PDA

View Full Version : Radius Neck. Is it Snake Oil?



katysax
09-07-2014, 11:48 AM
Radius necks are currently a growing trend in ukulele building. I've got ukes with them and without, and I've come to the conclusion that a radius neck on a uke is of minimal value, if not a downright negative.

A radius neck on a guitar, especially a steel string guitar is an improvement. Steel strings take more pressure to fret and guitar necks are wider.

My Moore Bettah doesn't have a radius fretboard and it is as easy to fret and play as any ukes I've ever played. My Mya Moe and Collings ukes have a radius fretboard. I really have to be careful on those ukes not to have my finger slide off the edge of the fretboard and taking the string with it. A ukulele neck is much narrower than a guitar fretboard and nylon strings don't require as much force.

It seems to me that the added value of a radius fretboard is dubious on a ukulele. I would neither choose a uke nor shy away from a uke because of a radius fretboard.

It reminds me of when zero frets were popular. Both of my Kawikas have a zero fret. I find it to be a minor annoyance. I don't know if zero frets were ever common on ukes, but it was definitely a fad that came and went on guitar.

Doug W
09-07-2014, 12:02 PM
The only instrument I have owned with a radius fretboard was a mandolin which also had a zero fret. It seemed easier to make barre chords with the radius fretboard on the mandolin. Sadly that mandolin died before its time. I have no opinion on the zero fret. Instruments that I have owned with and without zero frets seemed fine to me.

kvehe
09-07-2014, 12:10 PM
I have some with the radius, and some without. I can't tell the difference, but I know some people say the radius makes a tremendous difference.

Nickie
09-07-2014, 01:40 PM
A fiddle neck is a lot narrower than most uke necks. If it had a flat neck, instead of a radiused fretboard, it would really suck. So I don't think neck width is the only criteria. I think it's more "each to his/her own". I'd love to try a uke with a radiused fretboard. So, no, I doubt if they are overrated. A MB uke is probably gonna be easier to play than just about any uke, no matter what the fretboard shape is.

janeray1940
09-07-2014, 01:41 PM
I can't tell the difference either. Never owned one that was radiused but have tried several and didn't see any reason to want one.

coolkayaker1
09-07-2014, 01:47 PM
No difference. it is snake oil.

janeray1940
09-07-2014, 01:49 PM
Now that I think about it - what is the supposed advantage, anyway?

Ukejenny
09-07-2014, 01:51 PM
I'd like to try one and see what it feels like. So far, I haven't laid hands on one.

BlackBearUkes
09-07-2014, 02:01 PM
A fiddle neck is a lot narrower than most uke necks. If it had a flat neck, instead of a radiused fretboard, it would really suck. So I don't think neck width is the only criteria. I think it's more "each to his/her own". I'd love to try a uke with a radiused fretboard. So, no, I doubt if they are overrated. A MB uke is probably gonna be easier to play than just about any uke, no matter what the fretboard shape is.

If a violin had a flat fingerboard, you wouldn't be able to bow the D or A string without touching the two outer strings. Bowed string instrument have to have a radius fingerboard, not so with a plucked string instrument.

Wicked
09-07-2014, 02:07 PM
I wouldn't call radiused fretboards or zero frets fads by any means. It all comes down to preference and how you, personally, use the instrument.

One may not prefer a radiused fretboard, but to say that they are useless to every player out there is a bit ludicrous, don't you think?

Patrick Madsen
09-07-2014, 02:31 PM
It's not snake oil at all. I can tell bigtime if it's radius or not. I much prefer radius; so much so I don't buy flatboards anymore. I have some arthritis and over use issues with the hands. A slight radius makes all the difference in the world for me; esp. barring up the neck.

Nickie
09-07-2014, 03:10 PM
Blackbear, you are so right. It might make the stand up bass a little harder to pluck, but it would be impossible to bow. I just can't see how it would be snake oil on a uke. I know several people with arthritis that it might help. Lots better than quitting, and lamenting.....

dalamaricus
09-07-2014, 05:53 PM
For playability I think people like a radiused fretboard or not based on their hand shape and how they hold the uke. I also think a radiused fretboard looks more elegant. Overall though it's not a big factor for me, although if I bought a custom uke I'd get a radiused fretboard if available.

Teek
09-07-2014, 05:58 PM
Yes when you have arthritis or break a finger or two on your fretting hand you will likely feel a positive difference playing a radiused neck. I have three and even on the 16" scale uke it feels better and it's easier to make chord shapes to me over a flat neck. It's not a huge deal but it's a little bit that helps. I'll be selling some of the flat necks, and keeping the three with the radius.

