View Full Version : Consistency of Action?

01-03-2017, 07:31 PM
AIUI, the "action" of an 'uke is essentially the height of the strings over the frets or fret wires.

Is the action supposed to be consistent over the length of the fretboard? Because my (entry level) Kala tenor has a distinctly higher action nearer to the sound hole.

Obviously, it would be _possible_ to shave down the underside of the saddle? to bring the strings closer to the fretboard at the bottom, but how _necessary_ is it? (Especially since I will probably replace this 'uke in short order if I stay with this hobby).

01-03-2017, 08:40 PM
No, the string height goes gradually up as you get closer to the sound hole, so what you observed with your ukulele is normal. Whether the overall action is too high depends on your preferences and the exact measurements. :)

01-03-2017, 09:23 PM
Exactly what Mivo said ... and don't be too quick to replace your Kala, they're (usually) a good value-for-money instrument that can play well out of their price range ;)

01-03-2017, 11:20 PM
A uke that is setup within 'normal'/average tolerances will have string action about 1mm above the 1st fret, and about 2.5mm-3mm at the 12th fret, and this is with all strings open. Much lower than that overall and you risk buzzing due to the arc of the vibrating string hitting the frets, especially if you strum or pluck too hard.

For example if your action is 2mm (or less) at the 12th fret, and you play with the acrobatic strumming techniques like George Formby or Roy Smeck, you are likely to have the strings 'slap' the frets during the downstrokes, and this will absorb/dampen most of your tone, volume and sustain.

However if your playing technique is finger-style and you pluck the strings with the force barely enough to move a chicken feather, then, maybe 2mm at the 12th fret is ok for you...

A lot depends on technique and is subjective for each player, YMMV. :)

Dan Gleibitz
01-03-2017, 11:27 PM
A uke that is setup within 'normal'/average tolerances will have string action about 1mm above the 1st fret,

1mm at the first fret would be very high IMHO and guaranteed to cause intonation problems at the first 4 or 5 frets.

Edit for expansion:

Imagine a standard tenor ukulele. If string height is 2.5mm at the 12 fret then when fretting the first fret, string height over the second fret will be around 0.3mm. If that's high enough to clear the second fret without buzzing then 0.3mm gap over the first fret (string open) will be too, and will make a significant improvement to playability and intonation.

01-04-2017, 08:30 AM
Thanks to all! I will not stress about this.