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Thread: Sell me the idea of a radiused fingerboard

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    La Grande-Bretagne
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    Default Sell me the idea of a radiused fingerboard

    Hi guys

    I understand the concept of radiused fingerboards, but what are the genuine differences/advantages/disadvantages over their flat counterparts?

    Is it 'just' a case of barring being easier due to the fingerboard reflecting your natural finger curvature, or are there other significant benefits when playing?

    Does it make any difference fretting four finger non-barre chords? Is fingerpicking different?

    I'm very close to pulling the trigger on a Romero Grand Tenor, but note that it doesn't have a radiused fingerboard - I've never had one on a uke. Should that be an issue in my decision to/not to buy...?

    All thoughts gratefully received!

    Ben

  2. #2
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    Jan 2020
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    Durham, UK
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    Default

    If you've never had one, you probably wouldn't miss it if it doesn't have a radius, I'd say. I would check what the string spacing and the nut width are like. If those measurements are narrower than you like, I would reconsider. The narrow width would make a radius more appealing to me in that case.

    Both my tenors and my baritone have 38mm nuts and flat fingerboards. The Enya Nova Concert has a much narrower nut and string spacing, and a slight radius. It felt okay to play, and my fingers adapted quite quickly.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    La Grande-Bretagne
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    Default

    Thanks, Ms Bean. Yeah, the nut on the Romero is purposefully well sized at 38mm, so it's good to know that that isn't an issue. Appreciate you taking the time to reply.

    Ben

  4. #4
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    Aug 2019
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    Default

    I have one uke that has a radiused fretboard. What I noticed playing it compared to the others with a flat fretboard is that indeed barre chords are a bit easier to manage on it. Sometimes if I'm sloppy with barre chords some of the strings might buzz when strumming/picking because I'm not pushing the strings down thoroughly enough but with the radiused fretboard I don't have to be quite as mindful of my fretting hand when doing barre chords. It's a subtle difference but I do notice it. Makes no difference with four finger non-barre chords, at least to me. The only disadvantage I noticed was with certain kinds of strumming. For example, if I want to strum really fast I have to concentrate on the movement of my strumming hand more than normally because the strings are at slightly different heights. But I need to emphasize that that is a very specific disadvantage, and 99% of the time it has no negative effects. No disadvantages when fingerpicking or doing basic strumming.

    That being said, I wouldn't consider a radiused fretboard a must-have feature. The advantage is fairly negligible, and you're limiting yourself to very few models/brands if you insist on it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA
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    Default

    I would agree that it probably should not be a deciding factor on a uke purchase. It does make barre chords a bit easier, which of course is why electric guitars have them. But if you don't have an issue with the occasional barre chord now, I wouldn't worry about it. Personally I would prefer a slight radius to the fretboard, but none of my ukes came with it, and after awhile I don't even notice.
    Blackbird Farallon Ekoa Tenor
    Beltona Songster Resonator Tenor
    Klos Carbon Fiber Tenor
    Magic Fluke Tenor Firefly Banjolele

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
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    28

    Default

    Long time guitar player:
    My electric guitars have a 12" radius.
    My acoustic guitars have more like a 16" radius (i.e., less curved).
    The electrics are easier to play, but they also have lighter strings.
    2 of my 3 ukes (Blackbird Farallon and KoAloha KTM-25) have no radius.
    My Godin MultiUke has a 24" radius (even less curved) but its nut is narrower so it seems to help.
    I have no idea if my plectrum banjo has a radius - I don't think so, but I'll have to check.
    Bottom line: I agree with besley.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    I love this forum - all responses very helpful - thanks so much.

    I'll gladly take any other opinions/experiences.

    Ben

  8. #8
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    Feb 2013
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    Germany
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    Default

    My baritone has a radiused fretboard and it's not something I'd pay extra for. I can't really tell the difference when playing. I can see the benefits on a guitar, especially one with wide string spacing (classical or 1-7/8" acoustic ones), but not on ukuleles or banjos. But as with everything it's preference and may also depend a bit on your hand size.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Honoka'a, HI
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    Default

    To echo everyone here: don't limit yourself by insisting on one. If you don't know you need one - you probably don't!

    It was pointed out to me that they can be helpful for folks with hand problems/arthritis, but if that's not you, I don't see a real advantage to it.
    Brad Bordessa

    6th Sense Course - Learn to play Hawaiian-style, 6th harmonies

    Listen to my ʻukulele podcast!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    La Grande-Bretagne
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    Thanks so much, everyone. What your hugely helpful replies have done is to remove any concern I might have had of getting a new, upper-end tenor without a radiused fingerboard. Amazing, you guys.

    Ben

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