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Rllink
10-29-2017, 05:18 AM
Okay, I understand setup. I also know that a lot of people will not buy a ukulele that hasn't been set up, and that every beginner who asks about buying one gets bombarded by people telling them that they absolutely have to get their new ukulele stet up. But what I'm wondering is how many people here are playing ukuleles that haven't been set up by someone, playing them as they came from the factory? I have two ukes, and one was set up. The other one is my first uke, a cheapie, and it was never set up. The reason that I am bringing it up again for discussion is that I was at the music store the other day, and I was trying out a dozen or so ukuleles on display, all different makes and models. They were all straight out of the box, I asked, and they all seemed fine. If I were inclined to buy one of them, I certainly would not have passed any of them up because they had not gone through the setup process.

DownUpDave
10-29-2017, 05:34 AM
Just a quick thought. As a seasoned player your technique, espiecally with barr chords is good enough to over come issues like a high action. Most raw beginners with no stringed instrument experience benefit the most from a set up with a lower , easier to play action.

That being said I just bought a Godin Multiuke straight off the display wall about two weeks ago. No set up and it plays wonderfully. It can be a hit or miss, some are good, some aren't.

besley
10-29-2017, 06:24 AM
I would say it just depends on how picky you are about set up. Most of the ukes I see are set up pretty well, but even my $1500 Farallon needed to have the action lowered at the bridge to get down to the 0.090" level (12th fret) that I like. And most ukes do come with action at the nut that is at best 0.030", while I like it to be more like 0.020". Over decades of noodling on guitar I have learned how to do set ups, bought the tools, and I consider it fun, so I would not reject a uke if it needed some work. But I agree that it's NOT something that a beginner should have to worry, or even know anything about. Which is why it's a shame when a beginner gets an instrument that is hard to play just because of something like string height at the nut.

Ziret
10-29-2017, 06:29 AM
My Kiwayas, Ohana, and a Bruko didn't need anything. I've had to sand down the saddle on everything else and the Enya I ordered needed filing at the nut as well. I think some brands arrive consistently ok, some consistently awful and probably most are a crap shoot. I've somewhat enjoyed the learning process. It's empowering to know you can fix things. No one around here really knows or cares about ukes, so it's also necessary.

HBolte
10-29-2017, 06:39 AM
None of my ukuleles have been "set up" after leaving the factory/builder. They play wonderfully.

Booli
10-29-2017, 09:01 AM
Non-setup ukes only truly bug me when the intonation is way off. I can now hear +/- 4 cents intonation problems without a tuner.

High nut slots will kill your intonation for first position chords and 12th fret intonation may be able to be fixed by lowering and/or compensating the saddle, but if a uke is way off, like a Kala Waterman that I recently played that was unevenly +5-8 cents off in first position chords across the 4 strings, and +15 cents at the 7th fret and +22 cents at the 12th fret, with nut and saddle being non-adjustable, this instrument is nothing more than a stage prop or wall hanger. To me simply cannot be played.

To me it's like nails on a chalkboard.

If I were to buy one of these Waterman, I may just get a cheap AA battery powered dial-clock insert and install that and then hang it on the wall.

Other ukes with sharp frets or high action I dont mind fixing if the tone is good enough, but I have not been impressed with the ukes on display at the local Guitar Center or Sam Ash stores, and when I asked about setup, I was met with either a blank stare or ridicule and laughter. I hate these specific stores in retail for anything other than cables if/when i cannot wait for shipping.

janeray1940
10-29-2017, 09:13 AM
what I'm wondering is how many people here are playing ukuleles that haven't been set up by someone, playing them as they came from the factory?

I've never had a setup done on any of my factory ukes past (Kamaka and Koaloha, and my starter Ohana) and present (three Kamakas, two Kiwayas, one Famous). If they play comfortably and the intonation is good, I don't see any reason to mess with it.

Rllink
10-29-2017, 10:04 AM
Non-setup ukes only truly bug me when the intonation is way off. I can now hear +/- 4 cents intonation problems without a tuner.

High nut slots will kill your intonation for first position chords and 12th fret intonation may be able to be fixed by lowering and/or compensating the saddle, but if a uke is way off, like a Kala Waterman that I recently played that was unevenly +5-8 cents off in first position chords across the 4 strings, and +15 cents at the 7th fret and +22 cents at the 12th fret, with nut and saddle being non-adjustable, this instrument is nothing more than a stage prop or wall hanger. To me simply cannot be played.

To me it's like nails on a chalkboard.

If I were to buy one of these Waterman, I may just get a cheap AA battery powered dial-clock insert and install that and then hang it on the wall.

