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Help me out here: fingerboard "stringers"

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Basschair, Oct 18, 2005.


  1. Basschair

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

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    At least, I think that's what it's called.

    I'm at work right now so I have no access to photo editing software...however, many Carl Thompsons have the fingerboards with a wide center strip of (for example) ebony, with outer strips of some other wood. It's a great effect, and I can think of one or two ways to make one, but am not sure. If you've done it or know of how to do it, chime in!
     
  2. are you talking "fingerboard" or "neck"?

    most neckthrough designs have stringers...stringers not only look good, but they add stability, because the grain orientations of the strips are changed (much like the way plys in plywood add stability)...

    Generally, you select the woods...plane them true on a joiner...cut them to rough size...glue and clamp and dry...then cut the neck from the joined pieces...
     
  3. Basschair

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

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    Nope, I mean fingerboard. I'm at home now so I'll attach a pic below of what I'm referring to. I've done lam necks with stringers (I've actually got to post a seperate thread on one that I have now that turned out to have great curl in it).

    In the pic, you can see the ebony center (let's say about an inch wide) with two brownish strips down either side. I've always loved this look, and was wondering if folks around here have accomplished this type of fingerboard.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Do you mean wooden binding?

    I guess you would do it just like on a guitar. Make the fretboard smaller by twice the width of the binding you want to use and then glue two small strips onto the side. You could even fret it before hand and then wind up with the end of the fret tangs hidden.

    I'm sure there are many other ways you could do it, like with a router setup to route binding channels.
     
  5. Also, I've seen JP, Conklin and Benavente do this sort of thing as well. Possibly others too, but those three stick.
     
  6. Basschair

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

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca

    Hmmm....I was thinking about taking my fingerboard material (pre-taper, radius, etc.) and gluing/clamping the second wood to either side, then bandsawing to near thickness just as you might when cutting fingerboards in the first place. Of course, the width of the borders wouldn't be uniform down the length of the fb once it's tapered. More thought needed...
     
  7. JSPguitars

    JSPguitars

    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    From the pics I've seen at the ctbasses.com website, it appears Carl also uses thin 'stringers' of wood on the outside of his necks (unlike most people who use them somewhere in the middle). These stringers might act as the binding for the fretboard as well.
    I was thinking of it like this........glue your fretboard onto your neck, then taper the neck (subtracting the two binding dimensions), then add the 'stringers' or 'wood binding' to the outsides.........or something like that.
     
  8. Basschair

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

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    I'm going to have a stroke if I don't figure out a good way that I can do this. Seriously, I'll be drinking steak through straws by Saturday if I don't come up with something. :rollno:
     
  9. callmeMrThumbs

    callmeMrThumbs Guest

    Oct 6, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    Crazy idea...but I'll just through it out there...

    Hm...now that I think of it, it's kinda hard to explain. But what if you could create a neck out of wenge or cocobolo or whatever and make it so that the fingerboard was actually a part of the neck. That way, you wouldn't need a fingerboard ontop of the neck, and you could just sand it to radius. So if you had "stringers" on your neck, they'd just run vertically and would show through ontop where a normal fingerboard would be. I dunno if that would work...so...take it for what it's worth...hehe. Good luck, by the way.

    -Josh
     
  10. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    Like Geoff said, your talking about binding. They make binding router bits that are used after the fingerboard is glued on. The bearing runs along the neck while the bit overhangs the bearing and cuts a ledge for the binding. Or you can do it the way I just did it. After my fingerboard was glued on and flush with the edges of the neck I penciled a line about 3/16" in and parallel to the edge of the fingerboard, then used double stick tape to stick a long straight piece of MDF along the line to act as a bearing guide. I used a regular half inch diameter template bit and cut the ledge to the depth I wanted. I made my binding strips out of wood and left them a little wide and a little tall. I then glued one side on, which required a lot creative clamping. After a couple of days I used a hand held fret slotting saw to open the slots in the binding, feeding the saw from the existing slot, using it as a guide. Then I used a hand plane to take down the binding so it was almost flush with the fingerboard. I then used a flush trim router bit to make the binding flush with the neck material along the sides. Then I glued the other binding strip on to the other side and repeated the process. Now all I have to do is install the side markers, radius the fingerboard, fret and shape the back of the neck. I didn't use a binding strip on the heel end of the neck, but if I did I would have done it first before doing the sides.
     
  11. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    Why couldn't you just laminate the pieces together and use them as a fretboard blank. After the pieces are laminated together, plane them close to thickness and radius them to what you want. then pop on your striped fretboard.
     
  12. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL

    I think this would be the best way. I mean, you can saw off a fingerboard blank from a plank of proper size, so how about guing together a proper piece to shave off some blanks from?
     
  13. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    The problem is the tapering of the center section of the fingerboard. It has to match the taper of the neck perfectly, if the binding look is what your going for. Tim Barber is the guy to talk to. That bass he made with the tapered stringers that followed the strings was incredible.
     
  14. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Well, if you were to go the binding type route, you could always go with a router setup that has replaceable bearings for the bit, so you could remove more than you would for regular binding.
     
  15. Hi Bud,

    couldn't one just make a fretboard from a single piece like normal and then rout the edges, attach the wood binding strips and then trim the edges with a router, and do a final shaping with a radius block?


    Love your work, BTW
     
  16. Basschair

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

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    Exactly what I was thinking. I'll have to think about it for now. It's something I'd like to try, but for the current projects I'll hold off.
     
  17. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I don't know if I'd really call this a binding. I think of binding as plastic or shell, and thin to the tune of 1/16" or thereabouts.

    I did a bass with 1/4" accents on either side of the fingerboard. Wenge versus chechen. #m077 on my site. I tapered the slotted fingerboard blank and glued the accents (for some reason I want to call them "rails") before the fingerboard went on. Cleaned it up on the thickness sander.

    I've also inlayed "rails" on the back of the neck-through body part of a neck-through bass using the router and an edge guide as Budman describes. #1095 on my site. Clamping this up was more trickly as Bud noted.

    Either way works, I'd recommend the glue-first approach for wider accents as you are removing less material with the router that way.
     
  18. Basschair

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

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    Yup, that's what I'm talking about. I'll have to try that on the ebony blanks I have at home. I'm thinking that it would be a good idea to match the wood densities closely. Some sort of rosewood? Satine?
     
  19. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    That's essentually what I described above, but with the fingerboard already glued on to the neck.

    Thanks.
     
  20. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    Thanks Bud :D

    I didn't build the fingerboard separately on that one though. I just made an extra-thick neckthru blank and sawed off a slice for the fingerboard after it was glued up.

    [​IMG]

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