The fingerboard, like the nut, is one of the mostly overlooked setup parts of a stringed instrument … and one of the most important for playing ease and comfort.
The perfect shape of the fingerboard is a geometric nightmare to cut! Perhaps 1:10 violin makers get it right.
In principal it is a constant radial arc from the nut to the end with a parabolic concave camber cut along the length that tapers from deeper under the lower register strings to less under the high register strings.
It works very closely in relation to the nut and bridge. There are a host of problems that may occur if the cut of the fingerboard is executed poorly.
- If the fingerboard is flat or wavy from nut to end then there is a great chance that the strings will vibrate onto it when playing unless the nut and bridge are cut extra high to prevent this from happening.
- If there are bumps and ‘holes’ along the length of the fingerboard it is almost a guarantee that it will buzz in variegated positions. If any specific position is in one of the ‘holes’ then the area just below that will probably be higher causing it to be too close to the string and buzz … unless of course the bridge is way too high for comfort and aids the string in clearing the potential buzz spot.
- If there are grooves in the fingerboard from excessive use (groovy that you play a lot) under each of the strings this can make playing uncomfortable and, again, cause the strings to buzz.