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greenscoe
09-02-2017, 04:51 AM
I was looking at ukes in a shop today and came across the Ohana CK28, a retro Nunes style concert. It has a separate fretboard which ends at the body and is flush with the top (ie its not the neck which is fretted).

http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/1707/Ohana-CK28-Concert-Ukulele-All-Solid-Mahogany-Vintage-Nunes-Styling

Why do makers/players think this design was discontinued: what were/are the disadvantages in construction/playability compared to a modern instrument?

A search led to this thread but it doesn't answer my question:

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?39560-do-12-fret-models-sound-better

bird's eye view of my ukelele
09-02-2017, 05:50 AM
as a player of one of these little gems, i think the fact that the fretboard does not extend over the soundboard at all improves how well the soundboard can vibrate, and adds to the volume - the sk28 is tiny, a smaller body than any of my other sopranos, but the sound is HUGE - big volume, and very full tone, it seems to ring out "lower" than my other sopranos, if that makes sense, even tuned exactly the same. (the uke also has a slightly bowed back, i think that adds to the volume too).

i think a raised fretboard does make it easier to get super low action, but i think the sk28 is a lovely design, it feels lovely to play and sounds fabulous

if you want more frets, and frets extending down over the body towards the sound hole, you have to have a raised fretboard, i wonder if that's what started the whole raised fretboard thing on ukes?

Ukecaster
09-02-2017, 05:57 AM
I've seen a few like that. Here's a 1910's - 20's Favilla like that

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Michael N.
09-02-2017, 07:45 AM
Early guitars, as in renaissance, baroque and some early romantic guitars were all done that way.
Don't bother thinking about the advantages. I don't think that there are any IMO. Not that there are disadvantages, except that you obviously run out of frets. Those early guitars had frets glued onto the soundboard, so effectively they extended the range.

greenscoe
09-02-2017, 08:20 AM
Thanks for your prompt replies.

I'm assuming that the way we do it now is better. I realised early guitars were also done that way so hoped you would have something to say Michael N.

My question is: what was wrong with this earlier fretboard? I don't think it is about no of frets and as a hobby maker, I can't see problems in making the instrument either way. Is it about playability: is it easier to set up and play an instrument with a raised fretboard?

Michael N.
09-02-2017, 09:37 AM
No. The geometry is exactly the same. The playability is no different. The only difference is that your bridge will be a bit lower or rather the string height above the soundboard will be lower on a flush fretboard.

Timbuck
09-02-2017, 01:00 PM
I recently restored a Ludwig Banjo ukulele...the ebony fret board was disintregeted ..I had to make a new one...from the thickness of parts that were still on the neck I measured them at 60 thou (.060") very thin for a fretboard,with the slots going through the fretboard into the neck wood....Maybe fretboards aren't that important
:o:

spongeuke
09-02-2017, 05:32 PM
My preference is toward the vintage sopranos because of the thin fret boards. I don't play much beyond the 7th fret, It seems the instrument is straining to get those octave notes. I noticed that the Gretch I have uses a rosewood veneer with the fret set into the neck. I like the lightness of those early designs.
I do have more modern ukuleles that have a more guitar like fret board. It seems necessary for tenors and baritones.

ProfChris
09-03-2017, 01:44 AM
I've made a few ukes with the frets set direct into the neck, so they stop at the body join and the fret plane is flush with the top.

For playing, the only disadvantage is a lower clearance of strings on the top. If you're a frenetic strummer you might hit the top. If you fingerpick, you might find the clearance is a little low (lowest around the body join, which is where I tend to pick).

For building, no need to make a separate fretboard! OTOH, if you screw it up you can't throw away the fretboard and make another one. The fretboard is a lamination so it adds some stiffness to the neck, but on a soprano that's not really an issue.

So I wouldn't say the raised fretboard ("modern way") is better, just different. Your playing style might make one better for you than another.

However, for factory production I'd think a raised fretboard is "better" because it lends itself to more efficient machining/assembly.

Ukecaster
09-03-2017, 03:50 AM
Funny, the 30s/40s Favilla U2 soprano I recently got seems to be a bit different: it appears to have a single piece neck, with no separate fret board, frets installed directly into the neck (i've heard that called Hawaiian style), but the playing surface is raised slightly, it is not flush to the body. Adding to that, to get the small birdsbeak overhang, there appears to be a thin piece of fingerboard added, incorporating the area of the last fret and the overhang. Pics below, but anyone familiar with that build style?
102768
102769

greenscoe
09-03-2017, 03:51 AM
Thanks for all those responses.

ProfChris-I think you've raised some interesting points to directly address my question.

ProfChris
09-03-2017, 05:01 AM
Funny, the 30s/40s Favilla U2 soprano I recently got seems to be a bit different: it appears to have a single piece neck, with no separate fret board, frets installed directly into the neck (i've heard that called Hawaiian style), but the playing surface is raised slightly, it is not flush to the body. Adding to that, to get the small birdsbeak overhang, there appears to be a thin piece of fingerboard added, incorporating the area of the last fret and the overhang. Pics below, but anyone familiar with that build style?
102768
102769

I think you have a fretboard, but made from the same wood as the neck. Your side view picture is rather blurry but I think I see the glue line.

