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dlknight
03-11-2015, 04:06 AM
From what I understand when you work your way up the fretboard if your uke is in tune then at each fret your tuner should show the note you just played and it should show that note as spot on. So if i get to the 4th fret first string and it doesn't show correctly but then it does on the 5th fret then there is probably a problrm with the 4th fret.

spookelele
03-11-2015, 04:19 AM
That's a tricky thing.

Cuz if you press hard, you can sharp the note but it's not necessarily badly intonated.

For instance, you ping a harmonic and its in the right place, it could be intonated fine, but then if you actually press the fret it could be sharp because the string gets stretched just a little bit when you push it between the frets and it bottoms out on the wood.

Like.. play a fretted note with enuf pressure to ring clear, and then mash it down as hard as you can, and it will go a little sharp. The fret didn't move but both pitches can't be "right"

deschutestrout
03-11-2015, 04:36 AM
Yes, it is tricky, touchy and sometimes drives me a bit crazy. Type of strings, age of strings, fretting just a teeny, tiny bit too hard, bending the string ever so slightly. The scale of these (especially soprano or concert) is so short, there isn't much room for forgiveness. I believe even temperature can affect it. I can check and be spot on, check again later and be slightly off at certain frets. Used to drive me nuts, now I usually just shrug and keep playing :)

ukulelekarcsi
03-11-2015, 04:42 AM
Can of worms, over here please!

First, there is no such thing as perfect intonation. There is Just Intonation (based on overtones), Equal Temperament (based on calculation), Pythagorean Tuning (based on fourths), Meantone Temperament. If you want to sound multiple notes at the same time (as in chords) and change keys pretty often, Equal Temperament was and is the way to go: each note slightly off, so that chords work. Bach's well-tempered clavier was a bunch of tunes that demonstrated how such a tuning allowed to play tunes in vastly different keys on the same keyboard. In short: perfect pitch notes don't always give the best result, and our electronic tuners therefor usually choose one of the above methods in our place.

Second, frets are always parallel. You can calculate the perfect placement for a fourth fret on the third string, but that isn't necessarily the same location for a perfect note on the first string. Compensating the saddle (making them slightly oblique) helps a little bit. Some guitarist use zigzag-like or fanned frets, but I've never seen them on ukuleles.

Third, strings are almost as important for intonation as frets. Fatter gauges or higher tension influence how far off the notes seem.

Fourth, there is the amount of stretching of the string by the player. On a high action ukulele, or with a player with a strong grip, the tuning on the higher frets easily goes way too high. In the last issue of the Fretboard Journal there are very nice stories about how Rev. Gary Davis, the master of ragtime guitar, devised his own tuning - he did stick to what we call standard tuning, but 'sweetened' it to his style.

Back to your question. It could be wrong, but I doubt it. Use a very light touch to check, see what kind of tuner you use and read the manual to understand which standards it uses to give you the green light, check if all four strings are off at the fourth but not at the fifth fret, and sometimes up to 5% off can sound better than perfect. Only then would I say it's a faulty construction.

deschutestrout
03-11-2015, 04:57 AM
Something I've started doing (based on a thread a while back) is tune all strings open, then match my 4th string open G to 2nd string at 3rd fret G, then 3rd string open C to the octave at 1st string at 3rd fret C .... I often have to "tweek" a tiny bit as, if the 4th string was just slightly at the low end of the "in tune" point, and the 2nd was just slightly at the high end (but tuner registered perfect with a solid green on both) I hope I'm making sense. Especially on those "super tight" Snarks ... that solid green line does have a bit of slop, i.e., not super tight! It will show in tune, you can turn the tuner a smidgeon either way and it STILL says its in tune, but you have ever so slightly changed the pitch of the string! Often that "ever so slightly" is what was needed to improve the intonation.

Ukejenny
03-11-2015, 07:33 AM
Something I've started doing (based on a thread a while back) is tune all strings open, then match my 4th string open G to 2nd string at 3rd fret G, then 3rd string open C to the octave at 1st string at 3rd fret C .... I often have to "tweek" a tiny bit as, if the 4th string was just slightly at the low end of the "in tune" point, and the 2nd was just slightly at the high end (but tuner registered perfect with a solid green on both) I hope I'm making sense. Especially on those "super tight" Snarks ... that solid green line does have a bit of slop, i.e., not super tight! It will show in tune, you can turn the tuner a smidgeon either way and it STILL says its in tune, but you have ever so slightly changed the pitch of the string! Often that "ever so slightly" is what was needed to improve the intonation.

Going to try this! Thank you!