5 string fretless bass project

Section 3: Fingerboard

Design | Neck | Fingerboard | Body | Finishing | Suppliers

Next my attentions turned to the fingerboard, which was planed flat, but not yet cut to shape I had another trip to Sound Wood and bought a 15" radiusing block (see picture) and also two nice pieces of wenge for the body (more of the body later) and also some strong epoxy resin glue.

The fingerboard needs to have a slight uniform curvature to it to make the bass comfortable and easier to play. Since your hands have a natural curvature when holding a guitar neck, the smaller the radius of curvature, the more curvy the neck and the easier it will be to play. However, small radiused guitars can be tricky to design and set-up. I went for 15" because it's pretty much the average amount of radius.

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Actually radiusing the ebony was _very_ hard work! I used the block with the coarsed sandpaper I had (80 grit) and spent a very long time getting a decent radius on it. You need to be careful here - too little effort and there will be flatspots on the fingerboard where the wood has no curvature - too much and you will end up with a fingerboard that's too thin (and the action will end up being high)... I got the fingerboard to a reasonable stage and moved on.

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This is a great photo. I borrowed four neck clamps and the G-clamps from my mate Gav (thanks again Gav!!). After cutting the fingerboard to shape on the good old bandsaw at the University, and making sure the neck and fingerboard were nice and clean (with meths), I whipped up a batch of epoxy and left the neck clamped as shown for 24 hours or so... Oh yeah - incidentally the truss rod was also epoxied in at the same time, making sure that the rod inside the aluminium channel didn't get glue on it (they have a thin piece of masking tape) to prevent that. At this stage the back of the neck was unshaped - best to keep the G-clamps in place...

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The result came out really well, as you can see in shot 23. Happy with this so far, I moved onto sorting out the body.

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