View Full Version : Fretless Uke

Down Up Dick
09-09-2016, 04:22 PM
I would like a fretless banjo, but I'm not ready to buy one yet.

Sooo, I've been wondering if a cheap Uke with the first seven frets pulled out or filed down would be playable fretlessly. The consensus in an earlier post was that it wouldn't work. Wadaya think?

It may seem like a silly idea, but I'm just at the wonderin' stage. :old:

09-09-2016, 04:39 PM
I'm trying to figure out why it wouldn't work. It would sound different, and you would have to be a master of intonation, but violinists play on a scale length that is shorter than a soprano ukulele (12.8" vs. 13"-14"); however, their instrument is often bowed (sometimes plucked for effect, never strummed); and a bass guitarist without frets is also plucking, not strumming.

So your style of playing might have to change, and it makes me wonder what a bowed ukulele sounds like. Maybe you would need to use violin strings?

Down Up Dick
09-09-2016, 04:50 PM
I, too, used your arguments in the older post. I wouldn't be strumming it. I only strum to sing. I'm working on fingerpicking.

I think I'll look for the old post. --- Ha! Found it. It's titled "Frets", and it's in Uke talk. :old:

09-09-2016, 04:54 PM
The only problem is mastering the intonation. Fretted is a lot easier to play. Rather than get medieval on a working uke, start from scratch and build a fretless cicar box style, then you can build to whatever scale or tuning you like. I have done a few heat shrunk PET bottle banjo ukes.
The one I did on instructables with nothing but a pocket knife that might give you some ideas. Cigarbox nation is a good resource for the rank ammateur like me.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-09-2016, 06:21 PM
Why pull only the first 7 frets and not them all??? Am i missing something??

Down Up Dick
09-09-2016, 07:52 PM
Many fretless banjos are only missing the first five to seven frets; sometimes, most of the "fretting" is done there.
That way, if one wants to fret higher, he/she need only learn the first few fretless ones.

And some, of course, are completely fretless. Removing the first seven would be less work, I think. :old:

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-10-2016, 09:16 AM
i listen to alot of middle eastern/indian Oud and sarod music and there is a guy from Turkey (video below) who plays a fretless classical guitar and it sounds (well, he makes it sound) amazing.
So i've been thinking of making a fretless tenor for HMS-


09-10-2016, 09:46 AM
My fretless bass was originally a fretted bass. Somebody (not me) pulled all the frets, replaced them with maple inlays, and refinished the fretboard. It must have been a lot of work, and I'm glad it happened before I got there. I can't imagine why it wouldn't work on a uke. I agree with others that mastering intonation on a fretless instrument is challenging, but obviously it can be done, and a great way to develop your ear.