I suppose Favilla could just have glued on the birds beak to cover the dovetail joint, but that seems the hard way to do it.

frianm
09-03-2017, 08:56 AM
I have a Kamaka gold label and the frets are simply installed into the neck, which is flush with the top of the instrument. This is a no nonsense koa wood pineapple and I love it. I have worked for years on banjos and the idea there is usually to have the fretboard flush to the head with the neck angle and bridge creating the action height. It works well. The only negative that I can see is that there is less ability to adjust the bridge height.

Ukecaster
09-03-2017, 09:04 AM
My gold label Kamaka soprano is the same, frets right into the koa neck, which is flush with the body.

igorthebarbarian
09-03-2017, 05:44 PM
I have a Kamaka gold label and the frets are simply installed into the neck, which is flush with the top of the instrument. This is a no nonsense koa wood pineapple and I love it. I have worked for years on banjos and the idea there is usually to have the fretboard flush to the head with the neck angle and bridge creating the action height. It works well. The only negative that I can see is that there is less ability to adjust the bridge height.

I think Deering does this. I've seen it on their banjo uke and personally really liked it.

sequoia
09-03-2017, 08:07 PM
Interesting, but I think that uke does in fact have a fretboard although it is extremely thin. It seems to me they just put on a thin piece of almost vaneer and then sawed through the thin wood to the neck to make the fret slots. Very quick method no doubt. Hit the neck and stop sawing. Next! I just wonder what the height of the saddle and bridge would be. Low no doubt. String beating on the top would be inevitable. but that might not be a bad thing. The uke after all is almost a percussive instrument and that is part of its sound. Or at least it used to be in its more primitive forms. Now we make little tenor small guitar things.

ProfChris
09-03-2017, 11:54 PM
I just wonder what the height of the saddle and bridge would be. Low no doubt. String beating on the top would be inevitable ...

Not inevitable at all! I can angle the neck back to produce whatever string height at the saddle I want (usually around 10-12mm, pretty much the same as with a conventional fretboard).

Angling the neck is really quite simple - if the 12th fret action is to be, say, 2.5mm, then that translates to 5mm at the saddle if the neck is in line with the top. So I decide how much higher I want it - say, 6mm higher to give 11mm total, and then angle the neck back so it's 6mm below the plane of the top at the nut. The simplest method is to place neck and body down on a flat surface and put a 6mm drill bit under the neck at the nut.

This also works for fretboards - for each mm depth of fretboard, angle it back 1mm less at the nut.

StevieD009
01-15-2018, 04:01 AM
This thread speaks to me.

I own an Ohana SK-28 and I learned to play on it, so now any other uke feels weird to me with the neck raising off of the body. The advantage of a neck that is flush with the body, like on the SK-28 and some old vintage models, for me, is strumming! If you're a fast, hard strummer like me, you may tend to run into the side of the neck when it isn't flush, and that hurts the fingernail. I find the flush necks to be much more forgiving of my strumming. Granted, it may be a matter of refining my technique, but I think there is a reason this was the classic build of a ukulele.

I also agree that the SK-28 just sounds so much bigger than other ukes, although that may not have so much to do with the flush neck, and that particular sound won't be a fit for everyone. But for me, it's much more comfortable to strum right at that spot where the neck meets the body, and having it flush is a bonus. Anyone know of any other modern ukes using this technique? I'm gonna buy 'em all up :D

Croaky Keith
01-15-2018, 04:53 AM
I have RISAs that have a zero fret instead of a nut & the frets are set into the neck on that, but it is an electric.
I have seen ukes with cantilevered fretboards also, presumably to allow the sound board more freedom of movement.
So, I'm guessing, it was just the way it was done back then.
Modern factory produced ukes all tend to have separate fretboards, perhaps because it is easier, (& cheaper), to do it that way.

ksquine
01-16-2018, 08:13 AM
Aside from the low string height over the soundboard.....that style would be harder to build. Having a fingerboard that extends over the top hides a lot of joints. Neck/body joint, maybe a tenon or dovetail, and the binding ends. You'd have to have a perfectly fit neck and fingerboard to make that Nunes style look good. Obviously not impossible to do...just harder

Inksplosive AL
01-16-2018, 10:59 AM
Funny, the 30s/40s Favilla U2 soprano I recently got seems to be a bit different: it appears to have a single piece neck, with no separate fret board, frets installed directly into the neck (i've heard that called Hawaiian style), but the playing surface is raised slightly, it is not flush to the body. Adding to that, to get the small birdsbeak overhang, there appears to be a thin piece of fingerboard added, incorporating the area of the last fret and the overhang. Pics below, but anyone familiar with that build style?
102768
102769

Yeah most of the old deluxe Harmony branded ukes and the like with wooden fret boards are built exactally this way. I have yet to see one where the extended glued over the body piece actually came from the same piece as the rest of the fret board. Some match better than others.

Dont fear or hate the little old ukes that used to sell for $4. Some are very nice still indeed.

sequoia
01-16-2018, 06:42 PM
Obviously not impossible to do...just harder

One also has to ask: Why? I doubt they sound that much better or are that much easier to play but then again maybe I am ignorant.