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mindsquirrel

Best fingerboard, where to buy

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By "instability" I assume you mean susceptibility to varying RH ambience, which you would indeed encounter if you were touring extensively. 

 

Ebony is certainly susceptible to change in humidity ... high RH = low relief, low RH = high relief, but having to tweak a truss rod slightly every once in a while isn't an unbearable imposition IMO. If you were referring to acoustic guitars, I would have thought that the expansion/contraction of  the soundboard in widely varying humidity environments would be a far greater problem.

 

Ebony's susceptibility to humidity change can be minimized by treating the board with a conditioner such as   Fret Doctor which is essentially the same stuff as the bore oil  used in woodwind instruments. 

 

 

Electric and acoustic, when you tour with several guitars it can become a pain.... plus I hate to pickup an instrument, and have to adjust truss rod, which means removing truss rode cover plate, adjusting, checking, adjusting again....20 minutes later....

 

None of that with cellos?

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Electric and acoustic, when you tour with several guitars it can become a pain.... plus I hate to pickup an instrument, and have to adjust truss rod, which means removing truss rode cover plate, adjusting, checking, adjusting again....20 minutes later....

 

None of that with cellos?

How do you know it is the fingerboard instead of the neck wood? 

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All the ebony ones did it (about 10 or more different top quality guitars I owned with ebony fingerboard), and my experienced luthier friend confirmed it....he was the one to say "Ebony is good furniture wood".

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If the bowing of a neck forward and back with the seasons (as would be adjusted with a truss rod on a guitar) is caused by changing RH and different rates of longitudinal shrinkage, then it would make sense to use neck wood that had the most similar longitudinal shrinkage rate to the fingerboard material. The longitudinal shrinkage is minimal, but it varies enough between species that it can cause this sort of shift if the humidity isn't tightly controlled. there may be cause to consider this with tops and backs as well to minimize seasonal shift in neck extension.

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If the bowing of a neck forward and back with the seasons (as would be adjusted with a truss rod on a guitar) is caused by changing RH and different rates of longitudinal shrinkage, then it would make sense to use neck wood that had the most similar longitudinal shrinkage rate to the fingerboard material. The longitudinal shrinkage is minimal, but it varies enough between species that it can cause this sort of shift if the humidity isn't tightly controlled. there may be cause to consider this with tops and backs as well to minimize seasonal shift in neck extension.

 

I make my viola necks and fingerboards from one solid piece of African Mahogany which eliminates the problems you mentioned.  All of the body parts: both plates, linings, blocks, ribs, are made from Paulownia wood.

 

I'm a mechanical engineer and I believe anytime you see repeated failure problems (warpage, cracks, fingerboards moving up and down etc.) it means the material choices/designs are no good.

 

However I'm obviously wrong because Old Italian violins were made that way.

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Stability has lots to do with environment, rapid changes in environment are often what set off distortions, so touring could be a real pain, different temps' and humidifies in different places and altitudes, not to mention the air travel. That being said snakewood is the honey badger of the wood world....Jake the snake just don't give a "bleep".

 

"However I'm obviously wrong because Old Italian violins were made that way."

 

This of course implies that the source of the "magic" comes from the luthiers hand.

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Has anyone tried snakewood for a violin fingerboard? 

I have not, I'm sure it would be great as long as you don't mind gluing in on with epoxy. The main thing that is cool about snakewood is that once finished, it has the most incredible feel ever and for guitar is very conducive for representing the "percussive"  element in the tone that is the "pluck", something more essential for guitar playing and guitar tone....However if you do lots of pizzicato, it could be great. It is however very unfriendly to being glued with most glues, but if you can get it to work, and can afford it by being able to sell off the lot of children to scientific experiments,, it does have by far the best feel, like eva'

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I'm all for different woods, as Jez uses. 
However for the 'normal' violin vla Cello market I think 'normal' suits better. 

David B, do you have one of these ? 
I like the look of them, light and sharp. 
Having a bit of a block plane fetish at the moment, wondering what is actually best to use
for finger boars etc, I've struggled by for many years with basic tools. 
https://www.dictum.com/en/tools/woodworking-metalworking/planes/western-wooden-planes/703101/ece-block-plane?ffRefKey=qGGimy5RS

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However I'm obviously wrong because Old Italian violins were made that way.

My understanding (from reading, not direct experience) is that they were not. The bulk of the fingerboard was made of maple, or maybe willow, with a thin veneer of ebony. Maybe they were smarter than we give credit for, or just lucky because ebony was too expensive and heavy.

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I have not, I'm sure it would be great as long as you don't mind gluing in on with epoxy. The main thing that is cool about snakewood is that once finished, it has the most incredible feel ever and for guitar is very conducive for representing the "percussive"  element in the tone that is the "pluck", something more essential for guitar playing and guitar tone....However if you do lots of pizzicato, it could be great. It is however very unfriendly to being glued with most glues, but if you can get it to work, and can afford it by being able to sell off the lot of children to scientific experiments,, it does have by far the best feel, like eva'

 

Hmm. Epoxy glue? That means once it is glued, it cannot be removed as easily as an ebony fb?

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No, I just use a small metal Stanley block plane, with the sole rounded a bit to better conform to the scoop. Seems to be adequate, but maybe there are other planes which are better for planing fingerboards. I don't do enough fingerboards anymore to bother looking around to see if there is something better.

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David B, do you have one of these ? 

I like the look of them, light and sharp. 

https://www.dictum.com/en/tools/woodworking-metalworking/planes/western-wooden-planes/703101/ece-block-plane?ffRefKey=qGGimy5RS

 

I have one, Ben.  Comfortable plane for some things, but not the plane I reach for daily.  I don't use it for fingerboards. Prefer my modified metal block plane for that.

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