Dan Uke
09-07-2014, 07:52 PM
Radius necks are currently a growing trend in ukulele building. I've got ukes with them and without, and I've come to the conclusion that a radius neck on a uke is of minimal value, if not a downright negative.

A radius neck on a guitar, especially a steel string guitar is an improvement. Steel strings take more pressure to fret and guitar necks are wider.

My Moore Bettah doesn't have a radius fretboard and it is as easy to fret and play as any ukes I've ever played. My Mya Moe and Collings ukes have a radius fretboard. I really have to be careful on those ukes not to have my finger slide off the edge of the fretboard and taking the string with it. A ukulele neck is much narrower than a guitar fretboard and nylon strings don't require as much force.

It seems to me that the added value of a radius fretboard is dubious on a ukulele. I would neither choose a uke nor shy away from a uke because of a radius fretboard.

It reminds me of when zero frets were popular. Both of my Kawikas have a zero fret. I find it to be a minor annoyance. I don't know if zero frets were ever common on ukes, but it was definitely a fad that came and went on guitar.

You and I are similar in that I prefer not to have a radius and no zero fret.

Steveperrywriter
09-07-2014, 08:07 PM
One woman's floor is another man's ceiling ...

Clearly, some of use don't notice a difference twixt a radiused fretboard and a flat one -- I'm one. But it seems just as clear that some of us do, and if you have a medical malady that the radius alleviates, by all means take advantage of it. We all know our own needs and wants best, no?

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-07-2014, 09:20 PM
Radius necks are currently a growing trend in ukulele building. I've got ukes with them and without, and I've come to the conclusion that a radius neck on a uke is of minimal value, if not a downright negative.

A radius neck on a guitar, especially a steel string guitar is an improvement. Steel strings take more pressure to fret and guitar necks are wider.

My Moore Bettah doesn't have a radius fretboard and it is as easy to fret and play as any ukes I've ever played. My Mya Moe and Collings ukes have a radius fretboard. I really have to be careful on those ukes not to have my finger slide off the edge of the fretboard and taking the string with it. A ukulele neck is much narrower than a guitar fretboard and nylon strings don't require as much force.

It seems to me that the added value of a radius fretboard is dubious on a ukulele. I would neither choose a uke nor shy away from a uke because of a radius fretboard.

It reminds me of when zero frets were popular. Both of my Kawikas have a zero fret. I find it to be a minor annoyance. I don't know if zero frets were ever common on ukes, but it was definitely a fad that came and went on guitar.

I agree and that's the reason I've stopped building with radiused fretboards. I built an uke for myself with a radiused fretboard a couple of years ago and I still prefer the flat board ukes I have. I personally see no advantage. For good playability, proper setup is more important than the shape of the fretboard.

Jon Moody
09-08-2014, 01:59 AM
I wouldn't call radiused fretboards or zero frets fads by any means. It all comes down to preference and how you, personally, use the instrument.

One may not prefer a radiused fretboard, but to say that they are useless to every player out there is a bit ludicrous, don't you think?

+1. Just because the OP - and others in this thread - cannot tell a difference or prefer something else does not make it snake oil.

The OP is comparing a Moore Bettah, Mya Moe and Collings; all instruments that have high standards of quality and excellence in building as well as the final set up. They will ALL play extremely well, regardless of the radius on the fretboard, but to use that as a rationale for calling something "snake oil" is a bit short sided.

hammer40
09-08-2014, 02:50 AM
It's always interesting when some will make blanket statements for all based on their preferences. I have a couple of ukes with a radius, and now prefer them to flat. By no means does that mean I won't buy, or can't play a flat fret uke. Just a personal preference now, but i do find that I seem to have a little easier time over all with chord shapes and barres. It's most noticeable if I have been playing one or the other more frequently or for a longer period of time than the other.

They aren't better or worse, but anything that makes playing easier or more fun for yourself, is all that matters.

SteveZ
09-08-2014, 03:34 AM
I've got ukuleles and mandolins both flat and radius. They all play as well as the musician who plays them.

Builders do different things for their own reasons. Sometimes it's for acoustics and sometimes for aesthetics, and all of that is okay. I admit to enjoy the radiused neck for no good reason why. I can postulate all day long, but in the end it's just the feel with the particular instrument.

All that said, it just goes back to what's right for that particular instrument. Example: I've got two really neat mandolins, one with a radiused neck and built to be a unique and special instrument - the radiused neck just is "right" with this one. The other mandolin (flat neck) was designed to be a piece of folk art and throwback to when there were no store-bought instruments and folk made their own - on this one a radiused neck would be totally out of place. One any given day I'll pick up either one and enjoy them for what they are.

