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Thread: Kamaka soprano goes sharp

  1. #1
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    Default Kamaka soprano goes sharp

    Hi, I have an older Kamaka soprano that goes out of tune higher and i have to lower it down. Especially the C line.

    Is this normal? Do I have the strings backwards, as they should go out of tune lower? Where is this coming from?

    Thanks!
    It's not what you've got. It's how you play it

  2. #2
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    Well its not completely unusual. Its all about accuracy of build. The longer the scale length of a fretted stringed instrument the more leeway there is in its construction to still sound in tune. The shorter the scale length of a stringed fretted instrument the less leeway there is in its construction to still sound in tune and Soprano ukuleles are about as short as they come. The accuracy needed to keep a Soprano in tune is VERY high and then there is wear. The instrument may have been built accurately years ago but wear and tear has now taken its toll.

    How technical do you want to get?
    Last edited by anthonyg; 09-12-2017 at 03:45 PM.

  3. #3
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    Going sharp as you go up (in tone) on the fret board is quite normal on many Sopranos.
    How are you measuring it? Can you hear It? many can't.
    Changing the strings will sometimes help.
    A compensated saddle will help although the vintage Kamakas have a thin saddle so not much room.
    If the action is high it will also cause sharpness.
    But all said and done if you can't hear it, don't fix it.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthonyg View Post
    Well its not completely unusual. Its all about accuracy of build. The longer the scale length of a fretted stringed instrument the more leeway there is in its construction to still sound in tune. The shorter the scale length of a stringed fretted instrument the less leeway there is in its construction to still sound in tune and Soprano ukuleles are about as short as they come. The accuracy needed to keep a Soprano in tune is VERY high and then there is wear. The instrument may have been built accurately years ago but wear and tear has now taken its toll.

    How technical do you want to get?
    Okay, so it is rather common then. I didn't know; the newer ones seem to go down in tone. So I guess I have to continually re-tune with the old tension tuners, lol. But I am curious as to where the wear is- the saddle? I thought it may be the wood, because whenever I go outside it seems to change drastically, then come back to near- tune (Fall weather, less humid outside?). I can get fairly technical, especially since this is all very interesting!
    It's not what you've got. It's how you play it

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by spongeuke View Post
    Going sharp as you go up (in tone) on the fret board is quite normal on many Sopranos.
    How are you measuring it? Can you hear It? many can't.
    Changing the strings will sometimes help.
    A compensated saddle will help although the vintage Kamakas have a thin saddle so not much room.
    If the action is high it will also cause sharpness.
    But all said and done if you can't hear it, don't fix it.
    These are new strings (Kamaka strings), changed about 4 weeks ago, so I thought that they just needed to "break in". Yes, it is quite obvious on this one! I keep a tuner on it so that is how I know it is sharp. But you can tell it goes out of tune, esp. the C, and it is quite noticeable... The action is nice and low.
    It's not what you've got. It's how you play it

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by valde002 View Post
    Okay, so it is rather common then. I didn't know; the newer ones seem to go down in tone. So I guess I have to continually re-tune with the old tension tuners, lol. But I am curious as to where the wear is- the saddle? I thought it may be the wood, because whenever I go outside it seems to change drastically, then come back to near- tune (Fall weather, less humid outside?). I can get fairly technical, especially since this is all very interesting!
    OK, I'm a little confused now. Are we talking about Intonation, which is what I thought . where the open strings are in tune but when you fret up the neck the notes go sharp, or are we just talking about the overall tuning changing when you play outside?

    Frets can wear down. the saddle may have rotated forwards, the nut may have warped. All kinds of things could have happened.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthonyg View Post
    OK, I'm a little confused now. Are we talking about Intonation, which is what I thought . where the open strings are in tune but when you fret up the neck the notes go sharp, or are we just talking about the overall tuning changing when you play outside?

    Frets can wear down. the saddle may have rotated forwards, the nut may have warped. All kinds of things could have happened.
    I agree with all of this. Sounds like the intonation is off, and as Anthony said, there can be any one or combination of multiple causes.

    More info is needed from the OP - re: GOING UP vs GOING DOWN????

    Exactly ow are you determining this?

    a) With a tuner, fretting each fret, up the neck on each string and writing down the indication of the tuner + or - for each fret?

    b) with no absolute pitch reference, but solely 'by ear'?

    c) relative compared to another uke?

    d) via the Faeries whispering in your ear as you play?

    e) a hearing-aid that is out-of-whack or with low batteries?


  8. #8
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    Ditch the Kamaka strings. Try a different set. Martins, Aquila Lava--honestly, anything other than Kamaka strings. The strings should not go "out of tune" a whole lot, but if it's really noticeable as you go up the fretboard, the soprano may need a checkup. The intonation isn't always perfect all the way up and down the fretboard, but if it sounds very off to you even after you change strings, take it to a luthier. If the uke is older, who knows what issue it might have.
    Laura

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  9. #9
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    Not sure if you mean that it goes sharp while playing, just after you have tuned up? Or it goes sharp after you've set it down, and came back a few hours/days later? If the latter, I notice this all the time. I store my ukes in my basement room, and often when I pick one up, it has gone sharp due to sucking up some moisture from the basement air, which is more humid. That's perfectly normal, and good, if the moistute level is not excessive.
    Ask NOT what your country can do for Uke...ask what Uke can do for your country.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthonyg View Post
    OK, I'm a little confused now. Are we talking about Intonation, which is what I thought . where the open strings are in tune but when you fret up the neck the notes go sharp, or are we just talking about the overall tuning changing when you play outside?
    ^ This.
    Without being clear on that, I don't see how we can get a good answer here. I guess I'll answer both ways...

    If you're talking about intonation, then yes it's a common problem on sopranos to have the C, in particular, go sharp as you fret it farther up the board. If that's the case, and the other strings are okay, the easiest solution is often to put on some light gauge fluorocarbon strings. If you like fluorocarbon strings, then Worth CL may be worth a try. I've yet to find another set that intonates as well as those on multiple sopranos I've tried.
    https://www.elderly.com/worth-cl-sop...rt-uke-set.htm

    I haven't ever tried the CM by Worth, but maybe they'd be just as good for this. They are also lower tension and more balanced than a lot of sets.

    If you mean the open string, or just general tuning, changes as you're playing it... then give the strings some more time to settle in if you like them. Also, before you start playing tune the C string a little lower than the others. Play some... As nylon strings warm up a bit they do tend to play a bit sharper. I've seen that one too.....as well as what Ukecaster mentioned.
    Last edited by jer; 09-15-2017 at 04:23 PM.

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