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Do most "good" techs FAIL to understand CONICAL leveling?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by akori, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. akori


    Oct 18, 2007
    I just read MUSIC LOGIC's posts about the necessity for CONICAL leveling along the string path of the fretless fingerboard (and fretted instrument). See it here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f57/even-fretless-fingerboard-levelling-tips-905673/index3.html:
    Before, I looked at the diagrams and passed out. When I read the text, it revealed itself as completely simple and obvious. Like, how could ANY luthier or tech not employ this concept 100% of the time when leveling the fingerboard...
    SERIOUSLY, do they?

    If not, it might explain the previously unexplainable, taking the voodoo out of guitar setup, and answering the question; "After a perfect fret leveling to compensate for any twists or humps in the neck itself, WHY IN THE NAME OF GOD, does one instrument out of dozens and dozens, sing and play like a dream with ulra- low action, while all the rest nearly get there, but FAIL, FAIL, FAIL, to be perfect?"

    BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT LEVELED CORRECTLY...the lack of conical radiusing along the string's path on anything but an instrument where the string spacing at the nut is IDENTICAL to the spacing at the bridge, or with a totally flat fingerboard (zero radius) will only work perfectly by LUCK, despite the tech's great eye and 10,000 guitar set-up expereince...
    Tell me they don't understand conical radiusing and I'll get all my axes to play perfectly!
    If this is true, I'd consider it on par with winning the lottery. NO, IT WOULD BE EVEN SWEETER.
  2. BboogieXVII


    Feb 4, 2013
    I get it, yeah really great axes are hard to come by and this is probably one of the big reasons.
  3. Your link goes nowhere...
  4. Hi.

    Goes to the TB homepage.
    Hardly nowhere ;).

    OP, the diference on large radius FB's is minimal, and the fingering accuracy on a fretless or the inbuilt inaccuracy of any fretted system is much greater.

    Most people do know that, but the benefits of compound radius necks are generally not so groundbreaking that the additional work/expense/tooling would be worth it.
    For some it is, and there's plenty of companies to satisfy their needs.

    Playability is always a combination of multitude of different things, and everyone still has their personal preferences. One mans perfect setup might be unplayable by some other...

  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Well, most experienced Luthiers and Techs have figured out how to do a good job leveling frets and fingerboards. They've developed their own tricks to end up with the same result; flatness under the string paths. But there's a lot of confusion in the way they describe the geometry and the terms they use.

    What several of us were trying to do in that thread was describe the actual geometry and clarify what the terms Cylindrical, Conical and Compound Radius really mean. I proposed the term Hourglass Leveling to describe the truing up of the outboard string paths. Other guys are using the term Conical Leveling to describe the same thing, which was getting confusing.

    Just for fun, ask your Luthier to trim your fingerboard into an Offset Hyperbolic Paraboloid, and watch his eyes roll.....
  6. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    haha I remember the Offset Hyperbolic paraboloid you mentioned in that thread Bruce ;) Well we did go a bit off topic from the OP's concerns, but I learnt a lot making all those diagrams for that thread and used that philosophy in my build. But a well levelled board makes all the difference in the playability. At least to me.
  7. akori


    Oct 18, 2007
    Their eyes roll anyway. From what I've seen , it takes a prodigious talent and great patience to do completely masterful fingerboard work, and the need to make enough money to support one's self well compromises the work, because most people balk at paying a top crafstman/ woman what they're worth. Which results in fast work, and sub-optimal results 90% of the time. For players like me, who may play 5 to eight hours a day, and like to play very fast, and whom suffer from pain issues, anything less than perfect won't do. Makes me wish I had the aptitude and time to learn to do it all myself. Because most techs can't easily squeeze guys like me into their work model. I'd rather pay 2x the cost and get it right, than pay 4x the cost and never get it right , rework after rework...
    Anyway, the original post from MUSIKLOGIC opened my eyes to the true nature of what was in fact a simple concept. Now, to see if it's really being employed...

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