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bolt on fingerboard?

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by theMëtler, Dec 12, 2018.


  1. theMëtler

    theMëtler

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    Hey folks,

    I'm building an EUB. I bought an ebony fingerboard off ebay, and have a roasted maple plank for the neck/body. I was going to glue the FB on, but then i got thinking i might want to modify the instrument in various ways down the road (it'll be a very experimental instrument), so i was thinking i might want to bolt/screw together the FB and neck, probably using threaded inserts with machine screws.

    Has anyone done this? The FB is nice and thick, 7/8" at the nut and thicker further along, so there should be lots of room for some inserts. Though i'm a bit concerned about getting those inserts safely into the ebony without it cracking.

    Any other ideas or thoughts or concerns?
     
  2. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Asheville, NC
    Cool idea, two concerns though... seems like you'd either have screw/bolt heads on one side of the fb/neck combo, which may interrupt the playability. Also, if you're using regular double bass strings, you may need the glue joint for the neck to be stiff enough. Or a lot of bolts to distribute the load...

    Why not just use hot hide glue? It's easy to reverse anything with that stuff.
     
  3. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I had the same thought about the hide glue as your answer. It's the simplest solution.

    I once took off a glued-on fingerboard with an iron and steel flipper (like the kind you use to smear drywall into holes in a wall). The iron was used to heat up the fingerboard that was glued on. It discolored the fingerboard a bit, but it wasn't unusable -- just looked different. I decided to not put the F/B back on though. But it was feasible. I had put a machined dowel (very small, 1/8" into two holes in the neck, with filed/sharpened ends to allow me to clamp the fingerboard and neckwood for gluing). these were invaluable for regluing the fingerboard to the neck.

    I also had the same thought about the bolt on fingerboard. I was thinking that you could screw it down with screws that go through the fingerboard and into the neck wood. Cover them with dot inlays made of dowel. these screws go in to the same position as dot markers. If this doesn't provide sufficient stability, you could lightly glue along the outer sides of the fingerboard to make it easier to remove. Further, you could use more screws, but hide them with dowels made of the same wood as the fingerboard, but sadly, it won't match very well. To take off the neck, then drill out the dowels. Alternatively, you could screw through the back of the neck, and then refill with the same color of wood. This would look better. Drill out the plugs if you need to remove the fingerboard in the future.

    However, the screws would likely interfere with the truss rod, if you are using one - depending whether you put frets 3, 7 and 9 etc in the center of the fingerboard, where the truss rod normally sits.

    I put a steel bar in my EUB. You could insert the steel bar through the back of the neck, an then put in a filler strip -- kind of the way many fenders are created with the truss road mounted through the rear of the neck, leaving a skunk stripe.
     
  4. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    The slot design of the Chadwick works really well and seems to hold up fine. That is probably better that screwing it on.
     
  5. The double bass took its’ final form around 1600.

    A lot of new mousetraps became obsolete since then.
     
  6. I saw this several times on the theater stage. The double bass is repaired by the decorator. The Decorator is not a Luthier. You can see a lot of original solutions. The fingerboard on the bolts, the top on the nails, bridge on epoxy resin, the strings painted with the body. Good luck!
     
  7. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    You kids get off my lawn.....
     
  8. turf3

    turf3

    Sep 26, 2011
    Well, there's tradition and there's functionality. They aren't the same thing but sometimes they concide, and this is one of those times.

    A very large portion of the stiffness of the neck derives from the fingerboard. If you don't have a good tight glue joint behind the entire fingerboard, you will have much reduced stiffness in the neck. This is different than the electric bass where the fingerboard is maybe 3/16" thick; the FB of a double bass can be thicker than the neck, and it's made of ebony which is very stout and hard and stiff, unlike the maple neck under it. Basicallly a DB neck is a two part laminated construction. The stiffness of a laminate depends on not having unglued areas where the two (in this case) parts can move with respect to each other.
     
    J_Bass likes this.
  9. theMëtler

    theMëtler

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    Thanks everyone for your thoughtful replies.