The radiused neck is a difference, just like how strings attach to the instrument, where the sound hole(s) is(are), how the resonator is shaped, what the scale length is, what kind of wood (or other material) is used and where, and every other factor involved in instrument-making. Not snake oil, but a difference to the feel of the instrument which certain musicians happen to like for whatever personal reasons and the builder believes is "right" for his/her creation.

Wicked
09-08-2014, 03:51 AM
Not to belabor the point, but ukuleles are tools. We use them to create something. As with any tool, each user will have preferences on how that tool looks, feels, etc. - but that does not mean that each and every tool cannot be used.

I just looked at the Home Depot web site. They list 108 different claw hammers - each with their own, often subtle, differences. You can build a house with every one of them - but if you are going to be swinging that thing at the end of your arm for any length of time, then you are going to have preferences.

Doc_J
09-08-2014, 04:02 AM
Every once in while I find a radiused fretboard more difficult. My fingers get used to strumming or picking straight on a flat board. If I then switch to a radiused fretboard, it takes a little warm up time to adjust to the small differences in finger motion. However, if I start playing with a radius board and go to a flat one, no problem. Maybe it's just me.

bearbike137
09-08-2014, 04:27 AM
I have both and love both, but I slightly prefer the radiused fretboard. Maybe it is because I have been a lifelong guitar player, who knows. As it is mostly a preference thing, it is kind of silly for those who don't prefer it to call it "snake oil" or as having no advantage. For example, I have owned two recent Ko'olaus (as CS and a T100); one a flat fretboard and the other radiused. I was definitely a better player on the radiused fretboard - and I am pretty certain that Noa Bonk sets them up as well as anyone does!

Dan Uke
09-08-2014, 06:00 AM
"Snake Oi" Great choice of words! The OP wanted some feedback and it piqued the curiosity of many. If someone started a thread just stating "What's your opinion of radius fretboards" it might not have received as many comments.

Jon Moody
09-08-2014, 06:03 AM
"Snake Oi" Great choice of words! The OP wanted some feedback and it piqued the curiosity of many. If someone started a thread just stating "What's your opinion of radius fretboards" it might not have received as many comments.

I guess that all depends on the quality of comments, as a lot of them on this thread are about how they're NOT snake oil, over actual content.

Quantity =/= Quality

bearbike137
09-08-2014, 06:07 AM
I guess that all depends on the quality of comments, as a lot of them on this thread are about how they're NOT snake oil, over actual content.


"Actual content" would look like what, exactly...?

hawaii 50
09-08-2014, 06:11 AM
Radius necks are currently a growing trend in ukulele building. I've got ukes with them and without, and I've come to the conclusion that a radius neck on a uke is of minimal value, if not a downright negative.

A radius neck on a guitar, especially a steel string guitar is an improvement. Steel strings take more pressure to fret and guitar necks are wider.

My Moore Bettah doesn't have a radius fretboard and it is as easy to fret and play as any ukes I've ever played. My Mya Moe and Collings ukes have a radius fretboard. I really have to be careful on those ukes not to have my finger slide off the edge of the fretboard and taking the string with it. A ukulele neck is much narrower than a guitar fretboard and nylon strings don't require as much force.

It seems to me that the added value of a radius fretboard is dubious on a ukulele. I would neither choose a uke nor shy away from a uke because of a radius fretboard.

It reminds me of when zero frets were popular. Both of my Kawikas have a zero fret. I find it to be a minor annoyance. I don't know if zero frets were ever common on ukes, but it was definitely a fad that came and went on guitar.

I like the radius on the fretboard my Moore Bettah,DeVine and Ko'olau CS which all were options when I ordered them...my fingers are stiff and old from being a mailman and other jobs with my hands....

had no option on all the K brand ukes as you can not get a radius fretboard from them.... my 1998 Maui Music has one though....Peter Liberman has been building his ukes with a radius on the fretboard for over 30 years as standard option...so hard to say it is a passing fad.....

my 2 cents

Jon Moody
09-08-2014, 06:21 AM
"Actual content" would look like what, exactly...?

Original comment was how the OP can't tell the difference, hence it must be snake oil. Much of what transpired was about how it's not snake oil, with a smattering of people extolling their preferences or the virtues of one over the other. It's a lot of crap (mainly the "it's not snake oil" responses) to read actual content. This is like reading a novel with ads in the middle of chapters without you knowing it; you have to skim through it to get to the content you want.

Whereas, if the OP said "I can't tell the difference between the two. Is there one?" you'd get more focused content out of it, with people still stating their preference but explaining why. Would there have been less response? Probably, but it would've been more focused discussion.

billten
09-08-2014, 06:26 AM
My kinnard has a radius board, i can play it for two or three times as long before i get tired, my 'hard' chords all sound great with no buzzing and thudding and i honestly enjoy playing a lot more now versus my cheaper non-radius ukes. Is it because the uke has a radius fretboard, because it's properly set-up as chuck suggested or some other combination of factors? Who knows... i am certain that there is a huge difference though and i think the board is a part of it, definitely not snake oil from my perspective...

