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Ch. Dequincey

Alternative to ebony for fingerboards?

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16 minutes ago, David Beard said:

I rather like the idea of bringing the old laminate on spruce core approach back, at least for fine hand work instruments.

I do it constantly, but I pretty much only make Baroque instruments. It's great! Not sure how well it would work for unwedged boards, but I haven't tried. 

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On 11/29/2019 at 4:01 PM, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

Fjodor, how have these turned out in terms of ease of use?  Seems to have the advantage of letting you shape to your specs rather than having to live with what the manufacturer has determined to be appropriate, e.g. Corene.  That's not a criticism of Corene.  Just an observation.  Maybe it's not an issue if specs of the options they offer are spaced sufficiently to allow for customization.  But there is no way their spec options can accommodate all of the possible variables.

Hi Julian,

I have used just one of the Rocklite blanks on a 5 string viola. My impression was that it was easy to work with and the advantage with blanks, is that you have the option to shape them to your own dimensions. The main criticism is appearance wise. The "wood" had wide grain lines that are visible in certain lightning.

IMG_20191130_173937__01.jpg

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I also tried the flaxwood preshaped board on an old violin. I like these better for appearance. And they are quite cheap, also easy to shape. Next two violins will have corene boards.

IMG_20191130_174029__01.jpg

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On 11/30/2019 at 10:07 AM, Fjodor said:

I also tried the flaxwood preshaped board on an old violin. I like these better for appearance. And they are quite cheap, also easy to shape. Next two violins will have corene boards.

IMG_20191130_174029__01.jpg

I like the idea of using flax composites. I'm seeing it pop up more and more in a number of applications these days, from violin cases to surfboards and now fingerboards. I see it's actually a GEWA product, or at least marketed by them. I went to gewamusicusa.com and logged into our shop account and saw they didn't have the flax wood fingerboards as of yet. I'll have to get in touch with Kentaro and see if those fingerboards are in the works.

I actually have a decent supply of ebony boards and fittings, likely all I'm going to need for the instruments I plan on building. However if I find myself needing components in the future, I can't see myself staying on the same side of the issue anymore. In other words, stockpiling tropical wood fittings in order to stay one or two steps ahead of the inventible restrictions I can't do with a clear conscience anymore. There appears to be excellent progress being made in the area of engineered fittings, it will be interesting to see where things are five or ten years from now and how much the cost comes down.

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2 hours ago, Fjodor said:

I think flaxwood was invented by a Finnish company www.flaxwood.com. The same material is used in electric guitar bodies. It seems like the violin accessories are marketed by Gewa. You should be able to order from Thomann to US. https://m.thomannmusic.com/gewa_flaxwood_fingerboard_l272.htm

I saw that link. Where the fingerboard is very reasonable, shipping to the states is over $33, making for a $50 purchase. I'll keep an eye on things and wait until I can purchase one stateside.

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So apparently I didn't fully understand what "Flaxwood" really is. Apparently it isn't a flax-based composite at all, rather it's a recycled spruce fiber/polymer composite. That doesn't make it any less appealing to me, however. 

Interesting.

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While I was helping Jay clean out his shop, among the debris was an old log of B’ois Darc.  It had been brought in by someone who wondered if B’ois D’arc would work as a bow wood. I have posted that question here with a chorus of “no” in response, but I wonder if it would work as a fingerboard? It is a beautiful wood, extremely hard( probably difficult too, but no different from ebony) I don’t know whether it is heavier per unit than ebony, nor how well it takes glue or whether it contributes to the sound, but it’s a beautiful wood, extremely plentiful,  and worth the question.

any experience with it?

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1 hour ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Osage is the best, hottest, longest burning domestic wood. As durable as it is, I could see it working as a fingerboard. Due to its color it might be a tough sell, though. 

It certainly is a bright yellowish/orange when it's freshly cut, but oxidizes brown over time, not much different in color as the Sonowood walnut boards. No shortage of Osage around here, common to see them as living fences along roads and property lines.

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3 minutes ago, Woodland said:

It certainly is a bright yellowish/orange when it's freshly cut, but oxidizes brown over time, not much different in color as the Sonowood walnut boards. No shortage of Osage around here, common to see them as living fences along roads and property lines.

Good to know! I only have only ever burnt it. 

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I know a luthier who made a few violin bows from Osage, said it didn't work very well. I guess it's more of a hunting bow wood. Very dense stuff. American persimmon is actually a species of ebony (genus diospyros), but Osage might be more prolific and readily available than persimmon, I guess it all depends on where one lives and what's locally available.

Being someone who works in the trade and is surrounded by affordable Chinese instruments (for sale and rent), I don't see pricey engineered fittings being the solution for affordable imports, other than maybe Wittner Ultra tailpieces and pegs, which cost more than Indian ebony fittings, especially when the ebony fittings were purchased/crafted by Chinese factories in bulk.

In short, I don't see one thing completely replacing tropical wood fittings, rather a more diverse offering of non-threatened woods and engineered products helping to offset the demand and use of the traditional materials. I'm encouraged to see people addressing this growing problem and thinking outside the box to give us more options.

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I appreciate the positive responses regarding B’ois D’arc, which in this part of Texas is also called Orangewood I think, or Osage Orange.

