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View Full Version : Soprano Fretboard Thickness



Timbuck
10-12-2013, 04:03 AM
I've been making up a batch of 2 doz fretbords for my next run of soprano's ..these I thickness sand down to .095" or 2.4mm as per Martin spec:....I've noticed that most other soprano's have much thicker boards than mine..so I wondered what you other guys make them at.:)
Here they are in Rosewood, Ebony, and Baked Maple,
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT0004_zps2cc51ed2.jpg (http://s219.photobucket.com/user/shiregreenbod/media/PICT0004_zps2cc51ed2.jpg.html)

resoman
10-12-2013, 04:13 AM
Ken, I was doing everything at 0.157 but have been drifting down to 0.125 on the sopranos.
That baked maple just has such a nice hew to it. love it.

UkeKiddinMe
10-12-2013, 04:32 AM
Don't know about the thickness - wish I did - but, I do love those baked maple boards. Awesome.

David Newton
10-12-2013, 05:41 AM
Somewhere south of .100", which makes it scary if there are frets to be placed over the body. I have snapped off a few, usually Ebony, fretboards because of the thin wood under the slot.

I have looked at the old bar-fret Martins where the frets sit into the neck wood, cutting entirely through the fretboard itself, and wonder what the "schedule of work" was. Were the fretboards partially slotted, and then glued to the neck, then slotted to depth to install the frets?

Timbuck
10-12-2013, 05:59 AM
Somewhere south of .100", which makes it scary if there are frets to be placed over the body. I have snapped off a few, usually Ebony, fretboards because of the thin wood under the slot.

I have looked at the old bar-fret Martins where the frets sit into the neck wood, cutting entirely through the fretboard itself, and wonder what the "schedule of work" was. Were the fretboards partially slotted, and then glued to the neck, then slotted to depth to install the frets?
Yes ! I've noticed the frets cut into the neck on Martins....I think you could be right with the method.

Allen
10-12-2013, 10:36 AM
For un-radiused fret boards mine are 3.2mm thick Ken. 2.4mm............wow that is skinny.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-12-2013, 11:29 AM
2.4 mm is scary thin for me. My slots are close to 2mm deep. After snapping far too many skinny boards mine average about 3.5mm thick now.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
10-12-2013, 12:17 PM
5mm on tenor and concerts. I might go to 4mm on a soprano but hope never to make one again

Michael N.
10-12-2013, 12:21 PM
I had a couple of Ebony fretboards crack, just after the last fret. Thin Ebony boards are a little prone to that. I switched to sawing a slightly wider fret kerf and gluing the frets in. I can glue/clamp the frets in and get very little back bow on a board - done off the neck of course. The downside (there always is) - it's quite a bit slower than just hammering frets in.

Timbuck
10-12-2013, 09:28 PM
2.4 mm is scary thin for me. My slots are close to 2mm deep. After snapping far too many skinny boards mine average about 3.5mm thick now.
I did snap an Ebony board once Chuck..but that was due to the fretwire tang not going in straight and it cocked over in the press :(.

gerardg
10-12-2013, 10:44 PM
3.2 mm mini for me.
Rosewood fretbords.
Use madolin frets.
Crown width: 1.53mm
Crown height: 0.58mm
Fret height: 2.04mm
Tang width: 0.5mm

Timbuck
10-13-2013, 03:44 AM
Here is a pretty picture I couldn't resist posting ..just for ukulele nerds like me:)

http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT0010_zpsed8f24b4.jpg (http://s219.photobucket.com/user/shiregreenbod/media/PICT0010_zpsed8f24b4.jpg.html)

jcalkin
10-13-2013, 10:16 AM
So far, all my fretboards have been .187". Frets are about .040" tall, so the total is just shy of 1/4". My bridges are 1/4" tall, which means a 90 degree neck-to-body angle lets me make a saddle of any height from the top of the bridge (which is also the top of the frets) on up to any action I choose, at least until the body begins to flex. I'm not recommending this, its just what I do. If it sounds wrong please advise me. So far its worked OK.

