PDA

View Full Version : Ukulele suddenly sounds twangy



cindyleigh
04-12-2017, 03:17 PM
I have a concert ukulele that was purchased end of Feb. and came with Aquila nylgut strings. I have been playing it a lot ...from a few to several hours a day (I had foot surgery just after getting the uke so its my constant companion while I'm stuck on the couch).

Because I was playing it so much, and working on my chucking, I wore down a few fingernails on my right hand. So, 10 days ago (when the foot cast came off) I had acrylic nails put on the index, middle and ring finger of my right hand. The gal used a fake tip, with acrylic over that and then gel nail polish over that.

Immediately afterwards I noticed a change in how my ukulele sounds. Its a harsh and twangy sound. I don't like it.

The weird thing is, I only notice it on the upstrum. At first I thought it was from the acrylic nails so I cut them shorter, but I still hear this noise. Even if I strum up with just the fingerpad.

Is it possible that the acrylic nails wore the strings faster and now they sounding twangy because they are worn out? Do acrylic nails or the plastic fake tip make a different sound (harsher, twangier) than just the fingernail?

I'm wondering if I need to change my strings, my manicure (which I love), or both?

Thanks,

Twibbly
04-12-2017, 03:20 PM
Got a pinch hitter who can strum it for you and see if it still sounds different?

cindyleigh
04-12-2017, 03:27 PM
No, but that is a good idea!

cindyleigh
04-12-2017, 03:38 PM
Okay, well my husband tried it and I think it sounds the same when he uses his fingernail-chewed digits. A bit twangy and different than it sounded 10 days ago.

Twibbly
04-12-2017, 03:46 PM
Okay, well my husband tried it and I think it sounds the same when he uses his fingernail-chewed digits. A bit twangy and different than it sounded 10 days ago.

I'd change the strings then. :)

cindyleigh
04-12-2017, 04:03 PM
Actually ...I think it is the nails after all. Maybe a combination. I'll take my uke to a Meetup next week and see what those folks think. I can live with the twang until then.

Thanks!

Kyle23
04-13-2017, 12:50 AM
Definitely the nails. I hear the same twangy sound when people use picks with ukes. I'd imagine super hard nails would have the same effect.

Mivo
04-13-2017, 12:55 AM
It's probably both. Acrylic nails are different from natural nails, a bit more like flatpicks, so the tone you get from them is different also. Brighter and brasher, with more volume. In addition, strings do wear out, and nylguts of all kinds faster than fluorocarbon strings as they have a coated surface. I'd replace even fluorocarbon strings after playing hard for several hours a day for four or more weeks, though. (If it's the first time you are changing strings, it can seem a bit daunting, but there are great videos around and it'll become second nature after a few times.)

It's unusual that your nails were worn down by non-metal strings. Mineral supplements can help here, and gelantine (a few gunmibears a day!) as well as things like fish oil (pills). Lots of water is also good for the nails. Using a nail brush seems to stimulate growth also, and sensible buffing and using hand lotion lead to stronger nails too. What's really bad for the nails is (prolonged) exposure to soap/etc combined with hot water. That sucks the oil right out of the nails like nothing else, leading to weak and brittle nails. (I learned all of this when getting into playing a steel string guitar with nails. :))

Rllink
04-13-2017, 04:29 AM
Anything Dwight Yoakam sounds good twangy. Might want to play Guitars Cadillacs and take advantage of it while it is twangy, before it decides to change back.;)

Pirate Jim
04-13-2017, 05:40 AM
1. Change strings.
2. Notice how different your uke sounds.
3. Embark on several months of string changes, marveling at the different sound quality each set produces.
4. Comment to your significant other how different the uke sounds each time. Be met with a puzzled/bemused look and a "you changed the strings? Sounds the same to me" comment.
4. Begin to wonder if the main thing affecting the sound is your playing style and the build of the uke.
5. Buy more strings, for science.

Mivo
04-13-2017, 05:44 AM
4. Comment to your significant other how different the uke sounds each time. Be met with a puzzled/bemused look and a "you changed the strings? Sounds the same to me" comment.

That is so true! :P She did, however, notice the difference between 5-year old Nylguts and brand-new Reds, and said, "It's amazing what an impact strings have on the sound." With less drastic changes, I got exactly what you wrote, though.

cindyleigh
04-13-2017, 07:14 AM
1. Change strings.
2. Notice how different your uke sounds.
3. Embark on several months of string changes, marveling at the different sound quality each set produces.
4. Comment to your significant other how different the uke sounds each time. Be met with a puzzled/bemused look and a "you changed the strings? Sounds the same to me" comment.
4. Begin to wonder if the main thing affecting the sound is your playing style and the build of the uke.
5. Buy more strings, for science.

Great advice !

I trimmed my acrylic nails again and it sounds better, but still not as nice as when I first purchased the uke. I'll change the strings out as well.

My nails have always been very weak and I've never had any luck growing them to any length. I'm a scientist and years of dipping them in various chemicals and buffers have taken their toll. Of course, now we are all much more vigilant about wearing gloves ...but in the "old days" it was different.

Thanks all!

DownUpDave
04-13-2017, 10:47 AM
Great advice !

I trimmed my acrylic nails again and it sounds better, but still not as nice as when I first purchased the uke. I'll change the strings out as well.

My nails have always been very weak and I've never had any luck growing them to any length. I'm a scientist and years of dipping them in various chemicals and buffers have taken their toll. Of course, now we are all much more vigilant about wearing gloves ...but in the "old days" it was different.

Thanks all!

I think you just answered your own question. The remaining hard acrylic nail, even though short, is still making contact with you strings. It will sound as different from you soft finger nails as different picks sound on a steel string acoutic guitar.

ukatee
04-17-2017, 12:58 AM
Have a look at Matt Dahlberg's Pitch Perfect Nails (http://ukuleleunderground.com/lessons/ukulele-webcam-sessions-ep-11-pitch-perfect-nails/). He uses a glass file and files the underside of the nail slightly - this might make a difference even on acrylic ones?