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View Full Version : How do you assess whether the action of your uke is too high or too low?



UkeforJC
02-20-2010, 09:46 PM
Hello! Everyone,
I am just wondering what are the ways to assess whether the uke has the right action?
I have been told by a uke sales person that when I press on the third fret, the string should touch the first fret.
But I also learned from some other people that it shouldn't touch the fret.

For my uke, a Kala sold acacia tenor, when I press on the third fret, the string doesn't touch the first fret. However, the gap is pretty small.
I still feel that the action is a little bit high, especially after fifth fret. The shop that sold me the uke told me that the uke is properly set up.
So, I am wondering whether it is my technique or there is a problem with my uke?
Thank you guys for any suggestion.

heyjude
02-21-2010, 05:30 AM
When you press at the third fret the goal is to have the string making contact with the second fret. Your finger is between the second and third fret but the third fret has nothing to do with it. There should be a few thousandth clearance between the string and the first fret. That's how you check the action at the nut.

Measure the distance between the top of the twelfth fret and the bottom of the fourth string. My tenors are between two and three millimeters or between a sixteenth and an eighth of an inch. This is adjusted by changing bridge saddle height. You have to move the string up or down at the bridge for twice the distance of the change you want at the twelth fret. That is, raising or lowering the string 2mm at the bridge will raise or lower it 1mm at the twelth fret.

The next thing to check is neck relief. Do this by holding the fourth string against the first fret and at the same time at the seventeenth fret on your tenor. First finger left hand between nut and first fret, thumb of right hand between 17th and 18th fret. Turn your hand so that when your thumb is holding the string down you can try to gently press the string down at the seventh fret. There should be just a few thousandths clearance there. If there's a large gap at the seventh fret it indicates that the neck is bowed. If the string is pressing against the seventh fret it indicates a possible reverse bowed neck.

Or a dead straight neck.
Or a high seventh fret.
Or..........
This info is just to give you a feel of the condition of your neck. The measurements I gave are what works for me on my ukes with my playing style.

Jude

Papa Dave
02-21-2010, 05:47 AM
Here is a link http://www.tikiking.com/uke_tech.html that should help with any question of action and how to resolve your issue.

uke5417
02-21-2010, 09:14 AM
You could hand it to someone who plays well and ask their opinion. As a rough measure, I like to slip a library card (like a credit card without the embossed numbers) between the frets and strings and see how far the card slides toward the nut when I tip the uke.) If it can slide down to the nut, action's too high. I like the leading edge of the card to stop between the first and second fret. At the 10th fret, two stacked U.S. pennies should lightly pinch between frets and strings. Totally unscientific, but it works for me.

buddhuu
02-21-2010, 09:42 AM
Hello! Everyone,
I am just wondering what are the ways to assess whether the uke has the right action?
I have been told by a uke sales person that when I press on the third fret, the string should touch the first fret.
But I also learned from some other people that it shouldn't touch the fret.

For my uke, a Kala sold acacia tenor, when I press on the third fret, the string doesn't touch the first fret. However, the gap is pretty small.
I still feel that the action is a little bit high, especially after fifth fret. The shop that sold me the uke told me that the uke is properly set up.
So, I am wondering whether it is my technique or there is a problem with my uke?
Thank you guys for any suggestion.

Common sense suggests that if the action becomes difficult as you move further above the 5th fret then an adjustment at the bridge saddle is in order as long as you are happy that the action at the nut is correct. The gap between the string and the 1st fret should be just big enough to see. Make sure that is right before tackling the bridge.

UkeforJC
02-21-2010, 02:41 PM
wow, thank you all for all the information. I learned a lot.
Base on all the rough measurement suggested, the action on my uke might not be too bad. I guess that I just have to practice more and toughen the muscle on my finger.

thank you again.

Cpt_Droman
03-01-2010, 02:31 AM
Seeso mentioned this in a previous post.

Check the action at the 12th fret. The space between the string and the crown of the 12th fret should be between 1/8 and 3/16 of an inch.

If it's too high, you'll have to adjust the action at the saddle. Before you do that though, check the action at the nut.

When fretting a string at the 3rd fret, you should be able to slide a business card between the string and the top (crown) of the first fret with a little bit of friction.

If there's no friction, then you'll have to lower the action at the nut.

To lower the action at the saddle:

Calculate the difference between your action at the 12th fret and 3/16 of an inch. Loosen your strings, take out your saddle, and mark this difference on it with a pencil, starting from the bottom of the saddle.

Get some 220 grit sandpaper, and start sanding the bottom of your saddle down to that pencil mark.

To lower the action at the nut:

Sand the bottom of the nut a little at a time, checking your measurements frequently. If you can't remove the nut, you can also file the slots in the nut a little at a time. Be careful if you choose this route. If the slots get too wide, you can have problems.

Hope that helps.

Does this apply to baritones only? or does this apply to all sizes?
I've got a new tenor that arrived today and once i've restrung it with aquilas i need to check the action. So what would i be looking for once this is done?