Violin models without ebony wood?


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Most student violins do not use ebony, just other woods painted black, these aren't good quality instruments however.

I'm sure if you wanted an instrument, which did not use ebony, most individual makers would be able to accommodate your wishes. Synthetic fingerboards have been available for a few years now, although they do have issues.
Fittings can be made from a wide variety of woods, or even synthetic materials.

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I find that the presence or absence of ebony fingerboards* and pegs on the modern manufactured violins that I encounter is a good indicator of overall quality.  If these fittings are not ebony, the instruments are junk not worth bothering with.  If they are ebony, the instruments are likely to be decent inexpensive student instruments at worst.

* Violins don't have frets, so they don't have fretboards.

 

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14 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I find that the presence or absence of ebony fingerboards* and pegs on the modern manufactured violins that I encounter is a good indicator of overall quality.  If these fittings are not ebony, the instruments are junk not worth bothering with.  If they are ebony, the instruments are likely to be decent inexpensive student instruments at worst.

* Violins don't have frets, so they don't have fretboards.

 

Ditto on that!!

"Most student violins do not use ebony, just other woods painted black"

Those instruments often don't even rise to the grade of student instruments. I won't stock them, no matter what the price.

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6 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

I'm sure if you wanted an instrument, which did not use ebony, most individual makers would be able to accommodate your wishes.

I'm reconciled to potentially going that route, but (simply due to lead time and cost) I am hoping someone out there knows of a regular production model that is of good quality.  Ebony has serious sustainability issues, and I'd like to avoid it if at all possible.

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Yeah, the only real choice, if you want a good instrument, is to request a maker to make you a new instrument with alternate materials.

I'm sure that the Chinese trade will also supply a new violin with a different fingerboard. Talk to a dealer that works closely with them. Of course you may end up with something thats even more endangered.

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I have somewhat mixed feelings about the wood we use in these things. On one hand, preservation by substituting some alternative material sounds noble. On the other hand, making these woods and the environment that they live in valuable in their own right can lead to preservation. A good deal of the Brazilian rain forest, for example, has been lost to slash and burn agriculture. If we can make these materials valuable enough to encourage sustainable harvesting and environmental preservation, we may well come out ahead. There are some people doing exactly that, notably with pernambuco in Brazil, but I would love to see similar movements in other parts of the world.

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I suggested Bois d’Arc but someone said it felt wrong, although it’s certainly hard enough to be a fingerboard, and god knows there’s plenty of Bois d’Arc around.

But it will be a long time before we run out of pernambuco that has already been harvested.

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On 1/28/2021 at 1:12 PM, stringcheese said:

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the wood we use in these things. On one hand, preservation by substituting some alternative material sounds noble. On the other hand, making these woods and the environment that they live in valuable in their own right can lead to preservation. A good deal of the Brazilian rain forest, for example, has been lost to slash and burn agriculture. If we can make these materials valuable enough to encourage sustainable harvesting and environmental preservation, we may well come out ahead. There are some people doing exactly that, notably with pernambuco in Brazil, but I would love to see similar movements in other parts of the world.

A large part of the Brazilian economy relies on beef, and sugar cane. Neither do well in rain forests. The market price of some of the displaced  wood is so low, that it's cheaper to burn it, than haul it out, process it, and sell it. How much more are you willing to pay, to prevent this wood from going up in smoke?

The feedback I have had so far on synthetic fingerboards (including those which are made of compressed wood and resin impregnated) is that there two significant issues:

One is adhesion. They don't stay glued very well. A reputation for fingerboards popping off would not be good for my "legend". :lol:

The other is that among the few synthetic fingerboards I have tested, "plastic deformation" was an issue.  The fingerboard is a major contributor to the strength of the neck, and if the fingerboard deforms easily, (whether in several days, or several years), "Houston, we have a problem". ;)

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

A large part of the Brazilian economy relies on beef, and sugar cane. Neither do well in rain forests. The market price of some of the displaced  wood is so low, that it's cheaper to burn it, than haul it out, process it, and sell it. How much more are you willing to pay, to prevent this wood from going up in smoke?

The feedback I have had so far on synthetic fingerboards (including those which are made of compressed wood and resin impregnated) is that there two significant issues:

One is adhesion. They don't stay glued very well. A reputation for fingerboards popping off would not be good for my "legend". :lol:

The other is that among the few synthetic fingerboards I have tested, "plastic deformation" was an issue.  The fingerboard is a major contributor to the strength of the neck, and if the fingerboard deforms easily, (whether in several days, or several years), "Houston, we have a problem". ;)

How about Bois d’Arc?

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20 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

How about Bois d’Arc?

I think maybe you are referring to Maclura pomifera, or osage orange? I made a nut for one of my fiddles a few  years ago out of this wood, and it seems to be holding up well. But the grain was relatively coarse, so not so easy to get a nice smooth surface.

