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View Full Version : Radiused Fretboards - Yes or No?



grownupboy
01-27-2011, 05:15 PM
hey all!

what's your take on radius fretboards? i've been playing on a flat fretboard for over 8 years and never thought twice about it... now that i'm shopping for a new uke i see quite a few custom manufacturers offering radiused fretboards as standard.

you guys like your ukes with radius fretboards? what is the diameter of the radius on your uke?

thanks!
g

olgoat52
01-27-2011, 05:19 PM
A quick search of the forum revealed this same topic about 13 days ago. http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?40883-Fingerboard-Radius&highlight=radiused+fretboard

grownupboy
01-27-2011, 05:32 PM
while the term "fretboard radius" does appear in my question and the post to which you linked... the subject is quite different.

that thread asks "I was just wondering how many makers use a fingerboard radius? Is there any particular reason, besides the small width, for using a flat fingerboard?" i'm asking how people who actually have radiused fretboards feel about them. different enough to warrant a new thread.

i appreciate your diligence in keeping the board on topic but i was able to use the search function as well. :)
g

Ukuleleblues
01-27-2011, 05:54 PM
Does seem like a little bit of overkill. Compound radius on a Uke fretboard? Geessszz You'll probalby see more of this as ukes become more popular. Sells great to folks that don't have time to practice but have lots of mooolah.

It will become the standard, and then you'll have to pay more for a "Vintage Flat Fretboad, made just like the classic ukes of the early 21st century".

haole
01-27-2011, 06:09 PM
I have a Maui Music 6-string tenor with a radiused fretboard. Not sure what the radius is, but it has a nice feel to it. It's very subtle, though, and the vast majority of players wouldn't notice or care either way. Probably not worth paying extra for, but if it comes standard it won't hurt!

mm stan
01-27-2011, 06:09 PM
Aloha Grownupboy,
I've heard that they fair well with barre chords...as for me, I wouldn't mind trying one...if it wasn't for the cost.....takes time to get them done...I guess....MM Stan..

Ronnie Aloha
01-27-2011, 06:50 PM
Nuprin ordered his MyaMoe with a radiused fretboard and he said he was surprised that it wasn't easier to play. He had never tried one before but he assumed it would be easier. I've never used one myself so I can't help you. Try searching for Nuprin's thread where he reviews the uke.

Dane
01-27-2011, 06:58 PM
I like it on my electric guitar, but that's a much broader fretboard. I would think it would be so minute that you wouldn't notice it much on an ukulele. Although if I had the choice, I would absolutely choose to have one.

Teek
01-27-2011, 07:47 PM
I do like it on an electric guitar, but on the uke discovered I prefer flat because the neck is narrow and my fingers are arthritic and busted up. I find it a noticeable difference but of course given the size of the neck it's not huge, just different in feel. I adapt when I pick up that uke after a little while. I think it's better applied to a larger 6 string instrument but it does look cool on a uke.

Pippin
01-27-2011, 09:30 PM
Radius-curved necks are more time-consuming to make, thus, more costly to build. The benefits are nil on such a narrow neck. Most builders don't believe the effort is worth it.

Hippie Dribble
01-27-2011, 11:25 PM
I like it on my electric guitar, but that's a much broader fretboard. I would think it would be so minute that you wouldn't notice it much on an ukulele. Although if I had the choice, I would absolutely choose to have one.

:agree:

I have radiused fretboards on a couple of my ukes and I really can hardly tell the difference. If anything the radiused fretboard makes for slightly smoother playing and just looks nicer.

It's a mimimal issue really for me, but, like Dane said, I would also choose to have all my ukes made with them, if I could. A flat fretboard isn't gonna stop me from buying a nice uke though!

kissing
01-28-2011, 12:07 AM
I think the Ibanez ukes come with radiused fretboards.

Now.. has anyone seen a scalloped fretboard uke?

