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fingerboard replacement

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by wen1012, Mar 11, 2002.

  1. wen1012


    Jan 29, 2002
    Dear everyone,
    Can I do the fingerboerd replacement by myself ? Or how to do that ? Because I've a cheap China bass,and want do fingerboard replacement by myself.Thanks!!
  2. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    The fact that you have to ask makes me think that it would be highly unlikely.

    I changed the FB on my Englehardt and it came out ok but I have a great deal of experience in woodworking (furniture building)plus a lot of tools that most people wouldn't have.

    I have heard that a lot of Chinese basses use epoxy in a lot of the wrong places. If your FB is epoxied to the neck it probably will be a bear of a job.

    I have heard that a lot of luthiers refuse to work on these basses because of the difficulty in disassembly.

    Are you sure that just having the FB dressed wouldn't take care of your problem? Much easier and cheaper than replacement but still a job for a luthier.

  3. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    I replaced the maple fingerboard on my Kay with ebony in the mid-80's. It wasn't too bad of a job, but I did end up taking it to a luthier about 13 yrs later after the neck warped out again. But I did have some woodworking skills and am known to believe I can do almost anything even when people tell me I can't ;)
  4. wen1012


    Jan 29, 2002
    Can You tell me how to do this job,just like need some tools or .....?
  5. What is the problem with it?

    Why not save your money and frustration and leave it as is until you can afford something better.
  6. wen1012


    Jan 29, 2002
    The problem is I have a bend neck,and a friend tell me that my fingerboard is too soft , not hard enough.So I got a new fingerboard and want to fix this problem.
  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I am not a luthier and in fact I am very much a newbie to double bass, but I have played stringed instruments for many years and have dealt with my fair share of problems.

    So, I am not sure that simply replacing the board is going to fix your bent neck.

    Yes, it is true that an ebony board is more dense and will offer the neck more structural support, but before you glue it on, you have to get the neck straight again, otherwise the board will never fit properly.

    I think you should find out exactly why the neck is bent. It is possible that the neck wood itself has a weakness in it that can't be supported by any board, whether it is ebony or whatever.

    But it is up to you to decide where you want to go. If you want to replace it, go ahead.

    If the board was glued with hide glue, it is usually removed using steam and a set of special instruments used to introduce the steam between the board and the neck. I have seen several acoustic guitar boards removed by drilling small pin holes at the joint of the board and neck as well as in the fret slots and inserting a special needle that delivers steam from a steamer. Hide glue softens in the heat and moisture and will release its bond.

    I assume a DB board is removed in a similar fashion.

    Although as pkr2 mentioned, it is possible that it is glued with epoxy. I have read of many instances of Asian built instruments being epoxied. If so, I really don't know how you would get it off short of slowly grinding it away to dust with a sander.

    I always encourage and admire do-it-yourselfers in most cases. In this case I would probably say do a great deal more research and then consider your options.

  8. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    mr. wen-
    If this bass is an inexpensive one, I would bet it's not hide glue. I've seen lots of "hardwood" fingerboards, and they aren't worth saving. Removing a fingerboard INTACT takes talent and patience. But, if you just want to get rid of the damn thing and not risk breaking the neck, (very bad) read on...

    1)Make a saw cut, on the fingerboard, about an inch past the neck foot. Use a handsaw, preferably a Japanese pull-cut rip-saw.

    2)Now you have to remove the remaining board that is glued to the neck. Using a power handplaner (with the nut removed) make several consistent cuts over the board. Watch out not to cut into the pegbox, or ding the scroll. Plane away until 2mm of original board is remaining. Use safety goggles, hearing eqpt., and go slow.

    3)At this point you should be able to insert a thin knife between the board and the neck. Pop this 2mm shim off the board and clean the glue off the neck. Hot water and a scraper should work fine. You might need a sharp block plane, as well.

    4)Once the board is gone, you will observe that a bass neck, by itself, is quite flexible. And FRAGILE. Take care in handling the neck. The strength of a neck is really in the glue joint to the board; and a maple neck is only as straight as the ebony board that is glued to it.

    This is just the beginning of the job. I don't want to bore the hell out of everyone here. If you still want to do the work yourself, email me directly. I do most of the fingerboard fitting and dressing with a block plane. What hand tools do you have?
  9. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Every time I've done that, I realize that what I spent is about exactly what I would have to spend in addition to selling my bass to get the next bass I wanted.

    In other words, I always do this and should have just bought what I wanted

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