Why is the fretboar raised?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by LajoieT, Sep 4, 2004.

  1. LajoieT

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

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    Hey folks, Just wondering why the plane of the fretboard is typically 1/4 inch or so above the plane of the body at the neck joint? Is there any reason that the fretboard couldn't be right at the same plane as the body (of course the frets would keep the strings up off the body a bit.) This seems to be the case with the "RAMP" on the Gary Willis Setup site (from the "truss rod/action sticky post in the Setup forum) at least between the neck and the pickups. I would think if you were to theoretcially (sp??) "raise" the body up to be even with the fretboard, the pickups could be even with the body (or even burried under a thin layer of the topwood so it looked like they weren't even there. Of course the bridges on the market are designed for the way the basses are built with the fretboard above the body, so they would need to be recessed or custom made to a lower profile and you wouldn't have the pickups to rest your thumb on, but is there some other reason against this that I'm missing?
  2. the problem with having ANY two individual parts flush wth each other is tolerancing.

    you could theoretically design anything flush, but in reality, they would never truly be flush.

    the pitfall is the possibilty that the fingerboard would lay below the surface of the body, which would not only look bad, but would cause setup problems.

    one solution, assemble the neck and body, then mill it flush.

    but you also have to deal with the fingerboard radius (which 99% of all basses have.)

    so, you would then have to mill the fingerbaord radius into the top body surface.

    with that and recessing the bridge to match: what a pain for no benefit.

  3. LajoieT

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

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    Well I didn't really mean "flush" and I understand that the fretboard has the radius curve to it and I don't think I'd want the body to match that, but more to the matter of just bringing the body up closer to the surface of the fretboard (on the sides, the middle would still be raised by whatever the radius caused). And yea there isn't much ofa benefit short of the possiblility of completely hiding the magnetic pickups under the topwood of the body (like the wooden pickup covers that are all the rage today on high end basses, only it's the whole body covering the pickups.) It would look like a Lightwave or Peizo only bass but still have magnetic pickups. Of course you also would looks some of the ability to adjust the magnetic pups anywhere above the body, but you could always be able to lower them.
  4. lightwave? what's that?

  5. LajoieT

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

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts

    Think of it as Peizos that use light instead of string pressure. It's built into the bridge saddles. It uses laser or some form of light aimed at the strings to measure the vibration which is converted into the signal.
    It's a pretty big system tho from the ones I've seen, larger rear cavity routing and I think just the system cost over $500.
  6. outSTANDING!

  7. lbanks


    Jul 17, 2003
    Ennui, IN USA
  8. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    LajoieT-I researched the Lightwaves as an option to use for possible bass projects. Depending on what all options you want-IIRC, the bare minimum setup is closer to $300 where as the fully equiped setup would be over the $500 mark. Not a cheap setup. If i had the money and the shop, i'd do at least one bass with lightwaves to be able to see how they sound given what i can do.

    That's all
  9. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    F, you are so precious :D
  10. LajoieT

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

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    Did I fall for some hidden sarcasm or inside joke or something?
  11. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    The neck "step" (as many call it) is mainly to move the fretboard up and under where the strings come off of most production bridges. Bridge designers are working with minimum thicknesses to get a sturdy baseplate and saddle design.

    You could recess everything and even countersink the fingerboard, but most people find they don't like their fingers being so close to the body wood, especially those who slap & pop.
  12. 5thString


    May 5, 2004
    Where you thinking about this kind of design?


    The only problem I see so far is about sanding the fingerboard. This is my design, and it worked fine for this prototype a friend of mine built. But I couldn't imagine using it for a "regular" instrument as it brings too many limitations.

    Btw, the final instrument (being built on this design) will have Lightwaves.
  13. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Yes indeed. fhodshon is the designer of the Lightwave basses, so he's just pullin' your crank.
  14. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001