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Baroque fingerboard nick


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This is the absolute proof that you have understood absolutely nothing about this process. In fact this statement of Saconni's (and I do love him albeit postumously) was one of the main reasons why I began to question his conclussions. Moreover the picture of the modern clamp cramping the belly in place shows me that, not only have you have not shaken off your modern way of thinking, but that you have not even considered what I wrote about the antique clamps in Beares collection and their roll in this method. Sorry. 

 

OK, I promise to re-read the topic.

 

With books like Sacconi’s, once they are published, there is no going back.  Even if he had changed his mind, the book was available to thousands, but his later ideas weren’t.  Things like this remain as fact for everyone not in the current research loop.  Thank goodness for the internet!

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Sacconi says that wedges were used in the nick, to glue and bond tightly the belly to the upper block. I might say something stupid, Roger, but what if the wedge was put in the nick just to make sure that the neck didn't move at all during the nailing process?

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OK, I promise to re-read the topic.

 

With books like Sacconi’s, once they are published, there is no going back.  Even if he had changed his mind, the book was available to thousands, but his later ideas weren’t.  Things like this remain as fact for everyone not in the current research loop.  Thank goodness for the internet!

Unfortunately Sacconi died only a year after it was published.

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Sacconi says that wedges were used in the nick, to glue and bond tightly the belly to the upper block. I might say something stupid, Roger, but what if the wedge was put in the nick just to make sure that the neck didn't move at all during the nailing process?

 

Look just forget this nicks and wedges stuff. The neck was nailed onto the ribs and then the back and belly were both firmly glued onto the ribs, LONG BEFORE the fingerboard was atached. Consiquently these nicks have NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH WEDGING THE BELLY TO THE TOP BLOCK. Sorry for shouting. Bruce was much nicer to me when he put me right about del Gesus House. 

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Could the wedges have been a gauge for fingerboard extension height? So, Roger, if the neck was nailed to the rib structure, and the top was then attached, a wedge under the nicks would get the neck to the proper angle for setup, allowing the heel to be trimmed, and the back to be attached. No need to yell, now...

Are the nicks varied in height and artistic shape, or are they fairly standard?

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Could the wedges have been a gauge for fingerboard extension height? So, Roger, if the neck was nailed to the rib structure, and the top was then attached, a wedge under the nicks would get the neck to the proper angle for setup, allowing the heel to be trimmed, and the back to be attached. No need to yell, now...

Are the nicks varied in height and artistic shape, or are they fairly standard?

 

Christopher, these nicks have a very specific function. That function is discribed in this blog and better still in the Guarneri book on my web site. I do not know if the shape varied considerably, because original boards are extremely rare, but the first virtical cut was always necessary. I have seen one very ornate form of this board nick, but even then the shape was dictated (like so much on the violin) by its function. The explanation is much simpler, than providing a place to insert wedges to press the belly down. In order to apply enough pressure this process would have damaged both the belly edge and the underside of board. In its practicality the true reason for these nicks demonstrates the superiority of Cremonese makers. But as I said somewhere else on this site. Perhaps you need to have made a couple of baroque instruments using this method before you can shake off your modern ideas. Not neccessarily about methods, but certainly about sequences. And this is my last comment on this subject. The information is their for the reading. Many years ago I wrote a three issue article in the Strad that better explains this process. I also wanted to put this on my web site, but I no longer have these issues. If anyone can lend them to me I will put them on the site and return the copies.  

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Here are a few thoughts for what they are worth (not much as I have only made about 20 wedged fingerboards of varying quality). To plane the bottom of the fingerboard to the right inclination I make a sawcut up into the board where it will meet the end of the neck surface. then cut away enough of the underside beyond this to plane the bottom suface without obstruction and with clearance for the belly. Once the angle/height is ok I shape up the underside of the free part of the fingerboard and make the angled cut to the sawcut forming the V. If the V had not been formed I would end up with remnants of the sawcut and this seems the simplest way to finish it off elegantly without having to measure anything up beforehand. I don't know if this is sufficient reason to explain the V or even what happened but it seems possible. When the later fingerboards had a smaller wedge it was not necessary to make the sawcut bit a small nick each side would enable location of the board after planing the underside.

Thinking about the posts on this thread has provoked another much more speculative theory with no evidence.

Here goes- wedged fingerboards have a tendency to slip towards the bridge when glued and clamped. I have countered this tendency by making a counterwedged block to fit over the fingerboard under the clamps and sometimes even gluing the nut in place before gluing the fingerboard to provide definite location.

But what if I was to make a counter-V to clamp across the top of the belly which would locate into the v under the fingerboard. This could be raised and lowered with card packing pieces as required. The fingerboard could then be glued without the possibility of moving in any dimension except sideways which is easy to control. I don't know what anyone thinks of this but I think I'll try it next time.

Mark Caudle

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I make the board as you say in the first part.

 

If you scoop to the edge, there's a little belly edge standing proud that catches on the board, locating it properly, so it can't slip anyway.

 

I have made more 'transitional' fiddles, as players often find them more useful, so they have a little neck upstand. i haven't found the fingerboard slipping to be a particular problem with them.

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 The neck was nailed onto the ribs and then the back and belly were both firmly glued onto the ribs, LONG BEFORE the fingerboard was atached.

If I recall correctly, did not the Lady Blunt violin have a continuous purfling strip right across the area where the fingerboard goes?

If there was a fingerboard in the way, so no varnishing was done under the fingerboard, then why would they do something much harder, and that is purfle under a fingerboard?

I would think that if the plate was just temporarily pinned onto the rib frame, and removed for purfling, then the fingerboard would not be in the way, but then how do you get a pin halfway covered by purfling?

