Fingerboard Technical Info

Sound Composites has developed carbon graphite fingerboards that combines excellent tone generation, easy finishing and impressive durability with a natural look and feel.
  1. The boards are provided within the classic standards of size and relief. There is a width of tooling material on the sides and at the ends of the board that can easily be tooled to blend the boards with a particular instrument if required. Sound Composites places the structural core within the board so that luthiers will avoid touching abrasive carbon fiber and other internal materials.
  2. The minimum standard for relief is put into the board when initially produced. The low friction graphite-based cellulousic woody tooling mediums are uniformly consistent, resulting in easy dressing of the board surface. Since there is no grain, there isn’t any blow or chipping when properly working the materials. Standard scrapers, files, and sandpapers (wet as appropriate) are suggested for all surfaces. Using standard hardwood-tooling dust evacuation techniques is suggested for working these small particle size, inert mediums.
  3. These fingerboards offer outstanding durability. Due to their low-friction surface, intermittent redressing is not necessary.
  4. The stability of the fingerboard surfaces insures that no buzz-producing surface movements develop from grain swell due to fluctuations in humidity and temperature. Luthiers routinely have instruments with wood boards returned within 6 months of initial fingerboard dressing and at other times, to have emerging inconsistencies removed. Such redressing is not needed with Sound Composites Arcotech fingerboards.
  5. The fingerboards may optionally be provided with a 0.025” maple veneer on the back glue surface to allow for the use of traditional hide glue. For boards without backing, aliphatic resin such as Tight Bond is highly suggested.
  6. Sound Composites Arcotech fingerboards have a smooth, low friction surface for ease of playing. Players find that instruments with Sound Composites boards are very comfortable in the hand and to the touch.
  7. Sound Composites fingerboards contribute to high quality tone. This is due to the predicable consistency and transparency of the carbon-based materials.
  8. All classic styles of Sound Composites Arcotech fingerboards are traditionally good-looking, due to the soft, lustrous quality of the surface. Using 0000 steel wool or 600/800 wet/dry sandpaper achieves this result. The average eye often thinks that classic styles of Sound Composites Arcotech fingerboards are made of high quality Ebony due to the similarity in aesthetic.

Addressing fingerboard geometry and toolability:

Sound Composites recognizes that the definition of dimensional perfection is realistically based on individual (or groups) of luthier preferences. Therefore Sound Composites has incorporated refined geometry provided by top luthiers with a 'non-fibrous' tooling matrix that allows for dimensional adjustment using standard woodworking tools, scrapers and sandpapers. This approach minimizes work in fngerboard fine tuning and fitting, facilitating ease for luthier’s to methodically adjust any aspect of relief to one's personal geometric preferences if and when required. The beauty of this material is that properly made strings (even in the case of coarse roundwound styles) do not groove as they slide across the fingerboard surface. However, when a sharp blade or gritty sandpaper is applied, the surface may be worked and adjusted.

Regarding Bass Fingerboard Geometry:

The geometry of Sound Composites bass fingerboards provides excellent relief and contour. Along with other nuances, it is for instance clear that modern definitions of relief demand a surface shape that has less dramatic drop-off in the 1st position, notably on the bass side. Additionally, overall board relief is best served by incorporating a maximum built-in relief that runs diagonally across the fingerboard, 'rather than' in one position (or perpendicular to the strings). Thus, the overall relief is greater towards the nut on the bass side, and consequently greater towards the body on the treble side. These aspects have been addressed while maintaining proper individual string relief along the entire length of the fingerboard. Additionally, Sound Composites has a model that offers geometry reflecting older classical definitions. This model does, for instance, have a more pronounced ramp-off beginning around the first position, bass side.

Regarding overall fingerboard density and internal material placement:

Regarding abrasion and wear, one can counter hardness with hardness (or) hardness with what we call 'lubricity'. If one does the former, the softer material will wear. Metal strings are harder than all wood fingerboards, thus such boards groove over time. With this approach, the only way to obtain a non-wearing fingerboard is to produce a material embodiment that is so hard that the strngs have no influence on its surface. A fingerboard material that accomplishes this is rather bright, pingy and not sonically attractive.

Sound Composites has chosen an alternate approach with variations. In the American Ebony fingerboard style we have placed the stiff and high transmission carbon fiber below a matrix surface that is of moderate density, while exhibiting extremely low friction. It is essentially a ‘lubricious’ surface that does not wear. Simultaneously it acts as a moderating sonic filter which provides a warm yet clear and focused tone. These Sound Composites fingerboards contribute to a fundamental and harmonic overtone series that is balanced and complete. The ‘fuzzy’ transients, by example represented in the minor scraggly ‘teeth’ present along the major wave forms of a Fast Fourier Transform machine computation’s read-out are substantially diminished.

Sound Composites also produces a tooling and performance surface that combines the black lubricious, 'non-wearing' but moderate density American Ebony matrix with extremely durable cellulosic(woody)fiber. This ‘Bio-board’ matrix is the toolable surface area of each fingerboard and above the fibrous carbon. The result is a fingerboard with a very durable surface exhibiting extremely clear tonal characteristics, even when compared with the Sound Composites American Ebony boards. At the same time, there is a quality of warmth that reflects the inclusion of the cellulose.