PhilipKT

Any cello fingerboard wedges to be had?

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So it appears that this cello, wonderful though it is, has a Fingerboard that is a few millimeters too low. It wants a shim Under the fingerboard.

Does anybody have a shim for a cello fingerboard lying around the shop gathering dust that they would like to sell for next to nothing?

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The measurement that would be most revealing here is the fingerboard projection. That’s measured by laying a straight edge on the middle high point of the fingerboard, sliding it up to to touch the bridge, and measuring the height of that contact point from the instrument top. 81mm is a standard number for a 4/4 cello.

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1 hour ago, PhilipKT said:

...Does anybody have a shim for a cello fingerboard lying around the shop gathering dust that they would like to sell for next to nothing?...

A FB shim is not something that one buys ready-made and puts on.  It is made from a piece of maple or ebony that is glued to neck, after removing the fingerboard, over-sized in every dimension.  Then it is trimmed so that it will yield the desired FB projection and overstand after the fingerboard is glued on.  It can also require a new fingerboard.

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3 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

A FB shim is not something that one buys ready-made and puts on.  It is made from a piece of maple or ebony that is glued to neck, after removing the fingerboard, over-sized in every dimension.  Then it is trimmed so that it will yield the desired FB projection and overstand after the fingerboard is glued on.  It can also require a new fingerboard.

Jay said a new fingerboard isn’t necessary. Of course the wedge would have to be dressed but there are surely blanks available?

Jay said he had violin shims but not cello, so I was hoping to find one here.

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57 minutes ago, MarkBouquet said:

The measurement that would be most revealing here is the fingerboard projection. That’s measured by laying a straight edge on the middle high point of the fingerboard, sliding it up to to touch the bridge, and measuring the height of that contact point from the instrument top. 81mm is a standard number for a 4/4 cello.

Thank you. I was worried I might have omitted a meaningful measurement.

ill have to check.

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8 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

Jay said a new fingerboard isn’t necessary. Of course the wedge would have to be dressed but there are surely blanks available?

Jay said he had violin shims but not cello, so I was hoping to find one here.

International Violins sells violin shims pre-made, but the cello is just a too large piece of wood to make and be shelf-stable.

No, you can not buy them pre-made. You calculate what thickness you need, cut and flatten a piece of wood, usually maple. cut to dimension, plane into a wedge keeping the surface flat, tilting the plane if you want to do that. Glue the board on and shape the shim to the neck and board. Retouch.

I sometimes use old fingerboards to make an invisible ebony wedge, and if the board is too thin or has to be replaced I will saw off the board at the neck joint and plane that as the wedge.

So no generic cello wedges, and I would guess that the pre-made violin ones need some work in order to use.

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I wasn’t suggesting that a piece could be just slapped on and glued and done, But I did assume that there would be blanks available that could be fitted, apparently that is not the case, which means I’m back to square one. Thank you very much for the info

Edited by PhilipKT

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I am curious as to why bother with a shim if the cello plays well and sounds good? It seems like a lot of work and expense for a perhaps marginal improvement, if that.

In regards to a shim, could you cut one from a cello neck blank?

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6 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

I am curious as to why bother with a shim if the cello plays well and sounds good? It seems like a lot of work and expense for a perhaps marginal improvement, if that.

In regards to a shim, could you cut one from a cello neck blank?

You could, but cello neck blanks are expensive!

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13 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

I am curious as to why bother with a shim if the cello plays well and sounds good? It seems like a lot of work and expense for a perhaps marginal improvement, if that.

In regards to a shim, could you cut one from a cello neck blank?

The cello belongs to a student, I acquired it for her at the VSA convention in Dallas last fall. It sounds fantastic, and frankly I don’t mind the high Strings, but she is playing increasingly advanced music, and it’s a little uncomfortable for her. And, after all, 9 mm is quite a bit higher than 5 mm

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13 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

The cello belongs to a student, I acquired it for her at the VSA convention in Dallas last fall. It sounds fantastic, and frankly I don’t mind the high Strings, but she is playing increasingly advanced music, and it’s a little uncomfortable for her. And, after all, 9 mm is quite a bit higher than 5 mm

By 9mm do you mean 9mm for the A string? 

