contradict opinion about fingerboard

Edited: September 15, 2018, 8:24 AM · Hi guys, sorry for taking your time. I got sth to ask : couple years ago my brother bought a secondhand violin from local store. Unfortunately, its soundpost often fell down. The previous violin teacher said it's because the fingerboard wasn't straight and too high. She even made a mark on our violin. Then we decided to go to a luthier to fix it. Unfortunately (again), the luthier was suck. he kept our violins for almost a year, he just cut/scaped its fingerboard and he hadn't set the soundpost. Last month we went to the 2nd luthier. He fixed the soundpost and said nothing about our fingerboard. However, this day our new violin teacher said that we had to repair our fingerboard because it's too low and too flat. I'm so confused. Can anyone help? I'd glad to read your response guys..thanks!

Replies (20)

September 15, 2018, 9:03 AM · The fingerboard and soundest are two different issues, and it's difficult to tell what exactly is going on with your fingerboard without seeing it.

The sound post fell because it was too short, something that's pretty rare if the strings are tuned to pitch. It should not be too hard to make and set a sound post in place.

"...the luthier was suck.." I haven't heard it put quite in those words, but a year is a long time to fix a fingerboard. It sounds like he may have attempted to reset it. It's also possible that your teachers aren't correct. Whatever the case, perhaps you need to find a new luthier, or you should send the violin to one in another city. Where do you live?

Edited: September 15, 2018, 10:10 AM · ?? Hi Scott Cole, please ignore that 'the luthier was sucks' part, I'm just annoyed since the previous luthier kept the violin for a year.

Thanks for your response, i think you're right. I need to find new luthier or send the violin to another city. I live in Indonesia, there are so many instrument luthier but not all of them can fix violin. thanks!

September 15, 2018, 9:42 AM · 'we had to repair our fingerboard because it's too low and too flat.'

'Too flat' could mean too large of a radius (the radius of a circle that matches the curve of the fingerboard from the treble to the bass side). 'Too flat' can also refer to insufficient 'scoop' or relief along the length of the fingerboard. 'Too low' is probably referring to the fingerboard projection. There are some nice pictures on this page which should help to make this clearer:

(they call the projection 'Vertical Angle' on this page)

September 15, 2018, 10:05 AM · Wow,thanks Guglielmus Carinius!

I don't know either. He just said it is too flat and too low. I will ask him about this 'too flat' matter soon to make it clearer for me.

Thanks for the link, it's really interesting i am reading it right now.

September 15, 2018, 10:05 AM · The page that Guglielmus posted should be quite helpful.
Having new fingerboards put on, or having the neck reset isn't cheap. Is this violin worth the investment?
Wish I knew something about luthiers in Indonesia. Anywhere else to look, like Singapore? (Yes, I realize that you may be really close to Singapore....or really far)
September 15, 2018, 10:24 AM · Scott Cole,
the new teacher have tried to calculated it (in our currency). If I buy new fingerboard, new bridge (if neccessary), pay for resetting/fixing service, etc., the total will be half of the violin's worth.
what do you think?

Singapore is somewhat close, but i think i won't go there for repairing violin :)) The overall costs are much greater than violin's worth. Anw thanks for the idea!

September 15, 2018, 10:46 AM · I think you should know that there is a lot of controversy about how crucial the fingerboard projection measurement is (and the resulting string angle where the strings cross the bridge). Although 27mm is often recommended, evidently many violins will sound good with a lower projection. So if the violin has an acceptably powerful tone, you might consider leaving that alone.
September 15, 2018, 3:37 PM · Spending half a violin's value on repairs that may or may not help is not a good investment.

A few years ago, I was interested in a new violin made by a California maker. It had a very low bridge--too low.
I said I'd only consider it if the bridge were a normal height (not almost buzzing, in other words). Later, he told me he had put on a standard bridge, and it killed the sound.

Likewise, I have had major work done on violins that ended up not improving anything. Recently, a student (of another teacher) called and asked what I thought of a neck reset on her instrument. I told her the same thing: People, like luthiers or teachers, can tell you to go get this or that done. But It may not make the violin better. Carefully consider the cost and value of the violin.