RichM
09-08-2014, 06:33 AM
I use snake oil on all my radiused fretboards, it keeps them nice and shiny. The hard part is milking the snakes.

bearbike137
09-08-2014, 06:42 AM
Whereas, if the OP said "I can't tell the difference between the two. Is there one?" you'd get more focused content out of it, with people still stating their preference but explaining why. Would there have been less response? Probably, but it would've been more focused discussion.

Well said. Got it. :)

Andy Chen
09-08-2014, 06:46 AM
Count me another fan of the radiused fingerboard. It doesn't mean I find a flat board less playable. It means I can play a radiused one for longer without feeling a strain on my left hand at all. The first hour or so, it makes little difference to me.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-08-2014, 07:54 AM
The only way you can be fair to this topic is by comparing two similar models from the same builder each having the same set up, etc, one with a radiused fret board and one without. Of course the player's physical attributes, proficiency and style will yield different results for different people. For me a 16" radius is not noticeable whereas I find a 12" radius annoying.

RichM
09-08-2014, 08:46 AM
The only way you can be fair to this topic is by comparing two similar models from the same builder each having the same set up, etc, one with a radiused fret board and one without. Of course the player's physical attributes, proficiency and style will yield different results for different people. For me a 16" radius is not noticeable whereas I find a 12" radius annoying.

I volunteer to be your test case, Chuck! PM me and I'll give you the address to send my two ukes to! :p

sam13
09-08-2014, 10:05 AM
My two cents:

Because of my size, 6'5" ... arms that are close to three feet in length, playing with a radius takes the stress out of the left wrist as I barre a lot of chords for jazz music. I am also learning so if I was a better player then I might not need it ... however, I can tell when playing my Pono Pro Classic Tenor or the previous Pono MT (non-radius neck) that working at getting a clear sound on a barred chord was easier WITH A RADIUS ... and so I just keep it simple for me. Buy ukes with a radius.

My answer is a personal reflection of Chuck's concise comments above about physical attributes, ability and musical style. He summed it up very well.

DownUpDave
09-08-2014, 10:25 AM
My two cents:

Because of my size, 6'5" ... arms that are close to three feet in length, playing with a radius takes the stress out of the left wrist as I barre a lot of chords for jazz music. I am also learning so if I was a better player then I might not need it ... however, I can tell when playing my Pono Pro Classic Tenor or the previous Pono MT (non-radius neck) that working at getting a clear sound on a barred chord was easier WITH A RADIUS ... and so I just keep it simple for me. Buy ukes with a radius.

My answer is a personal reflection of Chuck's concise comments above about physical attributes, ability and musical style. He summed it up very well.


You forgot to mention you have fingers like "ball park franks". :shaka:

I was waiting for you to chime in. You have always said it takes pressure off your wrists and notice it when you play my flat fretboarded ukes. As you and Chuck said it depends on the person.

Camsuke
09-08-2014, 11:06 AM
Those Estwing hammers are listed at a great price! We pay at least twice that much in Australia!


Not to belabor the point, but ukuleles are tools. We use them to create something. As with any tool, each user will have preferences on how that tool looks, feels, etc. - but that does not mean that each and every tool cannot be used.

I just looked at the Home Depot web site. They list 108 different claw hammers - each with their own, often subtle, differences. You can build a house with every one of them - but if you are going to be swinging that thing at the end of your arm for any length of time, then you are going to have preferences.

kypfer
09-08-2014, 12:24 PM
I've only got flat fretboards on my ukuleles, but I do have both flat and radiused fretboards on my guitars. On the guitars, barring some chords can be easier (less uncomfortable) on the radiused fretboards, unless I'm "sitting up properly" with the instrument in "the proper position", at which point it makes little difference.

I occaisionally notice similar discomfort when barring my ukuleles, often combined with a dead note. Inspection indicates that my barring finger isn't totally flat and that a radiused fretboard may have reduced/rectified the problem, helping the fretboard to "fit into" the curved barring finger, for want of a better term.

A second scenario where a radiused fretboard might prove helpful to me is when I'm fretting a "D" chord 2220 all with the top joint of one finger and manage to foul the open "A" string with the second joint. This just doesn't happen on my guitars with a curved fretboard. There may be other scenarios, but these are the most common for me.

So ... my assessment ... radiused fretboards can help some people in some scenarios. If you don't have a problem with "dead" strings when barring or fretting chords you probably don't need a radiused fretboard. That's not to say you might not find one more comfortable.