Nuprin
01-28-2011, 01:44 AM
Nuprin ordered his MyaMoe with a radiused fretboard and he said he was surprised that it wasn't easier to play. He had never tried one before but he assumed it would be easier. I've never used one myself so I can't help you. Try searching for Nuprin's thread where he reviews the uke.

I could feel the difference between the radiused and flat but I didn't find either one easier to play over the other. While planning out my Moore Bettah custom, I originally asked Chuck for a radiused fretboard. I've since told him to just go with a flat fretboard instead. He agreed saying it doesn't make much difference at all given the size of a ukulele's fretboard.

grownupboy
01-28-2011, 02:34 AM
thanks for all the feedback, everyone!

i've played guitar for years before i started with the uke about 8 years ago. acoustic guitars typically have a 16 inch radius that you really don't notice when playing.

i was thinking that the radius on a uke fretboard (because it's so narrow) might actually trip you up a bit but it sounds like it's not all that noticeable.

every uke i've owned has had a flat fretboard but i've got the option of getting a flat or radius fretboard on my upcoming custom so the feedback is helpful. i think i might be a bit of a traditionalist and go with the flat... but who can tell? :)

g

dnewton2
01-28-2011, 02:40 AM
I remember hearing a while back from a builder that a lot of players that come from a guitar background will order a radius fretboard because they are used to it or like it or something. But like most others have said it is not that noticeable when playing.

kegmcnabb
01-28-2011, 02:59 AM
I think the Ibanez ukes come with radiused fretboards.


I don't think they actually do. I have seen this subject come up before and I think the confusion is because on each of the specification page for each of Ibanez ukes http://www.ibanez.com/AcousticGuitars/model-UEW20SG features a technical drawing of a radiused fretboard but the drawing is simply to illustrate the concept. If you read the specs columm, it lists "Radius - FLAT."

I would still like to play one. I have played many fine Ibanez guitars and basses. I have a 1981 Ibanez Musician bass which is truly one fine instrument.:music: Plus, I like the looks of the spalted cut-away.:drool:

70sSanO
01-28-2011, 05:56 AM
I have to agree with others that a radius fretboard has a minimal effect on playability with a ukulele... although I have played a G-String and like the fretboard.

The only advantage appears to be when using a barre chord because the index finger doesn't need to be as straght... I guess also barred 2 finger D chord forms also fit into this category when arching up to avoid the A string.

However, and from a purely theoretical standpoint, a radius fretboard may be a detriment for fretting notes. If you think about steel string and nylon string guitars, the higher tension steel string guitars typically have radiused fretboards but the lower tension classical nylon string guitars have a flat and usually wider fretboard. Ukuleles have even lower tension than classical guitars.

I can imagine that as the tension is lowered, which in turn increases string height, and then throw on slippery strings... having a fretboard that is not flat and curves to the outside may not be the ideal situation, especially for the outside G and A strings.

I do agree that all of this is minimal and theorectical on a ukulele, but once again there has to be a reason why classical guitars have a flat fretboard and steel string guitars are radiused.

John

GX9901
01-28-2011, 06:30 AM
I have a few ukes with radiused fretboards and I like them quite a bit. But I also don't think they are that noticeable compared to a flat fretboard (a good thing, since that would make it hard for me to go back to my flat fretboard ukes). For me, I just like having them so the last few custom ukes I've ordered all had them. I usually go for a gentle radius of 16~18", so it's very subtle. So I guess the fretboard radius is almost a cosmetic thing for me.

Dane
01-28-2011, 07:33 AM
Let me put it this way instead, If you have extra cash, go for it. If not, then put the money towards some other part of the custom, like a cool headstock or something. But you might also ask this question in the luthiers section, since radiused fretboards are really only done by the nicer custom makers, they would know better. I think Moore does them from time to time, and he is quite active on the forum, you might ask him.

Ingrate
01-28-2011, 07:36 AM
i'm asking how people who actually have radiused fretboards feel about them.

I've only been playing for 6-7 months. I've two sopranos, one flat and one radiused. I've never noticed the difference when playing.