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Thread: Acoustic Electric Uke Problem- Help Needed

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    3

    Exclamation *Please Help!* - Buzz Problem

    This is my first post to Ukulele Underground, although I have browsed many of these threads for help. As a short background on myself, I have experience with piano (7 years) and trumpet (6 years), when I finally picked up the uke about a year ago. I love the instrument, and I have been originally learning on a Lanikai LU-21 Soprano until lately, when I was looking at Craigslist and found a new ukulele. I purchased a (basically) new Kala KA-PWTE (Pacific Walnut Tenor Electric) for about $120, as this kind man had received it for Christmas but didn't need it. It looks wonderful, and a short test playing it showed that it sounds good. However, since I made the purchase, I have a few questions and one main issue that I need help with.

    Questions:
    1. I've found that this tenor sounds brighter than my Lanikai soprano. Is that typical? I'm learning to like it but it isn't as warm as I had anticipated. The strings on both ukes are Aquila Nylgut, so I figured the larger instrument would sound warmer. Might a new type of string change this?

    2. The electronics are decent on this. It was strange on arrival, as the G string would not come through the pickup as loud as the other strings. I loosened the strings and rotated the saddle 180 degrees, and somehow all of the strings now come through evenly. A very lucky fix, but why might this have been?


    Now onto my main issue/concern/worry:

    After playing the uke for a bit, I have noticed a buzz. Before you jump to conclusions, know this: I have searched many threads on this and I cannot arrive at any clear conclusion, so I'm going to give as many details as possible and hope that someone might know a solution to this.

    The buzz is very faint, almost like a rattle-buzzing sound, and it isn't constant. Primarily, this buzz is on the A string, and I have rarely heard it on any other string but maybe once or twice and with even lesser volume. The buzz occurs frequently, but not every time, and when I pluck the string it isn't as noticeable until I strum a chord, and then I can hear it stand out a bit. The odd thing is that it seems to be more noticeable/bad when I fret a C (third fret). The fret doesn't seem to be the problem through, as I have thoroughly checked it for being loose, uneven etc., so I wonder if it is more noticeable on this note because it is a higher frequency sound?

    The buzz comes from the bridge area/body. I have definitely ruled out the frets and headstock, as I have tightened the tuners and listened closely many times to trace the buzz to the body area. Once I discovered that the buzz came from here, I first suspected the saddle, applying pressure from my finger here to see if it might stop, with little success. This also led me to rotate the saddle 180 degrees, as I mentioned earlier, but this hardly helped, except for fixing my other previous issue with the pickup.

    Because the buzz sound is minor, I try to overlook it, but I notice that when I apply pressure with my finger to the body around the bridge area, its seems to reduce/stop the buzz-like sound on the A string. I have looked closely at the bridge/saddle and there doesn't seem to be anything loose or ill-fitting, making me now wonder if there may be something loose inside the body the has developed a slight buzz?

    I have tightened down every screw for the 1/4 inch jack and the electronics, as well as for each nut/tuner. I do wonder if the problem may be caused by a part of a wire or the pickup from the electronics inside the body.

    Please help me resolve this problem! I am on a very low budget, which led me to have to shop on craigslist for a uke, and I don't have a warranty to send it back or any store to return it to due to the nature of how I bought it. I have considered taking it to a luthier (I live near Atlanta, Georgia) and Uke Republic is about an hour away, but they charge $55 for a set-up, which still can't guarantee that this would be fixed, and I am not entirely willing to spend that much after already paying for this uke to begin with. Thanks for any help you can offer! I apologize for the long first post.

    *Update* After posting, I have played a bit more, and I now realize the vibration buzzing sound is very, if not solely apparent on the A string, 3rd fret. The buzz vibration sound still comes from the body area, but when practicing Jake's version of while my guitar gently weeps, the chords with the third fret A string are very noticeable, and it doesn't seem to occur on any other fret. When I shift the G chord shape up one fret on all fingers, like in this song, I notice the buzz, but it goes away when I shift to the normal G position and the A string is played on the 2nd fret. I can't explain what this is from or how to fix it though, so please help! The fret doesn't seem to have any issue, AT ALL. On close inspection the fret wire seems totally normal, and, as I have previously mentioned, the buzz is from the other end of the uke. Could the string itself be to blame? I have no experience replacing strings but I can try if it may fix the issue. It doesn't seem to have any visual issues however, and when I press on the body the buzz sound dampens some, which doesn't make sense if the string were to blame. I hope this extra information can help someone more experienced solve my problem. I'm sorry to ramble, but I hope this can be resolved as it is driving me crazy! If there is any other information I need to provide, just ask.Could this be resolved by simply putting on a new set of Aquila Super Nulguts? Thanks so much!
    Last edited by Ateal317; 05-26-2014 at 01:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    UK, Midlands
    Posts
    128

    Default

    You will find that different strings make the same uke sound quite different, so I would say the answer to your first question is yes.
    As for the buzz.....well, you are going to have to invest in new strings from time to time anyway, so trying a new set of strings on the uke is not exactly setting you back by $$$$ and it might solve the problem, if not, you have a second set of strings to use later. I appreciate yur budget is limited, but sometimes some expense, however modest, is necessary to sort out set up issues. Strings are an ongoing requirement to maintain a uke, anyway.
    Sopranos:
    ​Mahalo - Aquila nylguts;
    Bruko No. 6 soprano, Worth Browns
    Concerts:
    Aria U250 Savarez; Eddy Finn Bubinga , Aquilas; Lanikai LU22BB-C limited edition Aquila Nylguts
    Tenors:
    Pono PTES-CM cutaway electro Ko'oloha Golds
    Kala KA-TE electro, Aquilas
    Electrics and Others:
    Risa Concert Stick ,Aquilas; Eleuke Peanut ,Aquilas ;iUke sunburst piccolo uke, Aquilas ; Epiphone Les Paul, cherry sunburst, Aquilas
    Dulcetta Ukelele Banjo, 1930s.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    3

    Default

    I now wonder if the electronics may be to blame? Could the pickup wire be slightly loose under the saddle?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    PA, U.S.
    Posts
    545

    Default

    I'd recommend looking inside, with a small hand mirror or one of those long-handled dental ones. Make sure no pickup wires are touching the top. Because if it were my uke with the buzz you describe, that's one of the first things I'd check.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Awesome, thanks! Can anyone explain why the third fret of the A string would cause a more noticeable buzz in the pickup area? It doesn't make much sense but hopefully that will be the fix when I try to work on it this weekend.

  6. #6

    Default It could be the tuner

    Hey, i have the same issue and have a built in electric tuner as well. I found that the buzzing came from one of the screws connecting the electric tuner to the ukulele. when playing the buzzing strings, put your ears up to the screws and see if it comes from there. The problem is that one of the screws are either loose, or the tuner has a problem and the crew cant actually fit in all nice and snug. try tightening screws first, if it proceeds go to a music shop and show them your issue. They might be able to wire and fit a new tuner in. Hope this helps

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
    3,553

    Default

    Strings & tone wood/sound board create the sound you hear - I'd suggest trying flourocarbon strings.

    The piezo pick up strip under the saddle may not be quite level, or may not be far enough through the slot, hence when you reversed the saddle you moved it slightly.

    Most likely the wire for the pick up is too close to the body, & at certain frequencies vibrates against it.
    Keith M --> likes a long neck - & being different.....

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