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View Full Version : Radius Fretboard..opinions, pros, cons, info..



ukulelechef
11-11-2009, 05:14 PM
Looking for information on radius fretboards and how people like/dislike or any info they can share. Thanks

ukeninam
11-11-2009, 09:25 PM
is this the same as fretboard radius like the arc of the fretboard....the larger the number, the flatter the fretboard i believe...or is this a brand??

Pippin
11-11-2009, 09:56 PM
I really like the feel of them. There are not many in the ukulele world.

ChamorroDT
11-11-2009, 10:06 PM
is this the same as fretboard radius like the arc of the fretboard....the larger the number, the flatter the fretboard i believe...or is this a brand??

Ukulelechef is referring to the arc of the fretboard - and it sounds interesting. Does the sound differ in any way? If anyone knows.

Pippin
11-11-2009, 10:14 PM
Ukulelechef is referring to the arc of the fretboard - and it sounds interesting. Does the sound differ in any way? If anyone knows.

Sound doesn't really differ. The action, however, surely does. The idea is that you can chord up the neck much easier.

buddhuu
11-11-2009, 10:40 PM
On uke I'd like a slight fretboard radius. It does help on instruments where one might want to play a lot of barre chords. I've never tried a uke with radius, but I reckon it could work well.

On guitar I always found radius a mixed blessing. I never really like totally flat fretboards like that on my old classical guitar. I prefer a moderate radius. Too small a radius (too much curvature) can make things awkward higher up the neck, especially if you do a lot of string bending and tapping. It also means that bridge saddle radius can become a factor in set-up.

On electric guitar I liked the compound radius on friends' guitars. (Compund version flattens out as one goes higher up the board.) That seemed to work well, but at the time I could never afford a decent guitar that had a compound radius option.

On mandolin I prefer a traditional flat fretboard. Much easier to do a good DIY set-up, and I don't play bar chords on mandolin anyhoo.

Yup. I think it could be good on uke.


EDIT: On elec guitars I prefer the shallower curve of the Gibson fretboard radius to the tighter Fender curve. My friend's Ibanez also has a nice, shallow radius. Strat fretboards are just a tad too curved for my preference.

Moral: everything in moderation, including fretboard radius.

Sambient
11-11-2009, 11:58 PM
It's one of the things that has me wanting to get the cheapest of the Ibanez ukes, just to see if I like radius fretboard.

Faricelli
11-12-2009, 12:14 AM
I have both and really don't find a big diff. You are only barring 4 strings so it tends to be easy on flat or radius. The big thing to me in ukes is action.

dnewton2
11-12-2009, 01:22 AM
Kind of a follow up question.

I know of Ibenez, are there any other brands that have radius as an option? Outside of custom ukes. I think it is an option on Kanilea ukes.

Gaby
11-12-2009, 01:29 AM
Kiwaya - highly recommended too!

spots
11-12-2009, 01:41 AM
Kala's ukes appear (to me) to have a very slight radius to their fretboards.

I play a Flea which has a rosewood fretboard as flat as Kanasas (now someone is going to tell me Kansas isn't really flat...). When I recently test drove a Kala laminate I looked at the fretboard profile. To me it had a slight radius which does not exist on the Flea.

Uke fretboards come in different widths depending on the brand. With the uke I find that the width of a fretboard has a larger impact upon ability to barre chords.

The Kala's fretboard is narrower than the Flea's. Overall I found the Kala's fretboard to be easier to work with than the Flea due to the length of my finger joints. When I played the Kala barred chords were cleaner sounding because strings didn't fall on the joints of my knuckles.

This is one reason that test driving different ukes is a good idea. But if you can't...

If you know a brand that seems to work well for you, then get the measurements of the fretboard. This may help serve as a guide to other brands that may be comfortable to play.

SuperSecretBETA
11-12-2009, 02:02 AM
Kind of a follow up question.

I know of Ibenez, are there any other brands that have radius as an option? Outside of custom ukes. I think it is an option on Kanilea ukes.

Collings ukuleles have a radius fretboard. :)


Kiwaya - highly recommended too!

I think with Kiwaya models, the model number needs an "R" tagged onto the end for it to have a radius. e.g. KTS-4R
Otherwise, it's likely flat or "virtually" flat.

