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Another new ebony substitute fingerboard


fiddlesurgeon
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Since this is new technology (i.e. unproven in my book), I don't think I would pay more than $20 to experiment with one.

 

I have a couple of older chinese violins with all fittings made out of some sort of "bakelite". The fingerboards look great , do not wear and stayed glued for over 40 years by now. They don't feel the same but as I do not play, I can't really comment on that. I believe that plastic replacements good as they may be, will cost substantially more to make than ebony ones which at the moment, wholesale under $2 for large qtys and under $3 for medium ones. There is no shortage of ebony for short ( violin ) fingerboards but larger sizes might benefit from a good alternative material.

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Maybe some sort of laminate would work?  It could be hollow in the middle and have a layer of ebony on the outside.  It would probably be stronger and more stable than solid wood.  That said, is the ebony supply getting that bad?  I should build a big greenhouse and grow trees my great grandson could sell.  People in Colorado seem to be able to grow very profitable crops in their basements.......:-)

 

 

DLB

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That said, is the ebony supply getting that bad? 

 

 

Musical instruments are not making a dent in the ebony supply. Using it for fire wood ( it's most common use in Africa ) and using it for flooring in Asia are a problem. In the same time it's the only income for a lot of very poor people and we can't blame them for trying to make a living.

 

What's starting to become scarce is African Blackwood and that affects clarinets I believe. Though a replacement is long available there. 

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I've used them. They are pretty amazing. No, I'm not making commission from sales of them.  :rolleyes:

They're lighter and stiffer than ebony, They're finished scoop and well balanced, finished underside, glue up beautifully, and you can plane them with any old thing if you want a bit more scoop. Pretty stoked. 40 bucks for a board I don't have to dress? Not that much money at all...

Order one and check it out!

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Musical instruments are not making a dent in the ebony supply. Using it for fire wood ( it's most common use in Africa ) and using it for flooring in Asia are a problem. In the same time it's the only income for a lot of very poor people and we can't blame them for trying to make a living.

 

What's starting to become scarce is African Blackwood and that affects clarinets I believe. Though a replacement is long available there. 

I know that Buffet (the clarinet maker) makes professional model instruments using blacked powder and epoxy or some such glue.  They used to be considered one of the best brands and these Green Line instruments make use of every bit of the resource.  I think they are also less prone to cracks, etc.  I saw a video some time ago that showed an instrument maker turning clarinet bells on a lathe and flaws in the wood caused them to explode rather energetically .  

 

http://www.blackwoodconservation.org/greenline.html

 

I think that improved lives for African people is probably in all of mankind's best interest.  Solar energy, LED lights, cooking devices that use other fuel all help.  I know that just the incidence of lung decease in women cooking over fires inside the dwellings is a concern.

 

http://www.rff.org/Publications/WPC/Pages/09_15_08%20Indoor%20Air%20Pollution%20and%20Africa%20Death%20Rates.aspx

 

DLB

 

Many people in Africa live lives that are in the Paleolithic one moment and the information age the next.

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$40 is a bit steep.

 

I pay more than that for really good ebony blanks.  If the product claims are realistic, I'd like to get my hands on one and give it a try.  Even if the claims are a bit inflated, I think the use of traditional ebony boards on many of the lower end fiddles out there are a bit of a waste of resources.

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I've used them. They are pretty amazing. No, I'm not making commission from sales of them.  :rolleyes:

They're lighter and stiffer than ebony, They're finished scoop and well balanced, finished underside, glue up beautifully, and you can plane them with any old thing if you want a bit more scoop. Pretty stoked. 40 bucks for a board I don't have to dress? Not that much money at all...

Order one and check it out!

 

Looks like I'm sold!

 

But I have too many ebony violin blanks at the moment.  Is there a viola version?

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You are absolutely right. But all these also caused a need for "money". Dependency and so on...

You are 100% correct.  There have been many well meaning tech projects to help in Africa.  Water pumps, Farming technology, etc.  Many have turned out to be worse than what was before.  Most good solutions seem to come from the bottom up.  It would be wonderful however to come up with an idea that would really help people have better lives and be able to work on things that were more than just subsistence level activities.  The ideal would have been to just leave the folks in Africa alone and let them develop on their own in their own way.  Colonization has been going on for almost the whole recorded history of mankind. It would probably be easier to from Ivory and ebony in a lab than solve any real problems in Africa.

 

DLB

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It's wood and resin. Not made from dust, not hollow. No viola or cello or bass yet.

To be honest, they're less desirable for replacement on an old fiddle than as a finished board you build your neck around on a new violin. They will be, of course, less thick to allow adjustment for extension height on a pre-existing neck set. For me, at least, the pros outweigh the cons, and I did use one on an old violin and make it work. Planes nicely, dulls your blade a bit faster than ebony.

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You are 100% correct.  There have been many well meaning tech projects to help in Africa.  Water pumps, Farming technology, etc.  Many have turned out to be worse than what was before.  Most good solutions seem to come from the bottom up.  It would be wonderful however to come up with an idea that would really help people have better lives and be able to work on things that were more than just subsistence level activities.  The ideal would have been to just leave the folks in Africa alone and let them develop on their own in their own way.  Colonization has been going on for almost the whole recorded history of mankind. It would probably be easier to from Ivory and ebony in a lab than solve any real problems in Africa.

 

DLB

 

You are absolutely right. Every improvement caused a myriad of other problems. Too serious a discussion to have here and now, unfortunately.

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I don't know if this applies to this particular fingerboard, but I was recently contacted by a client who had a fingerboard put on his violin which was made of something like compressed flax fiber and a binder (resin). He wants it changed back to ebony, because he said it harmed the sound. Change the mass and possibly the vibrational characteristics, and you'll probably change the sound. Maybe some fiddles sound better with it though. Or maybe it's a matter of learning to optimize it, which may need to be done differently than with ebony.

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