Regarding the color, I think if it’s matched with the right varnish, it could be quite attractive. Dark red, golden, maybe yellow would work quite well with B’ois D’arc. And it’s certainly plentiful.

persimmon is used for golf clubs, I think. Would it work as a bow wood?

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57 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I'll be all over alternatives to ebony fingerboards, once they have established a decent track record.

 

Try sonowood. Only we can establish the decent track record. 

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1 minute ago, PhilipKT said:

persimmon is used for golf clubs, I think. Would it work as a bow wood?

It might, if you could come up with nice clear lengths of it. It's not a tree that lends itself well to that, however. Ebony, as noted above a member of there persimmon family, has been used in historical bows both in antiquity and modernity. While it can work great, it's not used as often as snakewood, other Brosimum species, Swartzias, and the like because of its extreme expense and rarity in suitable boards

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I bought in a couple of corene ones to try. ..First impression was a chemical smell, The playing surface seems almost ready to go but  they seemed so acoustically dead compared to Ebony that I was scared to progress, . It's a near perfect board saving 2 hours, However colleagues tell  a lot about these coming unglued plus it seems acoustically dead....I am looking for every small percentage of gain....I think these could be a slight gain for me in work time but not for my customer so they go in the bin

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I’ve made 3 violin bows and 2 finger boards from Osage Orange wood. I have literally a ton of Osage, as I use it for longbow laminations. I pick dense, fine grain boards for violin bows. I have found Osage that will sink in water. I’m not a proficient violin bow maker, but one of my Osage bows is better than any other bow I’ve tried. Some good players have agreed with me. 

The Osage finger boards worked well also. I’ve even made a couple bridges from Osage. 

I also have some very nice persimmon boards from very large trees. I’ve made violin finger boards, and treated them with acid to get a very pleasing dark brown color. Not quite as hard as premium ebony, but close. The acid treatment hardens the surface nicely. They polish up well. I am making a double bass that I will use persimmon for the fingerboard and tailpiece. 

 

 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Okawbow said:

I’ve made 3 violin bows and 2 finger boards from Osage Orange wood. I have literally a ton of Osage, as I use it for longbow laminations. I pick dense, fine grain boards for violin bows. I have found Osage that will sink in water. I’m not a proficient violin bow maker, but one of my Osage bows is better than any other bow I’ve tried. Some good players have agreed with me. 

The Osage finger boards worked well also. I’ve even made a couple bridges from Osage. 

I also have some very nice persimmon boards from very large trees. I’ve made violin finger boards, and treated them with acid to get a very pleasing dark brown color. Not quite as hard as premium ebony, but close. The acid treatment hardens the surface nicely. They polish up well. I am making a double bass that I will use persimmon for the fingerboard and tailpiece. 

 

 

 

 

I would really like to see photographs of that while it’s in progressI would really like to see photographs of that while it’s in progress

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Persimmon is in the ebony family but it is nowhere near as dense. I've made pegs out of both persimmon and osage orange. Compared to other peg woods they were relatively soft. When I find a suitable piece of mountain mahogany in my peg or tailpiece stash, I save it for someones fingerboard. It isn't black but neiither were most original boards. It is, however hard enough. I had one pieces clear and long enough for a cello board. John Osnes in Alaska made his Partner a cello using it. Wood suitable for finger boards will certainly be more and more difficult to find in our shrinking forests and therefore more expensive.  

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2 minutes ago, MeyerFittings said:

Persimmon is in the ebony family but it is nowhere near as dense. I've made pegs out of both persimmon and osage orange. Compared to other peg woods they were relatively soft. When I find a suitable piece of mountain mahogany in my peg or tailpiece stash, I save it for someones fingerboard. It isn't black but neiither were most original boards. It is, however hard enough. I had one pieces clear and long enough for a cello board. John Osnes in Alaska made his Partner a cello using it. Wood suitable for finger boards will certainly be more and more difficult to find and therefore more expensive.  

I want to make sure I understand. Are you saying that Osage Orange is not dense enough for fingerboard? The only pegwood I’ve seen that I’ve noticed is Rosewood or Ebony.

John Bolander used mountain mahogany for his frogs, would B’ois D’arc work for a frog?

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I don't know about a fingerboard. It has rather big pores as I recall and so would pick up dirt. There are quite a few peg wood hard enough for the task, but I don't think osage is one of them. Many things would work for a frog, that wouldn't work for tuning pegs. I made the osage orange for the State Historical Society. I never got feedback on how they performed or if the instrument was used much in performance. 

  

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14 hours ago, Melvin Goldsmith said:

I bought in a couple of corene ones to try. ..First impression was a chemical smell, The playing surface seems almost ready to go but  they seemed so acoustically dead compared to Ebony that I was scared to progress, . It's a near perfect board saving 2 hours, However colleagues tell  a lot about these coming unglued plus it seems acoustically dead....I am looking for every small percentage of gain....I think these could be a slight gain for me in work time but not for my customer so they go in the bin

That was my experience. Tried it on a violin, it came off, re-glued it, it came off a second time and went straight in the trash. I contacted them about this and they suggested scoring the underside, but still not a risk worth taking.

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