Dressing the fingerboard

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Mike Goodbar, Jul 11, 2001.

  1. What is meant by dressing the fingerboard? Will this help cure some of the buzzing that occurs under my fingers on certain notes?

  2. Yes, dressing the fingerboard means, to level or smooth the fingerboard so it wouldn't have any buzzes while you play (especially w/pizz).
  3. But you better know what you're doing if you try to do it yourself, or else you will wind up with a worse
    (and more expensive) problem than when you started!
  4. I totally agree with reedo35. I never meant you should do it yourself. This job is one of the hardest things to do in repair.
  5. Thanks.

    Don't worry--I'd never attempt this at home.

    Looking for a good repair tech in the Milwaukee, WI area.
  6. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    I'm a maker and repairer.
    Actually a scoop is planed into the finger board to allow the strings to vibrate without buzzing. If it's too little or there are bumps in the board, you'll get buzzing. Too much scoop and the bass is hard to finger.
  7. I am 45 minutes south of Milwaukee and 45 minutes north of Chicago. I am able to do some bass work such as fingerboard dressing, bridge shaping, adjust soundpost, body repairs. I'm noy sure ho to make myself known here without it becoming an advertisement. My e-mail is wellspa@aol.com
  8. Ed,

    I've been playing for about 20 years, trained classically at the high school and university level, but let's say I "plateaued" about 15 years ago. On average, I play a couple of 3-4 hour gigs or rehearsals per week. I play mostly jazz, mostly amplified.

    The buzzing is there on the open G string (near the nut), and at various other places around the fingerboard. The action is set up a bit high in order to get some projection, but I don't think my chops are the problem (then again, I could be wrong).

    I've been kicking around the notion of replacing the Englehardt's rosewood board with ebony, a idea that seems to go over well with the luthiers I've approached via e-mail. They say that this will improve both the sound and playability of the instrument.

    In any case, the bass has never really been looked at by a qualified bass luthier. I'm sure a lot of questions will be answered at that point.
  9. Yes, opinion and advice. My advice about a buzzing string that Mike implies is being fingered not played open would be eye down the finger board while your playing the buzzing note and see if you can spot where it is touching the fingerboard. If this is physically impossible get a helper to play the one note while you eye down the fingerboard with a good light. If you are lucky you will see a small imperfection in the fingerboard that could be removed with a little sandpaper. While you're in this awkward position watch how the vibrating string moves. If there is not enough room for it to vibrate you can see it hit the fingerboard. If the finger board appears to have a concave scoop to it and the string is still touching it odds are the action is too low. If it hits the fingerboard and it appears straight or a bit convex it should be "dressed". The nut only matters on open strings.

    Thanks for the advice from the previous writer Ed however since the number one rule is treating each other with respect you might want to watch that changing around peoples names just for a chuckle. Especially with a name like fuqu2.
  10. Uh-Oh, this thread seems to be going down a familiar path.

    Mike,I took my bass to my luthier yesterday to get a new adjustable bridge fitted(one of Bob`s) and asked him the same question regarding a new ebony fingerboard.After checking out the existing board,which plays fine but is a low quality wood,he concluded that the required work would not improve either the sound or the value of the bass in relation to the investment.
    I took his advise,because he knows lots more about basses than i do.Take your bass to a good honest luthier and let him take a look.
  11. What would be done to the board after dressing?

    Isn't an oil applied to it?
  12. The way I fix pits...I take a pencil and shade in the problem area. Then I sand the full length of the board only under the buzzing string. You will quickly spot the pit. Continue to sand in even strokes until the pencil mark in the pit is gone or close to it. If you have a crater, or find that you have removed more wood that you thought, you probably should - stop - take it to the shop so they can deal with dressing the whole board with contours and all.
  13. If the fingerboard is ebony or a nice rosewood I would put just one coat of boiled linseed oil wiped on with a clean soft cloth then wiped right off. It is very important that the can says boiled opposed to just linseed oil which stays tacky for a very long time. If after drying for a day it appears to have some dry spots I would add a second coat. Buff with a soft cloth. It works well on a freshly sanded neck also. Boiled linseed oil is nice to have around as it is super inexpensive, non-toxic, available at most hardware stores and can be used to rejuvenate any houseold items with an old oil finish like cutting boards, salad bowls, Bose speaker cabinets, etc. Other oil finishes such as Watco Danih Oil have more additives to make it tougher when it dries which is not as desireable as the silky smoothness of the boiled linseed oil on a neck and fingerboard.