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McDougall
02-11-2016, 04:24 PM
Aloha all,

I purchased a Kamaka tenor from Hilo guitars back in early January. Since then I have spent many hours in the woodshed with the instrument. While I have I been quite happy overall I am beginning to get frustrated by a few issues.

The intonation throughout the scale of the instrument is pretty much horrible. 20 cents flat here, 20 cents sharp there...noticeable enough that it is driving my ear crazy. It is slowing me down at this point. Also, there is some fret buzz in a few spots. It seems like this uke could benefit from a luthiers TLC but I am worried about Kamaka's turn around time for such a repair. I am in Dallas and it would be really nice if the uke could stay here. I spoke with Chris at Kamaka and he suggested playing the instrument further but I have probably 40 hours or more playing time on the instrument. Enough is enough. Can anyone suggest what I should do? It would be particularly helpful if someone has experience (first hand) with a luthier in the Dallas area who could save this thing from becoming just a memory from an amazing trip to Hawaii.



C.

deschutestrout
02-11-2016, 04:31 PM
That doesn't sound like Kamaka quality ... have you changed strings? That would be the first thing I'd do. Are you keeping it humidified? Good luck!

McDougall
02-11-2016, 04:32 PM
I have not changed strings and yes I am keeping it humidified. Humidity in my house has been running around 25%.

wayfarer75
02-11-2016, 04:46 PM
Try new strings, and if the intonation still sucks, contact Kamaka again. Or Hilo Guitars. My pineapple has great intonation, your tenor should too.

BearMakingNoises
02-11-2016, 04:57 PM
I have three Kamakas and their intonation is spot on... that is why I kept them. I recently bought a Zemaitis concert uke with the same issues that you are describing. I had to adjust the nut slots, work on the saddle, do some fret leveling, and find the right set of strings before it sounded proper.

McDougall
02-11-2016, 04:58 PM
Honestly, I would not even know where to start with new strings. Why is this necessary? What brands are recommended? I am new to uke but not to music, I was a music major and serious jazz trumpeter for a while in college. I know that it is imperative to not go on a ukulele "safari" at this stage in my progression on the instrument. I was really hoping to avoid such problems by purchasing a high quality instrument right off the bat. Unfortunate.

BearMakingNoises
02-11-2016, 05:04 PM
I use Aquila Nylaguts on all my Kamakas.

Brad Bordessa
02-11-2016, 05:15 PM
Worth clears. Had them on my Kamaka since day 1 almost 10 years ago. Great intonation.

Nickie
02-11-2016, 05:47 PM
Worth clears. Had them on my Kamaka since day 1 almost 10 years ago. Great intonation.

I'll second that. Worth clears sound great on Tammy's Kamaka tenor.

johnson430
02-11-2016, 05:53 PM
I have not changed strings and yes I am keeping it humidified. Humidity in my house has been running around 25%.

Wow, 25%!
25 is too low.
You need more humidity.
The optimum level of humidity for a ukulele is between 45% and 55%.
It is 59% humidity in my man cave, where I keep my Pono.

I would change the strings too. Recently, I played my neighbor's custom Kamaka and didn't like the black strings that much.
Try some PHD strings. The best $10 I have ever spent on strings.

hmgberg
02-11-2016, 06:33 PM
Wow, 25%!
25 is too low.
You need more humidity.
The optimum level of humidity for a ukulele is between 45% and 55%.
It is 59% humidity in my man cave, where I keep my Pono.

I would change the strings too. Recently, I played my neighbor's custom Kamaka and didn't like the black strings that much.
Try some PHD strings. The best $10 I have ever spent on strings.

Yikes!! 25% is way low. I try to keep mine around 50%.

hollisdwyer
02-11-2016, 08:02 PM
RE humidity control, I have an Oasis OH-12 Humidifier (Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Oasis-OH-18-Ukulele-Humidifier/dp/B0036FFKE2 and others) in each of my Ukes and one of their Hydrometers (Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Oasis-OH-2-Digital-Hygrometer-clip/dp/B0018A21QC/ref=pd_sim_267_5?ie=UTF8&dpID=41fJK5qAg%2BL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=1GFEXB6SJD9XWF0KE32D) in each case. Every Uke, particularly good ones like you have should be cared for.

janeray1940
02-11-2016, 10:22 PM
Longtime Kamaka player here, and my recent experience with strings is that you should avoid Nylguts if you're having buzz issues. I recently swapped out my usual Martin fluorocarbons to Nylguts on both a soprano and a concert, and both had terrible buzz problems. Around the same time my friend did the same on his Kamaka tenor, and - you guessed it, more buzz. So I went back to Martins, and buzzing is no longer a problem.

I've owned a half-dozen Kamakas over the years and my experience is that intonation is usually an issue only if the strings are wearing out (and for me, the A string is always the first to go). I'm sure there are exceptions, but I'm hoping a string change will solve your intonation issues.

g'est
02-11-2016, 10:25 PM
Yikes!! 25% is way low. I try to keep mine around 50%.

