank you very much gentlemen. This information should get me through my current dilemma.

Jeffrey, is that Taylor Guitars?

Chris

Chris, it is Taylor USA, owned by Susan Chapman. She also supplies some very nice pegs, fittings, and other supplies.

Taylor USA

1232 39th St

Des Moines, IA 30311

866.388.2956

info@taylor-usa.net

www.taylor-usa.net

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