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DIY fingerboard dressing

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by jneuman, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. To luthiers and repair persons

    I have a school bass which I am renting (for $35 a semester) which is an old Rauner/wilfer/whatever from the 1960's. I just looked at the bass today. The sound is great, which is not always the case with these German factory basses. However it has a bad lump in the fingerboard around the octave on the G side which makes notes around D through E buzz something awfull, even with normal orchestral string height. The question: can this be safely fixed by someone who is handy with a scraper (me) without destroying the fingerboard or would I be better served spending $200 plus to have it done professionally? I need a reality check from those who know how to do this correctly. Idealy I would get it set-up and get reimbursed but this is unlikely considering the red-tape and lack of finances for this sort of thing.

  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I suspect that you'd have yourself in a mess trying it on your own. The cost of replacing a fingerboard would be much more pricey than just having it done right.

    You could also have a bad string.
  3. This can be like trying to lower the legs on a chair....
  4. I hear you guys. After sleeping on it, I realized I don't have the time or energy, not to mention ability, to attempt this sort of thing. Bad string? Why didn't I think of that? The strings that are on there appear to be the Thomastik superflexibles that probably came with the bass! As a side note, buzzes, kinks, separated windings and oxidation not withstanding, these strings still sound pretty good even with pizz. This is a testement to the longevity of Thomastik strings.

  5. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Use straight edges of 6 and 12 inches to check for actual high spots. If they are noticeable, and you are good with tools, you may be able to get them out. For a non-luthier, I'd recommend scraping, then sanding with a block, starting at 100 or 120 grit and ending at about 400. The tracks of the sandpaper will show you when you've sanded all the spots. Be careful to keep the soundpost in place, and make sure the fingerboard is completely attached before you start. I give this advice because I know how awful school basses can be; and I know that a lot of "luthiers" who work on them sometimes make them worse.
  6. Hi Arnold

    I must have been reading your mind. Last night I was bored so I started fussing with it just to see what was involved. I used my trusty 6 inch metal straight edge which doubles as a scraper. I was able to identify the high spot right away and get is back to level, however, after scraping for an hour, I was still buzzing. Basically there is no scoop at all from D on up on the top strings. Apparently it will need more relief. The strings height is average, but it could go a little higher. The bridge is fixed. Is there a simple way to raise the bridge a couple of mm as a stopgap measure?

  7. If you move the bridge up toward the FB a hair, it might make it a little higher. This'll have an effect on sound post placement, of course.
  8. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    It's common practice to put some softwood shims under the bridge feet. The grain runs in the same direction as the bass' top. Yes, your fingerboard needs a fairly constant curve from top to bottom.