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View Full Version : Highlighting Fluke frets.



Icelander53
03-04-2014, 10:46 AM
I have both a Fluke with a plastic and wood fretboard. The wood is in Low G and the plastic in High G, so I find them both useful. As a beginner however I find that the wood with its easy to see frets is a lot more fun to play. I have thought of painting the frets so they can be easily seen but am not sure what to use that would hold up to constant play. I'm hoping someone here has tackled this problem successfully and is willing to share their secret.

bassballz
03-04-2014, 10:58 AM
Ice...I used a permanent silver sharpie to highlight mine. You could use gold color if thats a preference.
Easy, clean, and durable. Mine hasn't worn off but if it does, I'll just retouch as needed.

OldePhart
03-04-2014, 11:42 AM
I just took a silver sharpie and put dot markers on the side of all my Fleas and Flukes.

That's a good idea - side markers are much more useful than front markers. If you're playing with good posture you really shouldn't be able to see the front markers, well, anyway!

John

Icelander53
03-04-2014, 12:24 PM
I did that and wore it off fairly quickly. Didn't like the idea of my fingers absorbing all that crap. I was hoping for something more permanent. I may contact the folk at Magic Fluke and see what they have to say.

SailQwest
03-04-2014, 12:57 PM
I put super thin stickers on the fretboards of a couple of my ukes. I've also used stickers for side markers. :D

julie
03-04-2014, 12:59 PM
I used a bronze colored sharpie. It's holding up so far, but with a lot of play it will probably wear off. Luckily it is easy to touch up the frets without even having to remove strings.

Icelander53
03-04-2014, 01:08 PM
I put super thin stickers on the fretboards of a couple of my ukes. I've also used stickers for side markers. :D

Now that's one I hadn't thought of. Thanks

Booli
03-04-2014, 02:14 PM
I used a white 'paint-pen' that is an oil-based paint to put side-markers on my lava concert Flea with the plastic fretboard 2 months ago, and if you let it cure for about 3 hrs and dont touch it, it ain't gonna rub off onto your hands. On mine I would not paint the frets.

I play this uke every day and there's no sign of wear to the dots I put on.

Funny thing is that I hardly look at the frets now unless I am learning a new chord...

The 'paint-pens' are more fixed/adhered to the surface than a sharpie, and they have an ENAMEL finish, which gives a nice glossy dot. I had originally made the side marks with a sharpie, which eventually got rubbed off, and sharpie ink is easily removed with either rubbing alcohol (which is a solvent for the ink)...

Newportlocal
03-04-2014, 02:16 PM
Another vote for silver sharpie on my fret dots and on the side of the neck. When they wear down I just add more. Perfect match for the factory dots.

Icelander53
03-04-2014, 02:17 PM
I used a white 'paint-pen' that is an oil-based paint to put side-markers
OK I'll try that. As a beginner I need to take a peek now an then. Down the road it won't matter that much but I do prefer my Fluke with the wood fretboard.

hmgberg
03-04-2014, 02:18 PM
Liquid paper.

Booli
03-04-2014, 02:31 PM
Another vote for silver sharpie on my fret dots and on the side of the neck. When they wear down I just add more. Perfect match for the factory dots.

Remember that Sharpie, and all similar style of 'permanent marker' has s solvent in it to soften the surface you write on, in order to bind the ink to that surface, and over time, and with repeated applications this will eat into the wood where you put the side dots, and eat into the plastic on the fretboard, which pretty much will need to be replaced in about 4 yrs of daily play for 1 hr/day because the frets themselves will be all worn off....

An enamel paint pen does not have such solvents, and is designed to sit 'on top' of the surface instead of eat into the surface. The nice thing with the paint pen also is that you end up with a slightly embossed disc of paint, on TOP of the finish of your uke. On the frets it probably will NOT easily rub off, as I've used the SAME paint pen on a cheap Mahalo soprano to draw white trapezoids on the fretboard to look like Gibson Les Paul freboard inlays, and there is literally no sign of wear since Sept 2013...

I got my paint pen at Walmart, but they also have them at Staples and at Michaels Craft stores...

Icelander53
03-04-2014, 03:45 PM
Thanks for that info. I'm going to try your idea. Maybe for my birthday I'll have it replaced with wood but I was considering it as my camping uke and sort of like the plastic in that way.