Chris_H
10-13-2013, 06:38 PM
quintessential... nerd that is.. :)

Timbuck
10-15-2013, 04:50 AM
All was going well..Then I discovered i'd ruined an ebony board by giving it 13 fret slots instead of 12 :( All the rest are ok tho':)
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT0013_zps09fc8a1f.jpg (http://s219.photobucket.com/user/shiregreenbod/media/PICT0013_zps09fc8a1f.jpg.html)
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT0016_zps90bf1165.jpg (http://s219.photobucket.com/user/shiregreenbod/media/PICT0016_zps90bf1165.jpg.html)

lauburu
10-15-2013, 09:39 AM
That's not a mistake it's a new product - the upgrade option from the standard 12 fret version.
It's all in the marketing.
Miguel

boatpaddle
10-16-2013, 05:57 AM
Hello, I've been a member for a few years, but this is my first post. Having a one person full-time shop makes it hard to get to everything, but it's important to stay connected with the uke/luthier community. This thread caught my eye, and I think theres more to it than a finger board holding frets. There is a relationship between action and saddle height, and if the saddle is made a little higher, then the board needs to be thicker to retain the same action. I'm sure there's a way to calculate the change in torque on the bridge when you factor in string tension, saddle height, sound board size/thickness and bracing stiffness, but I'm not smart enough for that. Experience has told me that a slightly higher saddle will improve sound. So I'm weighing in as the fattest with a board no less than .2" (5mm) thick.

Timbuck
10-16-2013, 06:53 AM
But! some great ukuleles made by the early builders have no fretboard at all......Martin style O sopranos have a bridge hight of only 1/4" and the saddle 1/16" = 5/16" in total....and don't forget that the neck angle will also play a part in the setup :)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-16-2013, 07:46 AM
But! some great ukuleles made by the early builders have no fretboard at all......Martin style O sopranos have a bridge hight of only 1/4" and the saddle 1/16" = 5/16" in total....and don't forget that the neck angle will also play a part in the setup :)

Exactly. For me the neck angle comes first. I know how thick I want my fret board, how high I want the bridge, how tall the saddle needs to be and what my optimum action is after the sound board is under string tension. I mock all these elements up before hand and adjust my neck angle to suit.

boatpaddle
10-16-2013, 08:20 AM
For me, neck angle is pretty much a fixed thing - ever so slightly low to level, never high. Too low an angle will exert downward pressure on the top causing it to become concave if too extreme, and too high will tend to pull up on the top. Neck angle shouldn't be an adjustable set up factor for setting action (that's why old Martin guitars are often found in repair shops getting the neck reset). The nice thing on a new build is that you can put the saddle height where ever you want it low or high, but you also have to adjust the board thickness along with it whether it be .13" or .2".

Timbuck
10-16-2013, 08:39 AM
For me, neck angle is pretty much a fixed thing - ever so slightly low to level, never high. Too low an angle will exert downward pressure on the top causing it to become concave if too extreme, and too high will tend to pull up on the top. Neck angle shouldn't be an adjustable set up factor for setting action (that's why old Martin guitars are often found in repair shops getting the neck reset). The nice thing on a new build is that you can put the saddle height where ever you want it low or high, but you also have to adjust the board thickness along with it whether it be .13" or .2".
I believe you are talking about the fingerboard extension pressing/pulling on the top.:confused:

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-16-2013, 08:54 AM
Here's my rough formula when doing a dry run set up. I adjust my neck angle so that a straightedge laid along the naked neck will be 1/16" high at the saddle location. Bridge and fret board thicknesses are something I want to be able to control. Fret boards thickness .160". Bridge height (from radiused bottom)= .230". Saddle height above bridge= .125". Action above 12th fret= .090".

boatpaddle
10-16-2013, 08:58 AM
I'm talking bout the top of the neck, sans finger board, being level with the top. I built several Aquila string mandolins a couple of years ago, and on the first one, thinking a mando needed a low neck angle (nevermind it wasn't a carved top), set the angle low. Within a week the top was about an 1/8" concave because the neck angle was too low. On the old martins the high neck angle pulled up on the top making it impossible to lower the saddle enough to get the action right. Force exerted up and down on the bridge is as important as force pulling perpendicular to the bridge.

jcalkin
10-16-2013, 02:42 PM
Here's my rough formula when doing a dry run set up. I adjust my neck angle so that a straightedge laid along the naked neck will be 1/16" high at the saddle location. Bridge and fret board thicknesses are something I want to be able to control. Fret boards thickness .160". Bridge height (from radiused bottom)= .230". Saddle height above bridge= .125". Action above 12th fret= .090".

Chuck, you've confirmed what I was saying back on pg. 2, though our numbers are a bit different. Thanks.

