View Full Version : How many frets to the body

09-28-2013, 04:48 AM
I've been looking at some custom ukes and one builder is suggesting that for the best sound I should go with 13 frets to the body on a Tenor uke.
This would be a cutaway uke so I would have a little better access higher up. What are your thoughts. 13,14, or 15 frets to the body?
Also I understand that which ever I go with, the fret spacing will be the same.

09-28-2013, 07:48 AM
Most instruments are thought to have a sweet spot for the bridge, normally about the center of the lower bout. As you move the nut farther out from the body the bridge has to move with it. In theory you could have all the frets clear of the body, put the bridge about where the soundhole is, and move the soundport(s) to the side. But this would likely kill the tone and volume on an acoustic instrument, not to mention making it funny to hold and play. If your builder has firm thoughts about this, follow them. 14 frets to the body is usually OK. Even on guitars players often fight over the sound-quality differences of 12 and 14 fret necks. 14ers all feel better to me regardless of the instrument (and I like that leggy look), but the size and design of the body are likely to play into this as deciding factors. If you really want to play a lot way up there, consider a deeper cutaway rather than more frets clear of the body. You should look at some older threads for opinions about cutaways on any uke. They aren't generally flattering.

David Newton
09-28-2013, 08:12 AM
There is usually a reason for controversy about this stuff, eg. frets-to-the-body, bridge position, etc.
It is because there are no "facts" that one way is better or worse than another, only preferences.
Any good builder can do 12, 13, 14, 15 frets to the body, and compensate the bracing, and other things, for the moving of the bridge.
An old engineering saying "if it LOOKS good, it IS good" applies here.

09-28-2013, 06:00 PM
Hey, Bruce!

Both the Tenor John S. Kinnard Road Trip Uke and my Custom Bradford Donaldson Concert Cutaway are 14 frets to the body. Both play like dreams.

You played the Donaldson - what did you think?


09-29-2013, 10:36 PM
The length of the neck relative to the body is something you have to work out in advance if you have a desire for the bridge to be in a particular position and a body of a set size. Otherwise as per the second post, you have to put the bridge closer to the nut to achieve more than the original designed number of frets.

09-30-2013, 07:47 AM
I'm guessing your uke builder already has the templates set up for a 13fret neck. It really doesn't matter as long as the body and bracing are designed along with it.