Edited: September 15, 2018, 5:36 PM · Hi Guglielmus Carinius. After reading your link, I read on other sites that violin with flatter and lower 'stuffs' is suitable for irish, folk or bluegrass music. what do you think?
September 15, 2018, 5:57 PM · Scott Cole, yeah i think i'll leave this violin in its condition for a while. I'll
try to continue my violin course first. I really want to know, will its current fingerboard (and its bridge, its setup etc.) bother me/holding me back from improving my ability to play violin or not.
thanks for reminding me to consider the cost and the violin's worth.
September 15, 2018, 7:34 PM · Yes, some folk players like flatter (higher radius) and lower bridge. Some (albeit fewer) classical players also. High radius reduces the amount of arm motion required to cross from one string to another. But it also increases the difficulty of playing on a single string without inadvertently having your bow touch one of the adjacent strings, when you do want to play 'clean'.
Edited: September 16, 2018, 8:22 AM · Guglielmus Carinius, oh I see. So probably I'll having difficulties at playing clean notes, right? I'll consider it, too. Thankyou so much!
Edited: September 16, 2018, 12:25 PM · Maybe, depends on how flat it is, and how precise your bowing is. The most commonly cited figure is 42mm radius for both the fingerboard and the playing 'surface'. So you can test your setup by drawing a section of a 42mm radius circle on some very stiff paper and cutting it out to create a sort of template. Lay this on your fingerboard and see if it is more or less or equal to 42. Similarly, put your template on the strings near the bridge, where you would be bowing.

Don't feel that you need to have a 42mm radius if a higher or lower radius suits your playing. Too low of a radius (curvier bridge) in an extreme case will cause your bow to rub on the C bouts when you are playing on the G or E string.

Remember 'too flat' could also be referring to the relief/scoop. You test for this by placing a straightedge on the fingerboard along the paths of the G,D,A,and E strings. Look for a small dip in the fingerboard, usually .5-1mm. If this test reveals no dip (scoop), or, even worse, bumps, or just random holes instead of a graceful scoop, then your fingerboard will want some work.

September 16, 2018, 9:36 PM · Guglielmus Carinius, i can't understand "Look for a small dip in the fingerboard, usually .5-1mm. If this test reveals no dip (scoop), or, even worse, bumps, or just random holes instead of a graceful scoop, then your fingerboard will want some work." part.

where should I look at? which part of Fingerboard? or do you have another website link or youtube link for this?

Edited: September 17, 2018, 7:53 AM · Go back to the link I sent earlier and go to the subsection 'Relief' under 'Relief and Radius' (relief is another term for scoop). There is a picture and description there. You may be able to right-click on the the picture and open it in a new tab or window, where you can get a better view. Anyway if you look closely you can see a tiny sliver of light peeking through underneath the ruler, widest near the middle of the ruler.

(the next section of that page shows a guy using a template similar to the one I suggested you could make to check the radius.)

September 17, 2018, 10:15 AM · Oh right, I got it. Thanks Guglielmus Carinius!
September 28, 2018, 1:56 PM · If, as it sounds, upper fingerboard had been set up for fiddling, it will be a little harder to play one dtring at a time. Your teacher will notice this more than you because they're used to standard bridge shapes.

But all beginners have a problem with clean string crossing and if this is the violin you practise on you'll adapt. It's the same as getting intonation right (exact finger position varies slightly between instruments so you'll find someone else's instrumemt harder to play for the first little bit)

What noone has pointed out yet is that the usual reason for flatter bridges on fiddles is for easier double stops - you'll score in that area.

I don't think it's worth spending money changing a functional fiddle you like the sound of into a violin when you can play both kinds of music on either instrument.

October 1, 2018, 7:13 AM · Hi Anish Carmyn, you have a beautiful name!
Yes, my sister who's using normal/standard fingerboard also got difficulties on string crossing. So this time i'll just try adapting my self to this might-be-fiddle-not-violin thing :)
October 1, 2018, 8:01 PM · Johanna, did you measure your projection, radius, and scoop?
October 1, 2018, 10:59 PM · Gugielmus Carinius, if i have measured it correctly, the projection is 25mm. Anyway i didn't measure the radius and scoop since i didn't know (and have not searched it on google) how to measure it. I'll find out soon :)

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