Ukejenny
03-04-2014, 05:32 PM
Lots of cool stickers on ebay. I need to get some for my Ohanas, as they don't have side markers and I really need those.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=fret+side+markers&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.Xfret+side +stickers&_nkw=fret+side+stickers&_sacat=0

hmgberg
03-04-2014, 05:36 PM
Liquid paper.

ichadwick
03-05-2014, 01:59 AM
You can buy inexpensive fretboard stickers/decals on eBay. They're great, easy to install and last a long time - longer than any marker. And thy look better, too.

dickadcock
03-05-2014, 03:28 AM
I used tiny pieces of white plastic tape which I cut to ~2mm x 12mm. I centered these on the fretboard snuggled against the body side of the frets (not the headstock side). They are out of the way, & easily seen. I haven't dealt with the Fluke's lack of side dots, but I like the enamel pen idea. (Thanks, Booli). I've worn off a couple of the side dotes on a Kala tenor, so I can deal with that, too. I think I will try to indent/sink them, though. Slightly.

Icelander53
03-05-2014, 04:11 AM
That's another great idea, thanks.

Thumper
03-05-2014, 05:30 AM
At first I found the black plastic fretboard hard to navigate. Then I used nail polish to put small dots on the side of the neck that correspond with the dots on the fretboard, and my problems were over. And the nail polish is very durable, and easy to re-apply in case it ever does wear off.

FrankB
03-05-2014, 06:00 AM
Not being critical:

Which frets are you having a tough time seeing? All of them, or just those past the 4th-5th? The first few frets shouldn't have to be viewed, to be played. I know it's hard to look away, but practice doing just that. My wife looked like she was watching a tennis match when she first began playing, looking at both of her hands while playing.

Booli
03-05-2014, 06:01 AM
You know, another thing is that if you try to practice with your eyes closed, or the lights off, or very low, the visibility of the fretboard does not matter as much as muscle memory for the finger positions.

Practicing this way you will become a better player, and once you get over the frustration of occasionally mis-fretting, your fretboard skills will progress more rapidly. At least this has been the case with me.

Conversely, if you MUST play with your eyes open (ha ha), another thing to consider, also for improving the visibility of the fretboard - is the amount, direction and intensity of the ambient light.

I am always at my desk when I play, which is next to my workbench, and my recording devices are at arms length from that.

In this setup, I have several different lights, and one is on a nearby music stand, and if I direct the shade of the music stand's light just a little higher such that light shines directly on the fretboard, when combined with other lighting in the room, you can see the 3-D 'relief' of the fret lines and even the artificial wood grain pattern in the plastic.

If this is still a problem, even after boosting the amount of lumens reflecting off the surface of the fretboard, then maybe it's time for a visit to the ophthalmologist (eye doctor) for a new prescription, or to have your eyes checked for other problems.

Painting little white dots aint gonna help you much if you have glaucoma or severe cataracts. Many folks go a long ways with these problems before actually getting diagnosed and then pursuing solutions to mitigate them.

Based on many comments here, it seems that many of us are in the club past 40yrs old (if you are not, pls dont hate me), and typically that is when you have frequent onset of presbyopia, detached retina, diabetes-related vision impairment , macular degeneration, and others...

Your vision degenerates as you age, moreso after 40yrs old, and does so faster for some people than others...maybe that is a topic worth exploring in parallel to this one of this thread....

Some helpful info can be found here (http://www.allaboutvision.com/over60/vision-changes.htm) and here (http://www.firmoo.com/vision/eye-diseases/common-eye-problems-among-older-people.html).

Booli
03-05-2014, 06:20 AM
Not being critical:

Which frets are you having a tough time seeing? All of them, or just those past the 4th-5th? The first few frets shouldn't have to be viewed, to be played. I know it's hard to look away, but practice doing just that. My wife looked like she was watching a tennis match when she first began playing, looking at both of her hands while playing.

Maybe for an absolute beginner, with low playing confidence, and as-of-yet unskilled/unpracticed eye-hand coordination on the instrument, they cannot fathom how to pluck and finger the strings? (and do so without looking)

As more experienced players, it is often easy to forget that once upon a time (maybe long long ago) this was all new and foreign to us, and the things we consider second nature, feel impossible to others who are just starting out.

At some point in my life it became familiar to feel strings under my own fingers, and than after a time, intuitive to get the right feel of fingernail/fingertip contact in my plucking/strumming hand to not miss a string or attack too softly or too strongly, and all of this only comes from the investment of thousands of hours of practice.

