How to cope with thicker neck due to fingerboard replacement?


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I have a customer with a violin that has a very thin fingerboard which needs planing.  I think there's enough fingerboard left to plane it this time, but sometime in the near future this violin will need a new fingerboard.  I have fit new fingerboards to many violins, but they have always been instruments that I was fixing up for sale, so they were always between players.  If I replace the fingerboard on this current violin, it would be the first one that I ever replaced for a player.  I'm sure she is accustomed to the present neck/fingerboard thickness, and I am concerned that she will find the increased thickness with the new fingerboard uncomfortable.  I would tell her that she should expect the neck to feel thicker with a new fingerboard, but is there anything else I can do for her besides telling her she will just have to get used to it?

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This is something all players have to deal with at some point, instruments cannot ne frozen in time, they require all sorts of adjustments that change the way they play/feel. Some players are very picky, others are not. You definitely need to at least discuss it with the player. Has she expressed concern?

 

If she insists on minimal changes, an option is to thin the new board to the point where she is comfortable. Of course this is far from ideal (for the violin) since it will ultimately mean more fingerboard changes over time, and the neck will need to be replaced sooner.

 

Fortunately most players are flexible enough to quickly get used to the new fingerboard and the extra thickness it brings. 

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Following on from Jacobs point; give her a fiddle with a thicker neck and board than her own instrument will be when you have finished it. If possible, let her play it for a week. That way she will feel as if she is playing on a thinner neck even if it is thicker than it was originally. However, when they replace fingerboards, many makers like to leave the new board nice and thick. I understand the idea of not wanting to waste wood, but unless the neck needed strengthening I would never make the edge of a board more than 5 mm.

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Yea, get her used to a thicker neck/fingerboard first. Then put on a standard thickness fingerboard. If she can't deal with it, offer to plane it thinner, and also explain to her that the fingerboard will need to be replaced sooner from doing this (maybe just one or two fingerboard planings). Her choice.

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You should also explain that a new fingerboard may also mean a new bridge height, clearance at c-bout better etc but perhaps more importantly a different bridge may mean a different sound - so think through all the possible changes and discuss all of them with the player - they hate surprises.

 

reese

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You should also explain that a new fingerboard may also mean a new bridge height, clearance at c-bout better etc but perhaps more importantly a different bridge may mean a different sound - so think through all the possible changes and discuss all of them with the player - they hate surprises.

 

reese

The whole point of lending a violin with ones own set up for a few weeks is so that she decides herself that she wants her violin to be like that. Inducing a nervous breakdown is not a good plan. Tell her it will be better, not different!

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Yes you are correct Jacob - I usually discuss it in terms of an overall improvement in the instrument, should have said that instead of "different". Usually a thin board translates to a low bridge so they go together.

 

reese

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