Gaby
11-12-2009, 02:40 AM
that's right - not all Kiwayas have a radiused fretboard

buddhuu
11-12-2009, 02:42 AM
Kalas??? :eek:

Never occurred to me to even look to see if my Kala tenor has a radiused FB! I've just assumed it was flat.

I'll have to see when I get home from the office...

spots
11-12-2009, 03:02 AM
Buddhuu,

I would be very interested to hear what you find with your Kala.

I was surprised by what I saw so asked my friend (who own the Kala) to compare it to my Flea (a second set of eyes). He also thought he saw a slight radius on the Kala compared to the Flea.

Kanaka916
11-12-2009, 04:53 AM
Radiused FBs are usually an option on customs and there's not too many production models that have them as previously stated. I believe Dave Sigman (Little River Ukes (http://littleriverukuleles.com/)) uses them on his builds.

berylbite
11-12-2009, 07:35 AM
I eard that Jakes uke has a radiused fretboard.

GX9901
11-12-2009, 07:53 AM
I have 3 ukes with radiused fretboards (all betwee 16-18", which is considered pretty gentle) and I like the option. However, it's a very subtle difference. It has not caused me to have any problems with flat fretboards, so for me it's a nice option to have, but not a very noticeable one.

SuperSecretBETA
11-12-2009, 10:06 AM
I eard that Jakes uke has a radiused fretboard.

I don't know about that. It looks pretty flat to me. Side note: Aldrine's Kanile'a looks flat too.

thejumpingflea
11-12-2009, 10:09 AM
I don't know about that. It looks pretty flat to me. Side note: Aldrine's Kanile'a looks flat too.

I think that a radius fretboard would make it just a tad harder to get an even pattern for certain strums. (Ten Finger Roll comes to mind)

This is just an assumption though.

SuperSecretBETA
11-12-2009, 11:04 AM
I think the general consensus is that flat fretboards make strumming techniques and bending a little easier while radius fretboards make barre chords a little easier.

I have yet to hear about conical fretboards on ukuleles where the radius increases (curve decreases) up the fretboard.

About the note bending... Depending on the radius size, the string may or may not touch a higher fret during a bend and cause a buzz. I haven't heard of this happening to anyone yet, but maybe GX9901 or someone else with a radius fretboard could try a high bend to see if that even occurs on most radius fretboard ukuleles. Thinking about it, Santana plays a Gibson Les Paul. Typically those have a 12" radius (smaller than most ukuleles), and I'm pretty sure he doesn't have that kind of problem. I don't see why an ukulele would have this problem.

Also, are 10 finger rolls really that much more difficult on a radius fretboard ukulele? I can see this kind of problem with classical guitars though.

thejumpingflea
11-12-2009, 11:09 AM
I think the general consensus is that flat fretboards make strumming techniques and bending a little easier while radius fretboards make barre chords a little easier.

I have yet to hear about conical fretboards on ukuleles where the radius increases (curve decreases) up the fretboard.

About the note bending... Depending on the radius size, the string may or may not touch a higher fret during a bend and cause a buzz. I haven't heard of this happening to anyone yet, but maybe GX9901 or someone else with a radius fretboard could try a high bend to see if that even occurs on most radius fretboard ukuleles.

Also, are 10 finger rolls really that much more difficult on a radius fretboard ukulele? I can see this kind of problem with classical guitars though.


The only issue I see is getting a clean and even tone across each string. The level strings of a flat fretboard allows your movement to be distributed evenly over each string.

I am sure with practice the radius would not be a big deal and heck, it may not be a problem right off the bat! I am just assuming things and speculating again.... ;)

SuperSecretBETA
11-12-2009, 11:16 AM
You're pretty good at speculating though... lol
I can see how the nails might dig in a tad at the 2nd and 3rd string... unless of course a radius fretboard does not mean a radius nut or bridge; then, we'd be completely wrong about the whole strumming thing. Oh geez, send in a luthier. :D

Gcow55
11-12-2009, 12:02 PM
I wish my ukes each had a radius fretboard. Having played guitar for about 15 years, I've gotten used to the feel of them. They feel nicer under your fingers.

scottie
11-12-2009, 03:26 PM
Kala's ukes appear (to me) to have a very slight radius to their fretboards.

I play a Flea which has a rosewood fretboard as flat as Kanasas (now someone is going to tell me Kansas isn't really flat...).


