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View Full Version : Dead spots in the strings!! Common problem?



Wagster
05-12-2009, 02:25 PM
A number of weeks ago I put some new Worth CL's on my Bushman Jenny. I have been real happy with them for the most part. They sound and feel great.

The problem is, I had two spots where the notes just didn't ring out like they should. One was the 1st fret on the E string, the second spot was the 5th fret on the C string. Until now I tolerated these dull spots thinking that the frets probably needed some attention. Well, today I finally got fed up enough to investigate the problem.

After some close examination I determined that there was plenty of clearance on the string when these two notes were fretted. (In fact, there was enough clearance that I may get a tusq saddle and try lowering the action some.) So my next thought was to tune the uke up half a step and see what happens! Sure enough, both "dead spots" moved up as well. Tuned down a half step, the spots moved down!

So now I have determined the problem is my NEW strings! Have y'all ran into this before? Is there a way to work the dead spots out or am I stuck? Returning them is not be an option at this point. And I'm not picking on Worth's here. I'm guessing this may be a problem encountered with any brand.
But I hate thinking it's a "hit or miss" deal. The thought of going through 5 sets to find one good set is not very appealing financially!

Your thoughts?


Update: As a side note, in defense of Worth strings, I recently put a set of Brown Mediums on my KoAloha and must say that they do ring true up and down the frets. No dead spots.

ritzer012
05-12-2009, 02:46 PM
the same thing happens with my uke and i have worth strings on as well! except my problem area is E string 3rd and 4th fret

UkuEroll
05-13-2009, 01:57 AM
I have the same problem with my Lanikai, I'm using Aquilas, I've done the action thing and it is still the same, just got some D'Addario's hoping it is just duff strings, and am waiting for a Tusq saddle.
If that fails I guess its just down to the Uke, Thats a good enough exuse for me to get saving for a new one, thats what i'm gonna tell the wife anyway.

E-Lo Roberts
05-13-2009, 04:59 AM
[QUOTE=Wagster;134828]
So now I have determined the problem is my NEW strings! Have y'all ran into this before? Is there a way to work the dead spots out or am I stuck? Your thoughts?

QUOTE]

Wag, most likely it is just your ukulele and not the strings. Every uke has an overall harmonic resination that favors certain notes over others when a string is plucked and the top (wood) vibrates. The dead spots (notes), which are generally only few on any uke, are the harmonic negatives that tend not to move the top as much, which in turn, causes less air thru the soundhole creating the troublesome dead spot.

I have two dead spots on my $800 G-string tenor...e.lo..

rossjr
05-13-2009, 06:21 AM
I have a Tangi Mango Tenor and Mele Koa Concert 6 string and Dead spot is in the same place on both instruments, between my ears....

hoosierhiver
05-13-2009, 06:53 AM
From my experience, all of the major string brands occasionally have bad strings. Whether they sound farty or aren't intonated correctly. I think this is due to them being "spun" out too fast.

1014
05-13-2009, 08:40 AM
hh beat me to the punch. there's always a dead set in the bunch. that's why they always say swap the line out as the first "cure" to a buzz.

E-Lo Roberts
05-13-2009, 10:35 AM
[QUOTE=Wagster;134828]So my next thought was to tune the uke up half a step and see what happens! Sure enough, both "dead spots" moved up as well. Tuned down a half step, the spots moved down!QUOTE]

I missed this test you did. This would re-enforce my earlier suggestion...your harmonic resistence changes when you tuned down a half step, therefore, so did your dead spot. It's not a bad string IMHO...e.lo...

Wagster
05-13-2009, 12:50 PM
I missed this test you did. This would re-enforce my earlier suggestion...your harmonic resistence changes when you tuned down a half step, therefore, so did your dead spot. It's not a bad string IMHO...e.lo...

You could be right, E-Lo, though I hope not. The test will come soon as I intend to try a set of Bushman strings on it (though the thought of paying $6 shipping for thier strings is a bit repulsive. I may just see what MGM has on hand).