If you do suffer from the above problems (or similar) do try before you buy. Many of these problems can be solved (or at least reduced) by better posture ... sit up in a good chair, fit a strap (at least tie a bit of string around the thing to take the weight and see if it makes a difference).

So in answer to the OP's original question ... no, radiused fretboards are not snake oil, but they're certainly no universal cure-all either. They may help you get away with a few bad habits though ;)

YMMV, but enjoy the journey :)

UkeInTW
09-12-2014, 10:56 PM
From what I read of posts by others, seems the radius helps more in bar chords for them, for those that notice a difference. Seems logical to me, since I do notice sometimes the middle strings arent pushed down all the way on some of my bar chords on a flat fretboard, if I am not paying enough attention to bar more forcefully and I have to make more of an effort to push a lot harder. So, I can imagine a radius fretboard means a little less pressure needed for the middle strings. Or trying the D chord as previous poster mentioned with one finger, sometimes the E string does not get pushed all the way down. Sometimes the issue for me is also placing my finger where the finger creases line up with the strings, which makes it harder, so I need to shift my finger so strings are on the fleshy part and not lined up with the creases at my finger joints.

How about the playability with picking? I read one post where the picking was harder for them on a radius fretboard because the slight slant can make it easier to slip off the edges. Or read another where the radius can mean a slightly longer reach to fret the G string, but I would imagine the distance difference is probably negligible. Anybody find any positives from picking view point?

And I can imagine that the degree of radius will make a big difference, so people's experience may be talking about different degrees of radius fretboards. Small degrees probably are not noticeable, so could also be a factor in why some say no difference.

kissing
09-13-2014, 07:03 AM
I read up about the topic of Flat vs Radiused fretboards in some guitar forums, and it seems to me that the dominant opinion is that most guitarists actually prefer flat fretboards for slicker soloing and shredding.

Radiused fretboards seem to help a bit with barre chords, but at the cost of fingerpicking dexterity.

eg:

http://www.sevenstring.org/forum/luthiery-modifications-customizations/191691-flat-fretboard-radius.html

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1250369

Wicked
09-13-2014, 08:31 AM
I read up about the topic of Flat vs Radiused fretboards in some guitar forums, and it seems to me that the dominant opinion is that most guitarists actually prefer flat fretboards for slicker soloing and shredding.

Radiused fretboards seem to help a bit with barre chords, but at the cost of fingerpicking dexterity.

The real issue from a guitar perspective is that bending strings will "choke out" on a cylindrically radiused fret board. The ultimate solution is a conically (compound) radiused board.

Icelander53
09-13-2014, 10:00 AM
I just like the look of them. :nana:

Wicked
09-13-2014, 12:10 PM
I just like the look of them. :nana:

I must admit, the aesthetics is part of the draw to me. A well radiused fretboard just looks more refined to me. Maybe I'm just goofy.

kissing
09-13-2014, 02:47 PM
This video seems to provide some info on the matter:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6phVl9PTMMc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6phVl9PTMMc

It seems flat fretboards make it easier to fingerpick with precision, whereas radius fretboards make it easier to play chords.

I prefer playing instrumental pieces on the uke like classical guitar, so I prefer flat fretboards.

haole
09-13-2014, 04:01 PM
I have two ukes with radiused fretboards and I honestly can't tell the difference. Wouldn't pay extra for it.

Icelander53
09-13-2014, 04:26 PM
I think, from a little experience and what I've been reading, for the advanced player the difference would be minimal if any. For the beginner who is struggling with barre chords it could be helpful. And also I think it might be beneficial for certain finger shapes or maybe even finger strength but I'm just speculating here. I have quite a few ukes and except for one I find that my radiused fretboards are the easiest to play cleanly. I mostly strum and I'm very much a beginner.

sam13
09-13-2014, 04:27 PM
You forgot to mention you have fingers like "ball park franks". :shaka:

I was waiting for you to chime in. You have always said it takes pressure off your wrists and notice it when you play my flat fretboarded ukes. As you and Chuck said it depends on the person.

Not all of us have little girl fingers like you there, neighbour.

You liked my Pono Pro Classic with radius neck that your ran out and got yourself one as well.

DuD is right. Removes pressure on my wrists. Works for me and I won't look at a Uke without it.

Might even get a Kanile'a and slap a radius neck on it.

sam13
09-13-2014, 04:30 PM
I think, from a little experience and what I've been reading, for the advanced player the difference would be minimal if any. For the beginner who is struggling with barre chords it could be helpful. And also I think it might be beneficial for certain finger shapes or maybe even finger strength but I'm just speculating here. I have quite a few ukes and except for one I find that my radiused fretboards are the easiest to play cleanly. I mostly strum and I'm very much a beginner.

I agree with you and your comments.

