Instrument fingerboards take quite a lot of wear over time and can become grooved and pitted. Usually made of ebony, which is a very hard wood, this wear may take may months or even years to start being a problem for a player. Once it becomes grooved though, it can cause problems such a buzzing and the ‘feel’ of the strings can be uncomfortable.
Often the remedy is straightforward and the fingerboard just needs to be resurfaced by scraping, sanding and polishing, but if this has happened several times over the years, the fingerboard can become too thin and so it is necessary to replace the board. As you can imagine, this is not a small job and takes time and care. Cello fingerboards usually have a flattened region under the ‘C’ string, known as the ‘Romberg’ and this has to be planed into the fingerboard and of course it is vital that it is the correct width and angle to enable easy playing of the bottom string.
All fingerboards of instruments of the violin family have to have the correct radius curve, which is matched by the bridge, again to facilitate easy playing of the instrument. They also need a slight in-curve down their length of the fingerboard to allow the strings to vibrate without buzzing. Once the fingerboard is fitted and polished, it is usual to have to replace the bridge of the instrument as the increase in thickness of the new fingerboard often means that the string height with its present bridge will be too low, and so it was with this cello.
With a new fingerboard,bridge and a general spruce up, and of course a new set of strings, this lovely old cello sounded warm and responsive. Just what the player needed. The new fingerboard and bridge gave them the reassurance that their cello was going to provide them with many more years of good service.