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Thread: Advantage to 12 fret ukulele like the old Martin concerts??

  1. #1
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    Default Advantage to 12 fret ukulele like the old Martin concerts??

    Does a ukulele that is joined to the body at the 12th fret and only has 12 frets like the old Martin concert ukuleles offer any benefits compared with one that has a fret board that extends to the sound hole?

    For me I typically dont play past the 7th fret usually. Having those extra frets near the sound hole have no purpose for me.

    what benefits or drawbacks are there sound wise to a 12 fret concert that i described above?

    Thank you

  2. #2
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    I'm not a fingerpicker, but I see one advantage with a low action and fingerpicking the frets and fingerboard not coming so much in a way.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarmo_S View Post
    I'm not a fingerpicker, but I see one advantage with a low action and fingerpicking the frets and fingerboard not coming so much in a way.
    Exactly this

    I've filed/sanded the corner of the fingerboard nearest the soundhole on a couple of my instruments as the sharp corner there was digging into my thumb in some circumstances.

    YMMV
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  4. #4
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    Different people with different Ukes might well have different experiences so I don’t think that there is or can be a definitive answer.

    I tend to play Soprano and for the low cost ones that I play the volume produced at the 12th fret is relatively low, at the 12th fret we are around the limit of practically for a string’s output and have achieved an octave along its length. When I play a Concert then its longer strings ring out better beyond the 12th fret and its larger body amplifies things better, typically Concerts are joined at the 14th fret now but historically it was the 12th.

    Fretboards that go over the sound board seem, to me, to get slightly in the way of my plucking and strumming fingers and I’ve found no practical advantage to them. However more frets/longer fret boards sell Ukes, people are shallow and buy on appearance.

    Personally I don’t fingerpick or strum up to the 12th fret limit so more is useless to me. I also prefer the compactness of a 12 fret to neck instrument or, more accurately, feel that a 14 fret to neck instrument is just longer than it needs to be and that sometimes the (needless) additional length is a disadvantage to me. My own preference is for a larger bodied twelve fret Soprano which extracts the best from a near 14” scale, if they were readily available and within budget then I suspect that I’d try out a decent 12 fret to neck Concert (like the old Martin layout) and that it wouldn’t be too bulky for my prefered uses.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 01-03-2019 at 10:24 AM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Astein2006 View Post
    Does a ukulele that is joined to the body at the 12th fret and only has 12 frets like the old Martin concert ukuleles offer any benefits compared with one that has a fret board that extends to the sound hole?

    For me I typically dont play past the 7th fret usually. Having those extra frets near the sound hole have no purpose for me.

    what benefits or drawbacks are there sound wise to a 12 fret concert that i described above?

    Thank you
    A kiwaya ktc-1 is an excellent example of the old Martin 12 fret concert style. My KTC-1 is my favorite uke by far. I find it is much easier to play precisely where I like to play: between the 12th fret and the soundhole, whether I am strumming or fingerpicking.To my ears, that is the sweet spot.
    Having no frets or fretboarf there is wonderful and I have scalloped the fretboard on an older concert uke to make it more playable.
    I also think there may be some advantage in tone to not having a thick piece of fretboard extending on to the top all the way to the fretboard
    Last edited by Swamp Yankee; 01-03-2019 at 06:05 AM.
    Bruko No. 6 soprano
    Kiwaya KTS-4 soprano
    Mainland Mahogany Classic soprano
    Mainland Red Cedar soprano
    Ohana SK-28 soprano
    Cahaya CY-0112 concert
    Kiwaya KTC-1 concert
    Musicguymic's "Kolohe" brand - prototype concert
    Cordoba 24T tenor
    Kanilea Islander MST-4 tenor
    Cordoba 24B baritone

  6. #6
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    I've been having issues fingerpicking a 15 fret soprano. The action is pretty low and I can't seem to play without the frets getting in the way. No issue with a 12 fret soprano. I guess some people get used to it, but I don't usually have a need for more frets and would be inclined to play a larger size if I did. Oddly, didn't have an issue with my long neck soprano, but possibly the strings were a touch higher too - also, would have been playing further down the fretboard where the strings would be a bit higher too. I'm pretty happy with my 12 fret soprano and I've decided my future sopranos will have only 12 frets. Strumming doesn't seem to be an issue, but I'm more of a finger picker. Concert would be fine for that specific issue.

  7. #7
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    I like the aesthetics of 12 fretters more. Sort of a less-is-more kind of classic look that I prefer.

  8. #8
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    Well, the only “negative” is that you lose a number of notes that I often see on chord melody arrangements. Ultimately, it limits the range of the ukulele—which is the whole point behind Jake Shimabukuro’s “Shima” ukulele that has a soprano body with a tenor neck—he can then play all the notes he can play on the Kamaka.

    In terms of function, the space between those final frets on a soprano get pretty small, so you have to be able to deal with that.

    This doesn’t stop me from owning or playing 12 fret instruments. I’m just commenting on what I have experienced.
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...lele-found-you

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Greenbag View Post
    Personally I donít fingerpick or strum up to the 12th fret limit so more is useless to me.
    Yes. me too. That is neat for strummer, tidy for finger picker.

    Kamaka HF-1 100

  10. #10
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    I mostly finger pick and started with a 14-fret concert and owned two others before I got the KTC-2. I usually strum near where the body meets the neck on any uke. I have no preference for the appearance of either, nor for how they play. I must have adapted as I learned--it isn't something I ever really noticed. I do like the extra frets for finger picking. I doubt that the extra length of the fretboard extending over the body makes a difference that a human could hear. I'd buy a 12-fret concert, I have nothing against them.
    Tiny Tenor spruce/mahogany
    Kiwaya KTC-2 mahogany concert
    Flight Travel soprano

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