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Quadibloc

Wenge for fingerboards?

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In looking at a site about chess pieces offered for sale, I learned that a new African wood, Wenge, is sometimes used as a substitute for Ebony.

Since Ebony is not endangered - as long as one uses the ligher-colored wood, and not just the wood that is black - I suppose there's no need to resort to a substitute. If you want the traditional color, wood can easily be stained.

In doing a web search, though, I saw that Wenge is being used for guitar fretboards, but no one has tried it for a violin fingerboard as far as I could find.

Taking a closer look at my search results, apparently using Wenge gives a guitar a darker tone quality.

Edited by Quadibloc
Note about effects

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The wenge that I have seen is quite open-pored, so if you can adequately fill the pores, it could work. I know a workshop who makes harps of wenge, and I made a couple of dulcimers of it as well.

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I fixed up an old bar room fight violin that my violin teacher had inherited.  He wanted something a little different so I made new fingerboard and matching tailpiece from zebra wood.  Many people liked it.

But undertakers still prefer traditional black ebony.

  

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I agree. I found it to be very stringy and splintery. I don't think it's a very suitable wood for any kind of instrument fingerboards or fittings.

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4 hours ago, Thomas Coleman said:

wenge is a major pain to work with handtools.  It is very splintery, cantankerous and like duane88 said, very open pored.  I don't think it would make a very good violin fingerboard. 

 

2 hours ago, Bill Yacey said:

I agree. I found it to be very stringy and splintery. I don't think it's a very suitable wood for any kind of instrument fingerboards or fittings.

Hi All,

When I was building my house, I haunted the demolisher's yards searching for old timber for roof joists, floor joists etc (nothing like 70 year old seasoned wood for stability) Amongst the loot that I gathered was about 1/2 mx3 of Wenge parquet flooring  blocks. Just enough to do my drawing office.

My vote is added to Duane88, Thomas and Bill as to its working quality. In addition, a splinter festers so quickly that I would hazard a guess that it's not too good to inhale the dust.

However, tap two blocks against each other and you get the most clear note imaginable - should be perfect for a Xylophone.

Later I stumbled over a plank of Wenge and yielded to temptation - it's sitting in the workshop waiting for an appointment with the circular saw and an attempt at making a cello bow.

cheers edi

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11 hours ago, edi malinaric said:

However, tap two blocks against each other and you get the most clear note imaginable - should be perfect for a Xylophone.

cheers edi

Cocobolo has a nice clear ring too, easy to work but very noxious dust. Some people develop allergies from working this wood. Cocobolo makes beautiful fittings, second to none.

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17 hours ago, Bill Yacey said:

I agree. I found it to be very stringy and splintery. I don't think it's a very suitable wood for any kind of instrument fingerboards or fittings.

It's used for guitar fingerboards to some extent. I don't think there are too many issues with it with guitars. 

But violins don't have frets, so that could pose an additional challenge. 

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...I will add that I have found Wenge to be very abrasive/wearing on handplane blades. Far more than Cocobolo, Rosewood, Ebony, etc. Like literally one or two passes and they were noticably dull and skipping over the wood. Ughhhhhh.

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On a guitar, I would be afraid of the fingerboard getting ruined the first time some frets are pulled for replacement. The fret tangs will pull big splinters out on either side of the fret slot.

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4 hours ago, Bill Yacey said:

On a guitar, I would be afraid of the fingerboard getting ruined the first time some frets are pulled for replacement. The fret tangs will pull big splinters out on either side of the fret slot.

That's only if you remove them outward. Try pulling them through the side. 

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