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The scoop on scoop

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by spark500, May 9, 2004.


  1. spark500

    spark500

    May 7, 2004
    I have a 1937 Kay that I recently purchased and sent it in to a good luthier in Nashville. Among other things, he planed the fingerboard. Straight as an arrow, no scoop. His opinion is that no scoop is needed on an upright. I have since learned that most basses have "the scoop". Plus now there is some moderate buzz up and down the neck. (gut strings, bluegrass bass). Somewhat annoying but livable. Is there such a thing as a very flat planed fingerboard being considered "proper" setup for an upright bass?
     
  2. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Scoop works great to keep the string height as low as possible, and I'd imagine that for gut strings the scoop would need to be deeper than with metal strings. But if you like high action, scoop doesn't offer much as far as I can tell.

    I saw a violin setup video where the guy takes the plane and bears down a little extra over the fingerboard that extends beyond the neck, to get the plane to dig a little deeper and create the scoop on the violin fingerboard. I'd imagine that's the way it's done with the doublebass to get a hand-planed scoop as well - that a scoop of some sort is a natural byproduct with the right muscle grease and plane in hand - but who knows with all the secrets and gadgets that exist nowadays.
     
  3. In this case, the words good and luthier are mutually exclusive atleast as far as his knowledge of double basses is concerned.
     
  4. I don't know what violin video you were looking at, but I can guarantee you it doesn't work that way in the real world of double bass luthery. If that were the case, why would we spend all that money to buy precision straight edges to check the scoop (lengthwise camber)? While hand planes are an essential tool in any shop, they are just the beginning. The wood plane is essentially a tool designed to makes a board surface or edge flat. Most professional bass luthiers I know use the old fashioned steel wood scrapers to make and control the depth of the camber after the plane has done it's job. It is a slow, physically hard, dirty job that requires constant checking with the precision straight edge to make sure you have the correct amount of camber for the style of playing and the type of string being used (not too little or not too much).
     
  5. spark500

    spark500

    May 7, 2004
    Thanks Bob. You confirmed what I already new. I havent seen a good upright yet with a completely flat fingerboard. Was hoping that I had the only one that was "right", but I can tell by the way it plays that something is not quite right. Thanks for the "scoop". (and the luthier is quite well noted, but must have missed the fingerboard class).
     
  6. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny

    Actually, I've worked out a system of hand planing that gets me to the camber I desire. Scrapers and edges are fine tuners that complete the job.
     
  7. Please explain your system. I've used planes to get the rough stuff (on really bad board) by using a web clamp to force the end of the board down enough to create a "hump" that the planes can remove (and achieve a degree of camber, but that is a close to any type of precision I've been able to achieve in my 40 years of doing this stuff. For me it's 10 minutes with planes and 40-50 minutes with steel scrapers. Perhaps that is because that is the way my master taught me to do it way back when and it works for me, but I'm open for a better way if it really works especially on beveled boards.
     
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Double Bassist magazine #27 has an article on David Gage's shop, and features a pic of a DB fingerboard being dressed. If you have a luthier who can do this (and all the other DB mojo), send him/her a thank you card. I'm just glad I only have to PLAY the thing!
     
  9. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Call me.
     
  10. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    hey what about what I have heard were super flat setups on bromberg's or rabbath's basses?

    Anyone have first hand knowledge?
     
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I can see where somebody like Rabbath would want to have a setup that required the least movement necessary to cross strings with the bow. His CD has the templates if you want to compare your own bass setup. However, I thought the discussion revolved around neck relief. I hope that neck relief and camber are functionally synonymous, otherwise I'm not on the same page.
     
  12. Part of the problem with any discussion like this is that there doesn't seem to be universal agreement on the correct term to use to descibe a particular situation. Some people use the term "Scoop", others use the term "dip", and probably several other names are used by others. I introduced the term "length wise camber" hoping to reduce the confusion. Regardless of what we choose to call it, it is the process of changing the shape of the fingerboard (lengthwise from the nut to the end of the fb) to give the string room to vibrate where it vibration period is the largest - in the middle. Every string requires some extra room to vibrate. However, not all strings require the same amount camber to avoid slapping against the fb while it is being played. A steel string generally demands much less camber than a gut string. The amount of presure exerted by the player also influences the amount of camber. The goal should always be to have the minimum amount of camber in the fingerboard that is necessary to avoid buzzing when playing hard. The greater the amount of camber, the greater effort required for the player has to press down on the string with his/her left hand in the middle of string positions. The amount of camber also must be greater for the larger lower strings because of their larger period of vibration, so the amount of camber is NOT constant from one string to the next. The luthiers job is to find the ideal amount of camber(s) that makes the instrument easy to play while at the same time allowing enough vibration room for when the player really digs in while playing. IMO, it is one of the single most difficult jobs you can ask your luthier to do for you. It is not all unusual for a luthier to have to re-do the fingerboard procedure several times before finding that ideal camber for a particular player and instrument before returning the instrument to the owner.
     
    Artie Langston likes this.