Please humor a newbie: fingerboard radius

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Mon Rominee, Aug 22, 2005.

  1. Hello all, I am in process of making a scratchbuild EUB, as a learning excersise (seeing I'm using free, yet really good wood) and before I make too many wrong turns, I was wondering if someone could tell me what the optimal fingerboard radius would be for a primarily rythm / finger player???

    I've yet to really play for any real amount of time on this type of instrument, novice is too kind a word for my ability (tho I've played electric bass for 18+ years)

    I've become quite fond of Sebastian Steinberg's more pop-slacker jazz work on Soul Coughing's music, and wanted to experiment with this type of style, tho obviously on a EUB vs. Seb's acoustic(but I'm severely limited on budget). So that is my focus. Big fan of the Bad Plus as well...

    I really like the design of the NS upright, but do not want to emulate it per se, but keep in the spirit of it being compact, and in keeping with how Tony Levin plays his (on a strap, yet still "upright"). call it a grand comedy of errors...

    Sorry for the long-winded post, just wanted to let you know where I'm coming from. From what I've experienced with players on this instrument, I gather it takes good command of technique, and I aspire to get to a point where I could someday be viewed as competent on it.

    I appreciate your time and thoughts. If you would like some pics of the progress, I'd be happy to share them.

  2. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    I've copied the thread on the [DB] Setup & Repair forum because several luthiers hang on there.
    I guess you need a regular DB fingerboard radius, but can't provide a number.
    If you get good answers there, I'll later move the thread back here and merge them.
  3. Thank you very much. I was afraid I would get no response at all, due to my lack of knowledge to the subject...

    Fingers crossed.
  4. Something around 66mm is common on double basses. A bigger radius gets you a flatter board if you don't need as much bow clearance.
  5. Ok, that's just @ 5.18" rad. I was thinking 5.5", so not terribly far off. Enough curvature where you CAN bow it, but enough for me to be still familiar.

    Thanks very much Eric.
  6. f0m3


    Nov 23, 2006
    Wuppertal, Germany

    66mm = 2.6"
    5.5" = 13.97 cm

    Is 5.5" still bowable? (however you call it ;-) )

    Dean Pace has a 6" radius can you bow that?

  7. Picknbow


    Dec 15, 2006
    There are some interesting posts in a past thread titled " The Poop on the Scoop" Sorry I don't know how to create a link.

    You didn't say if you planned on a board with an "E bevel" (Rumsford chamfer)but that would affect the radius of the curved part of the board. My thought on the bevel is that it does nothing in regard to greater clearance for the E string ( C string when applied to cello and some old viola boards) but should be looked upon as two separate boards connected along their length allowing the radiused portion to be flatter.
  8. Eh, don't bevel. I don't know what the deal is with beveled boards, but they're wierd to play on, imo. I'd like to hear what some luthiers have to say about this, but I personally tend to like boards that are more round, i.e. with a smaller radius. Also, a somewhat narrower neck and board feels good to me, but with a deep (thick) neck.
  9. I have a beveled board on my main bass and round on my backup. Given a choice, I'll take a beveled board for the type of playing I do. I like to be able to dig in hard (pizz) on the E (C ext.) string. I feel I can get more out of a beveled board down low.

    As far as the radius on a round board is concerned, I find that 66mm is a good compromise in a constant radius. However, If you are buying a high quality commercially made board, it will most likely have a compound radius which means that the radius at the nut will be smaller than the radius at the bridge end. The actual radii varies with the manufacturer.

    The geometry on a beveled board is very complex because the center point of the rounded portion radius is not on or near the center line of the board. Because of this, IMO, it is close to impossible to make a really good beveled board out of one that was made as round and visa versa.

    The "E Bevel" is better known as the Romberg Bevel. It was named that for it's inventor, the great cellist Bernard Romberg (1770-1841).