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View Full Version : should i upgrade my flea fingerboard?



shimpiphany
12-30-2009, 09:14 AM
i have a concert flea with the standard fretboard. i have no problems with the playability, and i love the setup. its the all-black frets that i have a problem with.

sometimes it is just too hard for me to gauge where i'm at on the frets, and i feel like my playing is suffering because of it.

but here's my question: does the rosewood fretboard compromise the playability of the uke? i know the plastic has near perfect intonation and great action. does the classic wood/frets affect the intonation and action of the uke?

is there another solution?

Thumper
12-30-2009, 09:34 AM
Have you had this problem for a while, or is this a fairly new instrument?

When I first got my Flea, the black-on-black frets really bugged me, and made it hard for me to see what I was doing. But over the months I got used to it - now I don't notice it, and don't have any problem with it. So it might be a problem that goes away on its own...

leftovermagic84
12-30-2009, 09:45 AM
I'm with you on the black on black, but I've heard of people using a silver or white sharpie to color in the frets. I'm going to give it a shot see how it works out. The store didn't have white sharpies so I had to order one, but if you're interested i'll put up some pics on a week or two when I get it done. Hopefully it will save a few bucks

Ahnko Honu
12-30-2009, 09:59 AM
You might consider inlay fret marker decals:
http://inlaystickers.ocnk.net/product-list/19
http://inlaystickers.ocnk.net/product-list/2

JT_Ukes
12-30-2009, 10:19 AM
I had the plastic for about a year on my flea before upgrading to the rosewood. I had worn grooves in my frets, I guess I push to hard :) The intonation is still perfect, and the playability is unchanged. looks great too. It is easier to see the frets.

It's a nice option.

JT

nikolo727
12-30-2009, 11:03 AM
my vote is to keep it the way it is and just buy another one with the "regular" fretboard. That way you win both ways. :D

sukie
12-30-2009, 11:04 AM
Use some nail polish. Worked for me.

nikolo727
12-30-2009, 11:09 AM
Use some nail polish. Worked for me.

yes! money saver and the satisfaction of doing it yourself! plus on for sukie!

PaulGeo
12-30-2009, 11:30 AM
What would the upgrade cost? Might be more economical to just buy one with the rosewood fretboard and sell the one you have.

SweetWaterBlue
12-30-2009, 11:55 AM
Personally I like the plastic fretboard on my Flea. One of the attractions of the Flea for me was its indestructability compared to something like my Kala Tenor, so I purposely looked for one with the plastic fretboard. I love it just as it is. It is definitely easier to play with its nice low action than my wooden fretboard on my Kala. I agree with the others that if you really want a rosewood fretboard, you may be better off selling the Flea and buying another set up the way you like with the proceeds.

I must admit though that it is easier to see the white Aquilas than it was to see the black HiLos. I also think you probably should not be looking at the fretboard when you play. If you must look get the paint and put it behind the frets. If you stop looking, you will soon learn to get to the right place by feel. I try not to look at mine. How many accomplished musicians do you see staring at the fretboard while they play?

shimpiphany
12-30-2009, 12:28 PM
I'm with you on the black on black, but I've heard of people using a silver or white sharpie to color in the frets. I'm going to give it a shot see how it works out. The store didn't have white sharpies so I had to order one, but if you're interested i'll put up some pics on a week or two when I get it done. Hopefully it will save a few bucks

that would be great! i'd rather keep it the way i have it if at all possible, and just mod the fretboard. i have another all wood uke, so i'm not jonesing for an upgrade, i just feel like my accuracy is suffering.

and sweetwaterblue, i appreciate your comments but i doubt i'll ever be an accomplished musician, unless being a hack is an accomplishment!

thanks for all your help.

ukecantdothat
12-30-2009, 01:21 PM
Wow... I had no idea you could swap out the fingerboards on those. How is it done? If they're designed to be interchangable, it doesn't seem like a new board would cause an intonation problem, unless it's not "fool proof" in which case I would probably be very careful. Interesting... swapable fingerboards... What'll they think of next?

SweetWaterBlue
12-30-2009, 01:27 PM
Wow... I had no idea you could swap out the fingerboards on those. How is it done? If they're designed to be interchangable, it doesn't seem like a new board would cause an intonation problem, unless it's not "fool proof" in which case I would probably be very careful. Interesting... swapable fingerboards... What'll they think of next?