Similarly, it seemed like all-of-a-sudden, while reading the music, I was fingering chords, OMG WITHOUT LOOKING, and also OMG knew all the shapes I needed without needing to refer to a chord chart!!!

I was like WOW. It was an epiphany.

And then in that moment, when I realized all this, POOF. It was gone, and I had to look again. But it came back later, and rather quickly.

Each of us needs to feel that, and arrive at that point in order to realize the rewards of practice. Practice takes discipline, and a commitment to push past the frustrations that occur. Not everyone finds this path in the same way, and many abandon the journey all-together in the beginning.

Often I am glad that I am not a beginner with all this, and I am thankful for having persevered, because there are many rewards if you stick it out.

If adding dots to the neck or fretboard helps you, then do it.

I can not imagine the frustration of someone with no experience with musical instruments whatsoever, learning to play the cello, for example, I mean you have no FRETS even as a reference, and I've seen many beginners have position markers on the violin and cello fingerboard until they develop a muscle memory...

Thumper
03-05-2014, 06:24 AM
If adding dots to the neck or fretboard helps you, then do it.


Agreed!

And think about it: Most major-brand guitars have dots on the side of the neck. Many ukulele brands do, too. Fleas and Flukes are unusual in that A) they have no dots on the side of the neck, and B) their plastic fretboards are entirely black, with no difference in the color of the frets or the fingerboard. So it makes a lot of sense to try to find an easier way to navigate the neck. There's no shame involved! :)

Booli
03-05-2014, 06:26 AM
Not to hijack this thread, but everyone who is participating here, might also want to check out The Magic Fluke Company Appreciation thread (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?93637-The-Magic-Fluke-Company-Appreciation-thread) and add your details and respond to the poll...THANKS! :)



(@Icelander53 - if you want me to remove this post let me know via PM)

FrankB
03-05-2014, 08:45 AM
My wife has been playing ukelele for only a couple of months. She expects nightly lessons, and watching her form chords one finger at a time was making me crazy last week. We went through chromatic scales early on, and she looked at the frets for that, but I explained to her that muscle memory would make fret watching unnecessary with practice. Being a classical guitarist, I had her playing doing p,m,i,a exercises, and she did well. Then she suddenly developed the need to watch both hands at the same time (which is impossible), so I told her to pick one hand to watch. She did fine, and 15 minutes later, I told her to watch only the other hand. She did fine. Like Master Po, I told her that she really didn't need to watch either hand....LOL.

Of course beginners need to look at the fret board, and even pros look. Having to look at the fretboard all the time will hinder progress, however. I think it was Rick Turner who commented on the old Acoustic Guitar forums about fret markers, but it could have been Paul Hostetter. Someone wanted a fret marker on the 3rd fret, and one of the two luthiers said, "Why not put one on all the frets?" It was funny at the time, but the meaning was serious. I used to install a side fret dot on my classical guitars at the 7th fret, but don't bother now. They're meaningless to a flamenco guitarist; they move their capo around too much.

Use them until you feel confident, but make confidence a goal. ;)

EDIT: My man, Joe Pass, is not a fret watcher. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jkinLvUrUYE
Neither was Paco de Lucia, but so many classical guitarists stare at the fretboard. I look when I'm making a shift from one position to another, but don't play like my livelihood depends on it, so I can make a mistake....lol

OldePhart
03-05-2014, 09:23 AM
I know this sounds OT but if you enjoy reading then a Kindle (or Kindle app on iPad) can help you break the habit of "needing" to see the frets. I usually have a uke in my hand just playing through various chord progressions and picking runs while I'm reading a good novel. My mind gets lost in the novel and I don't even think about looking at the frets.

I still like side markers for "long" movements especially right after switching to a different scale-size uke than I've been playing lately, but otherwise I find I can run through familiar chord patterns without really giving any thought to it.

I guess you could say I play my own theme music as I'm reading... LOL

John

Booli
03-05-2014, 09:34 AM
My wife has been playing ukelele for only a couple of months. She expects nightly lessons, and watching her form chords one finger at a time was making me crazy last week.

I dont think I could have the patience for that every day, over and over. (Unless of course I'm allowed to scream about it - ha ha)

I've been asked by my sister to give lessons to my 9 yr old niece, who is sort of a musical savant and already plays violin and piano, and has been plinking out melodies on a cheapie uke by ear, but she is a fast learner - one time I brought over my guitar and had her jamming and soloing on violin to 12-bar blues in A, after about 10 minutes of instruction on the pentatonic scale and the I, IV, V7 chord progression, so maybe it wont be as painful for me...since she is such a fast learner...(and she has never really heard the blues, unless you count maybe the soundtrack to 'The Blues Brothers' movie)


Being a classical guitarist, I had her playing doing p,m,i,a exercises, and she did well.

