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Offset cello neck


SeSlack
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Hi All,
I recently had a crack in my cello that required the top plate to be removed.  When I got it back my fingerboard was moved tward the "A" side and the action is very low.  My Luthier said nothing could have changed the neck position but something definitely has changed.  My "C" and "G" string now hit the fingerboard when I play with force and things feel off with the string being so far to the left.  Has anyone ever experienced this or know what may have happened?  It a completed mystery to me and I don’t know how to fix it? I'll include pictures.  The 1st is before and the rest are after. Thanks!!

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The wide end of the fingerboard appears to be offset towards the C-string side in both the before and the after pictures, so I don't understand what you mean when you say it was moved toward the A side.

The height of the strings above the fingerboard can certainly be changed when the top is removed and reglued.  This is the luthier's fault.

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Of course taking the top off can change the neck angle and alignment. Was this a professional luthier who did the work?

It is some times necessary to add a shim to the top where it contacts the neck but whatever it takes the neck position has to be right. I dry clamp the top and measure neck pitch before removing sections of clamps and gluing in stages to make sure it stays put. The side to side alignment is also checked at the same time. 

It's possible the top will have to come off again to straighten this out.

 

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If  the same bridge is back on the cello and the string heights are low it is quite possible that the string heights will rise as the humidity goes up this summer. I am afraid I may have reacted too strongly to your saying you were told that the top removal couldn't change the neck angle. Are you sure that you understood that? I often will make a new bridge after a top removal because removing the top is a perfect opportunity to correct a neck angle which is already too low. However I would have discussed all the possible options with you before the work was done. I also would hope I would have seen the misalignment of the neck and discussed that with you as well.

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Call me crazy, but I think your bridge is positioned further to the treble side than before. The first picture your A string is almost perfectly straight with almost no inflection at the bridge, and in the after picture the inflection is almost as much as the C string has. Maybe the bridge position was compensating for the offset Brad mentioned.

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I found it necessary a couple of times to make a new bridge after a top removal, but one should have some control over it, as elaborated above. On one occasion though it appear the arching "relaxed" when the top was off, got a little flatter, resulting in both a shorter sound post and a higher bridge.

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12 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

The wide end of the fingerboard appears to be offset towards the C-string side in both the before and the after pictures, so I don't understand what you mean when you say it was moved toward the A side.

The height of the strings above the fingerboard can certainly be changed when the top is removed and reglued.  This is the luthier's fault.

I agree with Brad. I would never guarantee to get the exact same neck height or angle after having the top off, and I would always quote the price of a new bridge in the estimate in case it was needed. A new bridge will take care of the string height, and by changing the bridge angle slightly side-to-side (I know it's not ideal), you can move the string position slightly east to west. I think that playing with that would be much preferable to exposing the instrument to the potential damage from taking the top off again to correct things. A new bridge is the least the luthier can do for you.

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Thank you all so much!!  Yes, I don’t believe the bridge before went towards bass side to compensate as there are no indentations there. It is moved more towards there now however to make things slightly more comfortable.  He also moved the bridge slightly tward the fingerboard to help with the string hight but it's still pretty low.   Yes, when he took the top off he said he did need to lower the post a bit.  I noticed that the "C" side top rib is higher then the "A" side.   Do you suppose this could mean it was glued to the top block a little off pushing the neck to the side?  I'll see if I can get a good picture of this...

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I see what glebert says. In the first photo the feet of the bridge are placed off center to center the strings on the board. In the second, the bridge is placed centered between the f-holes, making the strings off center. I think the neck was in crooked initially and it is exactly the same now, but the bridge is in a different place.

The first thing to do is move the bridge to the left so the strings are centered again. This may not fix the bridge height, however: in Chicago I am seeing strings that have sunk as much as 3mm because of the dry winter.  Maybe when the top went back on the person doing the work copied how it was, without thinking, or maybe he set the pitch too high. Either way, I have never seen a neck jump this far out of line on its own just because. This is, however, the direction boards move over long periods of time. There are too many questions here to blame one person.

If moving the bridge back so the strings are centered and the string heights are good, and the cello sounds like it should . . .  

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5 hours ago, SeSlack said:

Thank you all so much!!  Yes, I don’t believe the bridge before went towards bass side to compensate as there are no indentations there. It is moved more towards there now however to make things slightly more comfortable.  He also moved the bridge slightly tward the fingerboard to help with the string hight but it's still pretty low.   Yes, when he took the top off he said he did need to lower the post a bit.  I noticed that the "C" side top rib is higher then the "A" side.   Do you suppose this could mean it was glued to the top block a little off pushing the neck to the side?  I'll see if I can get a good picture of this...

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Looking at the original photo from the front side  , to my it seems to my eye the treble side rather drops on its own account. More or less matching what I see shown in these photos. I’d be less concerned with this , ( possibly intended to give a few mm more access? )as it could simply be an artifact of making and much more concerned  with how the center of the finger board lines up with the tail pin. Perhaps a new bridge is in order as well . It does seem like the bridge is a little east of its original position as well . Though the clarity of the first photo doesn’t quite show enough information to be positive. 

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On 3/6/2022 at 10:53 AM, SeSlack said:

…I noticed that the "C" side top rib is higher then the "A" side.   Do you suppose this could mean it was glued to the top block a little off pushing the neck to the side?…

Another way of saying that the C rib is higher is to say that the rib on that side is bulged out, leaving less top edge overhang on that side than on the A side.  Bulging ribs is a normal effect of plate shrinkage.  I don’t think this has anything to do with the fingerboard being off-center.  Though the luthier probably could have made the bulge less noticeable by redistributing it when he reglued the top, this is no cause for concern.

As has been said before, the fingerboard elevation can be varied quite a bit by how the top is glued on.  The fingerboard centering can be varied much less because, with the top off, the neck is still glued to the back, which tends to hold the fingerboard in the same side-to-side alignment.  I think that the fingerboard is now in the same sideways alignment as it was before, as Michael said, and the only thing that is different in the side-to-side alignment is that the bridge has been moved sideways.

And I think, as FiddleDoug says, that the best thing to do now is to fit a higher bridge, rather than risking the damage that removing the top again might cause.

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