Unglue one (with heat and some prying). Glue the new one on. Send back to customer. I don't think its as easy to get a wooden fretboard as precise as the plastic - even for the Magic Flea company. That said, they seem to be a great company and many millions of ukes have been made correctly with wooden fret boards, so we know its mostly a matter of careful attention to assembly.

uke5417
12-30-2009, 01:35 PM
Silver Sharpie. Lay a piece of tape down along the fret "wire," and paint the side of the wire. If you hit only the top, it'll quickly wear off.

I don't look at my fretboard most of the time, but it's easier to push your limits if you can get a visual. Those black fret/fretboards are lame.

ukecantdothat
12-30-2009, 01:46 PM
Unglue one (with heat and some prying). Glue the new one on. Send back to customer. I don't think its as easy to get a wooden fretboard as precise as the plastic - even for the Magic Flea company. That said, they seem to be a great company and many millions of ukes have been made correctly with wooden fret boards, so we know its mostly a matter of careful attention to assembly.

OK, so this isn't some do-it-yourself design feature, but something Flea can do for you? Forgive my ignorance...

SweetWaterBlue
12-30-2009, 01:51 PM
OK, so this isn't some do-it-yourself design feature, but something Flea can do for you? Forgive my ignorance...

I have a garage full of the finest Chinese junk tools, and I wouldn't try it at home. I read somewhere they charge $75 to do it for you? There is a video on YouTube where they talk about the special glue formula they use, and of course I am only guessing that heat will soften it enough. The flea/fluke is also pretty modular (watch the video), so I can also see them just taking off the top, and replacing the whole neck&fretboard as one piece.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWKFID7KXKA

Well worth watching if you want to know what is inside a flea/fluke and how its put together.

luvdat
12-30-2009, 01:56 PM
I'm with you.

Anyone looking for a cure for their need to "upgrade" feel free to dip into most Fender electric guitar forums, Strat or Tele.

The simpler solutions offered seem better.

SweetWaterBlue
12-31-2009, 07:37 AM
I was watching some James Hill videos last night and ran across this one with him playing a duet with John King. I don't think many would argue these two are the upper crust of uke players. Some say now that John King has passed away, James Hill may be the best technical uke player in the world (with apologies to Jake although much different styles). John King seems to have his eyes closed for much of the song, but at times, he appears to definitely be staring at the fretboard. James is looking too, but mostly at John's fretboard. Ok - where did I put that silver sharpie lol?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3j-b35zkGw

CountryMouse
12-31-2009, 09:06 AM
(snip) I also think you probably should not be looking at the fretboard when you play. If you must look get the paint and put it behind the frets. If you stop looking, you will soon learn to get to the right place by feel. I try not to look at mine. How many accomplished musicians do you see staring at the fretboard while they play?

Um, not to be snarky, but classical guitarists? Among country music guitarists: Jerry Reed. Among ukulele players: John King.

I think it's probably more important for a person accompanying themselves on the uke to learn to look away from the fretboard and sing to the audience, though. That's what I'm trying to do, although it's still difficult (I've been playing four months).

When I get a Fluke, I'm thinking of getting some of those inlay sticker fret markers. :)

CountryMouse

Ukeffect
12-31-2009, 09:38 AM
You mean like this EXTREME version? LOL!:rolleyes:


8334 8333

ukecantdothat
12-31-2009, 11:25 AM
Um, not to be snarky, but classical guitarists? Among country music guitarists: Jerry Reed. Among ukulele players: John King.

I think it's probably more important for a person accompanying themselves on the uke to learn to look away from the fretboard and sing to the audience, though. That's what I'm trying to do, although it's still difficult (I've been playing four months).

When I get a Fluke, I'm thinking of getting some of those inlay sticker fret markers. :)

CountryMouse

Not snarky at all, but for me, it all depends on how familiar I am with the song or how common the progression of chords or riffs are. The guys you mention play so much, they can do that stuff in their sleep by now. It's largely muscle memory at that point, mixed in with a lot of talent, of course. That's the more glorious part of playing, when it becomes so automatic that you don't have to think about it anymore. I look a lot when it's still new, then at some point, hopefully, the left brain takes over from the right and it's pure feeling after that! But make no mistake, there's a ton of "work" before the "automatic" part kicks in. The true sign of a Master (of anything) is making the impossible look easy.

leftovermagic84
01-04-2010, 09:08 AM
that would be great! i'd rather keep it the way i have it if at all possible, and just mod the fretboard.

Ok, so the marker that came was a bold tip, which made things a little tricky, but here's what i ended up with
8447