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Hi there,

 

I would like to thin down the neck of my main playing violin (Top to bottom, not side to side). I prefer a violin with a thin neck, as it plays much more comfortably for me, and it feels rather thick currently. I have put off doing this for a while, but am finally going to attempt it. I also have a "test" violin which I will practice it on first.

 

At what thickness will it start to compromise the structure of the neck, causing it to possibly warp under string tension? What is the thinnest you could go before it starts to become a structural problem waiting to happen?

 

Thank you.

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According to...what I heard in a discussion between makers, unqualified by names...is that one must compensate for a thinner neck with a thicker fingerboard...but as with everything it's tenths of a mm differences. If you pulled in the neck by a third of a mm all the way around you would feel a major diference in your comfort. Probably not more (assuming standard neck thickness). Again that is just...um...something i overheard. I hope you have a grain of salt to take that with.

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 ( Michael Darnton ) :

 

"Ideally, you want the neck thickness to be normal, which is 18.5mm just below the nut,

and 20.5mm before the heel. I prefer not to go less than 18.0mm and 20.0mm, and the
upper limits are 19.0mm and 22mm".
 
 
On YT, our Davide Sora has some superb videos on shaping a neck.

 

 

Thank you. Very useful videos (Even though I dont understand the language. :P)

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Wow.  That's really thick.  My $44 Chinese white fiddle came with almost exactly those dimensions, and it feels like grabbing a tree trunk.  My earlier work tended to be in the 18.5 / 20.5 range, and now I prefer 18 / 20mm.  

 

I think there is no risk at all (strength wise) to lop off 1 mm from the neck, and it will sure make a world of difference for the feel.

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That makes more sense! Thank you. :P

 

Neck thickness seems to be 1mm more than what you quoted from Roger Hargrave. At the nut, its 19.5 and 21.5 before the heel.

 

Myself then, would leave it as it is. I'm a superb expert at "improving" violins which end up disassembled all over the place. :)

 

I don't think you are feeling 0.5mm thickness. I think you are feeling the width because of the top edge of the f/b.

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How are the edges of the fingerboard when viewed from the scroll? I have a fiddle that I am playing right now that the neck seems to be not very thick or deep, but the board angles outward from the neck up to the top of the board, making the neck feel much wider than it actually is, which makes it a bit uncomfortable to play. I plan on making the angle straight, if not a bit inward and that should help immensely.

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19.5 and 21.5, just about any dealer would feel as soon as they picked the fiddle up.  Don't touch the 21.5 but take a mm off the upper end.  Feel it really well all up and down the sides for humps and bumps.  It must be perfectly smooth and clean all up and down the sides of the maple and where the fb is glued.  Also check the width at the nut, 23.5mm.  If it's to wide or narrow it will make a difference in the way it feels. 

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I would be tempted to take it off the top, or I have been known to remove a FB and plane it off the bottom.

 

Cheaper, by far, to replace a FB than graft a new neck.

 

Also, some makers are installing carbon fiber rods and pins to be able to make necks thinner and not worry about structural issues. Ann Cole, for one, and her necks are waaay thin.

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I think there is no risk at all (strength wise) to lop off 1 mm from the neck, and it will sure make a world of difference for the feel.

A question for Don, or anyone who has an idea about : do you think that thin the neck can affect the body modes, and then the sound?

I think so, but I'm not able to quantify the effect, perhaps more on the feeling of the player than on the sound output.

 
Do you think it's worth worrying about?
 
Davide
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Yes Davide

 

Neck/Fingerboard thickness affects mainly B0 mode (together with the flexibility of the whole violin), but also B1+ to some extent (~5-10 Hz)

If the neck with fingerboard is too stiff it affects the whole playing experience. You can easily test this on an unstrung violin with too thick/stiff neck, it's "dead" when you hold your finger under the scroll and knock on the finger bord side. You will experience the violin living up as you thin the fingerbord and B0 is closing A0.

 

Peter

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I measure the neck + FB thickness at the nut end at its minimum and use 18.0-18.5 mm (usually the larger) for violin and 19.0 for viola.  At the heel end I measure at the junction of the straight portion with the curve and use 19.5-20.0 mm for violin and 21.5 for violas.  For violins I use 23.7 to 23.8 for the nut width at its junction with the fingerboard and 41.5 to 42.0 for the FB width at it's bridge end.  The width at the neck foot depends on the amount of side concavity but is usually 32. 3 for violins.  For violas I use 24.5 for nut width.  The widths at neck foot and bridge end vary for violas depending on neck length but are in proportion to what violin fingerboard widths would be if projected out to the greater length.

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I measure the neck + FB thickness at the nut end at its minimum and use 18.0-18.5 mm (usually the larger) for violin and 19.0 for viola.  At the heel end I measure at the junction of the straight portion with the curve and use 19.5-20.0 mm for violin and 21.5 for violas.  For violins I use 23.7 to 23.8 for the nut width at its junction with the fingerboard and 41.5 to 42.0 for the FB width at it's bridge end.  The width at the neck foot depends on the amount of side concavity but is usually 32. 3 for violins.  For violas I use 24.5 for nut width.  The widths at neck foot and bridge end vary for violas depending on neck length but are in proportion to what violin fingerboard widths would be if projected out to the greater length.

 

Thank you very much. Very useful measurements.

 

 

19.5 and 21.5, just about any dealer would feel as soon as they picked the fiddle up.  Don't touch the 21.5 but take a mm off the upper end.  Feel it really well all up and down the sides for humps and bumps.  It must be perfectly smooth and clean all up and down the sides of the maple and where the fb is glued.  Also check the width at the nut, 23.5mm.  If it's to wide or narrow it will make a difference in the way it feels. 

 

Thank you Berl. The nut is 22.5mm, which is a bit narrow, but Ive gotten used to it by now. Atleast its not too thick.

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  • 2 years later...

Isn't the thickness of the fingerboard an issue here?  Just say your fingerboard is nearly 6mm thick on the edges to take account of future reshaping,  or thin to start with (say 4.5mm edges) because that is just how it ended up, shouldn't the thickness measurement inclusive of the board be irrelevant when giving a new neck a finished  thickness?    I have a diagram here that someone gave me once - I don't know where it is from, but is shows the thickness of the neck to be made at 13mm at the beginning of the straight part near the nut, and 14mm at the heel end of the straight part - obviously not including the fingerboard.     Isn't the measurement without the board a more logical measurement?  Boards get changed and come and go, are made thinner over time etc. etc.   whereas the neck itself is a fixed thickness - surely?   Am I missing something fundamental here?

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