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Thread: Fretboard flush with soundboard

  1. #1
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    Default Fretboard flush with soundboard

    I was looking at ukes in a shop today and came across the Ohana CK28, a retro Nunes style concert. It has a separate fretboard which ends at the body and is flush with the top (ie its not the neck which is fretted).

    http://www.southernukulelestore.co.u...-Nunes-Styling

    Why do makers/players think this design was discontinued: what were/are the disadvantages in construction/playability compared to a modern instrument?

    A search led to this thread but it doesn't answer my question:

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...s-sound-better

  2. #2
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    as a player of one of these little gems, i think the fact that the fretboard does not extend over the soundboard at all improves how well the soundboard can vibrate, and adds to the volume - the sk28 is tiny, a smaller body than any of my other sopranos, but the sound is HUGE - big volume, and very full tone, it seems to ring out "lower" than my other sopranos, if that makes sense, even tuned exactly the same. (the uke also has a slightly bowed back, i think that adds to the volume too).

    i think a raised fretboard does make it easier to get super low action, but i think the sk28 is a lovely design, it feels lovely to play and sounds fabulous

    if you want more frets, and frets extending down over the body towards the sound hole, you have to have a raised fretboard, i wonder if that's what started the whole raised fretboard thing on ukes?

  3. #3
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    I've seen a few like that. Here's a 1910's - 20's Favilla like that

    Favilla.JPG
    Ask NOT what your country can do for Uke...ask what Uke can do for your country.

  4. #4
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    Early guitars, as in renaissance, baroque and some early romantic guitars were all done that way.
    Don't bother thinking about the advantages. I don't think that there are any IMO. Not that there are disadvantages, except that you obviously run out of frets. Those early guitars had frets glued onto the soundboard, so effectively they extended the range.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for your prompt replies.

    I'm assuming that the way we do it now is better. I realised early guitars were also done that way so hoped you would have something to say Michael N.

    My question is: what was wrong with this earlier fretboard? I don't think it is about no of frets and as a hobby maker, I can't see problems in making the instrument either way. Is it about playability: is it easier to set up and play an instrument with a raised fretboard?

  6. #6
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    No. The geometry is exactly the same. The playability is no different. The only difference is that your bridge will be a bit lower or rather the string height above the soundboard will be lower on a flush fretboard.

  7. #7
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    I recently restored a Ludwig Banjo ukulele...the ebony fret board was disintregeted ..I had to make a new one...from the thickness of parts that were still on the neck I measured them at 60 thou (.060") very thin for a fretboard,with the slots going through the fretboard into the neck wood....Maybe fretboards aren't that important
    :
    http://ukulele-innovation.tripod.com ebay i/d squarepeg_3000

  8. #8
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    My preference is toward the vintage sopranos because of the thin fret boards. I don't play much beyond the 7th fret, It seems the instrument is straining to get those octave notes. I noticed that the Gretch I have uses a rosewood veneer with the fret set into the neck. I like the lightness of those early designs.
    I do have more modern ukuleles that have a more guitar like fret board. It seems necessary for tenors and baritones.

  9. #9
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    I've made a few ukes with the frets set direct into the neck, so they stop at the body join and the fret plane is flush with the top.

    For playing, the only disadvantage is a lower clearance of strings on the top. If you're a frenetic strummer you might hit the top. If you fingerpick, you might find the clearance is a little low (lowest around the body join, which is where I tend to pick).

    For building, no need to make a separate fretboard! OTOH, if you screw it up you can't throw away the fretboard and make another one. The fretboard is a lamination so it adds some stiffness to the neck, but on a soprano that's not really an issue.

    So I wouldn't say the raised fretboard ("modern way") is better, just different. Your playing style might make one better for you than another.

    However, for factory production I'd think a raised fretboard is "better" because it lends itself to more efficient machining/assembly.

  10. #10
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    Funny, the 30s/40s Favilla U2 soprano I recently got seems to be a bit different: it appears to have a single piece neck, with no separate fret board, frets installed directly into the neck (i've heard that called Hawaiian style), but the playing surface is raised slightly, it is not flush to the body. Adding to that, to get the small birdsbeak overhang, there appears to be a thin piece of fingerboard added, incorporating the area of the last fret and the overhang. Pics below, but anyone familiar with that build style?
    20170903_090058.jpg
    Screenshot_2017-09-03-09-03-11.jpg
    Last edited by Ukecaster; 09-03-2017 at 03:08 AM.
    Ask NOT what your country can do for Uke...ask what Uke can do for your country.

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