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View Full Version : Fretboard not level? Does it matter?



gustophersmob
10-16-2015, 01:48 PM
Howdy!

I've got the opportunity to pick up an all solid mahogany kala concert Uke at a good price, but I noticed the fretboard does not appear to be level and the frets aren't level. It has low action and doesn't buzz at all. Really plays nice. But, I've read the frets are supposed to be 100% level, and to get this one that way may require them to be removed and the fretboard leveled, which would far exceed the uke's value.

So, if it plays nice, how much does it matter? Do you think there is a risk of long term issues?

kypfer
10-16-2015, 02:01 PM
So, if it plays nice, how much does it matter? Do you think there is a risk of long term issues? In the short term, no problem at all ... enjoy it!! If, in the longer term, problems do arise, deal with them on a one by one basis. A fret that's risen slightly can be tapped back into place with a small hammer and a piece of wooden dowel as a drift. The purists may not agree, but this can be done "on the fly" without even removing the strings!! If the fret has actually come loose, a spot of adhesive before a quick tap will usually solve it. In a worst-case scenario a rogue fret can easily be filed/stoned/sanded/ and re-polished in just a few minutes, though the strings will probably need to be at least slackened if not totally removed.

At the end of the day, if the instrument has a low action and plays well without buzzing, things can't be very far out. Some of it may just be optical illusion :confused:

Good luck :)

gustophersmob
10-16-2015, 02:21 PM
In the short term, no problem at all ... enjoy it!! If, in the longer term, problems do arise, deal with them on a one by one basis. A fret that's risen slightly can be tapped back into place with a small hammer and a piece of wooden dowel as a drift. The purists may not agree, but this can be done "on the fly" without even removing the strings!! If the fret has actually come loose, a spot of adhesive before a quick tap will usually solve it. In a worst-case scenario a rogue fret can easily be filed/stoned/sanded/ and re-polished in just a few minutes, though the strings will probably need to be at least slackened if not totally removed.

At the end of the day, if the instrument has a low action and plays well without buzzing, things can't be very far out. Some of it may just be optical illusion :confused:


Good luck :)

When I lay a ruler edge down the fretboard, they don't all touch, so it is definitely not an optical illusion. It also seems like they are all seated, but that I'm not 100% sure of. I don't see any obvious gaps between the frets and fretboard, but I'm no expert.

Dan Uke
10-16-2015, 03:10 PM
I would play each note to see if they ring. If it stops quickly, it could be the next several frets that are causing the quick decay or dead note. If you past the "off" fret, it should ring normal again unless you have a bunch of uneven frets.

If you only strum and don't hear anything, I wouldn't worry about it.

70sSanO
10-16-2015, 08:00 PM
What you're seeing might simply be "neck relief". A neck shouldn't be completely straight, but should have a very slight bow to it. Within a fret neighborhood, the frets should seem level (no fret sticking up too low or too high relative to the neighboring frets), but overall there should still be a slight bow.

This the the answer you need to look into first. You don't want a flat fretboard. If in doubt google neck relief. I can't tell you how many guitar setups I've done over the years where I would check neck relief with automotive feeler gauges.

John

anthonyg
10-16-2015, 10:07 PM
A neck bowing up slightly is good, flat is good, bowing back or down is bad. It depends on which way its bowing.

Anthony