Groove in neck and fingerboard


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In case anyone is interested, the Degani family had a habit of putting a small groove centered in the underside of the board that was extended through the nut (if the board and nut are original, you can peer straight through the tunnel from the nut to the bridge). I'd assume this was an effort to improve acoustics, as I can't see why it would be handy in construction... but of course I wasn't there at the time. 

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At first I thought the same as you did, Nick, but if so, why the groove on the underside of the fingerboard?  If the rod was intended to fit into both grooves that would make the connection stronger, perhaps, but then it would be almost impossible to remove the fingerboard if necessary later on. 

 

Jeffrey, the groove was not extended through the current nut; I don't know if it is the original nut.  I am not familiar with the Degani family or with the role of such a groove in acoustics, but your suggestion has piqued my interest, and I'm going to do some digging (no pun intended).  Or are you and FiddleDoug both pulling my leg?

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Jeffrey, the groove was not extended through the current nut; I don't know if it is the original nut.  I am not familiar with the Degani family or with the role of such a groove in acoustics, but your suggestion has piqued my interest, and I'm going to do some digging (no pun intended).  Or are you and FiddleDoug both pulling my leg?

 

Speaking for myself, quite serious.  The Deganis were active in the late 19th and early 20th century.  The son (Giulio) moved to the US and worked in NY and Cincinnati in (around 1915 or so).  In addition to the tunnel I mentioned (I don't have a archive photo handy, but you can see the termination of the tunnel at the nut on the scroll photo from this listing: https://www.bromptons.co/auction/30th-march-2015/lots/303-an-italian-violin-by-eugenio-degani-venice-1892.html), they also were in the habit of installing a steel screw through the upper block into the neck.

 

In the case of the viola you provided images for: I'm not as familiar with the commercial process for trade instruments, but if that is original, I'd suspect it had something to do with alignment for machining, and/or the construction and assembly of the instrument.  

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I've seen those grooves, too.  Perhaps their function was to keep the neck and fingerboard aligned when the fingerboard was glued on the neck.  I'm imaging some sort of bar that was inserted into the grooves during gluing then pulled out after the glue dried.  Perhaps the fingerboards were glued on the necks before the necks were glued in the bodies.

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It seems unlikely that the grooves were for holding the fingerboard and neck in alignment while shaping or gluing, for the simple reason that the grooves don't align. The one in the neck seems approximately centered, but the groove in the fingerboard appears significantly off center.

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I highly doubt they were for any sort of alignment, as they don't look centered or accurately cut, at least from what I can see in the photos.

 

They could however be for facilitating removal of the finger board by injecting steam or dribbling alcohol down into this channel.

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It seems unlikely that the grooves were for holding the fingerboard and neck in alignment while shaping or gluing, for the simple reason that the grooves don't align. The one in the neck seems approximately centered, but the groove in the fingerboard appears significantly off center.

 

 

I highly doubt they were for any sort of alignment, as they don't look centered or accurately cut, at least from what I can see in the photos.

 

They could however be for facilitating removal of the finger board by injecting steam or dribbling alcohol down into this channel.

 

Well, I doubt we'll really know unless someone has a contact with the manufacturer (not important enough for me to attempt)... but to me the grooves look purposefully routed.  If the parts are machine cut (which I believe they are), the alignment needs to relate to the cutter, not necessarily the center.  They look plenty clean enough for that.

 

In my past life I saw a good number of commercial instruments...  honestly, I doubt any of the producers gave a hang about the ease disassembly.

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The photo I posted doesn't show this clearly --- both grooves are off-center but aligned pretty well with each other.  About one-fourth of the groove in the wider end of the neck is filled in completely with a length  of wood.  The rest of the groove is empty, doesn't have even have globs of dried glue.  Groove in the fingerboard is empty.

 

Jeffrey, thanks for the link.  I do see the groove in the nut of the Degani instrument.  I am going to look for such a groove, now, in every Suzuki-brand violin or viola that comes into my shop for repair, even when I don't remove the fingerboard.

 

Before I re-install the fingerboard I am trying to decide whether to fill the grooves in with fitting lengths of maple, planed flat to the surface so that subsequent gluing surfaces will make full contact, or to leave it as is and risk dried glue or pieces of wood falling in there and buzzing later when the instrument is played.  (Those of you about to say that buzzing can be prevented by not letting a bee get in the grooves by accident, I am way ahead of you!).  Help with this decision would be appreciated.  But please don't suggest I put a groove into a nut that didn't have it in the first place.  Not until I can find a connection between the Degani family and Japanese makers.

 

Thanks, all.

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There are a handful of Chinese shops that cut grooves in fingerboards.  More often two grooves are cut parallel to the sides of the board in cello and bass fingerboards.  I would imagine that this is done to give the wood some give as the expands and contracts, these are commercial instruments and manufacturers don't like warranty work.  Flooring has grooves machined in different patterns on the bottom that corresponds to the species and size used.

 

The grooves in the Suzuki instruments do remind me more of the indexing pin holes used by some eastern European factories.  I have not found that the fingerboard grooves align with the neck grooves on the Suzuki but that their manufacturing is very consistent.

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