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View Full Version : How do I find someone that "knows" about Ukueles and making sure they are set up?



krubby
07-18-2017, 06:12 PM
So first off, I am brand new to playing the ukulele. In fact except for years of playing percussion back in high school/college band (which is obviously much different) I am new to any type of instrument, especially obviously stringed ones.

None the less I decided I really wanted to learn an instrument and I chose the ukulele. But I know very little. I ended up getting a Oscar Schmidt OU10T (Tenor) for my 47th birthday from my dad

My question is it SEEMS the action, or string height, seems kind of high to me, and If I am going to dive into this I would love to make sure my instrument is set up correctly. I have zero appitite to try to do it myself and mess up my new instrument.

My father bought it from a local music store, but it is one that is known I think more for band instruments and the like with a handful of guitars and things like ukuleles tossed in (Music and Arts if anyone has heard of them) so I have no idea if they set it up at all.

I am in Columbus Ohio if anyone knows the area. My question is how do I find a place or person that knows how to do this? A few places SELL them but I think it is a secondary afterthought more than anything. If stores are skilled at guitars etc does the knowledge transfer or do I need a Ukulele person?

am I over worried about this?

thanks

Croaky Keith
07-18-2017, 10:11 PM
Nuts & saddles are replacable, & quite cheap, so I would do it myself. :)

There is bound to be videos online to show how to do it, check them out, & when you have grasped what they are doing, have a go yourself.

Graham Greenbag
07-18-2017, 10:56 PM
The first thing to do is tune it up and play it as is, and the next thing to do is to get along to some local Uke groups and play along doing what you can with the Uke and skills you have - don't matter how limited that is.

Your local groups will have solved the same problems many times for other people and will likely have contact to shops and tradesmen who can help. If you end up doing the work yourself then, as the comment above, it's really not something to be over concerned about (proving you have basic hand craft skills, etc) and you're unlikely to do irreparable damage to anything.

Edit. You might find this thread helpful: http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?81007-Any-decent-ukulele-stores-in-Ohio

DownUpDave
07-19-2017, 12:31 AM
Find a music store in your area that has a large selection of guitars. If they sell a lot of guitars and do set ups and repair work on guitars they can do the same on ukuleles. A guitar and a ukuele are of the same "stringed fretted instrument" class so all set up steps and details are similar from one to the other.

Twibbly
07-19-2017, 02:39 AM
I bought a $50 uke from a music store as my first uke. The cost to set it up would have been almost as much as buying a new one that was already set up, and nobody out here does mainly ukuleles (Midland, TX). I said to heck with it and ordered one that was already set up from Mim (there's also HMS and a few others who are generally known for doing good set ups).

vinceherman
07-19-2017, 02:43 AM
Are you over-worried? That is not for us to decide. But you can become better educated about the condition of your new treasure by attending a meetup and letting people who are familiar try it out.

The Buckeye Ukulele Society (https://www.meetup.com/BuckeyeUkuleleSociety/) has meetups, next one on Tuesday. I have never been, since I am up in Cleveland. If it is anything like the meetups up here, they are completely welcoming to players of any skill level.

I had my vintage Ukes (both Oscar Schmidt) set up by Jake Wildwood of Antebellum Instruments (https://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/). I am not an expert, but they were better to play after he worked his magic, so I assume he knows what he is doing. Both times shipping was involved. It worked out well.

mikelz777
07-19-2017, 08:23 AM
I'm with you in that I had zero desire to try and adjust the action on my ukes by myself. In my history of purchasing ukes, I've taken 3 of the 4 to a local music store to have the action lowered. **Find a music store that specializes in stringed instruments/guitars/folk instruments and who offer repairs and adjustments.** My local store has been in business for 40+ years and they specialize in guitars/vintage guitars and offer repair services. They do sell some ukes but it is obvious that it's not a terribly serious part of their business as their offerings are pretty meager. It didn't matter, they didn't bat an eye over adjusting any of my ukes. On the day I picked up my last uke they happened to be installing a strap pin on another uke. The prices I paid to have my 3 ukes action lowered ranged from $13 to $25. On my last uke the guy told me that he wouldn't be exaggerating when he said that he worked almost an hour on lowering the action at the nut. He was almost apologizing for charging me $25.00 for the job. In each of the 3 cases, the uke was fun to play but it was difficult to barre on the top 2 frets or it was difficult to get a clean sound on some chords on the top 2 frets. After they lowered the action, all 3 ukes have been easy and a pleasure to play. They went from being somewhat of a challenge to play to being a breeze. As the guy at the music store said after lowering the action on each one, "Now it will practically play by itself!" I agree with him! The prices to lower the action have been well worth it!

