Understanding the Ukulele Fretboard

The ukulele fretboard is one of the elements of this instrument that makes it both accessible to novices and flexible and complex enough for serious musicians. The fretboard is much like that found on a guitar or an electric bass. There are metal bars that separate one fret from the next, which eliminates the need to study distances such as is required of violinists or cellists. The fretboard is characteristically small. This allows very serious players to sound several different voices at once, essentially accompanying themselves by playing both the bass and melody to a song simultaneously. That's is you use a bass string.

On The Ukulele Fretboard, Each Fret Are Half Step Pitches

Like a guitar fretboard, the ukulele fretboard is spaced so that each fret higher up the neck represents a half-step climb in pitch from the last. This allows any string to sound a chromatic scale between the open string and the 12th fret. The instrument is sometimes equipped with a cutaway that allows access to an extended neck beyond the 12th, where the body and neck traditionally meet. These frets tend to be very small and require skill to utilize effectively. They add a whole new dimension to the sound of a ukulele, however, and are used heavily by professionals.

Easy To Use

Like most instruments, the tuning standards for a ukulele are designed to make sounding chords fairly easy. The ukulele is famously easy to chord. Most chords can be sounded by depressing only a couple of strings and changes are very easy, due to the short scale of the fretboard. If taking guitar lessons has proven frustrating due to one’s small hands, a ukulele may be a better choice. There are other elements that make ukuleles very quick to learn and flexible in their capabilities. Some of these flow from the small scale of the instrument.

Great Starter Stringed Instrument

The ukulele is famously transportable. The small scale of the ukulele fretboard gives it another significant advantage over larger instruments. The short strings and neck mean that notes are easily sounded with minimal finger pressure. Guitarists, cellists and bassists take years to develop the hand strength and calluses necessary to confidently sound a note on those instruments without discomfort. A ukulele is far more merciful in this regard, and even those without particularly strong hands should have no difficultly fretting the instrument. This is one of the reasons that the ukulele is such a good choice for those starting out in stringed instruments.

Safe Keepings For Long Term Use

A uke fretboard is subject to the same environmental damage as is any fretboard. One needs to make sure that the wood is kept at a constant humidity level to avoid bowing or warping. One also needs to make sure that their tuning is correct. Always use a pitch fork or an electronic tuner to get the pitches right. Accidentally tuning too high increases the tension on the neck and, eventually, can make it more suited to shooting an arrow than playing a song. Always store the instrument in a case or on a stand to keep the neck safe from damage.

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