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View Full Version : Radius fretboard - Pro's / Con's



jjdejd
07-18-2014, 08:06 AM
Been moving up the fretboard lately and liking it. Thinking about going with a radius fretboard on my next uke. Not to familiar with them. I guess people either love'em or hate'um! Been doing some research and seems a 12" or 16" is common. I assume the 16" is less tapered. Anyone have a uke with one. Please comment. Thanks.

rockyl
07-18-2014, 08:17 AM
I've been playing a Pono radius fretboard (12" I believe) and a Kamaka flat fretboard (both tenors). I find the Pono easier to barre, requiring less pressure. That's my experience anyway. Both sound wonderful, just a few less dead strings when I'm playing the Pono...

coolkayaker1
07-18-2014, 08:35 AM
I guess people either love'em or hate'um! Thanks.

I don't love them or hate them: I can't feel any difference.

aquadan
07-18-2014, 08:38 AM
Hi Joe

If you want to try one of our Pono's we can meet up at some point. We've got a Pro Classic with the standard Pono neck, and the TE electric which has a thinner one. Both with radiused fretboards.

NewKid
07-18-2014, 08:45 AM
I have a radiused fretboard on my Luis Feu de Mesquita tenor and its comfortable to play. I have no radius on my Boat Paddle ML-Tenor and it's easier to play becuase of the low action.

jjdejd
07-18-2014, 08:47 AM
Hi Joe

If you want to try one of our Pono's we can meet up at some point. We've got a Pro Classic with the standard Pono neck, and the TE electric which has a thinner one. Both with radiused fretboards.
Sent you a PM.

Icelander53
07-18-2014, 09:57 AM
My gf and I both have Pono's with radiused fretboards and we both really like how easily they barre chords. I'm liking them.

stevepetergal
07-18-2014, 01:08 PM
I feel I must cast my vote. I went from a Koaloha KCM-00 to a Mya-moe tenor w/radiused fret board. Absolutely could not get used to the radius. I, like coolkayaker, really couldn't tell any difference barring chords. But, after a year and a half I ended up getting rid of a really great instrument because I had trouble fretting. It felt harder to reach over strings 1, 2, and 3 to fret string 4. I know it's just me, but since I have no trouble fretting with a flat fret board, I won't be bothering with another radiused one.

kypfer
07-18-2014, 01:23 PM
I don't have a radiused fretboard on any ukulele, but I wish I did!

I have both flat and radiused fretboards on my guitars and I find the radiused fretboards are far easier to barre if in less than the "perfect" posture. Admittedly, when "sat up properly" the problem is much less apparent!

So, if you want to strum your ukulele whilst lolling in your hammock, I'd suggest a radiused fretboard was a good choice ;)

Dan Uke
07-18-2014, 01:40 PM
Hate it. Maybe if I started with it, I would like it. I had one uke with it and it felt very uncomfortable.

I've read that if you have weak fingers, it's better to have radius.

saltytri
07-18-2014, 02:06 PM
Very interesting discussion! Thanks for bringing the subject up. After looking carefully at what it would take to redesign and retool, along the the additional work that each radiused board requires, I've concluded that the limited demand would not justify the additional effort and cost. Another way of putting it is that I'd rather keep prices as they are. There are certainly enough builders who are very good at radiused boards to meet the demand for them.

FWIW, I liked my Collings tenor for a number of reasons but the radiused board wasn't among them. I didn't notice that it made much, if any, difference.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
07-18-2014, 02:16 PM
I have a radiused fretboard on my Luis Feu de Mesquita tenor and its comfortable to play. I have no radius on my Boat Paddle ML-Tenor and it's easier to play becuase of the low action.

So maybe this should tell you that playability has more to do with how the uke was built and with how the builder has the action than whether or not the fret board is radiiused. To be fair, what you need to do is to compare ukes from the same builder, one with a flat board and one with a radiiused one. I have both kinds of boards on my personal ukes that I've built. I hated the radiiused fret board at first. I've gotten used to it after a year but it certainly isn't any easier to play that my flat boarded uke. If anything it's a little more difficult for me to get the notes to sound clean when barring chords with a radiiused fret board.

coolkayaker1
07-18-2014, 05:43 PM
I don't have a radiused fretboard on any ukulele, but I wish I did!

