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View Full Version : Perfection Tuning: Intonation



specialmike
06-18-2009, 08:30 AM
I was watching the KoAloha Story video last night and Papa KoAloha was talking about giving each ukulele a "intonation' test. He mentioned something about playing a C note and another C note of the same octave and passing his audio test.

According to him, when you play those two notes, you should not get a 'wavy" sound. That's understandable. But when I play the two notes, A-3, E-8, I always get a wavy sound. When I pull out my tuner at 440 hz, it says they're both in tune, "green light'.

So... how am I supposed to make it so that my KoAloha is in more tune, so that there is no wavy sound. But the more I think about it, the less avoiding the "wavy sound' seems possible. If I strum both strings even a tenth of a second apart, I'm going to get wavy sounds...It's simple physics... Any help on this perfect tuning?

Thanks in Advance

ukulelebadass
06-18-2009, 08:36 AM
So... how am I supposed to make it so that my KoAloha is in more tune, so that there is no wavy sound. But the more I think about it, the less avoiding the "wavy sound' seems possible. If I strum both strings even a tenth of a second apart, I'm going to get wavy sounds...It's simple physics... Any help on this perfect tuning?

Thanks in Advance

I agree- it seems that the only way to make this happen would be to tune the uke by tuning it to C on all the strings, for example instead of tuning your first string to an A you tune it to a C on the third fret... but it seems to me that then you end up with the string being a couple of hertz flat when played open... maybe you could do it with a fretless uke?

specialmike
06-18-2009, 09:01 AM
I agree- it seems that the only way to make this happen would be to tune the uke by tuning it to C on all the strings, for example instead of tuning your first string to an A you tune it to a C on the third fret... but it seems to me that then you end up with the string being a couple of hertz flat when played open... maybe you could do it with a fretless uke?

... if I do it on a fretless uke, how can I tune my ukulele? LOL :rotfl:

ichadwick
06-18-2009, 09:05 AM
When I pull out my tuner at 440 hz, it says they're both in tune, "green light'.

Tuners may look accurate, but they're really not that precise. For one, a wave decays so the pitch falls off with time, so it may be in tune only momentarily.
Second, a note can be out a hertz or two, and still sound good and not upset the tuner. But if you get two notes played together, one a tiny bit sharp, the other flat, the cumulative effect is like added vectors: more noticeable. Hence the 'wavy' beat you hear.
Finally, there's the mechanical aspect: Where you place your finger on the fretboard might actually have a bigger effect on the note than you realize. The open note may be spot on pitch, but your finger may sharpen or flatten the fretted note enough to be noticeable when two or more notes are played simultaneously.
And last, but not least - the 'phase of the moon' syndrome. Things seem out of whack for no apparent reason aside from the current phase of the moon. Then the moon changes, and things sound fine again. Okay - humidity, temperature, string age, ambient temperature, and pressure play a role. But the phase of the moon is always a gremlin at work!

specialmike
06-18-2009, 09:35 AM
Tuners may look accurate, but .... But the phase of the moon is always a gremlin at work!

So... just live with it? I WILL NOT! LOL No seriously, how will I achieve this perfect tuned ukulele?

HaileISela
06-18-2009, 09:55 AM
So... just live with it? I WILL NOT! LOL No seriously, how will I achieve this perfect tuned ukulele?

maybe you should just tune it with your tuner and then fine tune it by ear...

but those wavy tones are most of the time overtones (as far as I know) and I wouldn't care too much for them...

Brad Bordessa
06-18-2009, 10:04 AM
Try testing your intonation with harmonics. Play the open string and then play a 12th fret harmonic on the same string. This will be more reliable than fretting a note. If the two pitches are off, too bad. You would have to move the bridge and/or saddle a tiny bit to fix it. Mine is off a bit - you would be hard pressed to find an 'ukulele with perfect intonation. Electric guitars have bridges that can be adjusted for intonation, but not ukes. It's not a big deal unless you can really hear the difference as you play up the neck.

I personally like the wavy sound. To the extent that I will bend one of the notes a tad bit out of tune to get that sound. It seems to sustain longer too.

The western music scale is not even. All of the notes are off a tiny bit, but you can't tell because - they are all off a bit. Listen to Middle Eastern music. They divide up their scales into 22 or more notes that are much more accurate. It sounds weird to us, but in reality their scales are much more mathematically correct and even.

Ukulele Jim
06-18-2009, 10:08 AM
I only have one ukulele with perfect intonation, and that's my mahogany LoPrinzi. My KoAloha comes really close to perfection.

MGM
06-18-2009, 10:18 AM
I have never heard or passed thru my hands a ukulel that is perfectly in tune everywhere up and down Theorically maybe in practice NEVER

specialmike
06-18-2009, 10:21 AM
I have never heard or passed thru my hands a ukulel that is perfectly in tune everywhere up and down Theorically maybe in practice NEVER

If MGM hasn't found one.. then I guess ... I can stop being concerned about it :)

interp1
06-18-2009, 12:17 PM
maybe you could do it with a fretless uke?

I'd love to try a fretless ukulele. I think properly tuning it would be impossible without two reference notes or a chromatic tuner.