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9 minutes ago, Nick Allen said:

By 9mm do you mean 9mm for the A string? 

Yes it’s 9 MM high where it should be between 4-6, I think.

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I might be tempted to do a pull-up for part of it and lower the bridge a little bit. Between the two you could get the action reasonable.

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5 minutes ago, duane88 said:

I might be tempted to do a pull-up for part of it and lower the bridge a little bit. Between the two you could get the action reasonable.

Yes, if there is enough edge to pull the neck up that is both much less work and also much more satisfactory in the long run.

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50 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

The cello belongs to a student, I acquired it for her at the VSA convention in Dallas last fall. It sounds fantastic, and frankly I don’t mind the high Strings, but she is playing increasingly advanced music, and it’s a little uncomfortable for her. And, after all, 9 mm is quite a bit higher than 5 mm

Ouch - yes, it sure is! I thought the bridge was low, too. 

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27 minutes ago, duane88 said:

I might be tempted to do a pull-up for part of it and lower the bridge a little bit. Between the two you could get the action reasonable.

Can you describe a pull-up?

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Open the seam between the top and the ribs, linings and upper block from one upper corner to the other.  Pull the neck back and insert a shim between the neck and the end grain of the top under the fingerboard.  The shim thickness should be whatever is required to hold the neck back far enough to raise the fingerboard projection the desired amount.  Reglue the top to the ribs, linings and upper block.

The fingerboard will be higher than it was before, and the top edge will overhang the ribs near the neck less than it did before.  Some makers leave extra top edge overhand in this area in the anticipation that this procedure might be necessary.  It's a lot easier than shimming the fingerboard.

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22 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Open the seam between the top and the ribs, linings and upper block from one upper corner to the other.  Pull the neck back and insert a shim between the neck and the end grain of the top under the fingerboard.  The shim thickness should be whatever is required to hold the neck back far enough to raise the fingerboard projection the desired amount.  Reglue the top to the ribs, linings and upper block.

The fingerboard will be higher than it was before, and the top edge will overhang the ribs near the neck less than it did before.  Some makers leave extra top edge overhand in this area in the anticipation that this procedure might be necessary.  It's a lot easier than shimming the fingerboard.

Oh, I am familiar with that, but I thought that was a neck reset.

Thank you very much that sounds like a quite complicated deal.

I feel responsible for the instrument because I recommended it to the kids, so I’m going to take care of the repair, and I want it done well, but as inexpensively as possible, ha ha

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I think what Brad is describing is also called a “New York neck reset.” It is a lot easier and cheaper than a regular neck reset. 

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Brad... separating the top from the neckblock must be quite a challenge... I have done many on violins and it takes some doing and care to be sure you don't split the top. The cello block is much bigger... what tools and system do you use? 

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Yes, it can be a challenge.  How much of one mostly depends on how tightly the top is glued on.  I do it on a cello the same as I do it on a violin.  The tools I use are a saw with a very thin blade, a small hammer, an opening block and two opening knives.  The method is to saw through the top edge on both sides of the neck.  Then insert the knives in any seam openings that might be present.  If there are no openings, I create them by tapping on the under side of the top edge with the block and hammer.  Then slowly and carefully running the knives around the seams, while watching and listening closely for cracks in the edge.  Separating the top from the neck block is usually the hardest part.

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10 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

...Separating the top from the neck block is usually the hardest part.

tough enough on a violin... but must be really challenging on a cello. I do try to get a bit of alcohol into the joint with a syringe with a 22 or 24 guage needle ... really need to watch positioning & application carefully so that the alcohol will not touch the varnish.

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14 hours ago, Mat Roop said:

...must be really challenging on a cello..

Now that I think about it, I have to confess that, though I've done this on many violins, I've never done it on a cello.  But I expect that I could.

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