krubby
07-19-2017, 11:39 AM
Thanks for all the responses. I am fairly certain Columbus is not the hotbed for Ukulele stores, unless I am missing a gem I don't know about. BUT there are two fairly large guitar stores around (Guitar Center and Sam Ashe) and I am sure they are more than skilled at setting up guitars, and maybe they know more about ukulele's than I am giving them credit for. I visited both a few weeks ago when shopping for one but neither seemed to have a tremendous selection. Both places seemed like they just wanted to have 1/2 dozen on the wall to have them to sell.

I will try one of the guitar stores to see if they even think I need to. Personally I am sure I might be able to do it myself, but some things I would rather just leave to the guys that have done it 1000 + times.

Anyway, again thanks so much. this forum is the best.

TopDog
07-19-2017, 10:01 PM
As has already been pointed out, nuts and saddles are
cheap enough, I would be inclined to give it a shot for
myself first,before paying anyone to do it.
Its a very easy thing to do,and the experience you pick
up will stand you in good stead for any future tweaking
you may need to do.

cyber3d
07-20-2017, 11:27 AM
Here is an interesting YouTube video on Uke setup. Educational if not anything else.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhzmbCzaoxs
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhzmbCzaoxs)

cb56
07-26-2017, 04:21 PM
ok, I'm going to suggest something different. Would your Dad be upset if you returned it and bought something else? A Mainland Mahogany tenor is only a few dollars more than the Oscar Schmidt and it will be set up perfectly when you receive it. Just a thought.

krubby
07-27-2017, 04:37 PM
He bought it at a local Music and Arts store. It is tough finding a good store in Ohio. It was purchased 6 - 8 + weeks ago so not sure it is even an option

Now I feel like I have a junky ukulele. I was excited about it but now not so much. ugh. I am super new to this, and he is even less knowledgeable and I think tried to get the best he could locally. really bummed now I don't have anything good.

I did find this - is this what you mean? This is $260. He paid about $80. I am brand new to this, not sure I need a $250 + uke. But now I feel mine is not good

http://shop.mainlandukuleles.com/product.sc;jsessionid=4BF2A88281768FDFDE2C1C15A24F C416.p3plqscsfapp001?productId=10&categoryId=3

mikelz777
07-27-2017, 06:12 PM
Forget the Mainland and concentrate on what you have. It looks to be a fine uke and if the action is currently too high, getting the action lowered is going to make a big difference.

I recently spent about $265 on a new Kala ukulele from one of the top recommended vendors here. This vendor has a great reputation and is known for selling ukes with a "perfect" setup. When I got it, I loved the look of it but when I started playing it, it was difficult to do barre chords on the top 2 frets and even while making regular chords on the top 2 frets, they sometimes didn't sound clean because I was having issues properly pressing the strings. This was supposedly a "perfect" setup but I was having problems comfortably playing it so I became disappointed in the uke and felt let down. I took it to a local music store (not a chain or big box store) that specialized in guitars and stringed instruments. They lowered the action at the nut and it made a huge difference. Now it plays like a breeze and I've fallen in love with the same uke I was disappointed in only a few days before.

Google "guitar repair" in Columbus Ohio and you get a handful of results. Give them a call and tell them about your situation and they will be able to tell you if they can do work on ukuleles. Any guitar tech guy should be able to lower the action on a uke. I'm pretty confident you'll be able to find someone in Columbus Ohio that can do the job. You've got a fine uke and you shouldn't feel disappointed in it.

krubby
07-27-2017, 06:20 PM
Thanks. While there isn't a great Ukulele place around, there are a few really good guitar stores. I'll try one of those. I am like a super novice at this, and if I end up learning and loving it I do think I might try an upgrade, buy for now I was hoping I have a good enough one that it isn't going to be a terrible instrument without breaking the bank.

I did look at the mainland site more - they do look nice that is for sure.

mikelz777
07-27-2017, 06:31 PM
Again, you don't have a terrible instrument. Take it to one of the guitar stores and have them look it over. It may already be fine the way it is or maybe they'll find the action could be lowered. Don't feel pressured or be in any rush to "upgrade". You haven't even started playing yet so get to know what you have first. Once you get into playing a bit you may find that you are very happy with what you have and there's no reason you shouldn't be. If your Dad only paid about $80 for that uke he got a great deal. From what I can see online, he got it for less than half price!

