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Thread: Replacing soundboard without removing fretboard and extender

  1. #1
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    Sep 2005
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    Atascadero, CA 93423 USA
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    Default Replacing soundboard without removing fretboard and extender

    I’ve been communicating with a luthier on replacing an F5 soundboard on a fully assembled instrument. He raised concerns about pulling the fretboard and the fretboard extrender and replacing them after the new soundboard was installed.

    I’ve been successful in replacing soundboards without pulling the fretboards and extenders, and wanted to share the process with you all. Assuming the neck pitch and fretboard are correct and don't need an action change or a neck reset, I leave the fretboard and extender intact, remove the old soundboard, and fit the new soundboard under the extender. Here are the steps:

    1) I remove the old soundboard in the normal course by separating it from the ribs with razor blades. 2) The bulk of the soundboard is cut away from above the upper point to the scroll with a Dremel tool (see photo 1). 3) The remaining soundboard wood is then removed up to the fretboard extender using chisels, gouges, etc. 4) I fabricated a “file” (see photo 2) from a piece of 1/8˝ flat steel stock by filing coarse teeth into one edge. Since the “file” has teeth only on one edge, its flat surfaces can rest nicely on the ribs and allow me to file away the fretboard extender - up to the 15th fret cross piece - leaving a 1/8˝ slot for the soundboard to fit into that is perfectly smooth and parallel to the ribs and headblock surface. 5) The new soundboard is then fitted into the slot and aligned to the perimeter of the instrument. 6) From there it is attaching the soundboard, binding, and refinishing in the normal course.

    Roger
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  3. #2

    Default Re: Replacing soundboard without removing fretboard and extender

    Nice. Just a note that for similar cutting jobs (by hand, no tooth set, various kerf widths), keyway broaches, used in metalworking (on, curiously enough a broaching machine to cut keyways), have coarse teeth and are straight. Any parts that you don’t want scraped can just be taped over.
    Also, taking a cue from one form of rasp made from stacked hacksaw blades, you can just make up arbitrary kerfs the same way. If necessary, grind off the set on top and bottom. And, power hacksaw blades are available, thicker than the familiar types, 10-12” or longer, also usually coarse teeth. These are wider and stiffer also, so less bendy. I have ruined a few, but not cutting wood.

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