View Full Version : To fretboard or not to fretboard?

04-19-2015, 09:49 PM
Why are there fretboards on almost all uke's as opposed to directly placing frets in the neck?

Brueko might be the only brand I've seen that, on their standard soprano, comes without a fretboard. On that particular model I prefer that look.

Fender has produced about a bazillion guitars without fretboards.

Is it just a style thing or is there some advantage I don't know ? It would seem somewhat easier to forgo the fretboard and thus more cost-effective but I don't know.


04-19-2015, 11:59 PM
Mass production is easier with a fretboard because you can finish neck and body separately. And of course you can't easily have frets over the body without a fretboard.

Plus some kinds of neck joint, e.g. a dovetail, would be visible on the body, and the fretboard covers these.

Building by hand, I'd say the extra care required to fret directly into the neck is about the time it would take to make a fretboard. But if you screw up you've ruined the whole neck, not just a fretboard.

04-20-2015, 03:37 AM
Yeah, cost of production may be the main consideration. In addition, I believe serviceability is another. Easier to fix serious problems.

04-20-2015, 05:13 AM
You know, I'm not really sure. Ukes seem to be more open to variation in appearance than guitars, so using an electric style bolt-on neck with no heel would probably be acceptable. And that would be much easier and more material efficient to make, and could be fretted off the instrument.

04-20-2015, 08:09 AM
No reason it couldn't be done without a separate fret board. It would make cutting the joint area more complicated...Fender has a bolt on neck joint it doesn't have a fingerboard extension that sits flush on the top. It could be done on a ukulele and probably work just fine. It just wouldn't look normal.

04-20-2015, 08:47 AM
I'm still trying to figure out how rare my Fender is WITH a fretboard.

Actually, I like to see one without, truth be told.

04-23-2015, 04:42 AM
Thanks for the answers.

I learned a thing or two or three or four. Heck, I had no idea.


04-23-2015, 04:55 AM
I had an older uke with the frets directly in the neck and the neck flush with the top of the body. I found it hard to fingerpick as the strings didn't sit too far off the body. if you set the neck up higher I think it would look funny?