Curvature of the earth baby. . . Kansas indeed be radiused :p

Actually, some fingerboards have a compound radius, more severe at the nut and flattening toward the highest fret. These differences are subtle but noticable, and I'm speaking only of my experience with guitars.

waterdog226
02-03-2010, 02:23 AM
I think Mya-Moa has them. I might have spelled the brand incorrectly. They are a good uke.

iDavid
02-03-2010, 02:42 AM
I think Mya-Moa has them. I might have spelled the brand incorrectly. They are a good uke.

yes they do

http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/model%20classic.html

SailingUke
02-03-2010, 05:46 AM
The model James Hill from G String has a radiused fret board.
I have played it some and don't see/feel/hear much difference.
The Da Silva James Hill model has a flat fret board.
Mike Da Silva told me setting up a uke with a radius fret board is very difficult.
Personally I agree with some of the other posts in that action is key and barring four strings on a narrow neck is just not that difficult.

Moondoggie
02-03-2010, 06:33 AM
FYI on the Kala radius - I just grabbed by Kala Acacia Tenor & took a look. While I can't put my straight edge on the fretboard without taking off the strings, just eyeballing it, it appears to be flat. The way the frets are rounded into the fretboard at the ends could possibly lend to an optical illusion if you look at it just right (or wrong, as the case may be), taking that out of the equation, mine is flat. I'll probably be making a string change in the next couple of weeks, so I'll make a note to take a look then too just for grins :)

Also, I googled Kala's site for the term "radius" (thinking it would be something they'd want to brag about if they did it) and it turned up nothing.

EDW
02-03-2010, 10:50 AM
Some of the builders will do them if you like. Dave Means (Glyph) makes them. As mentioned Mya-Moe puts them on all their instruments.

Ukelid
02-03-2010, 12:19 PM
Do the radiused ukes also have a radiused bridge? I'd like to try one with a radius.

mailman
02-03-2010, 01:07 PM
While looking at two different Ibanez ukes online recently, I noticed that both specified flat fretboards....

Ahnko Honu
02-03-2010, 01:11 PM
More a luxury than a necessity but a nice option I wouldn't mind seeing.

vehement
02-03-2010, 01:18 PM
G-string will custom a radius fretboard for $100 extra. I'm considering the option.

SuperSecretBETA
02-03-2010, 01:19 PM
I hope Breedlove production ukes (possibly $999 street) will have radiused fretboards. It'll save me from shelling out $1500+ for something custom.

Hastour
02-03-2010, 02:10 PM
Someone mentioned a few topics ago that Ibanez ukes actually have flat fretboards, there's just a confusing illustration at Ibanez site...

iDavid
02-06-2010, 12:45 PM
I hope Breedlove production ukes (possibly $999 street) will have radiused fretboards. It'll save me from shelling out $1500+ for something custom.

Mya-moe has a radius board and are well under a grand for a tenor and under 700 for a concert

GX9901
02-06-2010, 01:25 PM
I hope Breedlove production ukes (possibly $999 street) will have radiused fretboards. It'll save me from shelling out $1500+ for something custom.

The Collings ukes have radiused fretboards. Both the UC-1 and UT-1 has an MSRP of $990.

I like radiused fretboards, but I don't think they make a big difference. I can switch between the two without any issues, which tells me the difference is slight. I do prefer radiused fretboards though, if for no other reason then just knowing that it has a radius, which is why I've ordered custom ukes with it whenever possible.

SuperSecretBETA
02-06-2010, 01:43 PM
Anyone know the measurements of the radii for Collings and mya-moe? It's not the only factor I'm looking for unfortunately, which drives the price up a bit more than just having a radiused fretboard. Collings is out though because I want 14 frets to the body.

GX9901
02-06-2010, 01:53 PM
Anyone know the measurements of the radii for Collings and mya-moe? It's not the only factor I'm looking for unfortunately, which drives the price up a bit more than just having a radiused fretboard. Collings is out though because I want 14 frets to the body.

I don't know what the radius is exactly for the Collings, but when I eyeball it, it looks to be the same as my custom William King concert, which has a 16 inch radius. So I'm guessing it's somewhere between a 16-18 inch radius.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
02-06-2010, 01:58 PM
Most builders I know personally use a 16" radius. It's really hardly noticeable in my opinion.