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View Full Version : Radius Fingerboards vs. Non-Radius boards... Opinions



AcousticTones
08-20-2015, 04:32 PM
Well good evening folks :)

I have been considering a new uke, and a number of people here have me now looking at a few different Pono models (thank you all for those suggestions).

And I've noticed that some of their models have radius fingerboards verses standard uke or non-radius fingerboards.

I've been playing guitar for over 30 years, and so all of those years have been based playing on radius fingerboards, but I've never played a uke with a radius board. Do any of you own a uke with a radius fretboard or have spent some time playing one, and have any opinions about ordering a Pono with verses without. Does it really make the neck more comfortable and easier to chord, and if so why aren't more uke manufactures doing it?

Thanks for all your opinions and replies! :)

pritch
08-20-2015, 04:48 PM
I have one ukulele with and some without. I don't think about the shape of the fretboard when I'm using each instrument. If I was to order a new ukulele though, and a radiused fretboard was available as an option, I'd go for it just 'cause it was there. That's a good enough reason for people to climb mountains so...

Doc_J
08-20-2015, 05:01 PM
There are several past threads on radius or flat fretboards and preferences.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?109061-Flat-vs-Radiused-Fretboards
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?108953-Does-a-radius-fretboard-feel-better-to-play
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?100362-Radius-Neck-Is-it-Snake-Oil
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?98895-Radius-fretboard-Pro-s-Con-s

... and so on

Surly-Mac
08-20-2015, 05:04 PM
I received my Pono ATSH PC about six weeks ago and I love it. Since I'm an old f#@t with a bit of arthritis, I was really looking forward to the radius fingerboard to assist with chording. However, I haven't found it to be any real advantage. The radius is very mild, the neck is much narrower than a regular guitar and - I'm sorry to say - it hasn't been the great wonder I was hoping for.

However, since you have all that radius experience (which I don't) the lack of any radius might be more important for you.

That said, I think the Pono is a wonderful instrument and highly recommend it. The fit, finish, materials, tone, intonation and appearance are a source of daily joy.

Ukulele Eddie
08-20-2015, 06:20 PM
Definitely see the threads that Hodge posted, but my short and simple opinion is radius or not never sways my opinion. I've liked some, I've not missed it on some. A radius fretboard for me is no guarantee to improved playability. I've had flat fretboards that were more comfortable than some other ukes that had a radius. I think you really need to play the same model, with and without to get a true comparison. Even then, you might sometimes feel it made a difference and other times not because things like neck thickness and neck shape may impact when a radius does and does not matter.

Having said all that, I would generally opt for one given the option. But again, to be clear, for me personally I would not pass on a uke because it did not have one. There are some members here for whom it is a deciding factor. Different strokes for different folks.

Hippie Dribble
08-20-2015, 06:59 PM
Whichever style fingerboard you opt for, you will undoubtedly get used to it quickly. On ukuleles, the fretboard is so narrow and the radius so minor that it really has minimal impact on playability in my experience.

AcousticTones
08-21-2015, 01:00 AM
Thanks guys for both the opinions an links. I truly do wish we had something like HMS to around so that I could simply just go and play uke after uke, but the reality is that I will most likely have to order something, and I'm just not one who orders and returns until I find something I like. So your opinions are truly welcomed and helpful.

DownUpDave
08-21-2015, 02:38 AM
If you have been playing guitars with radius fretboards for over 30 years I would tnink you would find comfort in having a uke with one. I am a huge fan and have 6 tenors with radius fretnoards. The last two customs I ordered I specified a radius fretboard

Doc_J
08-21-2015, 02:54 AM
Whichever style fingerboard you opt for, you will undoubtedly get used to it quickly. On ukuleles, the fretboard is so narrow and the radius so minor that it really has minimal impact on playability in my experience.

Very true. Chuck Moore, Steve Grimes, David Hurd, (to name a few legendary builders) don't/didn't usually make ukes with radiused fretboards.
If it is good enough for them, it should be good enough for me.

spookelele
08-21-2015, 04:17 AM
Another thing to consider is what you play.

For instance, UkeJon's "I'll be there" has those bits that strum across all 4, but only fret on 1 and 3, descending from 12 to 3. I find it harder to get even tone on radius playing that because the radius raises the 2 and 3 string, and choked up on the neck makes for greater difference in height of the strings.

But then again, barre's are alot cleaner/easier on radius. They take less pressure, and are less finicky about where the knuckles are.

And again.. I'd also agree about what you're used to. If you're used to radius from guitar, a flat fret board can feel concave and disorienting, but as others have said its something you can get used to. If it was an option on a custom, I'd add it. It's draw backs you don't feel that often but the comfort is something I notice.

sam13
08-21-2015, 04:34 AM
Did someone say Radius Fretboards? :p I say YES! LOL.

I have 8 Ukes, 5 with radius fret boards ... three super size sopranos which don't. While I can barre effectively with either, physically because I am 6'5" with an arm that is at least 3 feet long neck to finger tips (okay ... boys and girls ... bring on the jokes and jabs ... LOL) ... any additional comfort a radius can provide whether there is less strain or stress in the fingers, wrist or elbows ... then I am for it. I probably have terrible technique but am muddling my way through it and love it.

I do find the radius helps with clearer tone which is easier for me to attain when barring ... which is in most songs. Pop stuff ... I think either is fine.

Yes, as Hodge said many top end makers don't offer radiuses and their work is amazing ... but just because they don't ... doesn't mean that is good enough for me ... just a different opinion. I certainly appreciate Hodge's and Mr Dribble's opinions ... :agree:

strumsilly
08-22-2015, 05:33 AM
Whichever style fingerboard you opt for, you will undoubtedly get used to it quickly. On ukuleles, the fretboard is so narrow and the radius so minor that it really has minimal impact on playability in my experience.
that's what I thought until I got a Mya Moe

pulelehua
08-23-2015, 11:08 AM
I have a Mya-Moe with and a Mike Pereira without. I honestly don't notice. I don't think about it. I have never once felt that either was particularly better at X, Y or Z for having either sort of fretboard.

Both are concerts.

If I was going to buy another ukulele, I honestly wouldn't ask about it.

My 2p...

dalamaricus
08-23-2015, 09:06 PM
I have one concert and one tenor with radiused fretboards. I notice it a little on the tenor, where barring is a touch easier. If I had an option to get a radiused fingerboard I probably would, but it's also not a determining factor. I do think the radius makes the uke look a little better visually, like rounded edges on a photo, but that's a very slight difference which isn't very important.

hammer40
08-23-2015, 09:50 PM
I have both and to be honest, I can't really tell the difference or notice a clear benefit to having the radius. I think, as mentioned, when you have a larger fretboard, like on a guitar, you really can appreciate the benefits of having a radius more. It certainly doesn't put you at a disadvantage though.

flailingfingers
08-24-2015, 02:13 AM
Whichever style fingerboard you opt for, you will undoubtedly get used to it quickly. On ukuleles, the fretboard is so narrow and the radius so minor that it really has minimal impact on playability in my experience.
I agree. On a guitar, with the wider fretboard and 6 strings, it does make a difference but, on the uke, not so much. IMHO.