The purfling must go in after the pin inorder to cover up the pin with purfling.

Me thinks, but may be I have something wrong.

Anyone see the Lady Blunt up close and can tell us if the purfling did go all the way underneath the fingerboard?

 

By the way, I do understand how cricket is played, since it just happens to be the second greatest game in the world ..... golf being no.1 of course.

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Notch??? What notch??? Original Guarneri 'del Gesù' fingerboard still in position on the original instrument with the original neck. 

 

You can see the ebony veneer, the sides of the fingerboard (maple) finished with a toothed plane and varnished with the same varnish as the rest of the instrument. You can see the end of the purfling channel and consequently the end of the purfling just after it goes underneath the fingerboard. You can also see the unvarnished area further underneath the fingerboard. To top it all off the flat area possibly showing how the edge was prior to final shaping.

 

This is 1735 and the neck sits slightly proud of the edge.

 

Bruce

 

post-29446-0-50807400-1366559161_thumb.jpg

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What a fantastic picture.

 

I wonder if the edge beneath the board, now fairly square, once ran to a point at the joint of the fingerboard and neck (scooped to the edge), but has been cut or broken off? Could you say, Bruce, what distance there is between the neck/FB joint and the rib surface?

 

This fiddle must be from the early to mid 1700s. I suppose that del Gesu had changed with the times since the earlier, thick, notched boards that we see on earlier Cremonese instruments.

 

By 1750 in England and France for example, the new set up was well established, with a bit of upstand on the more angled neck, and a thinner board

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Notch??? What notch??? Original Guarneri 'del Gesù' fingerboard still in position on the original instrument with the original neck. 

 

You can see the ebony veneer, the sides of the fingerboard (maple) finished with a toothed plane and varnished with the same varnish as the rest of the instrument. You can see the end of the purfling channel and consequently the end of the purfling just after it goes underneath the fingerboard. You can also see the unvarnished area further underneath the fingerboard. To top it all off the flat area possibly showing how the edge was prior to final shaping.

 

This is 1735 and the neck sits slightly proud of the edge.

 

Bruce

 

attachicon.gifNo notch fingerboard.jpg

 

Well Bruce, I think that you are cheating a bit here, not telling us that it is the 1735 pochette. But it does not alter the fact that the nicks are there for a very good reason. And if the neck sits (too) high, as is the case here, then no nick is actually necessary. In fact this was one of the first developments that began to occour elsewhere. The neck was simply set higher and the boards became thinner (although mostly still wedged shaped) as a result. However, the original question was - Why the nick? That is what I tried to answer. The Strad article deals with why it eventually began to disappear. Unfortunately all the footnotes were cut.   

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Well Bruce, I think that you are cheating a bit here, not telling us that it is the 1735 pochette. But it does not alter the fact that the nicks are there for a very good reason. And if the neck sits (too) high, as is the case here, then no nick is actually necessary. In fact this was one of the first developments that began to occour elsewhere. The neck was simply set higher and the boards became thinner (although mostly still wedged shaped) as a result. However, the original question was - Why the nick? That is what I tried to answer. The Strad article deals with why it eventually began to disappear. Unfortunately all the footnotes were cut.   

Nothing offensive intended Roger and anyone who knows anything would have immediately recognised what instrument is in the photograph. I just thought it was worth looking at more closely, simply because it is so pure. The part of the edge on the 'Cannon' that butts up against the neck is also squared off on top with same purfling details although the over-stand is now higher as it was raised when the neck was lengthened.

 

I also like the idea that the nick is equally decorative, being an effective transition between the thickest part of the wedge and the upper part of the fingerboard.

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Because of the design, i.e. a curve on the underside of the FB, is the notch is the easiest resolution between the curve and the neck root?  That allows for the curve, but leaves clearance because there is no overstand.

 

That’s what I was thinking, anyhow.

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Nothing offensive intended Roger and anyone who knows anything would have immediately recognised what instrument is in the photograph. I just thought it was worth looking at more closely, simply because it is so pure. The part of the edge on the 'Cannon' that butts up against the neck is also squared off on top with same purfling details although the over-stand is now higher as it was raised when the neck was lengthened.

 

I also like the idea that the nick is equally decorative, being an effective transition between the thickest part of the wedge and the upper part of the fingerboard.

I still like Doug Martin's idea that it has acoustic effects.

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Marty,

In one sense that was a trivial observation since every cut on an instrument has some acoustic effect.

But I was wondering if there was any evidence that acoustic effects were noticed at the time. Apparently, there is no such evidence.

In contrast, the "nicks" that form the waist of the modern bridge seem to have "stuck".

Now I must post an emphatic notice that nowhere in this thread have I indended to speculate on cause and effect in the evolution of the violin. I leave that to those who do proper research.

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Notch??? What notch??? Original Guarneri 'del Gesù' fingerboard still in position on the original instrument with the original neck. 

 

You can see the ebony veneer, the sides of the fingerboard (maple) finished with a toothed plane and varnished with the same varnish as the rest of the instrument. You can see the end of the purfling channel and consequently the end of the purfling just after it goes underneath the fingerboard. You can also see the unvarnished area further underneath the fingerboard. To top it all off the flat area possibly showing how the edge was prior to final shaping.

 

This is 1735 and the neck sits slightly proud of the edge.

 

Bruce

 

attachicon.gifNo notch fingerboard.jpg

That arises some more questions: Was the neck also fully varnished? Was the neck masked prior varnishing the fingerboard? I never fully understood why there is a fading area between varnished zones (Eg. scroll and heel) instead of a clear cut. Maybe the neck was fully varnished and the fading was created after years of playing...

 

PS: Yes it is incredible but those are the kind of things I'm usually thinking of...

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