    In response to the various concerns raised:

    -An excellent point was made by turf3 about the FB adding stiffness to the neck. I'd say that's the main concern. But with several screws, surely it would come pretty close to the stiffness of a glue joint? And, it will be a short scale, about 36", however it will have 6 or 7 strings, but i believe it should still have less tension than a full DB. Plus the neck will be extra thick.

    -I was going to use hide glue, but my experimental ideas will require the fingerboard coming off more than once or twice in its lifetime. I'm thinking about having magnetic pickups lodged within the FB; i'll drill holes from the underside until just below the surface, and put one-per-string pickups in these holes. So i might need to get in there once in a while to change or adjust the pickups. Crazy idea, i know, i'm weird like that.

    -I was planning on having the inserts in the ebony, so the screw would go through the back of the neck. I'm not overly concerned about my thumb hitting the screw, but i could always countersink and cover it too if it gets annoying, as suggested.

    -the Chadwick design is for a removable neck, not just the fingerboard, right? My reason for doing this is not for portability, but for flexibility in an ever-evolving experimental design.


    One advantage of the bolt-on FB that occurred to me is that shims could be inserted between neck and FB to adjust the relief, in lieu of a truss rod. I was not planning on using a truss rod, so by placing shims either in the middle area or near the ends, that would adjust the curvature/relief of the FB. And it should give more control over where the curvature happens, compared to a truss rod. Possible concerns are that perhaps it will make the whole thing less stable, and shims could vibrate loose leading to disaster....
     
  10. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    In all of your life's activities, I encourage you to think outside of the box. Most of the designs that we today see as dogmatic tradition were once very new and controversial until the players abilities to utilize the design caught up. Having spent a lifetime pushing the limits, I'll comfortably say that it takes a bit of thick skin to tune out the naysayers and push on with that creative spell within. Know that most of your perceived failures are actually benchmarks on the slow road to progress. Often three steps of failure are not readily obvious until a successful version 4.0 works out; successful failures. Many times it is quicker and more efficient to woodshed and build a few prototypes than let the keyboard experts give advice into uncharted territories.......
     
    Joshua and Tom Lane like this.
  11. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Not true. The Violin, Viola, and Cello have more standardized shapes than Double Bass. If there was a standardized shape there wouldn’t be so many styles to choose from. I believe Rabbath talks about this very subject in “Art of the Left Hand”.
     
  12. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    My upright had a bolt on fingerboard...I got it fixed right and would never suggest to anyone to do that ever again.
     
  13. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Asheville, NC
    Now that's good advice for most any walk of life. Just finished another gig on my Condino-improved Kay, replete with a bolt-on neck that has threaded inserts in the heel.

    That said, I still vote hide glue :) Should be able to remove it and re-glue it plenty of times without using a clothes iron I would think. And wouldn't you want the pickups on the end of the fingerboard where there is no neck, anyway? But PauFerro's idea of covering the screw heads on the fb side with position markers is pretty cool too. I'm sure it will be an awesome instrument regardless of how the fingerboard's attached. Any way you go, share some photos!
     
  14. theMëtler

    theMëtler

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    Good advice indeed! I'm going to get the inserts today and i'll keep yall posted on its progress. Worst case scenario, i can still glue it and just fill the screw holes.
     
    james condino likes this.
  15. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    The neck is on a hinge, the finger board is removable, the strings hold it tight at the nut. Mark Dresser has magnetic pick ups in his fingerboard. While you are not planning for portability, if all goes well, you might need it!
     
  16. turf3

    turf3

    Sep 26, 2011
    Despite the fact that I think you will have stiffness problems using a detachable fingerboard compared to gluing it on, I 1000% agree with the above.

    In my day life, I am a mechanical engineer. We have a saying: "In God we trust, all others must bring data." You have heard theories here (including mine), but you will not know which theories are correct until you BUILD and TEST. Get thee to a workshop!
     
    james condino likes this.

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