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Thread: Overlooked features

  1. #21
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    Radius was hard to get used to at first for fingerpicking because my fingers would frequently "miss" notes on the 1st string because that string was not on the same plane as the 2nd and 3rd strings. I learned to adapt. Now I can either take radius or leave it, my left hand doesn't notice a difference one way or the other.

    Had a zero fret mandola once, wasn't particularly impressed and am not attracted to them.

    Neck is good at 1 3/8" for four strings. 1.5" would be good for five.

    As for dots, I prefer them only on the side. To me, the nicest looking fretboard is plain unadorned ebony.

    Side sound port is mutilation! Have heard 2 luthiers opine that they are a passing fad. We shall see. I put them firmly in my "Deal Breaker List".

    bratsche
    A bunch of stringed instruments tuned in fifths. And a bunch of cats!


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  2. #22
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    Apr 2016
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    Never tried radius so don't know what I'm missing. That's fine by me.

    Zero fret - don't care for the look, but some uke designs benefit from them.

    Neck width - not sure whether I prefer a slightly wider neck or I just get told that all the time. For me, string spacing is more important, but obviously a narrow nut limits the string spacing. My favourite uke is 34mm so ...

    Side dots - a deal breaker for me on anything over $75. Not sure I'd miss top dots if it had side dots. 5,7,10 are good enough for my sopranos. A bit curious if I'd be fine with just a 7 dot.

    Side sound port - kind of don't want an extra hole in the body for aesthetics reasons. Maybe on the right uke. The Kanilea pineapple port is pretty cool.
    Glenn

  3. #23
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    Jun 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by ubulele View Post

    2. I'd like to try a zero fret; it makes perfect sense to me.

    4. Yes to side dots, but too many of them actually make it harder to tell at a glance where you are, so unlike the article's author, I find that the fewer, the better, with the best common pattern being just at the 5th, 7th and 12th frets; then no fret is further than two frets from the nut or a marked fret (except over the body). No one, absolutely no one, needs a 3rd fret marker; it only creates clutter and visual confusion.
    I have a Shelly D Parks Gypsy Jazz-Styled Macaferri Tenor that has a zero fret. (I think that's part of the Macaferri design.) It is compensated for re-entrant tuning. I like it. I'd think it would be much easier to set intonation and the action. But I have no first-hand knowledge to back up my supposition.

    I agree that too many fretmakers, whether top or side is almost as bad as none. I'd prefer them at 5 & 7 and 10 & 12. One at 3 seems like overkill. I don't play at the higher frets, yet, so I don't know how useful they are. 15 & 17 would work. I do like a double dot at the 12th.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  4. #24
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    Oct 2011
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    My contra baritone, tenor guitar size with nylon strings, has a radius fretboard with an Asymmetrical shaped neck. The curve of the neck doesn't go straight down the center. It veers down towards the treble side. It's an ergonomic way to play up the neck without the need to change the wrist position. The luthier, George Thomas, is deep into the ergonomic aspects of an instrument. A cutout could also be something to consider if wanting to play up the neck.

    I don't have fretboard markers on my fretboards. Just dots on the side. I play from a wheelchair so we came up with a cutout on the bottom lower bout at the angle I hold the instrument. Makes it easier to hold.The bevel on the top is cut at the angle my forearm naturally rests. This was all about ergonomics. Shoulder, arm, forearm, wrist were all taken into consideration.

