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Fingerboard retracting again and again...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Shiveringbass, Mar 18, 2006.


  1. Shiveringbass

    Shiveringbass

    Aug 21, 2005
    France
    Hello,

    Well I'm the owner of a beautiful Roscoe LG3005 since August 2005. This bass has a birdseye maple fingerboard and this gave me a bad surprise in october/november when the wheather began to be quite cold.
    Indeed, the frets started to be quite rough on the edge of the fingerboard and I discovered that in fact the fb was retracting... the neck also seemed to lack stability.
    After a talk with Gard who was very helpfull, I brought my bass to a qualify repareman/luthier from her (I'm in Europe) to have him filled the frets to get them smoother and no longer biger than the fb.

    Well my problem is that it has been a month since I picked up my bass back, it was quite perfect when it came out of the repare shop but now, it seems that the fb keeps up retracting and some of the frets are starting to be rough again...
    :(
    :(
    I'm quite upset by that situation. The first repare and set up coasted me 100 € (about 130 $) so my question is should I go back to the repareman to have the same operation done again with another 100 € or should I send the bass to Roscoe shop to have it modified as Gard proposed me.

    I didn't expect the fingerboard to move again after the repare... from your experience, will it move again and again ?

    I know that there are some realy skilly people here so I'll be very thankfull if you could help me to take a decision and share your opinion and experience.

    Sheers

    Shiveringbass
     
  2. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Looks like the fingerboard is shrinking. How low is the humidity where you keep it? You should keep the temperature and humidity around "room temperature" (~22°C and 50%)

    €100 for filing the fret ends? I'll do it for 99! :p
    All you need is a fine sandpaper (like over 800), something to wrap it around and make a few runs along the side of the neck/fb, and at an angle at the fret crowns. This simple.
    If you are still not sure, look up Stewart-MacDonald, (aka StewMac) on the web, there are some tutorials and special tools, which are not necessary imo.
     
  3. Shiveringbass

    Shiveringbass

    Aug 21, 2005
    France
    :help:
    :crying:
    :meh:

    No help from my fellow TBers ?
    :help:

    Thanks

    Sheers
     
  4. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    I believe that Frank is refering to this file:

    http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Fretting_supplies/Shaping_and_crowning/Fret_Beveling_Files.html

    He's right: you don't absolutely need it though. What you need is a flat, straight edge that you can wrap sandpaper around or fix to. The trick is to make sure that the flat object is long enough so that it will cover multiple frets and to make sure you work at the correct angle so that you don't sand away finish or wood, nor do you remove too much of the crown. Take your time and you can do it on your own.
     
  5. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Not exactly that one; looks like they replaced the older one with this. They sure can make the simple look complicated!
    Take something at least 10 cms long, straight yet light (like a ruler)
    Wrap sandpaper around it
    Sand with this at the side of the neck; then sand the fret crowns at about 45°. That's it.
     
  6. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Wood shrinks as the ambient humidity goes down and expands when it goes back up. The key to ending your troubles is to trim the fret ends when the humidity is as low as it will go. Then it should never happen again. I would think that your local luthier would understand this and have prepared you/recommended that you come back when humidity was at its nadir.

    Like the others have said, you could do this yourself, although I understand why you would hesitate to do so. Call the person who repaired it the first time and explain what has happened. Perhaps they will be understanding to your problem and repeat the process at a discount.
     
  7. Shiveringbass

    Shiveringbass

    Aug 21, 2005
    France
    First, sorry Frank, I didn't notice your post before my second posting
    ;)
    Your post was helpful indeed.

    Secondly, I don't know about climate in North Carolina but here, in the north of France, it is quite a humid climate (think England with a bit less rain but still a considerable amount of humidity).
    Moreover, it's winter here that means a lot of rain, a bit of snow, and some period of quite coldness.

    The thing is that I haven't take the bass out for at least October... it is in a constent climate 20 to 22 degres maximum.

    And to finish I'm near blind so I'm completly unable to do that quite simple operation.

    I can understand that the wood is a living thing but why won't it expends, for the moment it only shcrink and that for 5 months.

    Thanks to share your experience.

    Sheers

    Shiveringbass
    (or maybe I could change my nickname for Shrinkingbass :) )
     
  8. Matt (FBB Custom), when I brought #1046-01 to you with fretboard shrinkage in March '02, did you clip the fret ends as you describe, or merely file them? Just curious.

    One advantage of living in coastal Los Angeles: being as it's 65-75F (18-23C) year-round with 50-70% humidity, my basses don't even go out of tune from day to day despite the lack of effective insulation and climate control (gas wall heaters do NOT count) in my apartment. You have to think that even with the cumbersome air quality regulations and without the presence of the music industry, this area would still be a luthiers' mecca...
     
  9. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I started with a fine flat file, then followed up with fine sandpapers and oil.

    The problem, generally, is when we heat our homes. The outside air may still be damp, but the inside air generally is very low humidity. It is not uncommon for wood fingerboards to shrink during this time, exposing the fret ends.

    Since Peter's bass, I have made a concerted effort to under cut the frets a little when I make them in the humid months. This summer should be a real doozy as it will be my first in the swamps of Washington DC.
     
  10. With a radiator, it got so dry that even humid upstate NY might as well have been Idaho. I think a humidifier, whether attached to the central furnace or just in the room where one stores one's basses, is a good investment for any musician.
     
  11. Shiveringbass

    Shiveringbass

    Aug 21, 2005
    France
    And it is exactly what I've done... my basses are on stands in the living room where I've put a humidifier and some other fontains to help.

    Sheers
     
  12. DSB1

    DSB1

    Mar 8, 2006
    Have you contacted Roscoe? I heard they're pretty standup guys. What kind of warranty is offered?
     
  13. Shiveringbass

    Shiveringbass

    Aug 21, 2005
    France
    Yes I've contacted Roscoe and I received some great help from Gard but my point here is to know if, from the experience of people here, my fingerboard will continue to retract calling for constent adjustment and fretwork or will it finaly stabilise.
    Gard proposed me to send back the bass to eventualy replace the neck but this will coast me about 150, 200 $ in shipping. That's why I'd like to be sure that this is realy needed.
    Again the bass fb keeps on moving and shrinking and that for 5 month now without expending again.

    Thanks

    Shiveringbass
     
  14. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Like Matt said, the wood responds to temperature and humidity conditions by expanding and contracting.

    The internal moisture level of the wood will lag the air moisture changes, since it takes time for the wood to gain or loose moisture, through its full depth.

    With cold outdoor temperatures, the indoor humidity will be low even if it is "high humidity" outdoors, because while this cold air may have a high relative humidity, it still has a low absolute humidity. So when it is warmed indoors, the relative humidity is low.

    When the wood reaches its minimum moisture, it will be at its minimum size. It will not get smaller than this. If the frets are filed back flush at this point, they should always from then on be flush, or sub-flush (recessed).