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View Full Version : Ohana SK-75G - a plunky "dead" sound on B-flat, A string. Anyone else?



beautifulsoup
09-25-2018, 12:34 PM
Hi, folks.

I love my Ohana SK-75G; solid spruce top, solid flame maple back and sides, etc.

Except for the dead B-flat tone on the A string. Several tones on the E string are quite dead, as well.

But it's that B-flat on the A string that irks me! It just has a decided "thunk" to the sound, with no sustain. Everything on up from that point rings and sustains well!

It's not so much an obvious issue when strumming - but Oh so Obvious when fingerpicking!

My technique is not an issue.
The set up is great! (Mim) :)
Worth Clear strings. (Great customer service from Mim). :)

I'm really curious about this: Has anyone else who owns this model experienced the same?

Advice?

Or could this just be an Ohana soprano 'build" issue? I ask because my Ohana solid zebrawood SK-25Z has similar issues - but nowhere near like the SK75G.

Thanks!

70sSanO
09-25-2018, 12:57 PM
I don't have that uke, but first thing to do is tune the A string down and see if the 2nd fret still thuds. You may also want to tune up slightly and test it. It could be the Bb note if the thud moves to the first or third fret. That is a tougher fix because there is a harmonic build issue. If it stays on the second fret it could be a dead spot. A lot of string instruments have a spot(s) that are a little dead, but sometimes string tension can help or hurt.

If you lower the tension and get a bit more sustain, you might be able to go with slightly less tension A string, probably slightly thinner. If it gets better with more tension then maybe a slightly thicker string.

I find C strings are notorious for thud notes between the 3rd and 5th fret. Generally, but not always, slightly less tension helps. Sometimes it may take going to a different type of string, like Reds. Sometimes you can't fix it. For tenors, if all else fails, tuning down to B or Bb sometimes helps.

John

anthonyg
09-25-2018, 12:58 PM
Dead notes at a certain pitch is an issue across all stringed and fretted instruments. Its a "thing".

Some are more obvious than others yet having an obvious dead note doesn't make it a bad instrument. Its a price you pay for having all the other notes ring and sustain. The way to suppress it is to build the instrument in such a way that the other notes are more subdued so that the dead note/resonance isn't noticeable.

Ukecaster
09-25-2018, 02:11 PM
As Joel Eckhaus discusses at 4:38 in the video below, you can test ukes to see where their resonant sweet spot is, which can indicate which tuning might work best on it. I've tried this, and both of my tenors resonate best when I tune down to B, better than standard C tuning, and better than the full step drop to Bb. Plus, I find Bb too low for my voice, and the tension feels too floppy to me. Of course, everyone is different, but if a uke has a prominent dead spot that you just can't dial out with tunings or strings, it seems you wouldn't like playing that uke.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDvcoIQyjYE&t=317s

beautifulsoup
09-25-2018, 04:24 PM
Sounds like you need some new strings. Change the strings and then test the Bb note on every string. How does it sound when it is played on the E C and G string. If it is thuddy on them all then the uke has a problem with Bb. If it is just thuddy on the A string, the problem lies with the A string or the slot in the nut for the A string or the tuner for the A string.
If the problems go away with a string change, then you know it was just worn out strings.

B-flat has been dead from the very start.... not strings. The suggestion was to change from Aquilas to Worth Clears, but that didn't fix the issue. FWIW, I do like the Worth Clears much better than the Aquilas that were on it originally.

Thanks for your reply. :)

beautifulsoup
09-25-2018, 04:29 PM
I don't have that uke, but first thing to do is tune the A string down and see if the 2nd fret still thuds. You may also want to tune up slightly and test it. It could be the Bb note if the thud moves to the first or third fret. That is a tougher fix because there is a harmonic build issue. If it stays on the second fret it could be a dead spot. A lot of string instruments have a spot(s) that are a little dead, but sometimes string tension can help or hurt.

If you lower the tension and get a bit more sustain, you might be able to go with slightly less tension A string, probably slightly thinner. If it gets better with more tension then maybe a slightly thicker string.

I find C strings are notorious for thud notes between the 3rd and 5th fret. Generally, but not always, slightly less tension helps. Sometimes it may take going to a different type of string, like Reds. Sometimes you can't fix it. For tenors, if all else fails, tuning down to B or Bb sometimes helps.

John

Hi, and thanks for your reply.

I've tried the tuning up and tuning down in the past - and looks like B-flat is the issue. Throughout the uke, really. Just unfortunate where it lies, though. (C7 chord, for example - and in finger picking solos).

It may be worth fiddling around with a string with less tension - but you're also confirming that this is a build issue....


Thanks.

El Viejo
09-25-2018, 05:11 PM
It sure sounds like a build issue, not that I'm the world's greatest expert.

For what it's worth, I recently played a uke on sale at a local store, one made by a very highly regarded builder. The uke had the opposite issue- rather than being dead on a certain note, it was wildly over the top resonant on a certain note. The uke was absolutely overkill on any G on the fretboard, particularly the G on the E string. It was totally unplayable in a Hawaiian style if playing in standard tuning- if fingerpicking any G would radically stand out from any other notes around it.

Point is, it happens sometimes.

etudes
09-25-2018, 06:12 PM
Hi, folks.

I love my Ohana SK-75G; solid spruce top, solid flame maple back and sides, etc.

Except for the dead B-flat tone on the A string. Several tones on the E string are quite dead, as well.