As a newbie playing jazz barre chords, it is much easier for me to play cleanly with a radius fret board.

Mark Roberts Ukuleles
09-19-2014, 07:01 AM
The benefit of a radiuses fretboard is to increase the ease of fretting and playability, especially when doing barr chords.

The radius starts to approximate the natural curve of your barring finger.
Look at your index finger in a relaxed natural state. It's curved. It is not straight.

It take more finger muscle to straighten your finger than to leave it in the relaxed state.
Reflect on how your hands effort feels in a relaxed state for five minutes, then hold all of your fingers straight for five minutes.
Which one take more effort?
Playa n instrument with a flat fingerboard for 30 minutes straight....than after your hand has recuperated play one with an appropriate radius fingerboard for 30 minutes. You will notice the difference.

Uke Republic
09-19-2014, 07:34 AM
In our store we sell more non radiused fingerboard ukuleles but we do get request for them. A person with strength loss in their hand I would think would get the most benefit. Ultimately I would say it's an individual's preference.

Cocobolo Ukuleles
10-14-2014, 11:06 PM
Like most things in the world, I think it comes down to personal preference. The wider the fretboard is and the harder the strings are, the more the player will benefit from the radius. Try playing a bass without plenty of radius and you will know what I mean. Also, if a player has small hands, or is older and has a harder time hitting certain chords, radius will help.

We recently started adding a 12" radius to our fretboards and we have had a very positive response from our customers. I think that one benefit of the radius is that it allows the builder to set up the ukulele better. Since switching over to a radius fretboard we have noticed that we rarely have fret buzz issues. I am not sure why exactly, but it is nice. This has allowed us to set our string action lower without running into problems. Almost every customer comments about how much like like the setup job.

Check out the comments on our webpage. Several customers mention how much they enjoy the radius and the setup of our ukuleles:

http://www.cocoboloukuleles.com/index.php/2014-05-10-08-22-16/happy-customers

mm stan
10-15-2014, 12:53 AM
Everyone has different size hands and fingers, also the thickness of the neck and width and the action(string height) are main factors too...
Snake oil? depends on your preference and outlook.....

Nickie
10-15-2014, 02:37 PM
I want my next uke to have a radiused fret board. I'm fed up with fret buzzing....ugh!

sam13
10-15-2014, 02:50 PM
No difference. it is snake oil.

You are such aN instigator. Lol

Was going to make the same comme t but you beat me too it. Lol

PereBourik
10-15-2014, 04:09 PM
Like most things in the world, I think it comes down to personal preference. The wider the fretboard is and the harder the strings are, the more the player will benefit from the radius. Try playing a bass without plenty of radius and you will know what I mean. Also, if a player has small hands, or is older and has a harder time hitting certain chords, radius will help.

We recently started adding a 12" radius to our fretboards and we have had a very positive response from our customers. I think that one benefit of the radius is that it allows the builder to set up the ukulele better. Since switching over to a radius fretboard we have noticed that we rarely have fret buzz issues. I am not sure why exactly, but it is nice. This has allowed us to set our string action lower without running into problems. Almost every customer comments about how much like like the setup job.

Check out the comments on our webpage. Several customers mention how much they enjoy the radius and the setup of our ukuleles:

http://www.cocoboloukuleles.com/index.php/2014-05-10-08-22-16/happy-customers

Add me to this list. My Cocobolo is a really easy player. Good setup and nice action. The radiused fretboard I is not snake oil. My hands are not aging well. I need every edge I can get.

sam13
10-15-2014, 05:15 PM
Add me to this list. My Cocobolo is a really easy player. Good setup and nice action. The radiused fretboard I is not snake oil. My hands are not aging well. I need every edge I can get.

Looking forward to their Tenor with radius fretboard.

Tootler
10-16-2014, 06:10 AM
If you use a capo at all, radius fretboard is the last thing you need.

I do occasionally and look likely to do so more in the future.

Of course, a flat fretboard is simply one with an infinite radius ;)

Patrick Madsen
10-16-2014, 07:09 AM
I have radius on all my ukes and never had a problem using a capo. Not sure where all the fuss about raduius vs non. If ya need to shred and are used to a radius, there'll be no problem and visa versa.

Tootler
10-16-2014, 09:54 PM
I have radius on all my ukes and never had a problem using a capo. Not sure where all the fuss about raduius vs non. If ya need to shred and are used to a radius, there'll be no problem and visa versa.

I've been checking capos and it seems that there are some that will work with radius necks and some that won't. My memories are from the days many years ago when I was trying to learn guitar and back then capos would only work with flat necks.

Otherwise I agree with you. What's the fuss?

