Thank you for the admission here. I'm at a loss and have been searching for info on cutting fret slots in a violin fingerboard. A google search brought me here so I hope you don't find me too awfully irritating. While waiting for my admission here to be approved I search your forum posts for anything about violin frets and found nothing.
I have a Yinfente 5 string electric violin with a standard fingerboard and wanted to get a fretted (24 total) fingerboard and replace it... guess what, nowhere can I find a fretted fingerboard for a violin, especially a 5 string version. One company that does work, builds instruments and on occasion takes in other jobs, wants $600 for a total fretted fingerboard! Holy smokes... about double what this violin cost new! I don't think so.
So I've searched for the tools but every fret making jig or saw is made with the intent of flat frets on a flat board, and the violin has a multitude of complex curves and although I have made a violin from scratch for a personal project, I'm at a loss to cut frets in a blank. I know the spacing based on a 330mm string length. At one end my fingerboard is 28.9mm wide and the opposite end (bridge end) it's 44.8mm wide. With a standard (?) radius of 42mm at the bridge end and tapered to nothing on the nut end, how would you cut those fret slots and install the wires? Make the fretted fingerboard non-scouped and symmetrical?
I have thought of using that tool tile layers use to transfer irregular shapes to tile to maintain the correct curve of the board to a 'stop' on the side of the fret saw, perhaps I will have to fabricate a jig of my own to hold it perpendicular to the surface.
Any help or links or guidance would be greatly appreciated.
I have enclosed a fretted fingerboard found on the Woods violins as a reference as to what I want to make. Also a picture of my electric I want to modify.
very observant Mike. If that's all you can criticize from the whole thread then I'm very impressed. I've been posting pics for a couple of weeks now of all the progress and got nothing from over a 1090 views. Apparently only a handful few of the members here find my thread even worthy of a comment or a single, "good job", or "nice work for your first attempt at this". I guess no news is good news huh?
Yes, the very last fret is slightly closer, the chances of me or anyone else playing on it is zero. Instead of trying to gob it up with filler I just let it go and stuck a fret in there since the slot was a blade width off, which was my error for reading the distance measurement from the wrong side of the fret I used for the other end of the tape measure so to speak. Since it's mine for my violin and I know about it, I'm leaving it instead of messing with it.
I'm sure everyone here is an accomplished 'fretter' and is used to working with nice flat guitar, mando, banjo boards and their simple two dimensional frets as not one single person who has responded has done a violin or viola fingerboard. In that respect anyone's criticism on my abilities of workmanship will be looked upon with tempered interest and mostly curiosity. Perhaps this is such new territory to them, a comment was impossible.
There's enough people in the whole USA you could count on your fingers of your hands that have the ability to do frets on a multi-angled fingerboard as small as this and I hope this little DIY project from a simple guy who doesn't take no for an answer is a benefit for all who looked at it and perhaps motivation to branch out and do better on one of these... if one handi-man here that sees this builds their own version of what I've done, makes even one fretted fingerboard and goes thru the mental exercises I have in constructing this, then I'll be happy that I shared it with everyone.
I came here asking for some help and got basically none, now the nay-sayers here can see I meant business, was not someone to take lightly and the future boards I make will be perfect. I have orders for 2 and I don't advertise, they just saw the pics on another forum where I was asking for assistance. There's a demand out there for these and no-one makes them, much less makes them in optional levels of construction with optional woods.
Lets, recap the achievements here:
#1- No jig exists that I could find to make fret slots perpendicular to the centerline on a tapered fingerboard of a violin or viola, as simple as this. So I made my own design and built it from scratch.
#2- The maple fingerboard you see here was not machine made, I went to Home Depot and bought a piece of maple board stock and made it from scratch without any cnc machines, only a bandsaw and table or bench sander.
#3- This is the first fretted fingerboard I have ever made, and made mid stream changes that I initially didn't think of doing (since this was only a practice board and never was intended to be used on an instrument)
#4- The quality and time I've spent here is a direct reflection of the difficulty level of this project since not 1 of over a dozen Chinese instrument mfgs I contacted asking for one wouldn't even attempt to do it! That by itself says a lot. Only 1 shop in the USA would even attempt it and they had never done one but were willing to try, for $600
#5- Nothing here is exotic or specialized, everything is easily obtained by anyone who has access to a hardware store or home depot home improvement type store. The biggest single specialized item is the frets and the tiny dots for inlays.
#6- The cost of making this board is $87 and some change, and this was all for materials to make the jig, the fret bender, and buy the frets and dots. I had to buy some more glue because my previous container was dried out and ruined, but that was only $7.00 of the total and I still have it for my other projects.
#7- The per item cost of making this fretted fingerboard is about $25.00 in materials. It's hard to calculate because fret material including shipping was $1.16/ft for me...and the dots were $1.29/ea average cost including shipping.
For this to sell for $600 in the USA and not obtainable from China at any cost, shows me I have a valuable talent and will no doubt make a few of them in the future for fun, no thanks to all the experts that refuse to share their educational magic with fellow craftsmen of the trade. I will, on the other hand, be happy to share any info with anyone who asks.
Thank you all for your interest & curiosity, no matter how brief or minimal. I will post a pic later on of the completed project on the instrument and bid you all goodbye.
Further comments are not necessary or required and I will not be reading or replying to them anyway. My time here is over.
Wow, I surely didn't mean to upset you, Dennis... but the fret looked too close, that's all.
If it's off (and only it that displeases you) I'm certain you have the talent to move it. Pull the fret, fill the slot, re-cut and be done with it. The width of the fret should certainly cover the old slot.
You're tackling some new ground with your work and that's to be commended.... but it can't be "all gravy" without a learning curve or a speed-bump now & then. We're following this unusual project with you and I only meant to contribute to the dialog.
At any rate, I feel badly that my comment was taken so far to heart. It wasn't intended to be disrespectful or disparage your efforts. Sometimes a second pair of eyes comes-in real handy for all of our efforts.
Some of my work has been (justifiably) questioned here and, while I understand your reaction, sometimes it's better to take what's offered in the spirit it was given.
In any event, the best of luck to you.
I would also like to apologize to Dennis for drawing attention to the fact that the top of the tret looked flat, and I will refrain from indulging my curiosity as to whether saddle compensation is necessary or even possible, on a fretted violin.
Congratulations... you fretted a finger board.
I'd say more but I wouldn't want to interupt your self-praise session. Sad that it all basically boils down to a self- aggrandizing advertisement. What a crock.
If anybody is interested in seeing more of Dennis' work on this fretted fiddle, there is a thread about it at