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Andreas Preuss

Purpose of tuning the fingerboard

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Typically, the finger board gets its final shaping and finishing after it's on the instrument, so how could you tune it before? If you want to play those games, you should probably tune the chin rest as well.

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8 hours ago, Deo Lawson said:

Superstition. The fingerboard should be made as light as possible while leaving enough material for future repairs. It has no effect on sound.

Of course the fingerboard has an affect on sound.  How could it not?  Now, being able to quantify that is a totally different thing.

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3 hours ago, Deo Lawson said:

Superstition. The fingerboard should be made as light as possible while leaving enough material for future repairs. It has no effect on sound.

I used to make my viola fingerboards as light as possible for my ergonomic violas but a good viola player friend said he always found heavy fingerboard helped his violas' sound and he advised me that I was making a mistake.

Every time I look at the vibration characteristics of a two body coupled system of a fingerboard and body I conclude that the fingerboard should be heavy in order to maximize the vibration energy going into the body.

Vibration absorbers are often added onto machine tools to reduce vibration.  These are like some cello wolf note suppressors where a small weight is attached to the instrument body with a spring.  The suppressor is tuned to match the wolf note frequency and the small weight vibrates vigorously thereby removing some of the energy from the instrument's plate vibrations which reduces the wolf note effect.

A light fingerboard might act the same way at what ever vavarious resonance mode frequencies it and the instrument have.   So the loudness of some notes might be inadvertently reduced.

Conversely if an instrument has an excessively loud note it might be helpful to tune the fingerboard to the same frequency.

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4 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

I think there are some makers tuning the fingerboard to a certain pitch. For which purpose is it done?   

or, if not tuned, what are the negative effects on the sound?

 

As far as I know modifing the free end of fingerboard on a finished violin (fingerboard glued and with string at pitch) has the purpose to tune the frequency of the B0 mode to bring it in unison with A0 or to differentiate it from it (B0 lower than A0). I am more for the first case, but seems that there is no agreement on this and the final effect on sound. It seems that if B0 is higher than A0 it may cause some trouble in the volume of some notes (around C / C #).

Regarding the tuning of unglued fingerboard it may be an attempt to approach the desired final frequency of B0 without having to deal with it later.

But I'm sure you already knew these things.....;)

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I think that if people hold strong opinions either way it would be most informative if they could describe  the circumstances that led them to their position. Maybe a good violin that suddenly became not so good after a fingerboard re-shoot? Or vice versa?

Although the pantomime season will be with us all too soon, , "oh yes it does/oh no it doesn't" isn't terribly enlightening. 

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5 minutes ago, JohnCockburn said:

I think that if people hold strong opinions either way it would be most informative if they could describe  the circumstances that led them to their position. Maybe a good violin that suddenly became not so good after a fingerboard re-shoot? Or vice versa?

Although the pantomime season will be with us all too soon, , "oh yes it does/oh no it doesn't" isn't terribly enlightening. 

Everything on a violin matters. I have had radical changes going from old Boxwood pegs to new Rosewood.

Good ebony has always been difficult to come by. In Strad's time, ebony veneer either to conserve ebony or to lighten the board. We don't know.

Since everything matters on a violin, the fingerboard matters. I don't tune them. It might have some effect. I generally find that the individuals who spend the most time tuning things like fingerboards can't cut a decent bridge or fit a good post.

You might find that a heavy board helps the sound of one instrument, but it hampers another. When you graft a neck do you go through your wood to find the lightest, lowest density blocks? I've never seen that.  

There might be something to be gained on difficult instruments, but as a whole, I think that grabbing the next dry fingerboard on the pile is what most people do, and in spite of the variability of ebony, they still sound like violins. Good violins, mostly. I don't think that tuning a fingerboard will make a dog a great instrument.

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5 hours ago, Davide Sora said:
 

As far as I know modifing the free end of fingerboard on a finished violin (fingerboard glued and with string at pitch) has the purpose to tune the frequency of the B0 mode to bring it in unison with A0 or to differentiate it from it (B0 lower than A0). I am more for the first case, but seems that there is no agreement on this and the final effect on sound. It seems that if B0 is higher than A0 it may cause some trouble in the volume of some notes (around C / C #).

Regarding the tuning of unglued fingerboard it may be an attempt to approach the desired final frequency of B0 without having to deal with it later.

But I'm sure you already knew these things.....;)

Davide,

actually I am just working my way into those body resonances A0 and B0. 

in the end it is the question how doable it is. It wouldn't make sense to me to go for a certain resonance by thinning down a fingerboard too much. 

Edited by Andreas Preuss

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6 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I used to make my viola fingerboards as light as possible for my ergonomic violas but a good viola player friend said he always found heavy fingerboard helped his violas' sound and he advised me that I was making a mistake.

Every time I look at the vibration characteristics of a two body coupled system of a fingerboard and body I conclude that the fingerboard should be heavy in order to maximize the vibration energy going into the body.

Vibration absorbers are often added onto machine tools to reduce vibration.  These are like some cello wolf note suppressors where a small weight is attached to the instrument body with a spring.  The suppressor is tuned to match the wolf note frequency and the small weight vibrates vigorously thereby removing some of the energy from the instrument's plate vibrations which reduces the wolf note effect.