I have both flat and radiused fretboards on my guitars and I find the radiused fretboards are far easier to barre if in less than the "perfect" posture. Admittedly, when "sat up properly" the problem is much less apparent!

So, if you want to strum your ukulele whilst lolling in your hammock, I'd suggest a radiused fretboard was a good choice ;)

Because the ukulele fretboard is so narrow to begin with compared to a guitar, what you favor on your guitar does not necessarily transfer to a uke (if you ever get one with a radius). The wider the fretboard, the more impact--for better or worse, depending on the player--of the radius.

Icelander53
07-18-2014, 06:50 PM
So maybe this should tell you that playability has more to do with how the uke was built and with how the builder has the action than whether or not the fret board is radiiused. To be fair, what you need to do is to compare ukes from the same builder, one with a flat board and one with a radiiused one. I have both kinds of boards on my personal ukes that I've built. I hated the radiiused fret board at first. I've gotten used to it after a year but it certainly isn't any easier to play that my flat boarded uke. If anything it's a little more difficult for me to get the notes to sound clean when barring chords with a radiiused fret board.

Maybe you are the one to answer this, I have heard that a radiused fretboard can allow for a lower action. I don't understand how that would work if true?

kypfer
07-18-2014, 08:34 PM
Because the ukulele fretboard is so narrow to begin with compared to a guitar, what you favor on your guitar does not necessarily transfer to a uke (if you ever get one with a radius). The wider the fretboard, the more impact--for better or worse, depending on the player--of the radius. Absolutely agree, and I do cope quite well with my flat fret-boards most of the time. Just occaisionally I notice the edge of the fret-board digging into the underside of my fretting index finger when barring up the neck and feel that a radiused fingerboard might be more comfortable, but I've only got to change my seating position slightly for the problem to go away ;)

hammer40
07-19-2014, 02:20 AM
I have both, and can't really feel that it makes much of a difference in my playing. I had heard that a radiused fretboard would help with barre chords, but again, I have not noticed any difference there either. Of course, as I progress I may eventually find quite a bit of difference, or preference, in having a radius.

Doc_J
04-15-2018, 07:51 AM
I've been re-examining this trade off. While I have no trouble with a radius or flat fretboad, I'm thinking what might truly be the best for me, if given a choice. Usually, if given an option of a radiused fretboard I would go that route.

The radius is a bit easier to fret for some chords, at least for me. But the flat fretboard provides a flat array of strings to strum, creating a more uniform strike on each. Many folks here with hand pain/arthritis prefer the radius. But recently learned that James Hill ,among others, has only flat fretboards because the string height uniformity is integral to his playing technique.

I see many builders and production ukes have a radius fretboard as a standard build element.

saltytri
04-15-2018, 08:21 AM
I see many builders and production ukes have a fretboard as a standard build element.

I knew I was doing something right! :)

But seriously, a variable to be considered in this endless but interesting debate is the radius of the board. In the uke world, one sees a range of about 10" to 16". This can make quite a bit of difference.

Another intangible that comes into play is that some seem to regard a radiused board as a sign of a well-crafted instrument.

bratsche
04-15-2018, 11:42 AM
Another intangible that comes into play is that some seem to regard a radiused board as a sign of a well-crafted instrument.

My two favorite mandolas have radiused fretboards, so I thought that myself. My first and only baritone ukulele has a flat board, and my first tenor uke has a radiused one. My two subsequent tenors both have flat boards. My left hand can't tell much of a difference if any. But frankly, I was surprised that the flat boards are easier to play with my right hand. I never saw that coming! As my avatar indicates, I enjoy playing a lot of Bach music, which includes a combination of melody, counterpoint and chording. The radiused board seems to make me leery of hitting the soundboard by accident, with the result that I often miss notes on the first string, or give then short shrift. I thought it was just me, until I found this hardly ever happens with the flat fretboards.

bratsche