    There's much more than just the five points the author spoke about. As arthritis and other maladies come along, it doesn't mean we have to stop playing. Just alter the instrument and form to help with the challenge. Thing is, not too many luthiers think about ergonomics. George was the first to talk about the bevel angle. and asymmetrically shaped neck when I ordered. He makes one instrument at a time. Mostly know for his guitars.
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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by RafterGirl View Post
    Radius - my Moon Bird has a very minimal radius.
    Before a YouTube video began, they had several short (two-second) clips, and one showed someone shaping a radiused fretboard. It was secured above a belt sander like a pendulum, and the operator moved it back and forth in an arc, hence the slight curve. Clever.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
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  6. #26
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    I totally missed out on the zero fret.
    I did get one feature that is missed here, and I think it's essential.
    A chamfered arm rest.
    Why spend all that money to be uncomfortable?
    I'm surprised he left that one out, it's a must, to me.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  7. #27

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    Radius fretboard: I have an extremely subtle one (I can't even see it visually, even though I know it's there) on a full-sized classical guitar and it's the only way I can get clean barre chords. Never used one on a uke and I don't need it for 4 strings Considering it for a custom baritone. However, I pick 75% of the time, so am slightly concerned as to whether it would affect picking. Especially as I don't really need the radius on ukes.

    Zero fret: Something about it makes me shudder from an aesthetic point of view. If there no real evidence that it does anything much, I hope to never have to play a uke with one.

    Neck width: Have played all sorts, but 1.5" is pretty much a must for me. I simply find it easier to play, so why make it harder? It's like the difference between a uke that has been well set-up, and one from the factory.

    Side dots: Big fan. The bigger the better.

    Sound port: Never used or heard a uke with one. I'd be happy to have one, but wouldn't pay the $400 or so that luthiers seem to charge for it.

    If I can add some more.

    Narrow headstocks: Headstocks that don't jab into my left hand when I'm playing near the nut.

    Thick necks: Sorry Pono, nothing personal

    Heavy unbalanced necks: I appreciate an internal strengthening rod, but is it really neccesary for a ukulele? Perhaps there's a halfway house. That said, I do like adjustment rods. Never satisfied, me.

  8. #28
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    Jun 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strumaround View Post

    Narrow headstocks: Headstocks that don't jab into my left hand when I'm playing near the nut.

    Thick necks: Sorry Pono, nothing personal

    Heavy unbalanced necks: I appreciate an internal strengthening rod, but is it really neccesary for a ukulele? Perhaps there's a halfway house. That said, I do like adjustment rods. Never satisfied, me.
    I agree about the headstocks. Some of the slotted headstock are so thick and with a small cutaway curve at the neck that it's hard to work around it.

    In defense of a neck truss rod: My Pono MGT Mango Tenor started buzzing suddenly and I couldn’t figure out why. I removed the strings, checked the bridge, saddle, nut and frets. All seemed solid and well set. I replaced the strings (Worth Brown) and the buzz was still there.

    Then, I remembered the video HMS has about adjusting the Pono truss rod. Sure enough, the formerly slight concave to the finger board was now flat. No bow.
    I gave a total of two separate 1/4-turns with the allen wrench. And no more buzz! The bow was back! The truss rod worked as stated. All was right with the world.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  9. #29

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    True, adjustable truss rods are great. I love the one on my Kala bari. But you also get non-adjustable support rods (probably not the correct term), which also have their purpose. I suppose it's a balancing act between the advantages and disadvantages, as well as personal preference.

    I also forgot one of my recent pet hates.

    Walnut fretboards: I get the whole CITES thing, but the walnut fretboard on my Kala baritone has identations all along it and it's probably my least used uke. OK, I can maybe accept it on a sub-$250 uke. But no way am I paying $800 dollars for a uke with a walnut fretboard. Is a harder wood that much more expensive? Cordoba seem to be able to produce cheapish and mid-range ukes without using walnut.

  10. #30
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    Jul 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strumaround View Post

    Sound port: Never used or heard a uke with one. I'd be happy to have one, but wouldn't pay the $400 or so that luthiers seem to charge for it.
    Kinnard is currently charging $150 more for a sound port, so the addition isn't quite as expensive as $400. Not sure what others are charging, though.
    For me, it's worth it, but I'm sure others wouldn't pay even $5 more for one, or might dislike sound ports, even at no extra cost.

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