Hopefully this wont make me an evil and hated teacher, but I'd do the same (p,i,m,a), and make sure that she got this down, and then use this as the foundation for all right-hand technique that was not 'strumming'...in the hope that if she could develop this discipline early on, then all future efforts would be easier down the road...

[edit]

Use them until you feel confident, but make confidence a goal.

:agree:

FrankB
03-05-2014, 09:43 AM
I know this sounds OT but if you enjoy reading then a Kindle (or Kindle app on iPad) can help you break the habit of "needing" to see the frets. I usually have a uke in my hand just playing through various chord progressions and picking runs while I'm reading a good novel. My mind gets lost in the novel and I don't even think about looking at the frets.

I still like side markers for "long" movements especially right after switching to a different scale-size uke than I've been playing lately, but otherwise I find I can run through familiar chord patterns without really giving any thought to it.

I guess you could say I play my own theme music as I'm reading... LOL

John

I like you, John! :) My wife and I often watch movies at night, and before playing the ukelele, I provided my own sound track with a guitar. I like seeing the movies more than hearing them, but my wife is much happier with me playing ukelele now.

Just to add to what you said, reading music and watching your hands is difficult to impossible, at least if you want to play well. Memorizing a tune/piece as quickly as possible is also another thing beginners should aim for. It is amazing that a few pros rely on the psychological crutch of having music in front of them while performing. Christopher Parkening comes to mind immediately.... http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hPpW-_ixWEk

FrankB
03-05-2014, 10:00 AM
I dont think I could have the patience for that every day, over and over. (Unless of course I'm allowed to scream about it - ha ha



Hopefully this wont make me an evil and hated teacher, but I'd do the same (p,i,m,a), and make sure that she got this down, and then use this as the foundation for all right-hand technique that was not 'strumming'...in the hope that if she could develop this discipline early on, then all future efforts would be easier down the road...

[edit]


:agree:

My wife will begin her practice/lesson at 9pm many nights...Arghhh! I don't know why I wrote p,m,i,a (mind is somewhere else), but I showed her the first few measures of Spanish Romance, and that serves as her i,m,a practice (played a,m,i of course).She was able to get that down kind of quickly. I try to use musical excercises, as it benefits both of us. ;) Parkening's guitar method is very good in that regard.

RyanMFT
03-05-2014, 10:14 AM
Rather than coloring the actual frets with a sharpie, I used a silver sharpie on the fret board surface up against the side of the fret. So, a thin silver line on the uke body side of each fret...then it doesn't wear off. Looks great too...

brUKEman
03-05-2014, 10:22 AM
I buy 1/4" sticker dots from Staples and put them on as side markers. They are easy to see (don't need my glasses to see) and they do not leave a residue. They fall off occasionally, but there are plenty of dots to replace them with. I've even used them on my custom ukes occasionally.

Newportlocal
03-05-2014, 10:36 AM
Remember that Sharpie, and all similar style of 'permanent marker' has s solvent in it to soften the surface you write on, in order to bind the ink to that surface, and over time, and with repeated applications this will eat into the wood where you put the side dots, and eat into the plastic on the fretboard, which pretty much will need to be replaced in about 4 yrs of daily play for 1 hr/day because the frets themselves will be all worn off....

An enamel paint pen does not have such solvents, and is designed to sit 'on top' of the surface instead of eat into the surface. The nice thing with the paint pen also is that you end up with a slightly embossed disc of paint, on TOP of the finish of your uke. On the frets it probably will NOT easily rub off, as I've used the SAME paint pen on a cheap Mahalo soprano to draw white trapezoids on the fretboard to look like Gibson Les Paul freboard inlays, and there is literally no sign of wear since Sept 2013...

I got my paint pen at Walmart, but they also have them at Staples and at Michaels Craft stores...

It had been a non-issue and perfect match, but I may try your method. You certainly have good reasons. Thanks for the advice.

hmgberg
03-07-2014, 05:14 PM
Liquid paper.

Icelander53
03-07-2014, 05:19 PM
I ended up using the paint pen for the side fret dots and some white plastic tape on the center bottom of each fret. This works very well. Thanks for the great suggestions.