View Full Version : rosewood fretboard: worth it?

09-10-2009, 09:58 AM
Hi all!

So I just got a job (go waitressing!) and the first thing I want to do, after I pay my rent, is get a soprano flea :). I think I've read/watched every review on the internet, and I hear nothing but good things about the fleas, plus they're super happy and look cool. so yes, officially decided to get a flea.

my question is, is the upgraded rosewood fretboard worth it? I keep hearing mixed reviews, some people say most definitely, other people say most definitely not. I realize you can't put wound strings on the plastic fretboard, but does it make that big of a difference? General thoughts/opinions?

To rosewood or not to rosewood? That would be my question :)


09-10-2009, 10:09 AM
It depends on your priorities.

I love the way rosewood fretboards look, feel and play. Given a choice, I'll take that and metal frets on an acoustic instrument any day of the week. (For some reason, I like maple on electrics.)

But I plan on buying a Flea at some point in the future with an eye toward carrying it in the trunk of my motorcycle on trips. That one will have a plastic fretboard because it will be a lot more durable and doesn't require the same kind of care.

Plastic frets do play a bit differently than metal ones, but part of musicianship is making the best of the instrument you're playing. My UJU (see my signature) has a plastic fretboard, and it's every bit as much fun to play as my others.


09-10-2009, 10:22 AM
I like the rosewood fretboard on my Flea. My only complaint about it is that it makes the uke a little less beach-friendly and a little more expensive. But some Flea designs look better with the plastic and some look better with the rosewood (the pineapple with rosewood is awesome). There's really nothing wrong with the plastic fretboard, although you might find it hard to see the frets on it. Either is a good choice, but if you don't mind spending a little extra, I'd say the rosewood is worth it.

09-10-2009, 11:09 AM
i have both the fluke with the plastic fretboard and the rosewood one. they both play perfectly well. in my opinion, the upgrade is just for looks and prestige. i don't think it's worth the upgrade.

Ukulele JJ
09-10-2009, 11:56 AM
Given the choice between upgrading a Flea to a rosewood fretboard and upgrading it to concert scale, I'd go with concert. (Not that you asked... :D)

I do agree that the "artsy" designs like pineapple, or the Tiki King ones, look better with the rosewood.

The fret markets tend to rub off on the plastic fretboards, and overall it's noticeably harder to see what fret you're on (especially with those black Hilos on there). But these are minor annoyances. The plastic feels great and is a lot of fun to play.


09-10-2009, 12:09 PM
I was in the same position as you at the beginning of summer... except my job was mowing.

But because it was my first ukulele ever and I wasn't aiming to impress anyone with it's looks AND I knew I wouldn't keep it in that great of shape, I went with the plastic.

Hope it helps.

09-10-2009, 04:27 PM
I have a concert fluke with the plastic fretboard and don't have any complaints about it at all. The intonation is spot on and the Uke sounds great. The only reason I would consider paying for the rosewood upgrade would be if you were planning on using wound strings, such as with low g tuning. I doubt you would be stringing up your soprano with low g though. I don't think it would be worth the extra cheddar for a soprano. If you change your mind, you can always send it back to fleamarket music and have them add it later. Good luck with whatever you decide.

09-10-2009, 05:12 PM
and even if you do want to try low-g, you can get worth strings. Worths are flourocarbon, so you can have an un-wound low-g

09-11-2009, 04:33 AM
i have a flea soprano w/ rosewood fretboard. it's very good but i heard it's all looks. plastic vs. rosewood sounds the same so it's all preference.

09-12-2009, 06:25 AM
How about the strings? What strings are you guys using?

09-12-2009, 07:16 AM
I use Aquilas on my Flea, so I can hear it at the beach. The D'Addarios and Worths were too mellow. If I'm in the mood for low G, I keep a fluorocarbon string around because I hate wound strings. :B

09-12-2009, 07:18 AM
I am using Aquilas on my Fluke. I had read on the underground (Third Post in this Thread (http://ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16131)) that fluorocarbon strings can eat into the plastic frets as well. Although flea market music only states not to use wound strings. Take it for what it's worth.

09-12-2009, 08:18 AM
To rosewood or not to rosewood? That would be my question :)
Yes, and no.

Wound strings allowed.
Greater longevity.
Frets stand out better, visually.
Not affected much by changes in temperature or humidity.
Less expensive.

More expensive.
Subject to changes in humidity and temperature.
Higher maintenance required (cleaning and oiling).

I have a Fluke with plastic fretboard and for a while considered getting a rosewood upgrade. But I have many other ukes that have wooden fretboards and so decided to keep this one in plastic. Almost all my other ukes go out of tune when the weather changes. The Fluke doesn't. I plan to take it with me on a trip to Mexico next year because it is less susceptible to environmental effects.