Other ukes with sharp frets or high action I dont mind fixing if the tone is good enough, but I have not been impressed with the ukes on display at the local Guitar Center or Sam Ash stores, and when I asked about setup, I was met with either a blank stare or ridicule and laughter. I hate these specific stores in retail for anything other than cables if/when i cannot wait for shipping.Actually, your post on another thread about playing an Alvarez and how it surprised you how well it played without a setup is what got me to thinking about it and posting this.

I agree on the Waterman.

Booli
10-29-2017, 10:29 AM
Actually, your post on another thread about playing an Alvarez and how it surprised you how well it played without a setup is what got me to thinking about it and posting this.

I agree on the Waterman.

to be clear, I had said:


... Not sure if the shop had already done the setup...

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?129854-Alvarez&p=2009461#post2009461

So, maybe it's possible you've made a leap to a conclusion which is not accurate.

I know for a fact that this shop does indeed do a setup upon request, in stark contrast to my other comments about Guitar Center/Sam Ash where I was met with either ignorance or stupidity,

The comment was that I had not ASKED them about the setup being having been done or not, so I did not know. I would have asked only if I intended to buy, otherwise it is wasted breath for me.

For me, asking would be like haggling the price without cash in my pocket at that same moment.

FYI, this is the shop: https://www.themusicden.com/

Rllink
10-29-2017, 12:04 PM
to be clear, I had said:



http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?129854-Alvarez&p=2009461#post2009461

So, maybe it's possible you've made a leap to a conclusion which is not accurate.

I know for a fact that this shop does indeed do a setup upon request, in stark contrast to my other comments about Guitar Center/Sam Ash where I was met with either ignorance or stupidity,

The comment was that I had not ASKED them about the setup being having been done or not, so I did not know. I would have asked only if I intended to buy, otherwise it is wasted breath for me.

For me, asking would be like haggling the price without cash in my pocket at that same moment.

FYI, this is the shop: https://www.themusicden.com/

Still, any "setup" thread is sure to get some attention. I'm not against tuning up a ukulele by the way. I just found a dozen or so ukuleles fresh out of the box without setup to be quite playable. So regardless of what you wrote in the other thread, it still got me thinking about it.

zztush
10-29-2017, 04:54 PM
Hi, janeray1940!


I've never had a setup done on any of my factory ukes past (Kamaka and Koaloha, and my starter Ohana) and present (three Kamakas, two Kiwayas, one Famous). If they play comfortably and the intonation is good, I don't see any reason to mess with it.

I think at least all of the Kamaka, Koaloha and Kiwaya (Famous) are set up properly in factory. This is only my narrow experience. There are many company which set up properly in factory.

A friend of mine asked me where he should buy kiwaya famous ukulele in the internet. I answered him that he should buy in well set up dealer even they are bit expensive. He bought one. The shop said that they set up properly. I saw the ukulele. I really think that they have done nothing. And the dealer said that they won't set up saddle but nut on any ukulele. I think this is my fault. They don't and need not set up.

Choirguy
10-29-2017, 04:55 PM
Rollie...also just a note...Steve is a fellow Minnesotan (I am actually a Wisconsin resident) and we should all be able to meet up in person in just a couple weeks at GMUG.

Choirguy
10-29-2017, 05:04 PM
Set ups and strings are nice to talk about, but they may be a distraction for many beginners.


Now that I know better, and as I teach, I don’t think the value of the set-up can be overrated. There is truth in that players who don’t even know how to tune their instrument may not know any better. But when it comes down to having an instrument that is easier to play and more likely to play in tune, a set-up is incredibly valuable.

Nut height, in particular, can be a killer as all those entry level chords are on the first three frets. My thought this year...in (academic) year 3 of teaching ukulele...is “remove barriers that keep them from being successful.”

As a classically trained music educator, this is harder to embrace than you might think.

On the positive side, so many more ukuleles are being shipped with better set-ups. Still, the folks at HMS and Mim and Uke Republic are spending time preparing every ukulele that goes out. That has to account for something, as why would you set up something that is already right?

Strings are worth waiting for in the discussion. I agree to that.

besley
10-29-2017, 05:25 PM
Set ups and strings are nice to talk about, but they may be a distraction for many beginners......

Well I'll agree about the string choice, but the lack of a decent set up can make an instrument so uncomfortable to play that a beginner can give up.

