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Thread: Flattening a radiused board

  1. #1
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Flattening a radiused board

    Anybody flattened a radiused fingerboard? I've heard of people putting a radius on a flat board but can't recall someone going the other way. I have a killer mandolin that I love.....except for the radius. I just prefer a flat or at least flatter fingerboard.

    And does anyone out there specialize in this kind of work?

  2. #2
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flattening a radiused board

    I've just finished doing two of them. There is a photo of work in progress on one of them on my Facebook page. I'll be doing at least two more soon.
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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flattening a radiused board

    Yup, my preference too. I do a huge amount of barre-chord work and for me a radius messes with the barre finger.

    [Tom, like you mentioned on your FB page, I also really like Gold Evo frets. My wife and I now have them on our main playing instruments (aside from my double bass): my F-9, RB-800 and her D-41.]
    -- Don

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  5. #4
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Flattening a radiused board

    Yes, flattening a radiused board is a pretty straight ahead job. It requires a complete re-fret plus another hour or two of additional labor.

    It's easier to flatten an existing board than it is to radius one.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Flattening a radiused board

    Sell that one to me instead.
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  7. #6
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flattening a radiused board

    I had a constant radiused fingerboard that I wanted to change to a compound radius.
    It amounted to a refret and leveling after sanding down the midline of the fingerboard in increasing amount as going up the FB.
    Worked great but the sanding went through some of the position dots which had to be replaced.
    Phil

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  8. #7
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flattening a radiused board

    I would say that fundamentally it is just a full refret, but there are some additional concerns and possible complications that make it difficult to set a price without looking at it. Leveling the fret board perfectly will likely require taking off more material than if you were re-leveling to the same contour. This can increase the normal potential problems. It can affect the position dots, as Philpool mentioned, and also the apparent vertical location of the side dots. There are potential issues with the binding if it is a bound board. Potential fret slot depth issues if the board is not bound. A good bit of material was removed from the board initially to radius it, so this is basically a second leveling, removing at least the same amount of material. The saddle has to be flattened, and the top will likely have to be narrowed. Concerns here are for the resultant strength of the saddle. This is not a huge deal but should be done carefully. The nut will most likely not need to be replaced, but this is a good time to do it if need be. I would say it is really the same complexity as radiusing an existing board.

    Is it worth it? I concluded recently that the pick needs to move across the strings in as flat a plane as possible in order to maximize efficiency and speed. Playing bluegrass on a radiused board, when I get past a certain speed it feels like I'm running and stubbing my toes with every step because the pick is getting hung up on the middle strings. It feels wonderful to quit stubbing my toes. Also, I'm finding that those tiny setup adjustments that bring out improved sound are easier to accomplish with a flat setup, so you might find your mandolin sounding better than it ever has. YMMV.
    Tom
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  9. #8
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flattening a radiused board

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Haywood View Post
    I concluded recently that the pick needs to move across the strings in as flat a plane as possible in order to maximize efficiency and speed. Playing bluegrass on a radiused board, when I get past a certain speed it feels like I'm running and stubbing my toes with every step because the pick is getting hung up on the middle strings. It feels wonderful to quit stubbing my toes. Also, I'm finding that those tiny setup adjustments that bring out improved sound are easier to accomplish with a flat setup, so you might find your mandolin sounding better than it ever has. YMMV.
    Is the issue the right hand or the left? If it’s the former, could a compound radius be a possible alternative?
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  10. #9
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flattening a radiused board

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Is the issue the right hand or the left? If it’s the former, could a compound radius be a possible alternative?
    For me, the issue is the radius at the bridge, which has to be similar to the fret board. So it's more a right hand problem. A compound radius is an improvement, because the bridge can be flatter. I think that's one reason why they intonate better, too, than a straight radius. But i also find that I play cleaner with the left hand with a flat board. Everybody's different. A fellow builder/bluegrasser said he prefers a concave bridge and is making a concave fret board to match a sunken bridge. His right hand movement fits that pattern.
    Tom
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