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duplex
09-21-2014, 08:24 AM
Hi all
Newb here with a big question. Been playing for a few months with a very old soprano I was given and decided I needed a concert size so bought a used Kala solid Acacia. Very disappointed!
Itís got what Iíd call wolf tones centred around every F extending a bit into F sharp and E and Iím not very happy with the sound at all. Tried Worth, Living water and Fremont stings, no real improvement, although I must admit It may be beginning to sound a bit better the last few days.
So Iím thinking maybe I have to spend a bit more, perhaps several hundred pounds, but am I going to end up with more wolf tones/ duff notes? Iíve read that itís more common with well made solid wood instruments than cheap ones, also it could be considered not even a fault, just the natural properties of wood, no reason for a replacement or refund. This sounds to me appalling!
Iíve been playing guitar (not brilliantly) for more years than I care to think of so Iím not exactly new to stringed instruments but this is almost putting me off, am I expecting too much?
Apart from all this, ukulele playing (or trying!) is the most fun Iíve had for years, so easy to pick up and put down.
Sorry to be a bit longwinded and Iíd really appreciate any advice before I take up the xylophone!
Chris

Icelander53
09-21-2014, 05:09 PM
As far as I know Kala makes decent ukes. There are much better ones imo however. Maybe you got a bad sample.

It took me six months and eight ukes to finally hit pay dirt. Now I'm a happy camper.

kissing
09-21-2014, 05:38 PM
Kala have some great ukes, but the solid Acacia models I have tried specifically sounded a bit quiet/dull to my ears.

Maybe try solid spruce or mahogany top next time.
Even better; play some directly before buying.

Strumdaddy
09-21-2014, 05:58 PM
The only way that you will get a positive, no regrets experience is to go to a store that has lots of ukes and play all of them - you may be surprised at the one that sounds right.

PhilUSAFRet
09-22-2014, 01:12 AM
Just a thought, but even reputable companies occasionally put out ukes that have some intonation issues and may need a proper setup. Could that be the problem? Also, I have found that I have to spend a little time with an instrument before I am absolutely sure how much I like or dislike it.

VegasGeorge
09-22-2014, 01:27 AM
I don't know what a "wolf tone" is. Howling? Maybe it's another common bit of Ukulele jargon that never got to me. The only time I hear anomalies in tone like that is when there's a tuning issue. How are you tuning, what tuner are you using, have you tried another tuner?

ukemunga
09-22-2014, 03:55 AM
I had never heard the term before either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_tone

SteveZ
09-22-2014, 05:12 AM
Have had that problem on various stringed instruments. Before spending a lot of money, suggest installing up to two string suppressors. The first one should go between the nut and the tuners so that the strings rest on it. The second, if necessary, between the bridge and the saddle, again so that the strings rest on it. For mine I use a short strip of leather, usually a piece of leather shoelace.

With luck this should work and a smile occurs. If it doesn't work, nothing's lost but a little piece of leather and a few minutes' time.
71251

duplex
09-22-2014, 09:21 AM
Kala have some great ukes, but the solid Acacia models I have tried specifically sounded a bit quiet/dull to my ears.

Maybe try solid spruce or mahogany top next time.
Even better; play some directly before buying.

You have taken the words right out of my mouth! That's exactly how I would describe the uke-quiet and dull!
When I got it I thought must be the strings, no idea what they were so bought Living waters, no help!
Then I thought must be the ebony saddle and nut, I've changed them to bone which improved the tone maybe a bit but certainly didn't help with the duff E's F's and F#. I'm calling them wolf tones, maybe it's not the right word but those particular notes are louder than others but dead sounding with no sustain. Tune up one fret and the duff notes move up one, tune down and they move down. It's a resonance thing I've always thought.
Thanks for all your inputs guys, as I said it seems to be a bit better the last few days (I've had it about a month now) Perhaps it will improve some more.

DownUpDave
09-22-2014, 12:50 PM
You have taken the words right out of my mouth! That's exactly how I would describe the uke-quiet and dull!
When I got it I thought must be the strings, no idea what they were so bought Living waters, no help!
Then I thought must be the ebony saddle and nut, I've changed them to bone which improved the tone maybe a bit but certainly didn't help with the duff E's F's and F#. I'm calling them wolf tones, maybe it's not the right word but those particular notes are louder than others but dead sounding with no sustain. Tune up one fret and the duff notes move up one, tune down and they move down. It's a resonance thing I've always thought.
Thanks for all your inputs guys, as I said it seems to be a bit better the last few days (I've had it about a month now) Perhaps it will improve some more.

One thought is a different string set. The Living Waters are great strings but really do give a softer mellower tone, exactely what you don't want. Try a brighter louder string : Aquila Red or D'Addario Titaniums, both are bright and loud. Your uke is solid wood and might take a while to settle in as you have noticed it is sounding a little better

Ukejenny
09-23-2014, 03:42 AM
I thought this young lady did a good job giving an example of a wolf tone on a cello. They really are hideous "notes". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFiJXIA70U0

Uk3player78
09-23-2014, 06:32 AM
I had a Kala Acacia concert before i quit for a few years. I'm not sure about the wolf tones but... I do know i put Worth Browns on it which woke it up. I posted a thread at the time. Is yours a concert?

After owning this ukulele, maybe unfairly i wrote off Acacia as a tonewood. I agree with other comments on playing first. Be it a guitar or ukulele i'm always surprised at what sounds dead to me when it shouldn't and what sounds sweet and alive when it shouldn't regardless of price/tonewood or laminate/solid.

I do however know how hard it is to get to shops that stock a decent range. I find youtube and a good set of headphones helps. :)

kohanmike
09-23-2014, 07:01 AM
I have a Kala tenor cutaway solid cedar top, laminate acacia body with the original white Aquila strings and it's the best sounding uke I own. I bought it from McCabe's in Santa Monica, CA. They did the setup and did a good job. I also have a Chinese made all acacia two hole that sounds very good with the Worth CTs I added, bright and very good projection, had it set up by a local luthier.

The first uke I bought about a year ago was a Lanikai tenor cutaway solid spruce top, laminate quilted ash body. It 's dull, even with the Worth browns I added. I've put it aside for now and may sell it.

I had a custom gypsy jazz uke made, solid curly maple top, solid Indian rosewood body, but when it arrived, I found it to be dull. When I mentioned it to the builder, he said to give it a couple of months to open up, and members of this forum said it could take up to a year for solid wood to open up. I'm also going to change strings, I have a feeling the white so called Aquila's that came with it are counterfeit, so I'm going to find real ones.

Ukejenny
09-23-2014, 12:36 PM
I've only had one experience with acacia and it has been wonderful. I love the instrument. It is all solid acacia with worth clears on it. A very lovely sounding and playing instrument.