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Fingerboard Warpage ?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by mchildree, Mar 25, 2003.

  1. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I've also posted this question over at the Dudepit, so apologies to those of you who hang out over there also....

    I just bought a nice '50s Kay few days ago. After I got a new adjustable bridge installed, I noticed that the fingerboard rises a little down toward the bridge end, after the board leaves the neck. Not a huge deal, but I can't get the action as low as I'd like without reducing the clearance I need where I pluck with my right hand. Anybody seen this problem before? Is it going to take a new fingerboard to fix it or can this be planed out somehow?

    Thanks guys....
  2. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    ...rises a little down...?
    Is this maple/rosewood/ebony?
  3. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Oh...forgive my Southern-speak...let me rephrase.

    There is a slight upward bow at the bridge end of the fingerboard. It starts just about where you see the hand in my avatar:


    It's a rosewood board.
  4. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    You've got too much relief/camber/scoop in your board. If there is enuf meat there the end of the board can be planed down and the bridge lowered. This'll give you better action where you need it. Of course often those boards are pretty thin to begin with and you might have to bite the bullit and get a new one.
  5. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Thanks Jeff. Guess if I might have to get a new board anyway, it wouldn't hurt to try the planing to start with. I wouldn't mind having a nicer ebony board anyway.
  6. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Update: had the board planed a bit on the bridge end. Luthier also applied a heat press to the neck and board for a while, but the problem was taken care of.
  7. If a fingerboard warps a little bit when it's new, and is re-planed and then seems to stay put is there a chance it's going to warp again somewhere down the line because it's just a bad piece of wood? Or is this perfectly acceptable?
  8. There is also a chance that a fingerboard will warp even if it is made of very good wood. There is a lot of stress on the neck and fingerboard from the tension of the strings and the fact that half of the fingerboard is glued solidly and the other half is not.
  9. Interesting. So basically it could happen at most any time, is what you're saying. The first time it happened, right after I got the bass (new) the bridge end of the board warped down toward the top. The top surface was then planed, leaving that end of the board thinner than the nut end. (and thinner than I'd like, but not bad.) Was this the proper fix? If it warps the same way again, should the same thing be done? I'm a bit concerned, because the board needs a little work to get the right shape, and I'm afraid that that plus any more wood removed to correct warpage sometime down the line would leave it pretty thin. It doesn't seem to me like it should warp any more though, since it's been close to five years since the first time. I just don't want to shell out for a new fingerboard, especially since I'm going to be spending money soon to get it worked out to a good shape, finally.
  10. No, I was simply responding to your question "is there a chance it's going to warp again somewhere down the line because it's just a bad piece of wood?" Yes, there is a CHANCE that a FB can warp regardless of it being a good or bad piece of wood. If you want me to phrase that in terms of odds, I would say it is a low probablilty but definately possible.

    Was this the proper fix? Probably. It is possible to use heat to bend wood, but it would probably need to be planed either way.

    I'm afraid that that plus any more wood removed to correct warpage sometime down the line would leave it pretty thin. I've worked on basses a hundred years old with the original fingerboard. Unless you attempt something like the reshaping you talked about in another post, only a small amount of wood is removed. As long as it doesn't flex too easily it's not too thin.
  11. ah, ok. Thanks for answering my questions! I feel better now... I do plan on having it reshaped somewhat, because it's been sort of a wacky shape as long as I've had the bass. Playable, but not what I want. But I don't think it's likely to warp any more in the near future, so I'm more comfortable spending the money on this board instead of considering a whole new one. Thanks again Bob...
  12. Wacky shape? Please tell me you are NOT talking about trying to convert a (Rhomberg) beveled fingerboard to a round fingerboard.
  13. Sorry, there I go again letting my youthful vocabulary get the better of me. :rolleyes: No, I'm not trying to do anything crazy or dumb, the fingerboard is just not very well shaped. It's too flat, it has too much scoop in the wrong places, and it has several wierd bumps that buzz here and there if you're not careful. The reason for it, and I'm not going to name names, is this: The fingerboard was originally installed and dressed by a luthier who, despite his other talents, was not at the time very proficient. We worked together on it a few times and got it to the point where it was playable, barely.

    About a year later, I took the bass to a luthier who came reccomended from a very reliable source to have the board and bridge "professionaly" set up. Well, to make a long story short the guy was completely incompetent at repairing basses, made the board far worse than it was before, refused to acknowledge that it played like crap, and then refused to re-do it claiming he did it exactly to the specs in his book (?) and that I didn't know what I was talking about, like I was insulting his work. (Which I was, because it sucked.) So, that was money out the window and a bass that still played horribly. So the original luthier, who despite his sometimes lacking skills is a great guy helped me out by re working the board to about the state it was in prior to having it "professionaly" done. Thats the way it has been for five years now, and I still don't have the money to get it fixed although I'm getting closer now, at last.
  14. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    Hi Toman,
    Since your profile says you're playing a Shen 7/8, I want you to know that we're always concerned that players with our basses are happy guys and gals. If you'd like to talk a bit about the problem and your location and such, I may be able to help out in some way by pointing you to the right luthier, getting you good information, or some other way. My number is 1.888.600.8559.

    Regarding the initial board high spots you experienced; historically the boards on those basses haven't surprise me too much if they move in the first year or two, due to the fact that they see 3 climates in a short span of time (Souzhou China, Rochester NY, and yours). But after the initial fix they usually stabilize for the long haul.
    G/L! Let me know if I can help.