View Full Version : Super beginner - instrument problems - dead spots

01-03-2017, 06:22 PM

I just picked up a uke for the 1st time (a Gretsch 9110 Concert) and am running into a problem that is preventing from even starting and is getting me frustrated and is getting me upset (not where I want to start at).

When I do a simple strum, the uke sounds great and it is in tune. However, in many places, I am getting more of a "thump" noise out of the strings. I have other spots a little higher up the fret that you can't even make any proper noise with.

For example, I was learning (Frere Jacques) only fingering the a string and going from the 3rd fret (buzzing), to the 5th (more of a thump w/ buzzing ) to 7th (can barely play) and 7th and 8th (can't play at all). Seems like anytime two frets near one another are played it is dead.

The buzzing is one thing but that so many notes seem dead. Going to bring to the shop tomorrow after work but wondering if anyone knows what it occurring. Thanks.

01-03-2017, 06:32 PM
Dead notes usually refer to less sustained, a little dull notes, but "thump" sounds like you might not be pressing down hard enough, which in some cases also causes buzz ("almost" hard enough held down). But if you have to press unusually hard to get clean notes, the action (string height) may be too high, which is common with more inexpensive instruments not bought from a store that performs setups (same with guitars). Are you pressing the strings down right before a fret divider? Not on top of it, just right before it. It may well be the instrument, but it sounds unusual. Is it possible for you to make a recording of the thumping and buzzing?

01-03-2017, 07:12 PM
I did notice that if I play unusually hard as you mentioned, it plays a lot better. A lot of that thumping actually becomes a real note and some of the buzzing goes away.

Here's an example I did (just playing the a chord and the 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc. fret) then a couple of random finger positions at normal and then unusually hard.


Dan Gleibitz
01-03-2017, 07:34 PM
Sounds like Mivo has solved the problem. You need to press hard enough to get good contact with the fret, but not so hard you bend the note out of tune. It'll come naturally with practice.

01-03-2017, 07:41 PM
Are you pressing on the metal fret itself or between frets on the wood? I've seen beginners assume one pushes the string to the metal.

01-03-2017, 07:45 PM
I'm just going to bring it back to the shop and see if they can set it up for me. The shop I got it at is an authorized Gretsch service center so they should be able to tweak it to make it playable. To make it sound ok, I have to push down about as hard as I can and that can't be right.

01-03-2017, 08:04 PM
If you have to press so hard that your finger tips go almost fully white, the action is probably way too high. My first uke was like that too, and it wasn't much fun. If the store has a guitar tech, it's quick to lower the action. You don't want too low action either (easy to bend strings out of tune), but what you describe sounds painful. To be completely sure, you could measure the string height in the first and 12th fret (space between the lower part of the string and the top of the 1st and 12th metal fret, not the fretboard) and post the measurements here.

Let us know how it goes after you talked to the store folks. :)

01-04-2017, 04:13 AM
If the dealer can't fix or is unwilling to correct the problem, my suggestion would be to ask if you can exchange it for a different model. Since you just got it, stores usually have a 30-day exchange policy.

01-04-2017, 06:10 AM
It also sounds like you may be touching the strings with your other fingers, a common problem when first learning a string instrument. The more you practice, the better you will get.

01-06-2017, 06:26 PM
Thanks for the replies. I had the shop adjust the action and it made it a lot better. I'm now fumbling my way through exercises but no more thumps.