Rllink
10-30-2017, 03:51 AM
Rollie...also just a note...Steve is a fellow Minnesotan (I am actually a Wisconsin resident) and we should all be able to meet up in person in just a couple weeks at GMUG.I'm really looking forward to it.

stevepetergal
10-30-2017, 03:58 AM
I think DownUpDave hits it right on the head, when he says "It can be hit or miss" without setup.
The other problem is that it can be hit or miss with the setup, as well.

kkimura
10-30-2017, 05:55 AM
All but one of my ukes came from relatively small music shops (small compared to Elderly or HMS). One came from a UU sale. None to my knowledge had setups. The one uke that had a setup got returned for reasons other than its setup. This works for me because I can't really tell the difference (or all my ukes are okay). Maybe having a "tin ear" has advantages.

spookelele
10-30-2017, 06:43 AM
So.. there's factory setup, store setup, and setup for you.
They're very different things.

Factory setup will likely err on the high side. Their goal is to set it so there are the fewest finger pointing/returns. So, they'll send it set higher, so there's more room for tolerance of variation without buzz.

Store setup, will likely just be a quick once over, make sure everything looks ok, no buzz, not outstanding obvious issues. In fact, HMS is now offering 2 different levels of setup, with their "express" being more of a 12 point kind of inspection than a deep nuts and bolts tuning.

Then there's setup for you, which sets things to your preferences, and possibly going as far as compensating saddles, beyond filing the nut, lowering the saddle, flattening/crowning frets, dressing, etc. They or you set it to be... what you want.

I bought a cedar top kala, it was not "setup" but this was my second one, the first being a concert. They both played fine out of a big box. But I've since moved to wound bass, and lowered the strings to the point where it cant' use a FC low G. It's setup for me, and how I play. If I go to sell it.. I will need to tell the next owner either not to use fc/nylon low g, or they'll have to raise the saddle. It doesn't mean it was wrong when I got it, or wrong if I sell it.

Setup is not one thing is what I guess I'm saying.

Theres setup good enough, and then there's setup to a personal comfort.

Nickie
10-31-2017, 01:01 AM
My 1st uke didn't have a setup when I got it. I had a tin ear, so I couldn't hear if it was off or not. But the fret buzzes on two strings drove me bug nuts.
String changes didn't help. Then I had a setup done, because I learned about it here. Most of the buzzes went away, but only by using a guitar string for my C.
I finally sold it for half what I paid for it.
My second uke was setup by Mim, I've never had an issue with it. If I'd had known about Mim, lots of time and some money could have been saved.
I don't care what anyone says, a beginner's uke needs a decent setup, or it might wind up in the dump.
Sorry, but I still don't understand the "cents off" philosophy.

Booli
10-31-2017, 01:38 AM
...Sorry, but I still don't understand the "cents off" philosophy.

I cant speak for other folks, but when I refer to some number of +/- cents, I am referring to the intonation being out of whack.

On your TUNER a single line or mark is some amount of +/- OFF of the center of the pitch.

If A4 = 440hz, and your tuner has 1 cent per line and when you play an A4 note, if it is 10 lines above, i.e. SHARP, it is going to be 450hz, assuming that 1 cent = 1 hz in frequency.

The problem is that even if all the OPEN strings match the tuner perfectly, and even if 12th fret intonation is spot-on, there can be STILL intonation issues in first position chords due to the nut slots being too high.

Beginners with a stone for an eardrum cannot tell the difference of poor intonation and for them, ignorance is bliss, but if your ear is more trained, such like mine, and can hear if the intonation is sharp or flat by as little as 4 cents, or think of it as 'four percent' and it bugs the crap out of me and I cannot play such an instrument and would have to lower the nuts slots, approx. 0.5mm at a time PER SLOT, incrementally, tune up the string, re-test with a tuner, and rinse and repeat (usually about a dozen times) UNTIL the intonation is LESS than 4 percent sharp at the 1st, 2nd, 3rd frets - for if not, I find the instrument unplayable.

The ONLY workaround to this nut slots being too hight, is if you NEVER play chords with open strings and ALWAYS only ever play either BARRE chords or chords with all 4 strings fretted, and hope and pray that saddle compensation is good or can be adjusted.

Lowering the nut slots is something I consider to be a ROYAL PITA for me to do, for if you go too far you will get fret buzz, and have to start over (either refill the slots with a paste made from CA glue and baking soda or get a new nut, or cut a new nut from blank material), which I'd prefer not to do because of the incremental/iterative nature as well as the time spent is now wasted because you cut the slot too deep.

If you meant something else by 'cents off' I am at a loss and apologize for the digression.

Also ukes with a ZERO FRET, like those from Magic Fluke Company, like FLUKE and FLEA ukes which ALL have a zero fret, do NOT have this intonation problem.