JackLuis
07-28-2017, 02:16 AM
Oscars are pretty good Ukes and I wouldn't complain if someone gave me one. Hint, Hint!
Try some different strings too. They make a difference, D'Addario EJ99 Carbons are great for soft playing.

Good advice in the above. I'm lucky to have a good Uke shop close by, they set up my cheap Chinese ukes for $15-$20 each. Made a big difference in how easy they played. Barring the first two frets is tougher than the rest, particularly at first. Keep practicing and look for a good Guitar repair shop.

Keep on Uke'n!

DownUpDave
07-28-2017, 02:37 AM
I will echo the others opinions.....Oscar Schmit is just fine, play it, play the living snot out of it. You have to start somewhere. I started with a inexpensive laminate tenor and played it for months before I knew enough to be dangerous ie. "did it need a set up". Just play it and enjoy the act of making music.

krubby
07-28-2017, 07:46 AM
Thanks everyone comments. Maybe I shouldn't of said junky. Being a brand new player I think it is right at that sweet spot that it isn't so bad it will be too hard to learn on and I'll lose interest, yet I didn't drop $300 on someone just to learn on.

My initial point was not about the quality of the one I got but was more not having a clue if it needs to be adjusted, I don't have any comparison point etc. I don't have enough experience to even know.

It sounds like I can go to a guitar place and they may at least be able to look at it and provide perspective. Heck who knows maybe I'll go in and they're might be some guy the that knows ukuleles backwards and forwards.

I mainly was just wondering how to even find out. I'm very excited about this and if spending a few bucks on a set up and maybe even a new set of stings helps today much more I'm good with that.

I have nothing to lose I'll go check out a place next week. There is a guitar center nearby, which I know is a chain, but they did have a wall of ukuleles when I stopped by before. Maybe they just take them out of a box and toss on the wall or maybe they know what they are talking about, guess I'll find out.

I really do appreciate the help.

mikelz777
07-28-2017, 08:23 AM
Before you do anything, it sounds like you first need to determine if it even needs any kind of adjusting in the first place. How do you find that out? Play it! When you're done with that, play it some more! And when you are done with that, play it even more! Once you've been playing it for a while, deficiencies (if any) will start to reveal themselves. Sore fingertips are par for the course for beginners so don't let that alarm you too much. Then start asking yourself some questions. Is it comfortable to make chords and barre chords on the top 2 frets or are you finding it takes a kung-fu grip to make the chords and get a decent sound? On my first uke, the high action made itself known pretty quickly. I had to press so hard that my wrist and forearm would hurt! Another thing to check is to measure the distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the fret at the 12th fret. I think most people like their action at around 2.5-3 mm. (I like mine a little closer to 2, but that's just me, I have a somewhat weakened left hand.) If your measurements at the 12th fret are higher than 3mm and/or you find that you have to press real hard to get a clean sound at the top 2 frets after you've been playing a while then perhaps you might need your action lowered. As far as strings go, once you have been playing a while and you are confident you are making your chords properly and cleanly are you pleased with the sound? On my first uke, once I had been playing a while, I began to notice that my strings sounded a little dull and muddy. Once it was due for a string change I put on a different brand and it sounded like a totally new and different uke and even played more comfortably! It turns out I do not like nylgut strings but I do really like fluorocarbon strings.

After reading through this thread again it sounds more and more like you are putting the cart before the horse. My advice to you is to do nothing but start playing (a lot!!) and see what you think once you've been playing a while.

krubby
07-28-2017, 12:14 PM
Before you do anything, it sounds like you first need to determine if it even needs any kind of adjusting in the first place. How do you find that out? Play it! When you're done with that, play it some more! And when you are done with that, play it even more! Once you've been playing it for a while, deficiencies (if any) will start to reveal themselves. Sore fingertips are par for the course for beginners so don't let that alarm you too much. Then start asking yourself some questions. Is it comfortable to make chords and barre chords on the top 2 frets or are you finding it takes a kung-fu grip to make the chords and get a decent sound? On my first uke, the high action made itself known pretty quickly. I had to press so hard that my wrist and forearm would hurt! Another thing to check is to measure the distance between the bottom of the string and the top of the fret at the 12th fret. I think most people like their action at around 2.5-3 mm. (I like mine a little closer to 2, but that's just me, I have a somewhat weakened left hand.) If your measurements at the 12th fret are higher than 3mm and/or you find that you have to press real hard to get a clean sound at the top 2 frets after you've been playing a while then perhaps you might need your action lowered. As far as strings go, once you have been playing a while and you are confident you are making your chords properly and cleanly are you pleased with the sound? On my first uke, once I had been playing a while, I began to notice that my strings sounded a little dull and muddy. Once it was due for a string change I put on a different brand and it sounded like a totally new and different uke and even played more comfortably! It turns out I do not like nylgut strings but I do really like fluorocarbon strings.