But new strings will determine (for sure) which is at fault here, the chicken or the egg! :biglaugh:

DeG
05-13-2009, 05:02 PM
I have a Tangi Mango Tenor and Mele Koa Concert 6 string and Dead spot is in the same place on both instruments, between my ears....

Hey, I got this same problem...:D

FourChordWonder
05-13-2009, 08:35 PM
Wag, most likely it is just your ukulele and not the strings. Every uke has an overall harmonic resination that favors certain notes over others when a string is plucked and the top (wood) vibrates. The dead spots (notes), which are generally only few on any uke, are the harmonic negatives that tend not to move the top as much, which in turn, causes less air thru the soundhole creating the troublesome dead spot.

This.

Just about every stringed instrument suffers from this to some degree. You can buy weights for your headstock that are marketed specifically for this issue or you could take your uke to a luthier and have them fiddle around with the bracing in the body of your uke to change the way the soundboard vibrates.

E-Lo Roberts
05-14-2009, 05:34 AM
You could be right, E-Lo, though I hope not. The test will come soon as I intend to try a set of Bushman strings on it (though the thought of paying $6 shipping for thier strings is a bit repulsive. I may just see what MGM has on hand).

But new strings will determine (for sure) which is at fault here, the chicken or the egg! :biglaugh:

Hey Wagster, UU sells the Pro Arte strings.. good price too! Cheap shipment to boot. But when you put (whatever) new strings on and the problem still exists, you've got to throw me some kudo's for easing your mind. Like I said, there a dead spot (or two) on most if not all ukes... don't sweat it so much, just play dude!...e.lo...

Wagster
05-14-2009, 07:04 AM
Hey Wagster, UU sells the Pro Arte strings.. good price too! Cheap shipment to boot. But when you put (whatever) new strings on and the problem still exists, you've got to throw me some kudo's for easing your mind. Like I said, there a dead spot (or two) on most if not all ukes... don't sweat it so much, just play dude!...e.lo...

Hey, that's not a bad idea. Those are on my short list of strings to try out and I can always use another UU t-shirt! :cool:

I didn't order the Bushman strings. I had forgotten that their web site won't let you buy anything that cost less than $25 and I wasn't ready to invest in 5 sets of their strings. I did order a set of the Orca strings from MGM. I want to give those a test drive too! I also have the "other half" of the Worth BM's laying around that I put on my KoAloha. They are looking for a home.

Will let you know what happens and for sure, any kudos dues will be kudos received!

Wagster

Ahnko Honu
05-14-2009, 07:11 AM
Will let you know what happens and for sure, any kudos dues will be kudos received!

Wagster

I LOVE KUDOS!
http://www.bewarethecheese.com/ca%20snickers%20kudos.jpg

Wagster
05-18-2009, 01:38 PM
I LOVE KUDOS!
http://www.bewarethecheese.com/ca%20snickers%20kudos.jpg

I need to send E Lo a case of Kudos! :rotfl:

Finally got a chance this weekend to swap the strings out. Ended up putting the Worth BM's on it. Imagine my shock and dismay when I still had two dull spots in EXACTLY the same place as the old strings!

So now, I need to decide where to go: sell it, use an alternate tuning so the spots move to a "less used" area, or ignore it (which is really hard to do....like trying to un-ring the bell).

eh....I've been eyeballing an 8 string tenor..... :shaka:

Thanks for all your help guys!

Wagster

E-Lo Roberts
05-18-2009, 02:14 PM
I need to send E Lo a case of Kudos! :rotfl:

Finally got a chance this weekend to swap the strings out. Ended up putting the Worth BM's on it. Imagine my shock and dismay when I still had two dull spots in EXACTLY the same place as the old strings!

So now, I need to decide where to go: sell it, use an alternate tuning so the spots move to a "less used" area, or ignore it (which is really hard to do....like trying to un-ring the bell).

eh....I've been eyeballing an 8 string tenor..... :shaka:

Thanks for all your help guys!

