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Hi folks,

I bought a 16-1/2" unfinished "white" viola from a Chinese seller on eBay over a year ago.  I bought it because I loved the look of the tight grained spruce top, the beautiful flamed maple on the back, and especially the fancy inlay.  I have never tried any kind of project like this before, but after receiving it I realized that I had gotten something that was going to be more work than I bargained for.  The fingerboard had a big hump in the middle of it.  I double checked that it wasn't just warped, but no, the bottom was flat and the just the top had a big convex hump in it.  I put it in the closet and decided to buy a much cheaper white violin to practice on and learn from before risking my luck on this nicer project. 

So now, over a year later, I took it out to see about fixing the hump and I noticed something I had not seen before:  the fingerboard also has a long crack in it.  I hoped that it was just cosmetic and I started aggressively sanding down the hump.  But the crack is still there even after removing almost 1.5mm of thickness.  I had saved the eBay listing photos when I bought it, and I now see that they cleverly avoided any view of this section of the fingerboard.  I bet "Master Song and his 2 right hand apprentices" knew all about the hump and the crack in it - and that is how it ended up as a DIY "white" viola on eBay rather than a finished instrument... :angry:

Is there a way to fix it?  Fill it with CA glue?  Would I be better off to remove it and put a better quality piece on?  I emailed the seller asking if it was just "tack glued" and he replied, "No, it be well glued."  So that solution won't be easy.  Maybe I should just ignore it?

 

Fingerboard_Crack.JPG

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11 hours ago, JamesBooth said:

So now, over a year later, I took it out to see about fixing the hump and I noticed something I had not seen before:  the fingerboard also has a long crack in it.  I hoped that it was just cosmetic and I started aggressively sanding down the hump.  But the crack is still there even after removing almost 1.5mm of thickness.  I had saved the eBay listing photos when I bought it, and I now see that they cleverly avoided any view of this section of the fingerboard.  I bet "Master Song and his 2 right hand apprentices" knew all about the hump and the crack in it - and that is how it ended up as a DIY "white" viola on eBay rather than a finished instrument..

If you already removed 1.5mm the fingerboard may be too thin to save now..

Had I found such tiny crack in ebony fingerboard (which is common in lower quality of ebony these days) I would just flood it with CA and perhapds tiny bit of ebony dust if there was any noticeable empty space and follow with whatever setup procedure the instrument requires. CA and ebony dust repairs have been used on guitars and mandolins for decades and it will be almost invisible and hard wearing.

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I agree on the CA repair.  Just fill it with that and forget about it as it's very unlikely to cause you any problems.  Ebony is a fairly brittle wood so cracks and checks like this are not that uncommon.

As far as the hump on the fingerboard goes..., it's clearly not finished and that's not unusual either.  In case you're not aware, the playing surface of a fingerboard should have a longitudinal concavity.

Good Luck with the project!

 

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You don't say which way your fingerboard is humped.  A violin-family fingerboard is supposed to be humped crossways.  If that's what you have, it's supposed to be there.  But, as Mark says, it should be slightly concave lengthwise.  If you have a hump that way, you should remove it.

As for the crack, I would fill it with sanding dust then flood it with super glue.  Sand it some more as the glue is drying.  The raised sanding dust will ensure that the crack is filled.

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As others have said, CA glue in the crack with Ebony sanding dust. The bigger issue is that you're using the wrong tool for shaping the fingerboard. If you just try to sand it, you'll end up chasing your goal. The correct tool is a block plane, and the nut needs to come off to do it.

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