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Fingerboard Geometry Poll


Christopher Jacoby
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EDIT:

the initial results, for ease of search and digging!

http://fixitwithshading.com/2017/12/26/fingerboard-geometry-part-1-survey-dimensions/

 

 

 

 

From the mighty MJ Kwan— clock through and add your thoughts!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeN_PqF1pYpYftmj5qO4iZUf9fw2gtCJ2hytIcQq0zAg8VxVA/viewform

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MJ Kwan has done some really cool stuff. For example, her glue bonding experiments. Anybody know where she is right now? I presume that she has graduated from the Chicago School by now, and has taken a job somewhere.

I would consider each of her scenarios to be sufficient to satisfy most pro players. But ya can get some outliers, like musicians who can notice something like a tenth-of-a-millimeter difference.

There have been some people in the trade who tried to purvey something like, "my way is the only right way", so I appreciate MJ Kwan's continuing inquisitiveness.

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

MJ Kwan has done some really cool stuff. For example, her glue bonding experiments. Anybody know where she is right now? I presume that she has graduated from the Chicago School by now, and has taken a job somewhere.

I would consider each of her scenarios to be sufficient to satisfy most pro players. But ya can get some outliers, like musicians who can notice something like a tenth-of-a-millimeter difference.

There have been some people in the trade who tried to purvey something like, "my way is the only right way", so I appreciate MJ Kwan's continuing inquisitiveness.

When I spoke with her she mentioned that she was working in Sam Zygmuntowicz's shop. 

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5 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

The differences must be subtle.  Care to share what and why?

-Jim

I start by considering that strings can only vibrate in the plane of the bow hair, and try to make the fingerboard parallel (laterally) to that so that there is no tendency for the string to vibrate into the fingerboard surface.  Each string has its own narrow flat surface to start with, then I blend it all together so it isn't faceted.  The end result is something like a tighter radius at the nut and toward the centerline, with slight flats at the edges.  It seems to prevent buzzing, even with low string height and near-zero scoop.

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2 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

 

In the poll she does not consider the asymmetric curves and radius less than 42 mm at the end of the fingerboard.

 

I thought she did, using "less than" and "greater than" symbols. But perhaps I've misunderstood you.

On second thought, I think you're right about the asymmetric curves.

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4 hours ago, Don Noon said:

I start by considering that strings can only vibrate in the plane of the bow hair, and try to make the fingerboard parallel (laterally) to that so that there is no tendency for the string to vibrate into the fingerboard surface.  Each string has its own narrow flat surface to start with, then I blend it all together so it isn't faceted.  The end result is something like a tighter radius at the nut and toward the centerline, with slight flats at the edges.  It seems to prevent buzzing, even with low string height and near-zero scoop.

This is the approach taken by some bass makers, where the changes in radius are much more obvious. It makes great sense to me.

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5 hours ago, Don Noon said:

I start by considering that strings can only vibrate in the plane of the bow hair, and try to make the fingerboard parallel (laterally) to that so that there is no tendency for the string to vibrate into the fingerboard surface. 

That sounds really good, except when it doesn't. Heavy bow excitation will excite string excursions in all planes. A desire for clean pizzicato makes it even more of a challenge to come to a safe place.

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52 minutes ago, Nick Allen said:

I imagine that everyone's bowing technique differs, including the angle of attack on the string. One radius that works for someone might be bollocks for another, I imagine. 

There's not much possible range in angle for playing the D and A strings.  I suppose you could go a bit wild on the G and E, but I think most players tend to keep with the least arm monkey motion, and just go with an angle that reliably clears the adjacent string.

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I make my violin and viola fingerboards twisted such that at the nut end the bass side is tipped upwards while the treble side tipped downwards so that the bass side is about 3mm higher than the treble side. This turns out to be about a 7 degree angle so the player doesn't have to tuck his left elbow inward so far to get a perpendicular finger position on the strings.  This reduces muscle stresses which makes playing more comfortable and less likely to cause repetitive stress injuries. 

At the bridge end the fingerboard is kept level as seen in attached drawing.  This allows a normal generally horizontal bow arm position.  Players don't seem to notice the twisted fingerboard.

When viewed from the side the top edge of the fingerboard tapers downward toward the bridge end while on treble side the edge tapers upward.  It will be interesting to see how VSA judges react to this.

That's my twist on this topic.

 

twist.jpg

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FB shape and string heights should be considered together.

Strong scoop on FB and lower string heights work ok up to certain degrees within limit. (Vice versa : small scoop on FB with higher string heights work ok)

Also there are some tolerance. You will be amazed how widely different shaped FB are used by prominant players effortlessly ,comfortably .

Small subtle things, some players never notice or care

Of course bad FB design makes playing difficult or uncomfortable.

Often players dont know what causes what, and many times their analysis is wrong.

It's repairmen/makers job to identify and correct them.

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On 22/12/2017 at 12:33 AM, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I make my violin and viola fingerboards twisted such that at the nut end the bass side is tipped upwards while the treble side tipped downwards so that the bass side is about 3mm higher than the treble side. This turns out to be about a 7 degree angle so the player doesn't have to tuck his left elbow inward so far to get a perpendicular finger position on the strings.  This reduces muscle stresses which makes playing more comfortable and less likely to cause repetitive stress injuries. 

At the bridge end the fingerboard is kept level as seen in attached drawing.  This allows a normal generally horizontal bow arm position.  Players don't seem to notice the twisted fingerboard.

When viewed from the side the top edge of the fingerboard tapers downward toward the bridge end while on treble side the edge tapers upward.  It will be interesting to see how VSA judges react to this.

That's my twist on this topic.

 

twist.jpg

Brilliant!

I would be a little worried about the aehstetic appearance of the twist, it would be interesting to see it live.

Do you get this twist exclusively with the fingerboard (tapered fingerboard sides?) or is the neck involved in the tilt too?
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On 21/12/2017 at 3:00 PM, David Burgess said:

I thought she did, using "less than" and "greater than" symbols. But perhaps I've misunderstood you.

On second thought, I think you're right about the asymmetric curves.

Yes, she uses  <  and  >  but not for the radius at the end of the fingerboard, wich is always indicated as 42.
Maybe it's just an indicative number,  strangely she does not ask which radii (or shapes) are preferred by violin makers or players, it could be statistically interesting to know.
Especially a feedback from players could be instructive, at least to make a statistic of how many of them are aware of rays, asymmetric curves and twisted fingerboards:)
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On 12/25/2017 at 1:12 PM, Davide Sora said:
Especially a feedback from players could be instructive, at least to make a statistic of how many of them are aware of rays, asymmetric curves and twisted fingerboards:)

Well, if you can connect for them a certain shape to the execution of a specific passage then they'll be aware. By themselves, I doubt they have much interest in geometry - that's for the expert adjuster to sort out. Practically every element in this survey can go one way or the other depending on the habits and physical characteristics of the player. I don't see how one could optimize a fingerboard unless for a specific player. 

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On 12/25/2017 at 5:49 AM, Davide Sora said:

Brilliant!

 

I would be a little worried about the aehstetic appearance of the twist, it would be interesting to see it live.

 
Do you get this twist exclusively with the fingerboard (tapered fingerboard sides?) or is the neck involved in the tilt too?

The bottom surface of the neck is twisted too but its hard to notice because of its rounded shape.  The pegbox has the normal vertical sides.

Only a few players have tried these instruments. They didn't notice the twist or the tapered fingerboard edges however they said the instruments were comfortable to hold and play.  

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