Wagster

Thanks Wagster!!!! Glad I could help dude....see ya, e.lo...

Wagster
05-18-2009, 05:44 PM
Interesting side note here:

I was fooling around with the uke and discovered that the nut was loose! I was able to remove it completely and even though the fit was snug, it didn't look like it had even been glued down. So it got me to thinking...

...shouldn't it be glued? (and would elmer's glue be acceptable)

and

...would replacing the nut and/or saddle alleviate some of this problem?

Thanks.

Pippin
05-18-2009, 09:01 PM
You could be right, E-Lo, though I hope not. The test will come soon as I intend to try a set of Bushman strings on it (though the thought of paying $6 shipping for thier strings is a bit repulsive. I may just see what MGM has on hand).

But new strings will determine (for sure) which is at fault here, the chicken or the egg! :biglaugh:

Not according to E-Lo's theory. New strings might have different string tension which would cause the ukulele top to vibrate differently. In his scenario, the dead spots, if any, may result from totally different places on the strings.

Personally, I am more inclined to agree with HoosierHiver on this, though. Worth strings are really cut and packaged fishing line. I spent many years in the fly fishing business teaching in a world famous school in the Catskill Mountains. I have handled lots of fishing line, leaders, tippet materials. When the line diameter is drawn-down in manufacture, it is always possible to get tiny "flat spots" where it is stretched rather than cut to size. Those tiny flat spots might be your problem. You could use a micrometer to measure it or try looking at it under high magnification and see if you can "see" flat spots in the strings.

E-Lo Roberts
05-19-2009, 12:53 PM
Interesting side note here:

I was fooling around with the uke and discovered that the nut was loose! I was able to remove it completely and even though the fit was snug, it didn't look like it had even been glued down. So it got me to thinking...

...shouldn't it be glued? (and would elmer's glue be acceptable)

and

...would replacing the nut and/or saddle alleviate some of this problem?

Thanks.

Wagster, the loose nut is not related to your problem, however, to secure the nut, I recommend just one drop of meduim thick superglue in the middle of the nut slot. This way you can pop it off if need be, but it will hold in place until then.

PS, sound like you guys want to take back my Kudo snack bars! hahaha...but then people thought the world was flat until about 600 years ago...sail on pippin....e.lo..

Wagster
05-19-2009, 02:03 PM
PS, sound like you guys want to take back my Kudo snack bars! hahaha...but then people thought the world was flat until about 600 years ago...sail on pippin....e.lo..

E Lo... I would never take back your Kudos! :stop:

Thanks for the advice on the nut. I was just grasping for straws. But I will get it glued back in.

I understand what Pippin is saying. I found it difficult to believe it wasn't the strings too and I'm sure there are a many floating around that indeed are flawed.

However, I have become convinced that this particular uke just doesn't like the F note. Whatever frequency it vibrates at just doesn't excite the sound board. And it doesn't matter WHERE the F is located!

I want to try one more set of strings but I KNOW it will be a lesson in futility and I will end up selling this thing. That new 8 string tenor is looking better all the time!

Wag

pjtuke
05-09-2010, 05:45 PM
I have a fairly new Martin S-O Uke that I tuned to ADF#B. It had a serious dead spot on the open B string, and on the B at the 5th fret of the 2nd string. I also had changed out the strings before, and it sounded the same. After reading these posts I decided the problem was with my uke. So I tried squeezing the body between my fingers at various spots along the soundboard. A couple times I heard slight crackling sounds that made me nervous, but I continued. I also reached inside and pulled out a little on the braces. I tested it, and it sounded better, so i did this a couple more times and each time it sounded better. Now as far as I can hear the dead spot on the first string is completely gone, and the one on the second string is nearly gone. Hopefully it'll open up more, the more I use it. Anyway I'm very happy with it now. Thanks.

