View Full Version : Adding a 13th fret to a soprano?

05-18-2010, 05:31 AM
Hey all - posting for the first time here - I suppose I should say hello!

I'm wondering if anyone can give me a good reason as to why I should *not* go through with my plan to have a 13th fret installed on my KoAloha Pikake soprano. Long story short, I'm getting a little frustrated with the confines of my fretboard, but buying a concert (or 16-fret Kamaka soprano) isn't part of the plan right now. My uke instructor suggested this as a workaround. I trust his opinion, a good luthier has been recommended, and I'm ready to go through with it - but if anybody wants to try to talk me down from this ledge, feel free! Thanks in advance.

05-18-2010, 05:36 AM
if you want to add it, as long as the luthier does a good job, i don't see what the problem is. i was playing my soprano with a friend who just bought a soprano and we were playing above the 12th fret no problem (he's a viola player and is used to playing fretless). playing above the 12th fret takes a little practice to remember where to put your fingers, but no big deal once you're used to it.

05-18-2010, 06:14 AM
While there appears to be room to add another fret or two to the soprano pikake, I don't think it would be all that comfortable to play up there. I don't know what a luthier would charge to do it, but you may be better off selling it and buying either a long-neck soprano or a concert.


05-18-2010, 06:50 AM
Thanks for the replies so far! I should point out that selling is not an option - I absolutely *love* this uke. I've tried a number of long-neck sopranos and concerts and haven't found "the one" yet - acquiring one is definitely a possibility, but it hasn't found me yet.

As for the comfort factor - I've got crazy small hands, so I'm probably ok with that.

05-18-2010, 06:53 AM
I think that if you have a good luthier, you should go for it. You might even want to consider adding a 14th fret, if there's room on the neck. My soprano has 14 frets and I use all of them!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-18-2010, 07:27 AM
As long as you are going to the trouble I would definitely agree to add two additional frets. This is a very easy job to do and someone with modest skills should be able to accomplish it. The most critical part will be in getting the exact fret location. This is where a qualified ukulele builder/repair person can help you. If the slots are cut wrong, you're out of luck.
Some things to keep in mind...........You will need matching fret wire. I don't know what they use but perhaps KoAloha will send you a small piece. The area surrounding the fret board needs to be protected, the slot needs to be the correct width and depth, the inside will need to be supported while pressing or tapping the new frets in and the frets will need to be leveled and dressed.
Have you thought of contacting KoAloha and seeing if they'll do the job for you? Their customer service and response is excellent.
Good luck. It's a good idea. I install 16 frets on most of my sopranos.

05-18-2010, 07:37 AM
Thanks for the input, Chuck - I hadn't thought of contacting KoAloha but that's a great idea - doing it now.

05-18-2010, 07:52 AM
15 frets will give you range to C, handy on the uke!

A better idea might be to have Koaloha or the luther replace the entire fretboard with a 15 or 17 fret board.

05-18-2010, 12:39 PM
Just following up to post part of my reply from KoAloha:

"If you would still like to just add an additional fret, I will be more than happy to send you a single fret wire. However it may be a bit difficult to install, because we do put binding on both sides of the fret board to hide the wires."

Once I get it, I'll meet with the luthier to see if this will be a problem. As Chuck noted above, Koaloha's customer service was great, so a big shout out for that. Of course, they did suggest buying a longneck soprano instead :)

05-18-2010, 02:58 PM
Standard classical guitars have 19 frets, but there was a piece by Barrios that went another step and some CG players have been known to glue a wooden matchstick on the fretboard to add one. :)

05-18-2010, 03:07 PM
My Kanile'a soprano has 20 frets...not that I have the skill to use them or anything...

05-18-2010, 05:17 PM
Why don't you shoot a PM to KoAlohaPaul and see what he says? I trust him completely. And he makes the instruments. Who'd know better?

05-18-2010, 11:18 PM
I'd agree with some of the others. Get as many additional frets on there as will fit, better too have too many too later down the road find you want to add more again. 'If' you can fit as many as 3 extra's on there do it (for an example Jakes 'Gently Weeps' goes up to the 15 fret), I think 15 frets would be the right amount... I reckon you can squeeze them on.

I think its a great idea what your doing... you love the uke, its fairly cost effective. Go for it, make it a uke for life!

06-01-2010, 12:00 PM
Just curious, did you ever go for it? Would be cool to see a photo if you did.

06-01-2010, 12:09 PM
Sorry to be off topic, but THIS? This is why I love this forum.

Mr. Moore, an accomplished and successful ukulele maker singing the praises of another company.

That's a rare thing to find, I'll tell you.

Sorry... continue the discussion *grin* Just wanted to say I love you guys.

06-01-2010, 12:28 PM
Hey, thanks for asking - not yet, though. I'll definitely post an update when (and if) I do. I'm still waiting for that fret wire to arrive from Koaloha.