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Radiused fretboard (Read 2362 times)
Jeff B
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Amelia, OH (near Cincinnati)
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Radiused fretboard
Jan 4th, 2008 at 4:54am
 
I recently viewed a video on YouTube of Jake Shimabukuro playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (by George Harrison) on a custom Kamaka uke. Phenomenal!! See it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puSkP3uym5k. It explains the rising interest in good ukulele's....

Anyway, it lead me to visit Kamaka's website and I discovered that they build some of their ukes with non-adjustable neck truss rods and radiused fretboards.

Have any of you used same in your uke projects? I'm working on a tenor right now and bought a 1/4" aluminum rod that I may glue into a routed channel in the Sapele neck. I'm also debating the radiused fretboard pending input from you folks. I couldn't determine from the Kamaka site what radius they're using, though I suspect it's pretty high, like 20 feet or more. Wouldn't take much for such a small neck.

Before I buy an expensive (in my opinion) radius sanding block from the likes of Stewart MacDonald or LMII, I'd like to hear what the rest of you feel is the appropriate radius. Also, is a radiused fretboard something a uke musician like Jake would even want?

Mahalo!

Jeff
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konacat
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Re: Radiused fretboard
Reply #1 - Jan 4th, 2008 at 1:29pm
 
Jeff,

Truss rods are to add support and stabilize the neck from future movement. The most common truss rod used in ukulele construction is a ¼ X ¼      carbon fiber rod. I believe Kanile’a uses a 1/8 X 3/8 carbon fiber in their baritones. In addition, I know Dave Means uses CF rods in his ukuleles but I don’t know any details. Suffice it to say that it will add strength to the neck. If you want to combine support and looks you can laminate your neck with different woods for looks and support. You would expect a lamination to be stronger then any single wood. I will be putting CF support in my future builds.

The radius of fret boards it would be inches. Sound boards and backs are done in feet. My next build is going to include a 20” radius on the fretboard because I think it may be a good place to start. All my ukuleles currently have flat fretboards so I will start with just a small radius.

I think the cost of a radius sanding block is too high also. I’m going to build my own. Check out a post called zero fret ukulele for details. Basically it’s a router on an arm that is pinned on one end and is the length of the desired radius. It is moved back and forth and can cut on an arc to get your radius. Your sanding block blank is vertical and is moved up and down to cut its length. Yeah, I know it sounds weird but check the thread. http://www.hanalima.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=guild;action=display;num=1181... Another way, but boring, is to use any object you want to get your radius. Slap on some low grit paper on your object and sand till the radius it transferred to your sanding block If you can find a piece of large PVC pipe you can cut a chunk out and put a handle on it to use its radius.

Have fun!
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lefty
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Re: Radiused fretboard
Reply #2 - Jan 5th, 2008 at 4:04pm
 

Jeff,
  I don't have any experience with Uke truss rods but it's something I might include in future builds.  It will be interesting to see what other folks have to say.

As far as a radius on the fretboard, most of the ukes I have played have had flat fingerboards.  My understanding is that because the fretboard is so narrow, compared to a guitar, that it can be flat.  That is what I have heard.  Once again, i'll be checking this topic to see what others have to say.

Lefty
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Jeff B
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Re: Radiused fretboard
Reply #3 - Jan 7th, 2008 at 12:51am
 
Thanks, all.

Yes, I did mean inches instead of feet on the fretboard radius. Realized it when I went to bed Friday night and it tortured me all weekend!!  Wink

I did read in a subsequent thread that 20" is a good radius for ukes.

I understand the swinging router concept for radiusing. Grizzly Industrial has included a fretboard radiusing machine in their 2008 catalog that appears to use that same principle. But it is extremely pricey and definitely intended for the production luthier.

Thanks for the input on truss rods. CF sounds like a good idea. Anyone know of inexpensive sources?

Mahalo,
Jeff
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konacat
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Re: Radiused fretboard
Reply #4 - Jan 8th, 2008 at 11:38am
 
Jeff,

I found some radius sanding blocks for a better price at LMI. I'm considering getting a 20" block since I think that will be the only one I will use. Setting up a jig and blasting wood everywhere with a router may not be worth it if I'm only doing a one off.                              http://www.lmii.com/CartTwo/thirdproducts.asp?categoryName=Radiusing&NameProdHea...

Philip
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Jeff B
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Aloha!

Posts: 55
Amelia, OH (near Cincinnati)
Gender: male
Re: Radiused fretboard
Reply #5 - Jan 9th, 2008 at 1:24am
 
Philip, I agree wholeheartedly. Even if an 8" sanding block for a 20" radius costs $50, it's worth it to me. I don't really have the time or space to be setting up a special router jig. If I were doing production work, I'd probably do it. But my current building pace is s-l-o-w and I'm taking my time to learn as much as I can.

Besides, the older I get, the more lazy I get... Grin

Thanks for the tip re LMI. I'll check them out.

Aloha all...

Jeff
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Likeke
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Re: Radiused fretboard
Reply #6 - Jan 16th, 2008 at 12:49pm
 
I've used 1/4" dia cf rod that I bought from a kite store. Seems to me that a rod is stiffer from all directions than a cf bar.  I can't say that I notice any change in sound that can be attributed to the rod like some say.  I think that cf in the neck of a uke is overkill, but I tried it to see if it had some affect on sound.
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