P Bass Fingerboard

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Dave Gentner
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Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:25 pm

P Bass Fingerboard

Post by Dave Gentner »

A customer brought me a neck for a '66 Fender p bass that needs a new rosewood fingerboard. Someone had sanded, planed, chiseled the original finger board off. The weird thing is rather than the top surface of the maple neck being flat it's radiused to 7.25". It looks as though the maple was radiused first and then a thin, 3/32" maybe, layer of rosewood was clamped to the curve. Is this how Fender did it 46 years ago?
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Mark Swanson
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Re: P Bass Fingerboard

Post by Mark Swanson »

Yes, that's right.
  • Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff

Dave Gentner
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Re: P Bass Fingerboard

Post by Dave Gentner »

Thanks Mark.

Bob Francis
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Re: P Bass Fingerboard

Post by Bob Francis »

I would plane it flat an install a conventional board even if I had to put a maple shim strip to clear the truss rod.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: P Bass Fingerboard

Post by Mark Swanson »

Vintage Fender necks are valuable. If you did the repair that way it would take much of its value away.
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Joshua Levin-Epstein
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Re: P Bass Fingerboard

Post by Joshua Levin-Epstein »

Around '62, Fender transitioned from a flat joint between the neck and fingerboard to matching curves. They felt there were some warpage issues as a result of the fret kerfs being shallower at the sides. The curved fingerboards were not veneer. The radius of the neck was carved into the underside (and the top, too, obviously). The fret slots followed the radius of the fingerboard. It might be impossible to recreate this on a one off basis (i'm thinking of the slots).

Joshua

Dave Gentner
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Re: P Bass Fingerboard

Post by Dave Gentner »

How thick should the rosewood be?

Bob Francis
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Re: P Bass Fingerboard

Post by Bob Francis »

Joshua Levin-Epstein wrote:Around '62, Fender transitioned from a flat joint between the neck and fingerboard to matching curves. They felt there were some warpage issues as a result of the fret kerfs being shallower at the sides. The curved fingerboards were not veneer. The radius of the neck was carved into the underside (and the top, too, obviously). The fret slots followed the radius of the fingerboard. It might be impossible to recreate this on a one off basis (i'm thinking of the slots).

Joshua
That's the reaon for my suggestion. I have a 62 and happy measure whatever you wish. just let me know.

Shawn Strickland
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Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:53 pm

Re: P Bass Fingerboard

Post by Shawn Strickland »

Correct me if wrong, but this is where the terms for "cap" and "slab" fingerboards come from. Nice to see this example for rosewood though.

John Catto
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Re: P Bass Fingerboard

Post by John Catto »

Yes those necks are described as having a ca or veneer board. Planing down and putting a slab board on a mid 60's Fender bass would probably knock at least $1,000 off the value, not a good idea. While probably not how Fender did it originally I'm guessing you could heat bend the board to fit, I'm pretty sure that's how Rick Turner who uses a similar board on his Renaissance guitars does it. I'm not sure of the thickness (a ten minute visit to any vintage guitar shop would supply that piece of information) but as the neck above demonstrates the board is thing enough that all the fret tangs pass through it.

Shawn Strickland
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Re: P Bass Fingerboard

Post by Shawn Strickland »

John Catto wrote:Yes those necks are described as having a ca or veneer board. Planing down and putting a slab board on a mid 60's Fender bass would probably knock at least $1,000 off the value, not a good idea. While probably not how Fender did it originally I'm guessing you could heat bend the board to fit, I'm pretty sure that's how Rick Turner who uses a similar board on his Renaissance guitars does it. I'm not sure of the thickness (a ten minute visit to any vintage guitar shop would supply that piece of information) but as the neck above demonstrates the board is thing enough that all the fret tangs pass through it.
It sure was an interesting way they built them. Any idea why they would use a cap fingerboard vs not? Google-fu isn't working for me.

John Catto
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Re: P Bass Fingerboard

Post by John Catto »

Shawn Strickland wrote:It sure was an interesting way they built them. Any idea why they would use a cap fingerboard vs not? Google-fu isn't working for me.
They touch on it in one of the Fender books, I thought it was in Forest White's (an interesting book in it's own right) but can't find the quote so maybe it was Bill Carson's. Basically the problem was that after they went to the slab board necks they started having a ton of trouble with the truss rods. Now you'd think that everyone out there uses slab boards but I guess Fender is a bit of a unique case, the combination of a hard rock neck along with a thick Brazilian Rosewood board like they used then makes for an awfully stiff neck. In addition there often seems to me to be an on-going (50 years or so ha ha) problem with Fender's vintage trussrod design, I keep seeing Custom shop guitars with the old rod design that won't adjust properly. The problem lies with that bullet at the body end, there's no plate there and sometimes if the wood just happens to be softer there it will just bury itself in there until it runs out of travel, sometimes adding washers helps, sometimes not, and it's just some guitars. Understand that in these cases the rod isn't "broken" as such, just ah hum ... not working.

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