A luthier I know is putting one of these (don't know the manufacturer) on the instrument that he is currently making. Here is a link to one company.
Anyone have any experience with these? Comments? If they work it might reduce the ecological pressure on ebony tree.
It appears the surface is sealed. This means that sweat or oil can't penetrate the surface. So where does it go? It must stay on top, which could make the fingerboard feel.....sweaty or oily. Fingerboards actually need some amount of absorbency, like piano keys. Ivory, being porous, feels great because it absorbs sweat and oils, which is why the piano makers have tried to make a porous key.
With my hands, I can only imagine how much fun a perfectly smooth fingerboard would be.
I've used 2 of them. They don't glue well with hide glue and tend to pop off if you do use it. My solution has been to glue a veneer to the fingerboard with an "alternative adhesive" and glue the shim to the neck with hide glue. They seem to shape and wear well, and Kevin Krentz, who is here in Seattle, has them in different weights. I see them as being useful for cello, but not yet for violin. The last cello boards that I got cost me over $200 each and they still need to be seasoned for at least a year before I can use them.
Thanks Duane - very useful info. I'll pass that on.
I agree with Scott that a sealed surface sounds impractical in the heat of battle. I notice that the material is phenol-formaldehyde which is the same essential composition of Bakelite. You see phenolic resins used for jar-caps and a number of other applications calling for a hard, insoluble, inexpensive plastic that holds its shape well. The Corene material may be produced in a way that gives it microporosity (which I'm not sure how they would do that), but if so they would have advertised that. They are able to give the material some kind of roughened surface to help it feel and look more natural.
Ah, so we should move to the Mason Jar fingerboard (Patent Pending)…
Plastic fingerboards? See plastic bow hair thread. These kind of "saving the ebony tree" arguments are false. If there is no demand for ebony wood, or any kind of wood for that matter, there will be even less forests as there are currently, even if many if these forests are just glorified tree-crop fields, they are still ecologically much more valuable than roads, constructions, industrial sites, pesticide-ridden agrictulture, etc. But I agree this debate is not so simple black-and-white, and anyway, entirely out of topic on v.com.
how hard are you pressing down on the strings, Cotton?
Jean wrote: "But I agree this debate is not so simple black-and-white, and anyway, entirely out of topic on v.com."
Interesting page for the status of ebony wood (guitar makers use it too):
That's what we said about ivory too JR.
There was even a published claim recently which tried to make the point that old Italian instruments didn't originally have ebony fingerboards, so it'd be great to consider alternatives, and that for example could be a driver. However I'm just pointing out that conservatism is a reality in this area (as it is in all, we're naturally resistant to change), but arguably more so in the violin world.
Gut strings are not a fair comparison. If you've given both guts and synthetics a fair shot, you'd know both have their own desirable qualities and that they are both very different.
Piano keys were once surfaced in ivory. Indeed, it is a marvelous material. A natural wonder. But we figured that out. And thank goodness. Elephants are natural wonders too. More wonderful even than the piano -- and I dearly love the piano. And no, mammoth ivory may also be a fine, workable material, but it is not the same. The texture is not nearly as fine.
You can't finish a fingerboard without sandpaper, all luthiers would agree.
All poor luthiers would agree, yes.
You obviously don't have a clue how fingerboards are finished.
I don't recall ever having any problem with plastic piano keys.
Elise, once there's a replacement for ebony fingerboards which I find acceptable, and which has been used widely enough to know that there aren't any problems, I'll be on board.
Part of the ebony problem is that the brown wood is functionally as good as the black, but they leave it to rot because the black has greater cachet. There has long been a movement afoot for the acceptance of brown oboes and things. But I don't want to tell you what you already know.
Elise, didn't you write in another thread that v.commers seem so touchy these days ;-) I was being unclear, but I was only referring to the ecological debate raised in my own comment about the good and the bad of plastic for our environment. That is a big complex debate probably not to be held on v.com (although like you I would still welcome expert inputs). But your original topic of this thread is of course very well on topic for v.com.
Elise don't throw away that patent application too soon. It would not surprise me if the ideal fingerboard material turned out to be a ceramic. As others have indicated the means of attachment to the neck is not a trivial considerations. These problems are solvable. Lots of clever people out there.
Jean - then I misread you. Sorry, I guess the prickles are rubbing off on me!
Elise, of course you're right. My guess is that if the non-wood fingerboard were attached to the neck using an adhesive, the adhesive would mitigate some of that stress. That's one reason why airplane manufacturers switched from using rivets to adhesive to connect fuselage sections together. The seam is continuous and flexible -- much stronger. I would be okay with a fingerboard that isn't pure black. The thing is that nobody wants to be the first/only one. ("Surely there's enough ebony left in the world for
Hmmm, that's got me thinking about attaching fingerboards with rivets.
Yamaha's using rosewood fingerboards in some of their violins now, even one I have, I just realised. I hadn't paid any attention to it. (This is not to say that Yamaha violins are to be considered as a standard -- just that perhaps the resistance need not be as high as we (I) might have assumed.)
Rosewood is hardly less rare than Ebony????
Lyndon, et al.,
George, the scale that measures hardness and resistance to denting is the Janka Hardness Scale. The Janka number of Hard Maple is 1450, Ebony 3220, Rosewood 2200. Maple isn't hard enough.
Sri Lankan Satinwood is a beautiful yellow timbre that is just as dense as ebony, I used it for keys on my clavichords instead of ebony, unfortunately it is also rare and endangered.
Here's an idea: cast iron fingerboards, surface-film painted to look like ebony. That oughtta be dense enough.
Perhaps the real problem that, as a general rule, the harder (denser) the wood, the more slow-growing it is. Hence, the more difficult it is to make it commercial and the more tempting to raid nature.
I wonder if Bamboo would work? The ecologists love it given how renewable it is. It is super hard, not as pretty as the exotic woods that may be generally considered. Personally I've never used it for any furniture construction.
What an interesting idea Arnie - but surely all those Chinese luthiers have considered this...
Just found a great topic on synthetic and alternative wood fingerboards on Maestronet from back in 2009. They also mention that a violin was found that had a bamboo fingerboard!