RichM
10-17-2014, 01:47 AM
I've been checking capos and it seems that there are some that will work with radius necks and some that won't. My memories are from the days many years ago when I was trying to learn guitar and back then capos would only work with flat necks.

Otherwise I agree with you. What's the fuss?

Quite the opposite with guitars-- since radiused fretboards are more common, a large percentage of guitar capos are built with a slight curve to address the radius. My favorite guitar has a flat neck, and I need to use a really old-school capo on it to get good results.

Cheeso
10-17-2014, 04:59 AM
I have a Breedlove Uke with a radiused fretboard, the advantage was when barring chords, there was less stress on my hand. It didn't seem to affect finger-picking in any way.

The real snake oil in the uke/guitar world: "The wood on your uke will open up."











:)

bnolsen
10-17-2014, 05:33 AM
agreed about barre chords. Simple Eb seems easier on my dolphin which is radiused. It sort of compensates for the closer string spacing the dolphin has relative to my other ukuleles.

wayfarer75
10-17-2014, 07:25 AM
The real snake oil in the uke/guitar world: "The wood on your uke will open up."

:agree:

(Although some days it seems that my uke sounds better than on other days. I think it's the humidity. Or... could it be me?)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-17-2014, 08:06 AM
The real snake oil in the uke/guitar world: "The wood on your uke will open up."

I couldn't disagree more but that's a horse that's been beaten to death. Never mind me though, it seems my views are contrary to most on Uke talk! ;)

hawaii 50
10-17-2014, 08:21 AM
I couldn't disagree more but that's a horse that's been beaten to death. Never mind me though, it seems my views are contrary to most on Uke talk! ;)

Haha...Chuck, I agree with everything you say..in the uke World you are one if not The best builder...:)

my ukes all open up in time(and sound better)...but I only have 8....maybe Stan can give more feedback...:)
but I do have one Koa(top) one that is taking a while too(been 2 years)...but I have high hopes for this uke.....in the end it will be a better sounding uke....for sure..

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-17-2014, 08:32 AM
....but I do have one Koa(top) one that is taking a while too(been 2 years)...but I have high hopes for this uke.....in the end it will be a better sounding uke....for sure..

Maybe that's where the confusion is. A poorly or improperly built uke may never open up noticeably.
Stan doesn't know how many ukes he has. When he counts them he always nods off when the number gets somewhat past 100. It's his version of counting sheep. ;)

wayfarer75
10-17-2014, 09:39 AM
Maybe that's where the confusion is. A poorly or improperly built uke may never open up noticeably.

I think the "opening up" is too often used as an excuse for a not-so-nice sounding new uke. "Oh, you don't like the sound now? Just wait--it'll open up." Well, I want my uke to sound nice now, not in a few months/years.

hawaii 50
10-17-2014, 09:43 AM
I think the "opening up" is too often used as an excuse for a not-so-nice sounding new uke. "Oh, you don't like the sound now? Just wait--it'll open up." Well, I want my uke to sound nice now, not in a few months/years.


yes I think you are right...the one uke that I have does not sound that great...so all I can say is it should open up in the future...been 2 years but I not giving up yet....:)

btw I have bad hands..after being a mailman for many years....all of my custom ukes have a radius on the fretboard...it works for me

bborzell
10-17-2014, 09:43 AM
My take on the question of whether or not instruments open up as the instrument is played is pretty simple. Notwithstanding my sound (so to speak) belief that well built solid wood instruments do open up, I also believe that some folks don't hear the change.

Ears and hearing are finicky things. This "opening up" topic always gets more play than the fact that there is often considerably more aging related changes happening with auditory function than with tone woods.

When I read someone state categorically that they do not believe that instrument aging and maturation can change what they hear, I believe them.

Dan Uke
10-17-2014, 10:05 AM
I don't think I give ukes time to "open up". If it doesn't sound good enough for me within the first month or so, I let it go. However, the ones that I keep, I think they sound better than when I first get them...or ast least I like to imagine.

One important thing to remember is preferential sound is subjective so even if I didn't care for a uke, someone else might love it and vice versa.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-17-2014, 10:06 AM
Well, I want my uke to sound nice now, not in a few months/years.

Not too worry, the majority of the ukes that are off the shelf have matured for at least a few months if not years. They've also been exposed to ambient vibrations which helps the process somewhat. At the time of sale many of them have opened up as much as they are going to. With a custom built uke, most of the maturing (opening up) will occur within the first month and continue for a year or so. The curing of the finish has a lot to do with the way the uke responds and lacquer can take a year to fully cure. Very few people have played a "fresh" uke. After completing an uke I notice a substantial improvement within a few days of the uke being under string tension. I also think that the individual wood components need time to shake hands and get along with each other and work harmoniously together. OK, that part may be hocus-pocus but I do believe that the more a newly built uke is played (and played hard) the faster it will sound better.