I think he meant that he uses a humidifier for his ukulele, because the general humidity level in his house is around 25%. So it seems to me that his ukulele is properly humidified. :)

Mivo
02-11-2016, 10:58 PM
I don't have a Kamaka, but changing the factory strings is the first thing I'd try. Strings need to be replaced regularly anyway (they are like reeds, sort of) and while the first time can seem daunting, there are lots of videos available that show you how (HMS has an excellent one, can't look up the link right now). Now is a good time to do it. :)

Of the strings I've tried, I like the sound and feel of Worth Clear (medium) and Martin M600 strings best. I have Aquilla Nylguts on my entry level Stagg, and like them there (that uke sounds boxy with fluorocarbons), but I'd not use them on a higher end ukulele unless you like their feel or boominess. They drone a little, and they are thick (the Lava series is think but I've not tried those yet), like a metaphorical big brush.

wayfarer75
02-12-2016, 12:06 AM
Honestly, I would not even know where to start with new strings. Why is this necessary? What brands are recommended? I am new to uke but not to music, I was a music major and serious jazz trumpeter for a while in college. I know that it is imperative to not go on a ukulele "safari" at this stage in my progression on the instrument. I was really hoping to avoid such problems by purchasing a high quality instrument right off the bat. Unfortunate.

A fair question. The strings might be bad, and you want to make sure it's a problem with the instrument itself. You made the right choice by purchasing a high quality ukulele off the bat. Bad intonation is definitely not the norm for this brand. Martin strings are cheap and easy to find. If you have the same issue with new strings, it's a problem with the ukulele, and you'll have additional paths to take. Have you talked to Hilo Guitars?

mm stan
02-12-2016, 01:36 AM
Try to change to newer higher tension strings..

McDougall
02-12-2016, 02:22 AM
The humidity in my home is 25% and I won't be humidifying my house for now. I am not sure of the humidity in my Kamaka hard case but I am sure it is greater than 25% due to the presence of the humidifier (albeit a cheap one, but its still doing the job I believe). Humidity in north Texas has been as low as 15% this winter. El Nino has brought us some seriously strange desert weather.

Many thanks for all the suggestions. I ordered some worth clears so I will try them and see what happens!

coolkayaker1
02-12-2016, 04:35 AM
You do not mention where you bought the ukulele last month (*correction: Thanks Wild: Hilo Guitars), but I'm curious, McDougall, what did the seller say?

And, beyond "just keep playing it", what else did Chris Kamaka say as a next step when you spoke to him?

You bought it in Hawaii; was the intonation accurate and no buzzes when you played it before you purchased it? If so, would imply humidification or string issues, as others suggest.

Kamakas are great, and you do have a reasonable expectation for a fine instrument at the price you must have paid. They are, just the same, production ukuleles (not customs), and they can have--and there have been threads on UU about it in the past--flaws, etc. It happens.

Hopefully, your experience will turn out like this gentleman's with his Kamaka. http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?60719-New-Kamaka-intonation-off&highlight=kamaka+issues

:)

wildfire070
02-12-2016, 05:31 AM
OP mentioned buying from Hilo Guitars which is in Hawaii. My guess is it could be the change in humidity/weather.

dirtiestkidever
02-12-2016, 05:34 AM
Definitely change the strings before you do anything else. One of my first ukes had horrible intonation with the strings it had on it at the store. I thought the uke was faulty but then I changed to a new set of Worth Clears and the intonation was spot on. Old strings definitely result in intonation problems. That is how I know when I need to change strings.

If the strings are the stock Kamaka strings then that is a second reason to change them as they do those ukes no justice.

Rakelele
02-12-2016, 09:13 PM
Yep, intonation issues are rarely caused by a "faulty" instrument - at least in this price range. There are several factors affecting intonation, some of which are quite easy to fix:

- type/material/age of strings
- string gauge/diameter
- action height at the nut and/or saddle (with high action, the strings will bend more and hence go sharp)
- personal playing style (pressing hard will bend the strings and, again, make them go sharp)
- humidity, climate changes
- etc.

Intonation on my Kamaka pineapple was pretty wonky at first, so I filed down the nut slots and the saddle, and now it plays fine (a factory built instrument is more likely to have high action, because that's easier to fix than having it too low). However, intonation on a stringed instrument, and especially one of such a short scale, will always be a compromise. Some minor deviations on certain spots on the fretboard are only realistic - even with instruments that cost a lot more.

Ir. Yong
02-19-2016, 04:01 PM
Hello..
I need advise of which Kamaka Tenor Ukulele model to buy.
Thanks.

mds725
02-19-2016, 04:50 PM
Hello..
I need advise of which Kamaka Tenor Ukulele model to buy.
Thanks.

Hello and welcome to Ukulele Underground! There is a separate "Buying Tips" section in the forum, and it would probably be best if you started your own thread, either in this section ("Uke Talk") or in the "Buying Tips" section. Answering your question here would require people to ignore the question asked by the person who started this thread (when someone asks a question in a thread that is not directly related to the thread, that's called "hijacking" the thread and it's unfair to the person who started this thread. Start a new thread with the title "Need advice buying a Kamaka tenor" and I'm sure you will get many responses, especially if your question is more specific. Good luck!