pjtuke

kissing
05-09-2010, 05:48 PM
You're welcome :)

Skitzic
05-10-2010, 04:20 AM
I have a fairly new Martin S-O Uke that I tuned to ADF#B. It had a serious dead spot on the open B string, and on the B at the 5th fret of the 2nd string. I also had changed out the strings before, and it sounded the same. After reading these posts I decided the problem was with my uke. So I tried squeezing the body between my fingers at various spots along the soundboard. A couple times I heard slight crackling sounds that made me nervous, but I continued. I also reached inside and pulled out a little on the braces. I tested it, and it sounded better, so i did this a couple more times and each time it sounded better. Now as far as I can hear the dead spot on the first string is completely gone, and the one on the second string is nearly gone. Hopefully it'll open up more, the more I use it. Anyway I'm very happy with it now. Thanks.

pjtuke

This post made me flinch...it seems like this idea could go very wrong very quickly. But I am not a luthier so I don't know.

didgeridoo2
05-10-2010, 06:09 AM
It wouldn't surprise me if the issue was with the your uke. A couple weeks back, I visited with Ron Fernandez and I'd consider him an expert in most things guitar related. He asked me to bring over a couple of my ukes to compare to the ukes I was thinking about purchasing from him. The first thing he did was take my ukes and play around with them and check them out. He picked up each uke and hummed directly in the sound-hole to determine resonant frequency levels (this could be the wrong terminology, but if you do this and hum the c major scale, you'll come across a note that amplifies much more than the other notes). He mentioned that the top and sides may resonate differently on each uke and the combination can be important in getting the sound you want from your uke.

This may not be unusual for some of the more experienced guitar and uke folks here, but I hadn't ever seen this. Being a didgeridoo player, I understand that when you hum/sing under the drone on differently tuned didgeridoos, you get harmonic frequencies that change when you sing a 5th above the fundamental vs. a 7th and so forth. Some notes sound more harmonious and some create what seems to be an interference or more growl like sound. Some sound more dead. With didgeridoos, the thinness of the wood makes a difference in the quality of the drone.

Not sure if any of this makes sense to anyone other than me. I don't know it well enough to explain it the way I'd like to, but if you haven't tried singing scales into your uke, try it. It may just be that certain notes are muted based on resonant frequencies and when we talk about ukes opening up, this could be what's happening since wood moves as it ages.

Or, it could just be your strings.

DaveVisi
05-10-2010, 08:36 AM
I'd try the humming thing. It'll at least tell you the acoustic resonance of the sound chamber (body). I had a pretty expensive classical guitar that had a horrible peak right on middle C. It pretty much screwed up anything I tried to play. I ended up selling it rather than trying to tweak the inner workings for fear of making things worse.

Wagster
05-10-2010, 08:30 PM
Wow! Suprised to see this thread pop back up.

I ended up sending that uke back to Bushman. Don't want to get started on Bushman, but John Hall refused to acknowledge that ukes (any ukes) had dead spots and wouldn't replace it. So he bought it back instead. (go figure). I tried all kinds of strings on it and none of them fixed the problem. From what I understand now, it's not uncommon for any stringed instrument to have dead spots. I have since learned that Fender Basses are known for having them!

As for Worth strings, they are by far my favorites. I have them on two of the four ukes I currently own.

luvdat
05-11-2010, 03:56 AM
[QUOTE=Wagster;134828]
So now I have determined the problem is my NEW strings! Have y'all ran into this before? Is there a way to work the dead spots out or am I stuck? Your thoughts?

QUOTE]

Wag, most likely it is just your ukulele and not the strings. Every uke has an overall harmonic resination that favors certain notes over others when a string is plucked and the top (wood) vibrates. The dead spots (notes), which are generally only few on any uke, are the harmonic negatives that tend not to move the top as much, which in turn, causes less air thru the soundhole creating the troublesome dead spot.

I have two dead spots on my $800 G-string tenor...e.lo..

Correct answer.