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Thread: The first fret on my uke is the hardest to barre - how normal is this?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jer View Post
    Sure the first fret can get easier to play with a good setup, but that doesn't mean it's going to be as easy as some other frets necessarily.
    You have a wire (string in this case) stretched across two points. It's only natural that it's going to flex more in the center and be tighter on each end (nut and bridge in our case).


    The nut slots themselves could be set to the same height as a zero fret would be, so I don't see any advantage there.
    If you installed one after the fact, it'd throw the intonation off, since it'd basically move the nut. The zero fret would be the new nut and it'd be in the wrong place.

    There is one company that makes a nut that has a fret built into it, so things line up correctly. That is for guitar though and a few other instruments. I haven't seen a uke one.
    http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_and...SAAEgKSAvD_BwE

    They say it's more for tone and tuning though. You can take a #2 pencil and rub it through the nut slots on your uke and coat them and improve tuning simply.
    Thank you!
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  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickie View Post
    Thank you!
    You're welcome.
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  3. #13
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    As others have told the first fret is the hardest to barre. The nut action aside that should be taken care of, I don't go for that here.

    What I want say is that while I am not an advocate of the thumb always behind the neck approach at all and rather prefer the more traditional easy way that works for most chords that are not barred better, in my opinion. To allow easy more supported way for all uke's strumming techniques.

    The technique to play full barre chords is so valuable that sometimes trying to substitute partial barre is maybe counter productive? Full barre chords require learning how to adjust thumb to back of the neck and then how to change back to other chords.

    For chord like D7, I vary depending of the neighbour chords if I play 2223 with full barre or finger it with my all 4 fingers. Sometimes hawaiian too. Usually Eb7 with a full barre.
    With Bb7 always barre and B7 depends if I play it with full barre or the other fingering, of the chords I am changing from to it. Sometimes I play Bb also with a partial barre, meaning my thumb is not behind the neck.

    But what I want to point out is that learning how to change your hand position quickly to full barre hold is such a worthwhile technique to learn.

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by jer View Post
    There is one company that makes a nut that has a fret built into it, so things line up correctly. That is for guitar though and a few other instruments. I haven't seen a uke one.
    http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_and...SAAEgKSAvD_BwE
    The same company actually does also make the Zero Glide for ukulele and other instruments:

    https://goldtonemusicgroup.com/zeroglide/products/zs-19

    I have no experience with these, but I have played some zero frets guitars back in the day and liked them for what they are. However, I do agree that a proper setup at the nut is a definite must for any stringed instrument. I also believe that the action at the nut is more important than the action at the saddle (thought both should be setup to assure proper playing for the entire range of the instrument) seeing how much of our beginning playing is in first position.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsfloyd View Post
    The same company actually does also make the Zero Glide for ukulele and other instruments:

    https://goldtonemusicgroup.com/zeroglide/products/zs-19

    I have no experience with these, but I have played some zero frets guitars back in the day and liked them for what they are. However, I do agree that a proper setup at the nut is a definite must for any stringed instrument. I also believe that the action at the nut is more important than the action at the saddle (thought both should be setup to assure proper playing for the entire range of the instrument) seeing how much of our beginning playing is in first position.
    Oh interesting. Thanks for the link.
    I used to see them for guitar too, but never tried it myself. I spent a lot of time and some money (decent files and materials) learning to adjust nuts, and still prefer the more traditional way.
    Yeah, I believe every nut slot should be a slightly different depth due to the varying thickness of the strings. I like to set them individually. I play plenty of notes at the first fret, and it does matter for that. This doesn't have a way of allowing for that. I guess one could argue that gets lost after you fret an instrument anyway. Then it moves more to how things are adjusted at the saddle. Also, you still have to have some slots there for string spacing. Those would still have to be at the right width. With guitar, I don't think it'd matter as much since there's so much more string tension to hold the strings in place. With uke though, the lower tension would make it a lot easier for the string to slide side to side on an open string if the nut slot was too wide. As for tone, the only notes effected will be the open strings. As soon as you fret a note you're taking the nut out of play as far as tone is concerned. The more I think about it, I just don't get this product..or see it being worth it. That's just me though. I know some people have bought into it though because these things have been around since I was still on guitar forums, and that has been quite a few years ago.
    Last edited by jer; 01-12-2018 at 11:05 AM.
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  6. #16

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    Good points, jer. I think the product has a place in the market for those that don't like to fuss with nut height as it is a moot factor seeing how the zero fret acts as the nut. And, I see this (and nut action height in general) being more useful on the shorter scale instruments - but moreso for the first, maybe the second, frets. Let's take a soprano ukulele versus a baritone ukulele - the soprano's first fret is a good deal closer to the nut than the baritone. If both instruments had the same nut height, and a height that was slightly too high to begin with, surely the soprano would be more difficult to depress at the first fret than the baritone. The distance from the nut to the first fret is shorter. Now, on even a longer scale instrument like a guitar, it would be easier to depress yet as proper technique has us fretting the string right behind the fret. Though the distance differences are slight, I think the feel is rather noticeable.

    However, with a nut set at the right height, all the above is moot. And, I much prefer using a regular nut because one of the beauties about picked stringed instruments is the resonance of the open strings. Add in the factor of the choices of nut and saddle bone materials available these days makes it even better. Bob Colosi has a nice selection of different bone materials for nuts and saddles to choose from. Just my take on it
    Last edited by bsfloyd; 01-13-2018 at 01:28 AM.

  7. #17
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    You make some good points I hadn't thought of, bsfloyd....like first fret distance on various scales effect on tension there. Something to ponder there. Thanks.
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