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snowbird99
10-21-2014, 04:35 PM
I am building a concert sized uke and I am debating how long of a fretboard to use. Do you think that sound quality will be improved by using a shorter fretboard?

I have noticed online that a lot of ukuleles have long fretboards that go all the way to the soundhole. It seems to me like that would muffle sound because the soundboard would be more rigid and not free to vibrate like it needs to.

I rarely play beyond the 12th fret, and I am considering going with a shorter fretboard that doesn't 'smoother' the soundboard. I am considering 14, 13, or even 12 frets. 12 might look kind of stubby, but I am curious to see what it would do to sound. At the end of the day, that is my primary interest. I wish that I had the time and resources to do some experimenting.

Thanks for your input.

Michael Smith
10-21-2014, 07:47 PM
That is difficult to say. It may sound a little louder and better. It may sound a little louder and not as good or you might not be able to tell any difference at all. We did have a master builder here on the forum who cantilevered his fingerboards at the body.on some of his instruments, So he obviously believed it helpful with his design. I would put it pretty far down on the list of things that need to be done correctly to make a fine instrument.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
10-22-2014, 04:02 AM
Finger boards that stop at the body look weird to me- except on renaissance instruments where for some reason it looks super cool.

As to long fingerboards muteing the sound- On most ukes (fan braced etc), the top stops vibrating at the lower transverse brace just below the soundhole. What you do above that brace doesn't effect sound (except sound hole size and if your fingerboard covers the soundhole etc)

Classical guitars are the same deal

snowbird99
10-22-2014, 07:41 AM
On most ukes (fan braced etc), the top stops vibrating at the lower transverse brace just below the soundhole. What you do above that brace doesn't effect sound (except sound hole size and if your fingerboard covers the soundhole etc)

Thank you both for your input. Like Beau says, I would suspect that the majority of sound comes from the space between the bridge and the soundhole. I feel like some grad student needs to do some serious research on this... or maybe someone already has. For the meantime, I will give 14 frets a shot and keep you all posted. Thanks.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
10-22-2014, 03:45 PM
I actually dont credit the space between the bridge and the sound hole to add much to the sound, that is, compared with the space to the left, right and behind the bridge- thats the sweet area :)

snowbird99
10-22-2014, 04:34 PM
I actually dont credit the space between the bridge and the sound hole to add much to the sound, that is, compared with the space to the left, right and behind the bridge- thats the sweet area :)

If that is the case, wouldn't you want to have the bridge in the center of the lower bout to maximize the surface area surrounding the bridge? That is what is driving my theory of centering the bridge in the middle of the lower bout. Of course, that assumes that sound will travel circularly from the bridge, but in reality the grain in the wood will effect sound distribution as well. Seems like a reasonable theory. I am going to give it a shot, unless anyone can argue why not and offer a better alternative. If you have one I would love to hear it. Thanks.

IamNoMan
10-22-2014, 04:56 PM
I actually dont credit the space between the bridge and the sound hole to add much to the sound, that is, compared with the space to the left, right and behind the bridge- thats the sweet area :)If I understand correctly you are suggesting that the sweet spot is the most effective area for collecting sound vibrations in the lower bout. The upper bout would then be used as a broadcaster of sound through the sound hole(s). There would be a sweetspot(ub) and independent geometry associated with soundhole positioning. Is that correct?

snowbird99
10-22-2014, 05:12 PM
If I understand correctly you are suggesting that the sweet spot is the most effective area for collecting sound vibrations in the lower bout. The upper bout would then be used as a broadcaster of sound through the sound hole(s). There would be a sweetspot(ub) and independent geometry associated with soundhole positioning. Is that correct?

I am not an expert, but my theory is that based on a given body design, there should be an ideal bridge position in the lower bout, which I would assume is the center of the lower bout. My theory is that since it is the widest part it would distribute the sound energy the best. I also would imagine that there is an ideal soundhole size and position where the sound energy escapes.

I have limited experience, and a 9th grade physics background, but it seems intuitive to me that it would work this way. Due to one of the previous comments about the sound being driven through the strings at the bottom part of the bridge, I think that this would be the ideal spot.

BTW, I just looked at some Collings Concerts online and the string connecting point of the bridge runs exactly through the center of the lower bout. I might have just stumbled upon some trade secrets :)

Their tenor's bridge is slightly closer to the soundhole, but they have compensated by connecting at the 13th fret so that the bridge isn't too far out of the sweet spot. I bet if the truth were known they would prefer to connect at the 12th fret on their tenors to center the bridge better, but everyone who owns a tenor want 14 frets to body, and I would imagine they have compromised to meet that demand.

Take my 'insight' with a grain of salt, but I think there might be some substance to the idea. Check out their concert:

http://www.elderly.com/new_instruments/items/UC2-KOA.htm

Sven
10-22-2014, 10:05 PM
I did heaps of 'research' before actually building anything. It's fun to gather knowledge and to tweak your own designs. But there were so many things on my first ukes that came out less perfect than I hoped that I realized I couldn't base much on what I thought I'd learned. I made tops too thin and too thick, braces that were too rigid and too floppy, bodies too deep or too slim, necks across the spectrum from baseball bat to chopsticks, different materials on poorly fitted saddles...

But after ten or twelve my scattergun attempts began to converge. After thirty I thought I had it down. Now after seventy-five I'm almost sure I might be on to something.

My advice would be, choose a size (as in tenor, concert or soprano), make it a shape you like, join the neck to the body at the 13th fret. Then build several ukes. They will be different from one another even if the basic measurements are the same.

Building ukes or anything, without a boss hanging around, is rewarding in itself. I think the research you do and the knowledge you gather with your hands and ears quickly outshines the knowledge you assemble online.

I hope this post doesn't come across as "shut the hell up and build already". That's not exactly what I mean.

Sven