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View Full Version : Where to get an ebony fret board?



lancemanion
01-03-2011, 09:27 PM
I need to order an ebony fretboard. I am building an soprano with steel strings. I was hoping to get one pre-radiused. I know most ukuleles are use flat fretboards but since I am going with steel strings I am planning on a low action and hopefully someday I will be a good enough player to take advantage of the low action and a radiused fretboard. Someone mentioned buying a fretboard on stew mac but they don't sell ukulele fretboards, can you use a mandolin fretboard or do you just buy a guitar fretboard and cut it down? Any help would be appreciated. Attached is the Koa I found for the body.

Michael Smith
01-03-2011, 10:23 PM
I have been buying from http://www.allenguitar.com/fetbd_pre-slot.htm
He does sell Ebony Uke boards for $19.50 slotted, flat.

Timbuck
01-04-2011, 12:30 AM
[QUOTE=lancemanion;568861] can you use a mandolin fretboard or do you just buy a guitar fretboard and cut it down? QUOTE]

I usually manage to get 4 soprano fretboards out of an 8mm thick classical guitar fretboard.
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/timbuck%20tips/PICT7579.jpg

lancemanion
01-04-2011, 01:41 AM
It looks like I am going to end up getting a guitar fret board and cut it down so I can have some radius. When I make the cuts for the fret wire I am going to have to make it deeper in the middle so it will be deep enough on the edges do to the radius. Has anyone ever done this before and is this the proper technique?

Timbuck
01-04-2011, 02:16 AM
It looks like I am going to end up getting a guitar fret board and cut it down so I can have some radius. When I make the cuts for the fret wire I am going to have to make it deeper in the middle so it will be deep enough on the edges do to the radius. Has anyone ever done this before and is this the proper technique? you don't need a radius on a soprano...unless you're going to bow it like a violin...Great uke players like Cliff Edwards..Roy Smeck...etc: managed all right with flat ones.

thistle3585
01-04-2011, 02:38 AM
Call Steve at Cumberland Acoustic. He'll make whatever you want. http://www.cumberlandacoustics.com/

tattwo
01-04-2011, 05:59 AM
You can Try LMI. Thats where I got mine. They will make what ever you like

Allen
01-04-2011, 09:08 AM
As stated above, there just isn't any reason to put a radius on a soprano fret board. It's going to unnecessarily complicate your build, and your reasons for doing it to get the action as low as you can simply don't add up. And if you are asking these sorts of questions it tells me that you need some experience in building before jumping in at the deep end.

It's not a radius on a fret board that allows for low action, but building the instrument in such a way as to get the neck/fret board in the correct plane with the soundboard -bridge/saddle. What a radius on the fret board does is make it more comfortable for baring the neck.

My advice is to keep it simple, and do your absolute best to get the basics right. There is no reason in the world that you cant get the action as low as is possible within the constrains of the strings you choose and the way you play.

That said, I cut my fret slots first on my table saw, then put a radius on the fret board. The fret slots will be a touch deeper in the center than they need to be in order for the ends to be the correct depth.

lancemanion
01-04-2011, 09:49 AM
Allen, you are right, I worded that poorly, the radius doesn't have anything to do with low action, my point was that I wanted to build it with low action (because it will have steel strings) and I want a slight radius to make it easier to play bar chords. I guess it boils down to the fact that if I'm going to take all the time to build it I might as well take the time to do it the way I want it. Anther reason I wanted the radius is that it will also be played by my kids (who have considerably smaller hands then Cliff Edwards..Roy Smeck etc.) and the radius will help them with the E and D chords. The last reason I wanted to do the radius is that one of the pickups I'm using is a Roland GK-3 that is made for a guitar and has a slight radius to it. I do realize my limitations as a builder and that is why I am looking to buy the fretboard pre-radiused, unfortunatley that means I can't the fret slots myself. I was really hoping to make all the parts myself. Thank you also to tattwo and thistle3585, I will call Steve and LMI and see if either of them can make me what I'm looking for. I do appreciate each and every piece of advice given, thanks again.

Allen
01-06-2011, 08:27 PM
If you have a way of cutting fret slots accurately, then you can do this all your self. If not, then it's probably best to outsource this.

If you can cut the slots with a miter saw set up then you can put a radius on the board before you cut the slots. That way you will be able to see how deep you have them at the edge of the fret board. It's only when you cut them on a table saw that it's best to cut them before a radius goes on, as you don't have a flat surface to lay face down on the table saw.

If you really want to do this all yourself, then by all means dive right in. You'll learn heaps. To put a radius on a fret board is reasonably straight forward. Get yourself a radius sanding block, or make one yourself and some sand paper. Stew Mac sell wood ones that aren't going to break the bank. I use the long alloy ones but those are over kill for what you are looking for. For something as small as a uke, I'd go with a 12" radius.

Tarhead
01-07-2011, 01:01 AM
Just curious but why steel strings? If your kids are little the Uke may not be very popular.

To make a 12" radius sanding block find a piece of 24" (thanks Tim!) PVC pipe or drainage culvert and tape a piece of coarse sandpaper to the outside of it. Open up a big can of Elbow Grease. Start sanding.

Timbuck
01-07-2011, 02:46 AM
Just curious but why steel strings? If your kids are little the Uke may not be very popular.

To make a 12" radius sanding block find a piece of 12" PVC pipe or a 5gal bucket and tape a piece of coarse sandpaper to the outside of it. Open up a big can of Elbow Grease. Start sanding.

Sorry "Tarhead" but that will only give you a severe 6" radius...you need 24" diameter for a 12" radius.:)...it can be done in a pedestal drill, with a 4" sanding disc and the table tilted at approx: 5 degrees.

Tarhead
01-07-2011, 03:05 AM
Thanks Tim!
Should learn to not type before caffeine!

lancemanion
01-07-2011, 08:32 AM
Tarhead, I am building with steel strings so we can use our Roland GR-20 with the uke (it requires steel strings for the GK-3 pickup to work). My boys are only 8 and 12 but they are pretty advanced and play often on steel string guitars. I ordered a fret board from lmii.com as recommended by tattwo. Robert at lmi is very helpful and is making it with the radius. Can't wait for it to arrive.

tattwo
01-07-2011, 08:35 AM
Tarhead, I am building with steel strings so we can use our Roland GR-20 with the uke (it requires steel strings for the GK-3 pickup to work). My boys are only 8 and 12 but they are pretty advanced and play often on steel string guitars. I ordered a fret board from lmii.com as recommended by tattwo. Robert at lmi is very helpful and is making it with the radius. Can't wait for it to arrive.

I just installed my LMI finger board on my new tenor. Looks great.