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Fingerboard- Should it be dead flat?

Instruments: Should I have a tech flatten my fingerboard?

From Allan Speers
Posted October 7, 2006 at 04:16 AM

My post title says it all: Fingerboard- Should it be dead flat?

y violin's f-board has a slight bow, so it dips in the middle (deviates from flat) by perhaps 1/8th inch or less. On a guitar, this would be mostly taken out by tightening the truss rod. Obviously, a violin has no trussrod (maybe they should!)

Also obviously, this isn't super-critical on a violin since the strings are so high off the board, but I'm wondering if this can affect overall action, or (worse) intonation.

Should I have a tech flatten my fingerboard?

From Andres Sender
Posted on October 7, 2006 at 08:17 AM
The fingerboard should have some dip in it (commonly called 'scoop'). This is really to keep the action from being unnecesarily high in the high positions. It's quite standard.

It needs to be done right of course, and not all fingerboards are created equal. If your scoop is truly close to 1/8" then it's unnecessarily deep.

Oh, and guitar fingerboards are commonly scooped also, although in that realm it's more often called 'relief'.

From Allan Speers
Posted on October 7, 2006 at 10:13 AM
Well, actually, many top guitar players and techs prefer to use zero relief. It is believed (and I have tested it and agree) that the guitar sounds slightly more defined with the added tension. It seems reasonable to assume that the same would hold true on a violin.

Also, using zero relief means the sadlle (bridge) will be higher. This increases the break-angle of the string and gives a guitar more volume & sustain. from what i have read, this may not apply to violins (though there is much debate concerning violin bridge height)

If a guitar's frets are set-up extremely well, and you use 10 gauge strings or thinner, there is really no need for relief. I own about 20 guitars and basses, and they are all set dead-flat.

-Of course, using relief is more common, but mostly because old beliefs are still very prevalent in the industry.

Glad to know that a touch of relief (scoop) is considered correct on a violin. thanks.

From Michael Darnton
Posted on October 7, 2006 at 12:49 PM
It should have no more than 3/4mm scoop, and no less than zero, depending on your playing style, violin (different violins respond differently), and preference. The objective is to maintain a comfortable amount of resistance for fingers, all the way down the board. Most strong players don't like no scoop at all, but prefer some, combined with a high nut and bridge. They say that the springy rebound puts snap in their playing.

Nothing about the string heights and scoop on a violn is calculated to avoid buzzing, which won't happen until the strings are much lower. If there's too little resistance, though, a player tends to play sloppily. Cellos play by slightly different rules, though.

An eighth of an inch is way too much.

From Allan Speers
Posted on October 7, 2006 at 07:54 PM
Great info!

-Thanks to you both.


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