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MickeyD
06-15-2016, 07:19 AM
My fanciest (ie- priciest) uke (and instrument for that matter) is my Breedlove Masterclass Koa Tenor. I love the tone - it’s clear, has great bass and treble, and projects well without any harshness. It is without a doubt the best sounding uke I own. When being held, it also feels more substantial than any of my other instruments. Intonation is great, and the action doesn’t seem too high. The one thing that bothers me is that it seems a bit harder to play than any other ukulele I own. Fretting/strumming is a touch more difficult for me on this one - the strings just feel more taut. It’s nothing terrible, but after playing an hour or so of more difficult material with stretches and difficult chord structures, my wrists feel it. I haven’t really felt this in other high end ukes, and was wondering if there was something I’m missing. Haven’t taken it to a tech yet, but wanted to see what thoughts may be on it. I really, really like it and want to love it, because it wasn’t cheap! I would take it to a tech before getting rid of it, but the thought of trading/selling it has crossed my mind. That part could just be my UAS out of control, but I feel like I should be blown away by all aspects of an instrument of this price. Thoughts?

Edit to to too

Griffis
06-15-2016, 07:38 AM
My first thought would be to try different strings. (?)

Ukulele Eddie
06-15-2016, 07:44 AM
You can try a lower tension string. As a quick precursor, you might try B-flat or A tuning with the current strings, which would put the current strings at lower tension. The Southcoast Strings site has a lot of great information. It can be a bit technical at times (at least I found it to be) but it will give you an idea.

http://www.southcoastukes.com/tunings.htm

Let us know what you determine!

Eddie

MickeyD
06-15-2016, 07:44 AM
I've tried Aquila Nylguts and Worth Browns - both of which I've had on other ukuleles. The result is similar with both. Maybe I need to try another set - I have some Savarez and Oasis strings I've yet to try out. Maybe I'll throw a new set on.

MickeyD
06-15-2016, 07:49 AM
I've also been very intrigued by the reentrant baritone tenor sets - I believe Aquila has a set, as does GHS for Craig Chee (I think he's got the reentrant baritone set?). Hmmm..I will let you know what becomes of this!

Croaky Keith
06-15-2016, 09:13 AM
You might also like to try Living Water (high &/or low) D G B E sets. :)
http://www.kenmiddleton.co.uk/Pages/LWS.aspx

Doc_J
06-15-2016, 09:24 AM
I use mostly the same Oasis strings on my ukes, yet some ukes are easier to play than others.
The action, the neck thickness, neck width, and neck profile all make a difference in playability. My preferences are low action, normal to thinner/flatter D-shaped necks on a standard width.

I've sold awesome sounding ukes that didn't feel right.

DownUpDave
06-15-2016, 10:15 AM
I use mostly the same Oasis strings on my ukes, yet some ukes are easier to play than others.
The action, the neck thickness, neck width, and neck profile all make a difference in playability. My preferences are low action, normal to thinner/flatter D-shaped necks on a standard width.

I've sold awesome sounding ukes that didn't feel right.


Doc has it right. I would take it to a tech and see if the action can be lower because that always helps. Through lots of buying trying and selling I have found, just like Doc, certain neck dimensions make it harder for me to play an instrument.

WCBarnes
06-15-2016, 10:58 AM
You mention other ukuleles, but do not mention their scale. Tenor ukuleles tend to have a higher string tension. I had a tenor but could not get used to tension. I followed all the suggestions that have been listed here. First, I took it to a luthier to make sure it didn't need adjustment. He took the action down a little and that made it slightly better. Then I tuned it down 1/2 and 1 steps and that also helped. But since I wanted to be able to play with others and not learn new chord shapes I tried a set of the southcoast low tension strings and really liked them. Sounds like you like this uke a lot, so I hope you find a solution that works for you!

stevepetergal
06-15-2016, 11:08 AM
I too think you might try lower tension strings. This may still leave you wanting.
I have the reverse of your situation. I own a relatively cheap ukulele that sounds okay, but plays very easily. I have had all my ukuleles set up by excellent luthiers, but this one plays more easily than the rest of them. I was puzzled for the longest time. I finally realized it was built using very thin fret wire. I think that's it. If I ever have another custom build, I will insist upon similar fret wire, and see if it plays this well.

Mivo
06-15-2016, 11:36 AM
My custom tenor came with Worth browns, and I felt the tension was uncomfortably high in the gCEA tuning (taunt strings). I dropped it two semi-tones (to fBbDG) and both the tension and sound improved noticeably. You could try this and see how you feel, it takes less than a minute to do. If you do want gCEA tuning on a tenor, getting low(er) tension strings would be the alternative.

MickeyD
06-15-2016, 11:39 AM
WCBarnes - tenor is my go to size- I've got the Kala KA-ATP-CTG-CE, a Kala Travel Tenor, a Teton electric uke, and a Cordoba Guilele CE (tenor size).

stevepetergal - interesting about the fret wire - the fret wire on the Breedlove is quite large.