Hope this helps.

Rllink
10-31-2017, 05:23 AM
Well I certainly am not arguing that a setup is a bad thing. Some fine tuning never hurt anything. As I said in my original post, I just wonder how many people are playing a stock, off the shelf ukulele and getting along fine? I have one of each, one set up and one not set up. I will readily admit that my ear for pitch probably is not as developed as booli, but my tuner is saying that they are both well within his range of cents. I like them both and have no problems playing either. But there is such a preponderance of " you gotta get a setup" and so few people who say otherwise, that I got a little curious if I was the only one flying against convention and playing a ukulele that isn't set up. From the responses, I'm not, which for some reason is refreshing.

MopMan
10-31-2017, 07:07 AM
@Rllink I think the real issue here is that you got lucky. I have a cheap soprano around here somewhere that was never set up and it has shite intonation. It never gets used anymore.

Are you a renegade for bucking the setup trend? Maybe. Would you still be a renegade if your every day player actually needed a setup? I doubt it.

Rllink
10-31-2017, 08:29 AM
@Rllink I think the real issue here is that you got lucky. I have a cheap soprano around here somewhere that was never set up and it has shite intonation. It never gets used anymore.

Are you a renegade for bucking the setup trend? Maybe. Would you still be a renegade if your every day player actually needed a setup? I doubt it. If it was unplayable, why didn't you return it? Is it possible that the real issue is that you just got unlucky? I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm just trying to have the conversation. In response to you reply, I really don't feel like I'm some renegade for simply thinking that my ukulele without a setup sounds fine? Anyway, what else do we buy that we expect to be unusable going out the door?

spookelele
10-31-2017, 08:40 AM
Where is the line between a setup, and basic quality control?

MopMan
10-31-2017, 09:00 AM
If it was unplayable, why didn't you return it? Is it possible that the real issue is that you just got unlucky? I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm just trying to have the conversation. In response to you reply, I really don't feel like I'm some renegade for simply thinking that my ukulele without a setup sounds fine? Anyway, what else do we buy that we expect to be unusable going out the door?

It was my first ukulele and it was purchased on a whim. At that point I didn't know there were so many better ukes out there. I saw it as a toy to play with for the rest of my vacation and that was it. It turned out to be a really fun toy, and so it led to a replacement instrument which today I use instead. I sometimes think about fixing up that cheapie by sending it to an instrument tech... maybe someday I will.

I agree it is a shame not all ukuleles get the love they deserve coming out of the factory, but part of the issue is that a nut and saddle are designed to be easily adjustable to account for differing strings and player preferences. Perhaps some manufacturers don't consider it in their purview to set those things for you.

Think of it like a piece of Ikea furniture: some assembly is required. You can do it yourself or you can hire someone to do it for you, but until it is assembled it is presumed useless. That is why I said you got lucky. Your Ikea furniture came assembled.

JackLuis
10-31-2017, 04:46 PM
I have several Ukes that are 'inexpensive Chinese' made. The first I bought was satisfactory but I took it to my local Uke shop and had them set it up. Boy what a difference, the nut was lowered and the saddle was way lower, much easier to play and now sounds great. Over the next ~two years I bought more of these ukes, because I like Zebrawood and the last three I bought came with a great setup, no touch up needed. I think Caramel learned how to make customers happy.

I also have two Ohanas one from my local Uke shop and one from Mim. Both are easy to play and nicely intoned, neither are really expensive but cost 3-5X what my Caramels cost.

I've played a number of Ukes at my Local Uke Shop and they all were pretty well set up, but when I go to Guitar Center, their Ukes are quite variable.

My UAS is satisfied ( for now) I have several Tenors and at least one of each size so I won't be jonesing over a Uke soon. At least I hope not!

Osprey
10-31-2017, 05:57 PM
My first few ukuleles, entry level and midrange Kalas and Cordobas, had store setup only and all had decent intonation. The action on the cheaper ones was probably too high. My first Baritone had decent intonation. I had one of the techs at the local music store take a look at it. She lowered the action and it plays like a dream. I just got another Baritone from Mike at Uke Republic and it plays pretty good but it is a touch higher then my older Baritone. I think I will take it to the local store and getting it touched up. It makes a big difference.

maki66
11-03-2017, 04:17 AM
I'm about to try and set up an Enya solid mahogany topped concert that I got a deal on as a left hander for my beloved niece.
The Enya bridge is compensated so its not reversible.
We bought a set of ebony nut and bridges for the ukulele on ebay as well a string gauge.

So my question is do I need nut files? Thanks.