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Removeable Fingerboards


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#1 Tom M Culhane

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Posted 25 July 2018 - 10:39 PM

There is a thread by this same title in the Materials forum, posted years back by Eric aka Wolf somethingorother. I saw it perusing the old posts here. He was going to make a guitar with removeable fingerboards, using magnets. But he never did follow up on his initial posts.

 

I believe the source of the basic idea, and it's so simple, was Tom Stone with Novatone in the 1970s. You sand down a guitar neck 1/10 of an inch and glue a 1/10th inch thick piece of stainless steel to it. You then can put on and replace at will, fingerboards with magnetic rubber on their back side. I found a youtube vid of a guy playing bass with this system. And I know guitarists used it. But some people online claim it hurt sustain and volume and one guy said the truss rod would break thru due to the sanding. Don't know if any of that is true.

 

I guess Tom Stone sold the idea later to Mark Rankin, who's listed in various places online. I sent an email to the address they give but got no reply.

 

That Turkish guy with the adjustable microtonal guitar has a vid online with a new removable fingerboard guitar designed by a guitarist and luthier in the vid. Looks like a similar idea and he mentions Tom Stone.

 

For me, removeable fingerboards would be perfect because I want to have a guitar with a wider neck for more string spacing, and be able to play the ancient 12 tone, 17 tone and 19 tone just intonation tunings that I outline in my post in this forum, 17 Tone Just Intonation Guitar (scroll to my 2018 posts there and ignore the earlier stuff). I know Warmoth sells wider necks you can bolt on. (Don't know if you can get them without the fingerboard)

 

If anyone reads this, my question is: Could you just glue a 1/10 inch thick piece of stainless steel to a guitar neck without sanding it down, and glue a piece of magnetic rubber to the back of the fingerboards you want to attach? What am I missing? Would that make the guitar too thick to play? Can the bridge be raised on guitars to that level? The nut can be shimmied.

 

I know next to nothing about guitars.



#2 jahloon

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Posted 26 July 2018 - 09:27 AM

The removable fingerboard idea is really good, but I remember it being quite expensive.

 

I don't think magnetic rubber is a good idea as that would tend to kill sustain. 

 

However a better idea would be recessed Neodymium magnets in the fingerboard, they are really strong and cheap.

 

You may get a slightly thicker neck if you don't sand it down, but it is worth a go....


Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
Author of the book "Fretless Guitar The Definitive Guide" fretlessguitar.co.uk

#3 Tom M Culhane

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Posted 26 July 2018 - 12:14 PM

Thanks. I just found a vid posted in 2014 on youtube called Novatone Bass Neck. Found it thru searching "interchangeable fingerboards" which led to posts in TalkBass forum by Sean R. Some people online slander the idea but this guy, Sean R, who made the vid, says it works fine, bought the bass used in 1989. It plays fretted and fretless, still works.

 

("Interchangeable fingerboard" was actually Eric's title too, here in the Materials forum.)

 

I suppose with the recessed magnets you speak of you would need something else on the fingerboard underside to keep it from buzzing.

 

Well if I pursue this I'll post the results.

 

It's pretty sad here in Land of the Clones that you can't just buy these basic products easily. Similar to keyboards now. I bought a new Casio Privia digital piano and it won't even let you tune it. You have to use equal temperament or one of a few other out of tune tunings they provide. A friend who has played piano 40 years tells me in the 70s the keyboards and synthesizers were tunable to whatever hertz frequencies you wanted. Now, talking to a music store owner, they told me you have to pay five digits to get a keyboard like that today. So I have to use this software and a laptop plugged into the usb port on the digital piano. What a joke.



#4 jahloon

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Posted 27 July 2018 - 07:04 AM

Most Roland MIDI gear can be tuned individual notes but it is by the Octave so if you tune Cb all Cb are tuned the same.

 

You need to see this:

 

http://www.unfretted...bx1-tuning-box/

 

There is also a software version.


Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
Author of the book "Fretless Guitar The Definitive Guide" fretlessguitar.co.uk

#5 Tom M Culhane

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Posted 27 July 2018 - 12:38 PM

Octave tunings are fine with me as the four ancient just tunings I have written about, 12 17 19 and 24 tone, are all octave tunings. (I have no interest in other tunings. :cool: )

 

If you say that Tuning Box works I'll take your word for it. The software I used to override the preset tunings on my digital piano came from that same guy. I could never use it live as it cuts off at random moments, and most all the sounds are unplayable as there is a half second delay between hitting the key on the keyboard and the sound coming out. And I can't connect my laptop to the internet or the software will get corrupted due to Windows updates. That guy attributes all this to Windows problems. Anyway I don't have an advanced degree in computers, I just wanted a keyboard you can turn on and play. Like, tuning A B C or D? Sound A B C D ... ? Go. What am I missing?