Have we successfully sidetracked this thread now? Sorry about that!

wayfarer75
10-17-2014, 10:31 AM
Not too worry, the majority of the ukes that are off the shelf have matured for at least a few months if not years. They've also been exposed to ambient vibrations which helps the process somewhat. At the time of sale many of them have opened up as much as they are going to. With a custom built uke, most of the maturing (opening up) will occur within the first month and continue for a year or so. The curing of the finish has a lot to do with the way the uke responds and lacquer can take a year to fully cure. Very few people have played a "fresh" uke. After completing an uke I notice a substantial improvement within a few days of the uke being under string tension. I also think that the individual wood components need time to shake hands and get along with each other and work harmoniously together. OK, that part may be hocus-pocus but I do believe that the more a newly built uke is played (and played hard) the faster it will sound better.

Have we successfully sidetracked this thread now? Sorry about that!

That makes a lot of sense. There's no way I'm affording a custom any time soon, so the ukes I'd buy have been in the shops for a while, not to mention the time it takes to get to the shops from the builders. They're not "fresh," as you put it--so I wouldn't experience the "opening up" process.

mm stan
10-17-2014, 10:35 AM
Maybe that's where the confusion is. A poorly or improperly built uke may never open up noticeably.
Stan doesn't know how many ukes he has. When he counts them he always nods off when the number gets somewhat past 100. It's his version of counting sheep. ;)
Aloha Chuckie,,
Your Koa masterpiece you made for me has opened up so much and is sounding so amazing and beautiful , love it so much with my Milo spuce too... Kiana is still waiting for her little sister and she will be a bit smaller and easier to hold with my bad back. I still think your ukes are the best in the world .....I feel priviliged to have them and get to play them, it just blows me away everytime I play them...:) Geez I wish I had a 100 MB's but just one more will do for now... :)

mds725
10-17-2014, 11:17 AM
Not too worry, the majority of the ukes that are off the shelf have matured for at least a few months if not years. They've also been exposed to ambient vibrations which helps the process somewhat. At the time of sale many of them have opened up as much as they are going to. With a custom built uke, most of the maturing (opening up) will occur within the first month and continue for a year or so. The curing of the finish has a lot to do with the way the uke responds and lacquer can take a year to fully cure. Very few people have played a "fresh" uke. After completing an uke I notice a substantial improvement within a few days of the uke being under string tension. I also think that the individual wood components need time to shake hands and get along with each other and work harmoniously together. OK, that part may be hocus-pocus but I do believe that the more a newly built uke is played (and played hard) the faster it will sound better.

Have we successfully sidetracked this thread now? Sorry about that!

I'm lucky enough to have a few custom ukuleles that I got when they were "fresh," and that's been my experience with them. I've also heard other luthiers talk about the components of an ukulele (and guitars, mandolins, etc.) needing to acclimate to one another, and that's never sounded like hocus pocus to me. Some of the wood has been bent into new shapes, and the woods are being placed under stresses (string tension, vibration) to which they are not accustomed. Even though many people tend to see wood instruments as inanimate objects, the wood itself was, at one time, living tissue, and it makes perfect sense to me that the wood would continue to change under new circumstances. I obtained my only Moore Bettah from its previous owner, but it was only a few months old when I got it, and although I probably missed the majority of the opening up process, it sounds noticeably better to my ear now than when I first got it. (A "fresh" MB is an experience that I'd love to have. :) ) I have two baritone Compass Rose ukuleles (a steel string and an octave nylon string) that both sounded and felt significantly better at producing sound within weeks of my having gotten them.

I once almost fell asleep trying to count Stan's ukuleles. :)

Nickie
10-17-2014, 11:48 AM
Hey, Stan doesn't have very many ukes....he said so. Right Stan?
I don't know about all of this wood stuff, but my Ohana, which is suppsoed to have only a solid wood top, sounds better than the day I got it. It's louder, clearer, crisper sounding, and it sounded pretty darn good when I got it. Even though I think the Moore Bettah is the Holy Grail, I might never own one, because of funds, which sucks. Even so, I told Tammy that this little Ohana may have cured my UAS (I said "for now" under my breath). I'm ready to try some different strings on it soon. I wish it had a radiused fretboard, and a more comfortable "armrest", I wouldn't look any further. (But I'd still drool every time I see/hear a MB)

KaraUkey
10-17-2014, 12:53 PM
I just ordered my first custom Uke, an SC. Really surprised at myself because I never thought I would do that. I have always been a "hold it and play it before you buy it kinda guy" but the video of the last one he made blew me away. It looked good and it sounded great and nowadays music means more to me than ever, so I'm getting a custom Uke. It's very exciting.