You Know Your Fingerboard is Too Wide When ...

March 30, 2021, 6:28 PM · This is a hopeless question really, since things are so standardized. Still, I'll take the shot in the dark just in case any experienced players or makers out there have run into a metric on this issue.

Replies (9)

Edited: March 30, 2021, 7:05 PM · When you use it as an excuse for your technical problems and complain online, seeking reasons to finance violin maintenance to present to your guardians. kidding obviously
March 30, 2021, 7:24 PM · When your violin is mistaken for a fretless guitar.
March 30, 2021, 8:37 PM · Lord Lucan pops his head up over your g string....
April 14, 2021, 4:17 PM · ..when as a violist you try a violin?
April 14, 2021, 4:29 PM · I'm sorry for this.
Edited: April 15, 2021, 11:38 AM · There are several ways a fingerboard can seem too wide.
1. It actually is a bit too wide - it does not take much a silly millimeter is enough to lead to discomfort and eventual hand or even neck crippling.
2. The width of the fingerboard may be within spec but if the neck cross section is too circular it can push the left thumb out too far and have the same effect on your hand (etc.) as excess fingerboard width. The cross section should be somewhat elliptical to avoid the bulge of a semicircle that hits the thumb.

3. If a viola maker has scaled a viola as an over-sized violin, the neck and fingerboard may be too wide - especially for a BIG viola!

April 15, 2021, 9:27 AM · Mike - it's all good. AND thank you for bumping the thread, leading to Andrew's response.

Andrew - Thanks for your reply. Would you say the issue is primarily the thumb, or is the discomfort of an overly wide fingerboard also a matter of finger tension or additional forearm rotation when reaching for the G string?

Edited: April 15, 2021, 11:50 AM · Andres I added a bit to my entry. All fingers, wrist, arm, shoulder and neck can all be affected depending on what is causing the problem. It's really only in the lower positions that this is an issue. The physical condition of the player is also a factor and one that can also affect playing on the lower strings in high positions.

I know as I get older I have problems that are related to this issue that I did not have when I was younger - especially with viola playing. It is one of the reasons I recommend older starters consider cello!

One of my violins and one of my violas both had fingerboards that where a bit too wide and I had them slimmed when I was in my late 70s at the recommendation of my luthier. Nothing more to do to them now - in my mid 80s - from now on it's all on me!

Edited: April 15, 2021, 1:11 PM · If it takes you more than 5 minutes to walk from one side to the other, that's a pretty good sign.

The main issue with wide boards is double stops. Then it's the awkward feeling of your thumb being pushed out so far, and your fingers being out of line with it.

For years in high school I had to play on an orchestra style bass with a neck that was about 1.5 times wider than it ought to be... That was a real pain to play, and my hands are large.


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