But it's that B-flat on the A string that irks me! It just has a decided "thunk" to the sound, with no sustain. Everything on up from that point rings and sustains well!

It's not so much an obvious issue when strumming - but Oh so Obvious when fingerpicking!

My technique is not an issue.
The set up is great! (Mim) :)
Worth Clear strings. (Great customer service from Mim). :)

I'm really curious about this: Has anyone else who owns this model experienced the same?

Advice?

Or could this just be an Ohana soprano 'build" issue? I ask because my Ohana solid zebrawood SK-25Z has similar issues - but nowhere near like the SK75G.

Thanks!

I feel your pain. I've experienced it to one degree or another on all my ukes and pretty darn common even at higher price points. Not a flaw per se, but a quirk in the personality of your instrument. The very most resonant and open ukulele's are more likely to have either dead notes or wolf notes.

anthonyg
09-25-2018, 06:22 PM
Just as an exercise I went looking for a dead note on my Scott Wise tenor which is a fine hand built instrument. I hadn't really noticed one but I hadn't gone looking for it either.

Well what do you know. It has less resonance on the F.
Is it a fault? No.

Its just the nature of stringed and fretted instruments.

70sSanO
09-25-2018, 07:47 PM
I remembered reading about this on the acoustic guitar forum and I re-visited it. Since it is a resonance issue with the build, not neck/fret/string, it is possible (according to those on the guitar forum) to re-voice the instrument. It would probably mean altering the braces (changing the mass); but you would need a seasoned luthier to attempt it. Supposedly David Crosby shaved the braces on his Martin years ago, but I imagine some quantity of drugs were involved in the process which I don't recommend.

As already mentioned, it happens on all stringed instruments to some degree. If it bugs you enough, the ukulele will soon fall out of favor. As already suggested, you may want to see if you are able to return it.

John

ukantor
09-25-2018, 09:02 PM
This memory goes back a long way, but it might add something worthwhile to the discussion. I made my first ukulele way back in 1996. It was a soprano and had some - er - unusual features. It sounded OK-ish, but lacked volume, and certain notes were noticeably clunky.

I discovered that fitting a sound post made a very worthwhile improvement. It was a piece of dowel (1/4" dia, I think) - a sliding fit (only tight enough to hold itself in place) near the edge of the sound hole, on the neck side.

It is easy enough to try, and won't harm the uke in any way.

For the record, I'm a hobby builder and have only made about thirty ukes over the last twenty years.

John Colter.

beautifulsoup
09-26-2018, 04:22 AM
I remembered reading about this on the acoustic guitar forum and I re-visited it. Since it is a resonance issue with the build, not neck/fret/string, it is possible (according to those on the guitar forum) to re-voice the instrument. It would probably mean altering the braces (changing the mass); but you would need a seasoned luthier to attempt it. Supposedly David Crosby shaved the braces on his Martin years ago, but I imagine some quantity of drugs were involved in the process which I don't recommend.

As already mentioned, it happens on all stringed instruments to some degree. If it bugs you enough, the ukulele will soon fall out of favor. As already suggested, you may want to see if you are able to return it.

John

Not gonna return; it's been years! (Guess it doesn't bother me quite that much!) I mean, there are certain pieces I know *not* to play on it, and others are just fine. Weird. :D I was primarily curious to see if anyone else with this model had the same issue; and I've waited this long to finally ask.


Thanks!

beautifulsoup
09-26-2018, 04:32 AM
Thanks, Ukecaster! Not an issue so much when singing, but some of those fingerpicking solos; agggh! S'pose I could always tune down. Or up. Mostly, I avoid certain solos. I have plenty of other ukes! :D

beautifulsoup
09-26-2018, 04:34 AM
This memory goes back a long way, but it might add something worthwhile to the discussion. I made my first ukulele way back in 1996. It was a soprano and had some - er - unusual features. It sounded OK-ish, but lacked volume, and certain notes were noticeably clunky.

I discovered that fitting a sound post made a very worthwhile improvement. It was a piece of dowel (1/4" dia, I think) - a sliding fit (only tight enough to hold itself in place) near the edge of the sound hole, on the neck side.

It is easy enough to try, and won't harm the uke in any way.

For the record, I'm a hobby builder and have only made about thirty ukes over the last twenty years.

John Colter.

Hmmm! Thanks; worth a try.

etudes
09-29-2018, 06:29 AM
This memory goes back a long way, but it might add something worthwhile to the discussion. I made my first ukulele way back in 1996. It was a soprano and had some - er - unusual features. It sounded OK-ish, but lacked volume, and certain notes were noticeably clunky.

I discovered that fitting a sound post made a very worthwhile improvement. It was a piece of dowel (1/4" dia, I think) - a sliding fit (only tight enough to hold itself in place) near the edge of the sound hole, on the neck side.

It is easy enough to try, and won't harm the uke in any way.

For the record, I'm a hobby builder and have only made about thirty ukes over the last twenty years.

John Colter.

Thanks for the tip! I'll have to try that- the Pono has a dead note on the E string, second fret (F#).

ProfChris
09-29-2018, 06:44 AM
Another thing to try is a lump of poster putty on the soundboard - I'd guess a little less than 1/2 inch diameter. This will modify how the top resonates, and might move the dead note to somewhere between Bb and A. Start with it near the bridge and move it around to find the best spot.

If it improves matters, you need to glue in something of the same mass in the same spot, but inside obviously.