Looks like playing with more strings and - probably as well - head to a tech. Might be a good call anyways - I've purchased a Five.0 pickup and have been holding off installing it until I've decided for sure that it's going to stay with me.

DownUpDave
06-15-2016, 11:54 AM
WCBarnes - tenor is my go to size- I've got the Kala KA-ATP-CTG-CE, a Kala Travel Tenor, a Teton electric uke, and a Cordoba Guilele CE (tenor size).

stevepetergal - interesting about the fret wire - the fret wire on the Breedlove is quite large.

Looks like playing with more strings and - probably as well - head to a tech. Might be a good call anyways - I've purchased a Five.0 pickup and have been holding off installing it until I've decided for sure that it's going to stay with me.

I prefer large fret wire because for me THAT one thing makes a huge difference in ease of play. Unlike Doc who prefers thin flattish necks I like deep rounded ones. I sold a Mya Moe and a Collings because they were hard to play due to small fret wires. The two guys who own them now love them. We are all different and just have to find what works for us.:-)

Good luck

MickeyD
06-16-2016, 04:16 AM
Too true DownUpDave - different types! In the sea of problems that exist in the world I feel lucky that one of mine has to do with how much I like one of my ukuleles. I'll take it!

UkerDanno
06-16-2016, 04:22 AM
You might also like to try Living Water (high &/or low) D G B E sets. :)
http://www.kenmiddleton.co.uk/Pages/LWS.aspx

:agree: friends rave about the soft feel of Living Waters GCEA on their tenors...

Ukejenny
06-16-2016, 10:23 AM
I hope you find a magic fix. It sounds frustrating to want to like a uke, and to have such a fine instrument in your hands, yet still have to make extra effort to get the sounds you want. I never even thought of fret wire. I will say, though, "shallow" necks make my thumb hurt, so I opt for the more normal depth and curve.

Kekani
06-16-2016, 08:01 PM
I use mostly the same Oasis strings on my ukes, yet some ukes are easier to play than others.
The action, the neck thickness, neck width, and neck profile all make a difference in playability. My preferences are low action, normal to thinner/flatter D-shaped necks on a standard width.

I've sold awesome sounding ukes that didn't feel right.

Hodge is well in alignment with my thoughts on neck profile, except that I make them wider than standard, by about the width of the binding around the fretboard, and then some. Unfortunately, if your neck profile is not what you like, it'll take a little surgery to correct, and that's assuming that you need to remove to reshape.

Going against the grain of some comments, my path to low action is high tension (higher gauged) strings, my current favorite being Savarez Cristal - not a fan of their ukulele strings though. But, I also like D'Addario T2's on some Spruce tops. With the lower action of high tension strings, it takes less effort to fret, which you shouldn't be putting the GI Joe Kung Fu Grip on anyway. Right hand can be more relaxed as well.

cml
06-16-2016, 08:17 PM
I hope you find a magic fix. It sounds frustrating to want to like a uke, and to have such a fine instrument in your hands, yet still have to make extra effort to get the sounds you want. I never even thought of fret wire. I will say, though, "shallow" necks make my thumb hurt, so I opt for the more normal depth and curve.

Funny how personal this is, it seems like there is no real general preference of neck shapes. For me it's the other way around, a chunky neck makes my thumb hurt.

anthonyg
06-16-2016, 10:09 PM
If your used to the tenor scale length and this ukulele has higher string tension than the other tenors when fretting, then the first culprit to look at is the action being too high at the nut. Take the instrument to a luthier.

Anthony

MickeyD
06-21-2016, 04:58 AM
So the action at the nut is pretty low - it's about the same as my other tenors. It seems very well set up. When I'm strumming chords it's super easy - the problems only arise when I start playing more intricate pieces.
I tried lower tunings, and a half step down made some positibe difference in playability, but a whole step down got kind of floppy and messy. I did like the lower tones, though! Perhaps I'll look for some lower tension strings, like ones suggested. I've been super busy so haven't been able to take it to a luthier to check it out, but plan to soon.
Thanks everyone for the great suggestions - I'll update when I find anything!

70sSanO
06-21-2016, 10:14 AM
In my opinion, and maybe only my opinion, get yourself an inexpensive digital caliper and automotive feeler gauges. If you have fluorocarbon strings you can measure the diameters and get an idea of what you have and what is available. My general rule of thumb is thinner is less tension, but maybe to cutting on the fingertips, thicker is higher tension. Automotive feeler gauges allow you to actually measure the height of the strings at the 12th fret. You can also check the nut height by fretting the 2nd/3rd fret and check the gap between the first fret. I think I fret the 2nd fret but can't recall. Someone here can clarify.

Even if you take it in to a luthier for a setup, you may want to know the numbers. Some people do and some don't care.

John