A light fingerboard might act the same way at what ever vavarious resonance mode frequencies it and the instrument have.   So the loudness of some notes might be inadvertently reduced.

Conversely if an instrument has an excessively loud note it might be helpful to tune the fingerboard to the same frequency.

Interesting comment. Marty. 

However, I once put a very heavy clamp on the head to see how the sound would change and it didn't really the sound.

in practical terms it might be a idea to design a light fingerboard where you can easily adjust the weight on the most sensitive spot presumably the outer edge where it can vibrate freely.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Deo Lawson said:

Superstition. The fingerboard should be made as light as possible while leaving enough material for future repairs. It has no effect on sound.

Basically I agree 

BUT

I had s violin with a very light fingerboard which was not reacting as the player wanted. Changeing the fingerboard to a heavier one helped a lot to improve it. In those terms it is not about the sound itself but rather how fast the instrument reacts under the bow. 

I think this has to do with how sensitive the body of the instrument is. On a very heavy and solid body the weight of the fingerboard might be not so important.

 

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The stiffness of the neck/fingerboard assembly might be important too.  A thin board and neck combination would probably vibrate more so the player's left hand and arm would absorb more energy from the vibrating violin which would reduce the violin's loudness and/or response.

A thin and light fingerboard could be "tuned" to the same frequency as a thick and heavy fingerboard but I very much doubt the violin would sound and play the same.

So "tuning" a fingerboard is just as inadequate as "tuning" plates to hit frequency targets.  Not wrong--just inadequate.

I guess while I'm at it--bridge tuning to a target frequency is also suspect for the same reason.

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12 hours ago, JohnCockburn said:

I think that if people hold strong opinions either way it would be most informative if they could describe  the circumstances that led them to their position. Maybe a good violin that suddenly became not so good after a fingerboard re-shoot? Or vice versa?

Although the pantomime season will be with us all too soon, , "oh yes it does/oh no it doesn't" isn't terribly enlightening. 

:P

It's easy enough to start sticking clay to the sides and underside of a fingerboard, and see what you think. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't,  just like some people prefer the sound of a violin with  a chinrest (like me),  and some prefer it without. (Of course, people who prefer it without are messed up.) :lol:

Don't just listen.... part of it is the response, and the feedback the player gets from the instrument, so you need a fairly good player to assess this.

My half-baked theory on why this can be effective is that one doesn't want to waste energy vibrating parts of the instrument that don't emit significant sound, or don't communicate useful vibration to a part which does, so added stiffness or mass there can be beneficial.

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

:P

>

>

My half-baked theory on why this can be effective is that one doesn't want to waste energy vibrating parts of the instrument that don't emit significant sound, or don't communicate useful vibration to a part which does, so added stiffness or mass there can be beneficial.

I hate to be disagreeable but I just don't see why this is just a "half-baked" theory.

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3 hours ago, David Burgess said:

...some people prefer the sound of a violin with  a chinrest (like me),  and some prefer it without. (Of course, people who prefer it without are messed up.) :lol:

I too find that the sound (and bow response) with a chinrest is far preferable.  If you consider a free beam, the middle will move one way and the ends will move the opposite way.  Adding mass to the ends of the beam (like a chinrest and scroll) will decrease the movement at the ends, reducing the "opposite movement" of the lowest modes.  The frequency will change as well, but the main effect  I think would be changing the mode shape.

The fingerboard mass might act in a somewhat similar manner.  But in any case, I haven't yet found any specific connection between the fingerboard frequency and the frequency response of the violin, so "tuning" the fingerboard (frequency-wise) I do not yet see as being effective.

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If the fingerboard mass had any effect, you'd need a military grade microphone, a treated space, and spectral analysis machinery to detect the difference.

You think Strad was tapping his fingerboards with a metal rod and checking the frequency response on his laptop? If he'd wasted all his time with those shenanigans, he wouldn't have been able to make so many hundreds of the most beautiful instruments the world has ever seen.

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11 hours ago, Deo Lawson said:

1. If the fingerboard mass had any effect, you'd need a military grade microphone, a treated space, and spectral analysis machinery to detect the difference.

2. You think Strad was tapping his fingerboards with a metal rod and checking the frequency response on his laptop?

3. If he'd wasted all his time with those shenanigans, he wouldn't have been able to make so many hundreds of the most beautiful instruments the world has ever seen.

1. I wouldn't use analysis equipment as the benchmark. We can clearly hear changes and differences which are difficult to isolate and identify with analysis equipment.

2. No, but we don't know how Stads sounded when new and in their original configuration. Fingerboards today are very different, and we have several more centuries of experience to draw upon, some of which is used to improve the sound of Strads. Would a totally original and unaltered Strad (including original strings) be a valued major soloist instrument today? I highly doubt it.

3. Good point.

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6 hours ago, David Burgess said:

... just like some people prefer the sound of a violin with  a chinrest (like me),  and some prefer it without. (Of course, people who prefer it without are messed up.) :lol:

 

or playing music composed before ca 1820!

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