Fret Calculator Tutorial

Electric Ukulele Land has a powerful tool to help make fretboards.  This fret calculator works really well.

Although scale lengths are often measured in inches, we are going to use millimeter for these examples.  Millimeters are great for measuring string and bridge spacing and for other objects that require better resolution.  Google and this unit convertor are great for converting units.

The fret calculator allow you to save the fret template to your computer (select Save to disk (PDF multi-page)) and then print it.  Use normal sized (8.5″ X 11″) paper.  Tape the paper to your fret board, cut along the lines, and then you are ready to install frets. (Remember that the line at the top of the template is where the nut should be.)

I’ve included 4 examples of different fretboard templates.  The variables that were used  are included for each example.  Experiment with your own ideas once you get the hang of it.

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Regular soprano

Variables:

fundamental scale length = 342.9 mm

string width at the nut = 28 mm

string width at the bridge = 40 mm

fretboard overhang = 3 mm (equal)

calculation method = 12 (equal root 2)

number of frets = 15

number of strings = 4

Soprano Fretboard

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Super wide neck

You can adjust all of the different values.  Let’s try changing the “string width at the bridge” and keep everything else the same.

Variables:

fundamental scale length = 342.9 mm

string width at the nut = 28 mm

string width at the bridge = 76.2 mm

fretboard overhang = 3 mm (equal)

calculation method = 12 (equal root 2)

number of frets = 15

number of strings = 4

This example is a little absurd, but it illustrates the point.

Wide Soprano Fretboard

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 Multiple pages (21 inch scale)

For longer scale instruments, your fret template may not fit on one page.  Here is an example of a 21 inch scale.

Variables:

fundamental scale length = 533.4 mm

string width at the nut = 24 mm

string width at the bridge = 24 mm

fretboard overhang = 2 mm (equal)

calculation method = 12 (equal root 2)

number of frets = 15

number of strings = 4

21 inch Fretboard

When your frets span multiple pages, you will need to tape them together before you cut the slots.

Tape the two pages together.

Line up the two lines.

Tape the paper to the fretboard.  In this example, I am using a “zero fret” nut.  If you are using a traditional nut, make sure that the left line is on the edge of the fretboard.

Cut along the lines with a thin bladed flush cut saw. The fret slots should be just deep enough for the “tang” (the part that goes into the wood) of the fretwire.

All the slots have been cut.

Ready for frets.

It works great on my Paddle Ukulele.

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Fanned Fret

If you really want to get fancy, try making a fanned fretboard.

Use these variables to try out this feature:

Scale Length (Multiple)

first string scale length = 381 mm

last string scale length = 406.4 mm

string width at the nut = 28 mm

string width at the bridge = 40 mm

fretboard overhang = 3 mm (equal)

calculation method = 12 (equal root 2)

number of frets = 15

number of strings = 4

Fanned fretboard (last string 16 inch, first string 15 inch)

(You will have to use something other than a regular miter box to cut the fret slots, but it can make a really cool looking instrument)

Happy Building!

 

3 thoughts on “Fret Calculator Tutorial

  1. Pingback: Paddle Ukulele | Circuits and Strings

  2. Pingback: Wave Electric Ukulele | Electric Ukulele Land

  3. Pingback: How To – DIY Design & Plot Ukulele Fretboard | UK Ukee

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