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Yes it’s the same wood as Osage orange. Someone said the feel of the worked wood was wrong. I’m not sure what they meant, never having played on anything but ebony. But I do think it would be lovely if it did work. But it is incredibly hard and supposedly ruins a lot of saw blades.

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23 hours ago, David Burgess said:

A large part of the Brazilian economy relies on beef, and sugar cane. Neither do well in rain forests. The market price of some of the displaced  wood is so low, that it's cheaper to burn it, than haul it out, process it, and sell it. How much more are you willing to pay, to prevent this wood from going up in smoke?

The feedback I have had so far on synthetic fingerboards (including those which are made of compressed wood and resin impregnated) is that there two significant issues:

One is adhesion. They don't stay glued very well. A reputation for fingerboards popping off would not be good for my "legend". :lol:

The other is that among the few synthetic fingerboards I have tested, "plastic deformation" was an issue.  The fingerboard is a major contributor to the strength of the neck, and if the fingerboard deforms easily, (whether in several days, or several years), "Houston, we have a problem". ;)

David, I do have a different opinion on this one,  I have used quite a few Corene fingerboards over the last 2-3 years. 

Not one has fallen off or even become partially unglued, and yes, I did use thick bone glue for all of them. 

I also find that they are more stable. I have experienced much more warping with ebony than with corene.

They are also harder, which makes fitting them a bit more difficult, especially the sides, but I have had the impression they wear considerably less than ebony.

I have only ever used corene, never a different brand so I can't say anything about maybe lower grades of synthetic fingerboards.

The only downside is that they are a little more heavy. So far I have not noticed any negative effect on the sound though.

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43 minutes ago, CSchabbon said:

>

The only downside is that they are a little more heavy. So far I have not noticed any negative effect on the sound though.

I'm not sure that heavier fingerboards are a downside.  

I've done the opposite and made some very light fingerboards out of Paulonia (~0.26 g/cc) Sitka  spruce (~0.40).  These lower density woods do not have adequate wear resistance.  I've mentioned previously that this can be overcome by using a hard epoxy fingerboard coating.  David Burgess has recently stated that creep resistance is also important.  I agree and some have been reinforced with internal carbon fiber tubes in the neck.  So inadequate wear resistance and creep resistance of low density woods can be overcome.

But I now suspect some of my earlier violins and violas made with heavier fingerboards produced more sound out put than these light ones.   I've tried to mathematically model a coupled two body vibrating system (violin body coupled with a neck/ fingerboard) and I conclude that the neck and fingerboard should be heavy. This causes the violin body to vibrate more which should produce a bigger sound output.  

One of my projects for 2021 is to make a violin or viola with bolted on interchangeable necks/fingerboards made from widly different density woods to see where I'm going wrong.

 

 

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20 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Thanks Christian.

How about removal? Will alcohol help release these, similar to the way it does with hide glue?

I have not had to remove any so far, I can only imagine it must be a similar experience as hide glue and ebony fingerboards. 

The interesting fact (after a lot of testing I did in 2019/20) is that bone glue is not the strongest glue out there by far, it just seems to adhere very well to corene. 

By the way, I also started using bone glue to glue on ebony boards. I believe that somehow bone glue bone glue suits denser woods, spruce is asking for a little longer glue molecules.

 

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1 hour ago, CSchabbon said:

I have not had to remove any so far, I can only imagine it must be a similar experience as hide glue and ebony fingerboards. 

The interesting fact (after a lot of testing I did in 2019/20) is that bone glue is not the strongest glue out there by far, it just seems to adhere very well to corene. 

By the way, I also started using bone glue to glue on ebony boards. I believe that somehow bone glue bone glue suits denser woods, spruce is asking for a little longer glue molecules.

 

I haven't used the Corene boards yet... but am waiting for an opportunity to do so. Like to do so with a client I can "follow" easily.

I believe a schoolmate, John-Eric Traelnes, was involved  in their development (and he's a pretty sharp guy) and I've heard a number of good reports from those who have used them.

The website states they include a "natural" glue with the board... which I thought odd... know what it is?

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37 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

I haven't used the Corene boards yet... but am waiting for an opportunity to do so. Like to do so with a client I can "follow" easily.

I believe a schoolmate, John-Eric Traelnes, was involved  in their development (and he's a pretty sharp guy) and I've heard a number of good reports from those who have used them.

The website states they include a "natural" glue with the board... which I thought odd... know what it is?

Yes, they send small bags with glue with every single board, labelled 'bone glue'.

I think they do that since they had complaints from people with boards becoming unglued, must be 3 or so years back. 

Sometimes I use their glue, most of the times just finely ground Kremer bone glue.

 

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