 

That midi guitar feature sounds interesting. I assume that means it takes your guitar notes you play and converts them to different notes coming out of the speaker. I wonder if that would throw off your sense of proportion though with the strings, interval lengths.

 

Needless to say I'm not computer savvy. I've heard Logicpro software lets you tune the keyboard notes as you please, but you have to convert the numbers to that goofy equal temperament cents notation.

 

Lastly, people using computers to convert notes and chords to just intonation, don't understand just intonation. They are trying to make everything into small whole number just proportions. But that's only part of harmonics. There are other intervals that are needed to fill in the blanks. It's this irregularity that creates the "keys" of music, and keeps everything in balance.

 

(For example, on my baritone guitar the proportions of the last interval of the open strings are 20 to 27. These numbers are similar to 21 to 28, which would reduce to 3 to 4 and give you a very smooth sounding "just" fourth. But 20 and 27 are not the same numbers. They give you a vibrato sound. Those numbers are needed to synchronize the tuning, to bring you back to Doe. They are very real numbers. Ironing them out of the picture with computers is not a good idea.)



#6 jahloon

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Posted 28 July 2018 - 10:49 AM

No latency probs with the box. You have to isolate your keyboard from the MIDI engine. Then you MIDI out port is keyboard info which is fed into the Box and the output is fed into the keyboard MIDI in.

 

I tried to interest Arron in a microtonal box for fretless guitar (which I would have funded) it would have locked all the tones at the desired pitches, like it does if you play a piano patch with a MIDI guitar. (You cannot bend the notes, but if you do bend an A note, it will jump and sound a Bb) We could not agree on how the device would sense a notes pitch so the project did not get underway.


Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
Author of the book "Fretless Guitar The Definitive Guide" fretlessguitar.co.uk

#7 Tom M Culhane

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 08:35 PM

I've been running into obstacles with the removable fingerboard idea. But pushing on.

 

I just bought a used G and L electric guitar. The neck is 1 and 11/16 inches wide at the nut I think. I wanted to put a wider neck on, classical guitars have 2 inch wide necks which I think would be perfect, as my fingertips are stubby and also it would make playing the tunings I've described here such as 19 tone just intonation easier. The widest bolt on neck I can find online for electric is 1 7/8 inches at the nut, which Warmoth sells. But they told me I can't have the neck and fingerboard separate. They say it would mess up the stability of the neck. But as pointed out earlier, other people have made removable fingerboard guitars that seemed to work.

 

Anyway I've been thinking along the lines of using small bolts to attach the fingerboards to the neck. It wouldn't be as fast a change out as magnetically attached fingerboards but fast enough for my purposes. I've contacted two magnet companies for information btw, and neither replied. My concern with using magnets is whether the magnetic pull would throw off the vibrations of the strings.

 

I'm waiting to hear from a custom guitar company if they can make me a wide neck and have the fingerboards separate and bolt on able.

 

Warmoth says their bolt on wide neck (fingerboard glued on) would take like 3 months to get it to me after making it and finishing it.

 

So I decided, with this nice electric sitting here that I just bought, to yank out the frets. A couple days ago I found "fretlet dot com" online, run by John Schneider, the microtonal alternative tuning guitarist. I'll have to check if he posts in this forum. Anyway he has these attachable fretlets he's come out with, metal with adhesive on the back. He says he's had them on his guitar for 5 years and they haven't fallen off. So I just ordered a bunch to put on the neck of my new used electric to play the 12 tone just intonation tuning I have written about in this forum.

 

So I just went to the hardware store and bought a fret pulling type pliers, and some "plastic wood" to fill in the fret slots when I'm done. But the fret pulling pliers (they weren't made for this but as close as I could get) didn't work, they didn't grip the frets. So I followed the old adage, if the easy way doesn't work, force it. So I took a tiny screwdriver and hammered it along each side of the frets, back and forth, and to my surprise after about minute ("letting the hammer do the work") they started coming out. So I've got the electric defretted now. All but one fret. I left in the 12 fret, the octave, the only fret in equal temperament tuning that is in tune.

 

I took a pic of the guitar after getting out the frets, will try to attach it here. And then I scraped the fret slots a bit and put in some of this plastic wood stuff that's supposed to dry really hard, harder than wood. So sustain should be good on the fretboard. So then I'll get some sandpaper and sand the fretboard and when the new fretlets arrive I will be putting each one in individually, right in tune hopefully. And hopefully then my electric will be playing the 12 tone just tuning, chords and all, scrunched fingering and all.

 

Feels so good to have those out of tune fret out!!



#8 Tom M Culhane

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 08:43 PM

I don't see the pic attached so I'll try again. Well it's telling me here file is too big to upload, even though it's just a picture. Well you'll have to use your imagination for how the fretboard looks with that lone 12 fret on it.






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