How to shorten a fingerboard (cello)

A customer asks me to shorten the fretboard of his cello by 2cm. This is my way of doing it.

Normally the cello fingerboard has a standard length of 58.5cm or, in any case, 5/6 of the vibrating string. If it is too long or due to the particular needs of the musician you find yourself having to shorten a fretboard on the finished instrument, perhaps this guide can help you to make your work easier.

The first thing to do is to establish together with the client the exact length of the keyboard taking into account the fact that the position on the keyboard changes between the flute (harmonic) and the pressed note.

I found it appropriate to create a guide for the cut and so I mark the curve at the end of the fretboard on a block of scrap wood. I cut with a band saw and I also make a tablet that goes under the keyboard.

Now I can clamp my guide to the mark where I need to cut. For the cutting process it is important to hold the tool firmly. In this regard I tighten the instrument to the table with a strap. Another important thing is to make sure that the fretboard is well glued to the neck before proceeding with the cut.

The best tool, in my opinion, for this type of cut is the oscillating hacksaw. One because it greatly reduces the stresses on the instrument (there is no risk of “tearing”) and two because it has no “road” or fastening and therefore does not ruin the guide during the cut. With its thin blade it also produces little dust.

It may happen that the wood of the guide burns slightly due to the continuous rubbing of the blade but this is a negligible detail! 😉

The cut is really very precise and a few swipes of sandpaper are enough to finish!

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