After reading through this thread again it sounds more and more like you are putting the cart before the horse. My advice to you is to do nothing but start playing (a lot!!) and see what you think once you've been playing a while.

That is great advice. I am doing OK (for a beginner) on the frets (I think). It is the strumming and getting hung up on that side of the equation. But I will practice a lot more and then check my progress later.

For me it was less saying I know something needs fine tuned as much as wondering (or wishing) I had a cute little ukulele place I could go inquire and discuss.

thanks again, I really mean that.

Prattism@gmail.com
07-30-2017, 03:59 PM
I've taken a very cheap ukulele and made it much more playable with only a few actions. This is assuming (not always safe) that the neck is straight and fret heights are correct. You can use a good ruler with clear millimeter markings or (What I did):

Get a String Action Ruler Gauge Tool - $8-$9
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GH436CQ

Measure the height of the strings from the top of the fret. At the 1st fret should be between .8 and 1.0. At the twelfth fret should be between 2.5 and 3.0 (My players are 2.25-2.5).

If the height is too much at the nut (The top of the neck nearest the strings) you can file down the grooves. You can use cheap files you buy at Harbor Freight, but for about $9.00 you can get Saddle/Nut round files of the appropriate size.

Saddle Nut Files Set w/Sandpaper
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LQO3GGS
(Make sure it has .6mm/.7mm/.8mm files)
(Need coarse ~240 grit - and medium ~320-400 grit sandpaper)

Here's a video from the Mya-Moe series Birth of a Mya-Moe where Aaron adjusts the action:

Mya-Moe Action setup - filing the nut
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-QfivUQZ-0&t=8s

File sizes Mya-Moe uses:'
.6mm A
.7mm E
.8mm C
.8mm G

If you adjust the nut, remeasure at the 12th fret. If it's higher than 3.0mm, you need to lower the saddle by the same amount.

Here's an amateur with minimal tools (or knowledge) doing it pretty well.

HOW TO : Lower the Action on your Tenor Ukulele
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ukL6TwS7xc

Measure the action and mark the amount that's too high on the saddle bottom.
Use sandpaper from the Saddle Nut Files Set to grind down the Saddle.

The whole thing takes less than an hour (less than 20 minutes once you've done several).

With the tools I suggested, it'll cost you around $17. If you have a good MM ruler and sandpaper, and you only need to adjust the saddle, it's free.

If you do screw up, replacement nuts and saddles can be very cheap ( <$3 )
https://www.amazon.com/Saddle-Nut-Slotted-for-Ukulele/dp/B00UMUCISU

Finally, you may want to put decent strings on it, since the original may be pretty crappy. The strings to choose are too complex, personal for me to suggest anything. For a beginner, less tension often makes it easier to play.

krubby
07-30-2017, 07:31 PM
Thanks for all that information. I am a sucker for tools and accessories (yes, self admitted but oh well) and I am very tempted to get that String Action Ruler Gauge. If nothing else just out of pure curiosity and learning. Also my wife is just starting to learn acoustic guitar, and it might be helpful for that as well. We are both 47, and both learning stringed instruments for the first time together and loving every minute. even if we never get very good we are having fun together looking at videos, watching lessons etc.

Again, I might get the gauge for the fun of it if nothing else, and maybe it will give me some insight. thanks again for all the info and links.

AcousticBuckeye
07-31-2017, 10:55 PM
For a local setup I would suggest contacting 'Guitar House Workshop' in Grandview. They specialize in setups of all kinds of folk string instruments. I've used them for guitar so can't vouch for a ukulele setup. But I would be worth calling and getting a price.

krubby
08-01-2017, 12:01 AM
cool, I might give them a call. Again my main point was how do I find someone that might look at it, say "holy cow that action is high" because it is beyond obvious to someone that actually knows. Maybe its 100% fine, but I would hate to be practicing if not. plus maybe this is just as much for future reference (I could see this becoming a serious hobby for me. not to the extent it is for some on this board, but still).