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is my fingerboard dressing too good?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by shwashwa, Jun 2, 2018.


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  1. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    i just had a dressing done by a really great luthier. using the strings themselves as a straight edge, and picking 2 points on the string to hold against the fingerboard, usually around the F on the G string (near the heel) and the low Ab, i can see that the fingerboard is almost perfectly straight. there is a tiny bit i clearance, and i mean tiny. when i compare it to the D string the D string is very straight also, but there is slightly more clearance, so more scoop, slightly. the reason im posting this is because i use lower tension strings (pizz) with a pretty amplitude of vibration. when i play on the G string in the lower positions up to about C i get clacking against the fingerboard. i dont get any on the D string. the bass is so easy to play right now id hate to mess with it, but i dont know if the clacking is out of the realm of acceptability or not. (maybe i can post a video and see what you guys think). should i take it in to have some wood removed? (i hate removing wood because its permanent.) if there were some way for me to raise just the G string would this help things? im thinking my luthier gave me a killer setup, if i were a spirocore player, but i dont play steel strings.
     
  2. neilG

    neilG

    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    "Clacking" is bad. Take it back to the great luthier, play if for them and have it remedied. If you changed strings after the setup was done, well, you know the rest. :)
     
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Maybe. Raising the G temporarily is pretty easy - just shim with cardboard at the bridge and (if needed) also the nut. I have done both for various reasons in the past and there's no harm. Heavy compressed cardboard, though, not corrugated. Like cutting a square out of a shoebox or the like.
     
  4. A straight board with no scoop is a setup done by a luthier whose clientele plays legit, not jazz.

    A jazz player needs more scoop in the board because the string vibrates in a wider ellipse played pizz than it vibrates under the bow.
     
    HateyMcAmp and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  5. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    Well I played it for the guy for about a half hour before I left . He checked it with his straight edge a bunch of times and said it looks great he'd hate to take more wood out. I know if I went back to him and told him I was not happy he would do it. I just have an aversion to taking too much wood out, it's really irrational there's no reasons behind it.
     
  6. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    Maybe tomorrow I'll put up a video so you guys can tell me if you think it's clacking too much. And no, I did not change strings after I left the place
     
  7. I agree that the scoop should be enough to avoid the clacking otherwise lift the string heights. If there is sufficient "meat" in the fingerboard I would say have a little more scooping done. It should not remove much wood. Or have bridge height adjusters fitted, especially if the fingerboard is old and thinned many times before. This will also allow you to adjust according to the change in seasons. However you did not say whether you wanted a jazz set up or an arco set up.
     
  8. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    Sorry, I should have mentioned in the first post that I play pizz, and yes I already have Bridge adjusters. The strings are at the height that I like that I had before the fingerboard dressing. I really just brought it in because I played the hell out of it and I put divots in the fingerboard. I wanted them removed, not a whole new shape. The guy is well-known and very ethical and has the best intentions.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
  9. It sounds like your nut is slotted too low (too close to the fingerboard) on the uppermost string. Tear off a small square of business card, and insert it between the nut and the string. If that fixes it, you could just leave it and hat way, or tell your luthier you need to fill that G slot a bit, or get a new nut cut/installed.
     
    gnypp45 and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    ^^^^Don't know if the above is the problem in the OP's case, but the suggestion is good. I've had a little piece of cardboard in one of the nut slots on my main bass for years, and have played a ton of gigs, concerts, and recordings with it that way. I can't even remember which string it is at this point without looking. Every once in a while I blacken it with a sharpie when I notice it, then I don't notice it for another year or so.
     
  11. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    this would only make sense if it happened on the open G note, but it doesnt. once you start pressing down the sting the nut is out of the equation. also the clacking is coming from the bridge side of the fingered note.
     
    gnypp45, rwkeating and misterbadger like this.
  12. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    I think it might be a bit unrealistic to think your adjuster height should stay the same after the dressing. You should do some experimenting as Chris suggested with a card under the G string, or raising both adjusters equally. If and when the G stops clacking, lowering the other strings in the bridge relative to the G may be the answer. This can be a balancing act as I know from experience. FWIW, I really enjoy a straighter board for pizz and arco.

    Your luthier should do whatever he can to make your bass play well for you, including redressing, if necessary.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
    Povl Carstensen likes this.
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I don't mean to impugn the work of any luthier, so I'll use a positive example. When Nnick Lloyd dressed my boards years ago, he told me to play and dig in at the hardest level I was likely to regularly use in my playing so he could watch. After watching, he dressed the boards, with what he described as "a decent amount of camber". Then he had me play again to see how the setup was doing. I haven't had a problem with either since.

    The nut adjustment I made, as shwashwa mentioned, was to correct a simple rattle on an open string. I suppose when I finally have cause to take either bass back up to Cincy, I'll have that addressed along with the cosmetic issues and whatever else is going on.
     
  14. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    My guy did tell me to take it home and play it for a while. I know if I want more wood taken out he'll do it no questions asked. The decision will be up to me.
     
  15. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    The bass works for you. You shouldn't have to work for the bass, especially when you have a respected luthier at your disposal. Good luck!
     
  16. Does the string clack on all G string notes or just some? When you said that the luthier only worked on scooping out between Aflat and F a small alarm bell rang for me. I would have thought that the scooping needed to go further in order to avoid creating a bump in the gradual curve at F. The art of shooting (dishing) the fingerboard is to avoid any high or low spots that cause rattles.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald and robobass like this.
  17. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    What strings are you using? Do you have a medium gauge G string to try? If you have a very low scoop board you might try a full medium set before making any changes. A big advantage of lower scoop is having lower action, so you can use mediums with less effort. It does sound like your luthier didn't take into consideration your string choice and playing style though.

    Note; Not every luthier is a fingerboard expert. There are some who make great instruments or do great repair work, but whose dressings simply aren't top notch.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
  18. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    I never said this
     
  19. Fingerboard camber is similar on all string instruments played with fingers or picks - with and without frets. Those of us in the tech world that work on all such instruments call it "neck relief" or just "relief". And if there's not enough, one or more strings may buzz, or rattle...or "clack".

    The amount of relief is determined by the player's "attack" - how string they pick and at what angle - and the diameter of the string.

    A string vibrating at a 45 degree angle rattles more than one vibrating almost parallel to the 'board. And as it varies depending on the thickness of the strings used, relief is different under each string. If you go from steel strings to something like Eurosonics, or weedwackers, or gut more relief will be needed. And if you go the other way (from fat strings to smaller-diameter steel) the relief generally needs to be reduced.

    It's essentially sculpture-type artwork on fretless instruments, with small, flowing changes everywhere on the board that are essentially invisible (on fretted instruments the whole process is simply averaged).

    One common rule of thumb for jazz, bluegrass and other pizz players is to to have an even "scoop" of about 1/2 the diameter of each string near the midpoint of the fingerboard.

    No matter what type of instrument I'm working on I watch a player play for a bit before doing a "setup" so I can plan the relief based on their attack/style/string gages. I don't understand how any tech can set up an instrument without watching a musician - most can't accurately describe how they play.:woot:

    Bluegrass, folk and very casual players don't normally have relief messed with, but for others it can be vital to playability. However, if your bass rattles - or clacks - on one or more strings the relief needs to be increased under the offending string(s).
     
  20. I don't know of a situation in which any player, "legit" or not would require a board with no camber.
     

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