View Full Version : CBG Ukulele question

12-04-2017, 11:11 AM
Hi all,

Last year I built a fretless 3 string CBG out of old hardwood and i loved every second of building it. Now im looking at building a ukulele for either myself or my girlfriend but I dont fancy learning proper fretting quite yet so would a fretless ukulele be an easy instrument to play if i built it or would it sound 'out'?

Failing this, are there any other ways of making frets that anyone can recommend that are pretty easy?

Thank you in advance ladies and gents,


12-04-2017, 11:19 AM
If you want to get out of really easily, look up "ukulele neck fingerboard" on eBAY.

12-04-2017, 11:33 AM
I have done a number of ukes with spit bamboo toothpicks as frets.
See step 8 of https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-ukulele-with-a-pocket-knife for how I did them.

12-04-2017, 06:41 PM
This is a good question and the answer is: Yes of coarse you could make a fretless ukulele. Any stringed instrument can be fretless. Hello violin or bass or oud or a thousand other instruments that have no frets on the fingerboard. However most stringed instruments are fretted for a reason. The reasons being:

1: Greater finger precision is required to get the proper note when no frets are present. Thus they are much harder to learn how to play properly.
2: The resonance of the string is changed because there is no fret and volume decreases. This is the reason fretless instruments are usually are bowed. The fretless upright bass is an exception but it has a huge resonating chamber.

On the plus slide notes can be slid into position without stops giving a fluid continuous sound.

On a practical note: Ditch the idea of a fretless uke and just put in frets. Instruments at the higher end of the sonic spectrum like ukuleles don't really lend themselves to fretlessness because they are already challenged in the volume area. You better be a damn good musician if you are going fretless. Amplification required and a real ear too. That being said, tell that to a fretless oud player.... Fret wire is extremely cheap and there are a ton of programs out there that will give you the proper spacing. In a pinch you can use a hacksaw blade and crude miter box. Or you can even go seriously primitive and use thin wire wrapped multiple times around the neck at the proper intervals. Some amazing instruments have been made in Africa using this technique.

My advice: Just buy some fretwire and cut the slots. Not that big a deal.

12-05-2017, 04:37 AM
And if you tune the strings to a chord then you mainly have to move one finger around, think slide playing.

12-05-2017, 04:38 AM
Have you seen the ukulele kit offerings from C.B. Gitty:


I know not a complete do it yourself with your own materials build, but you can get the neck/fretboard already with frets installed. Or, you can just purchase the items for the neck separate as shown in their ukulele parts list:


I built their diddley bow and CBG kits and liked them for what they are. I am planning on building one of their Uke kits in the near future.