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Thread: New Uke player looking for advice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Posts
    7

    Default New Uke player looking for advice

    Hi,

    I'm a new Uke player, a hack guitarist and a competent bassist, and I'm looking for a nice Uke. I bought an islander tenor a couple of weeks ago, and the action is uncomfortably high, and my local luthier wasn't able to do much about it.

    I think I need an upgrade, as it really is unpleasant to play form ore than 10-15 minutes at a time. I've been plying fretted stringed instruments since 5th grade. I'm 48 now, so I know what a nice instrument feels like, but not what a nice Uke feels like. Unfortunately there isn't a great place near me to go try nice instruments before I buy.

    I was considering getting a Kanilea from HMS, and hoping for the best, but then I found this site, and thought I'd do a little more research, and maybe even buy from the classifieds here.

    So, I can afford a nice instrument, but am looking for getting the best quality before serious diminishing returns kick in. My plan is just to play and sing songs with my niece, not gig or record.

    That said, nice balanced sound is appreciated, but playing comfort and reasonable action is my priority.

    I'm looking for a tenor with a 1.5" (or larger) nut width. There is a kanilea for sale on the site here in the $700 range that is totally within budget, but not sure how much variability there is in how these things come as far as set up and playability.

    Anyone have any advice how to upgrade from this $200 import to something that I will love playing?

    Also, in case it matters, I'm looking for something setup for a low G and unwound G string. Living Waters perhaps?

    thanks for any help understanding what I'm trying to buy.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    Get in touch with Mim at Mim Ukes, she'ill give you some of the best advice and choices you'll find anywhere, and do an excellent setup. www.mimsukes.com.


    Member The CC Strummers: https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos
    Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, provide ukuleles to kids in hospital music therapy programs.
    Patronize Bruce Wei Arts eBay store/custom shop in Vietnam http://stores.ebay.com/Bruceweiart-M...nstrument-Shop, good products, reasonable price. (Don't heed old reviews, he makes good stuff.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Florida Space Coast
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    Default

    PS: find another Luthier.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Posts
    7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PhilUSAFRet View Post
    PS: find another Luthier.
    Well, he didn't want to take more off the saddle than he did, as he was afraid it would be too much and induce buzzing at the saddle. He said his only option was to remove and shim the neck to change the neck angle, and the work would cost twice what the uke did. He recommended against that expense, and with good reason.

    I'm not sure this was a limitation of a luthier with a strong reputation as much as getting what you pay for in a chinese import instrument.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    NH
    Posts
    809

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Rob View Post
    Well, he didn't want to take more off the saddle than he did, as he was afraid it would be too much and induce buzzing at the saddle. He said his only option was to remove and shim the neck to change the neck angle, and the work would cost twice what the uke did. He recommended against that expense, and with good reason.

    I'm not sure this was a limitation of a luthier with a strong reputation as much as getting what you pay for in a chinese import instrument.
    Did he check the action at the neck?
    Martin OXK Soprano
    Kamaka HF3 Tenor
    Eastman EU3C Concert
    Martin S1

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    on the path
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    5,335

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilUSAFRet View Post
    PS: find another Luthier.
    I agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by kkimura View Post
    Did he check the action at the neck?
    With a string action gage, you can usually find a sweet spot on most tenor ukes at 2.65mm on the 12th fret, and I've found that you need to get down to, or below 2.5mm to get buzzing frets, and usually only with vigorous strumming. if the frets buzz at 2.65mm, then you may need a fret levelling and re-crowning if the frets are of uneven heights.

    Also if action is too high at the nut, not only will the uke be difficult to play, bet despite the open strings being in tune, when you are fretting chords in 1st position, they will NOT be in tune, and the nut slots can be lowered in order to improve both action/feel as WELL as your intonation....

    It's not rocket science, but doing a setup requires patience and finesse, and can be time consuming due to it's iterative nature of small increments as the best-practices method.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
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    HMS & Mim always get good feedback on here, as you will see if you look around, & they do a proper set up before dispatch.

    I would normally say a Kala Cedar top or mahogany, but I think Mim does more Ohana than Kala, & Ohana have a cedar top & mahogany uke too.
    Get some Low G flourocarbons fitted when you place the order, (I like Living Water).
    Keith M --> likes a long neck - & being different.....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Learn to adjust the action yourself . It is not that hard to do. Start with a search on this site for "action" and there is lots of info. Another wealth of info is "Frets.com" .
    Welding torch tip cleaners are very cheap and work well for adjusting action.
    Last edited by Pukulele Pete; 09-09-2017 at 03:17 AM. Reason: wont tell
    " Anything larger than a soprano is cheating "
    " I'm no luthier but ,........"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    505

    Default

    On the Islander, you may consider a lighter tension string set.

    I generally recommend buying used if you can. If this is the one you mentioned for sale on here it's a good deal for $700 ~

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...-Tenor-New-750

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    McDonough, GA
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilUSAFRet View Post
    PS: find another Luthier.
    Agreed.

    Generally, I prefer about 0.030" (~1/32") clearance at the first fret, and about 0.090" (~3/32") clearance at the 12th fret for a tenor.
    -Hodge
    Humble strummer of fine ukes.

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