Ken W
10-16-2013, 04:16 PM
I'm not sure I can articulate my question, but I'll give it a try. If the neck is angled to the body, then the neck (no fingerboard at this time) and the top are not in the same plane. So...what happens to the portion of the fingerboard (when it is applied) that overhangs the body? Wouldn't there be a gap that starts at the point of intersection and increases to the end of the fingerboard? Am I explaining this well?

jcalkin
10-17-2013, 01:33 PM
I'm not sure I can articulate my question, but I'll give it a try. If the neck is angled to the body, then the neck (no fingerboard at this time) and the top are not in the same plane. So...what happens to the portion of the fingerboard (when it is applied) that overhangs the body? Wouldn't there be a gap that starts at the point of intersection and increases to the end of the fingerboard? Am I explaining this well?

You are explaining it well. On guitars (what I know) the top is thick enough that the top plate can be pitched (thinned) a bit from the top of the soundhole to the neck joint. I use a pitched sanding board for this. The ribs can also be sanded the same amount of pitch, and the top plate bent during glue-up to create the same angle. On many (inexpensive) factory guitars you'll see the fingerboard bent down to eliminate the gap---it looks like a hump, but its hurts nothing except the playability of the upper frets and the look of the instrument. If there are no frets on the extension you can just leave it hang in the air. If there are frets on the extension you can also leave it hanging in the air (a cantilevered fretboard), or you can make a tiny wedge to fill up the space and support the neck extension.
I'm curious to see how the other guys solve this hassle. This is one of the reasons I have so far designed my ukes with zero neck pitch, which has worked out well so far.

jcalkin
10-17-2013, 01:33 PM
I'm not sure I can articulate my question, but I'll give it a try. If the neck is angled to the body, then the neck (no fingerboard at this time) and the top are not in the same plane. So...what happens to the portion of the fingerboard (when it is applied) that overhangs the body? Wouldn't there be a gap that starts at the point of intersection and increases to the end of the fingerboard? Am I explaining this well?

You are explaining it well. On guitars (what I know) the top is thick enough that the top plate can be pitched (thinned) a bit from the top of the soundhole to the neck joint. I use a pitched sanding board for this. The ribs can also be sanded the same amount of pitch, and the top plate bent during glue-up to create the same angle. On many (inexpensive) factory guitars you'll see the fingerboard bent down to eliminate the gap---it looks like a hump, but its hurts nothing except the playability of the upper frets and the look of the instrument. If there are no frets on the extension you can just leave it hang in the air. If there are frets on the extension you can also leave it hanging in the air (a cantilevered fretboard), or you can make a tiny wedge to fill up the space and support the neck extension.
I'm curious to see how the other guys solve this hassle. This is one of the reasons I have so far designed my ukes with zero neck pitch, which has worked out well so far.

boatpaddle
10-17-2013, 02:13 PM
My solution is a pocket neck joint. See new post from earlier today. As far as guitars, Taylor uses a shim adjustable pocket for pitch (angle) and intonation.

Allen
10-17-2013, 11:06 PM
You can also cut a fine wedge of the same wood that the fret board is made from and glue it to the underside of the fret board. From the body join to the end of the fret board. I do this on my ukes, as the top doesn't have enough "meat" to level it out as on guitars, like John describes.

If your fret board doesn't extend more than a few frets onto the body instead of all the way to the sound hole, then they can just dive down a bit, and really not be any issue. We aren't talking about much here.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-18-2013, 07:19 AM
I don't seem to have that problem. I build in a solera that keeps the upper bout flat while the lower one has a slight curve along it's length.

boatpaddle
10-18-2013, 11:13 AM
I just read back through all this, and when all is said and done, my saddle height isn't much higher that what has been described (fat finger board and all). My necks are adjustable in the pocket with no interference from an extended board which helps to set them up flat with the top. A picture's worth a thousand words, so here it is: http://www.boatpaddleukuleles.com/links/UU/neckalign_action.jpg

The 3 degree angle of the strings results in little distortion of the top so I can pretty much know what the action will be under load.

jcalkin
10-18-2013, 05:35 PM
I just read back through all this, and when all is said and done, my saddle height isn't much higher that what has been described (fat finger board and all). My necks are adjustable in the pocket with no interference from an extended board which helps to set them up flat with the top. A picture's worth a thousand words, so here it is: http://www.boatpaddleukuleles.com/links/UU/neckalign_action.jpg

The 3 degree angle of the strings results in little distortion of the top so I can pretty much know what the action will be under load.

Your design seems to owe more to Leo Fender than Bob Taylor. I used the same idea on my Stratocoustic stage guitars a couple or three decades ago. It worked fine.

gerardg
10-19-2013, 07:53 PM
Just finished.
Rosewood.
3.2 mm thickness.
With these mandolin frets, I've made one 2.8 mm thickness.
60033