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griemers
07-11-2009, 09:07 AM
Alright, so I finally bought my first real, solid-wood uke. It is a concert size mahogany from a reputable brand in the $200-$300 range that many people here on the forum have spoken highly of. I've got it strung with Aquilas, and the tone on it is pretty amazing compared to the laminate-topped uke I had been playing. The problem is that I'm having some intonation issues with it. I've never really played a "good" uke, so I'm not sure if these are unacceptable, or just normal. Here are the issues:

1. E string playing about 10 cents sharp at the 3rd fret. It was a little worse, so I deepened the nut slot a little and this helped some, but I 'm worried about doing too much more.

2. The G and A strings are playing flat above the seventh fret-- and consistently 15 to 20 cents by the tenth.

So my question: Now, I know that "perfect" intonation is nearly impossible on fretted instruments, but are these big enough problems to be concerned about? Should I take advantage of my warranty and exchange it for a new one, or would I most likely see the same kind of things (or other problems)? I spoke with the guy who sold it to me, and he said it might be a string issue, but that I could return it if I wanted to.

I know, I know, I should just play and enjoy it-- and I do. I was just thinking that since I still have the warranty maybe I should take advantage of it?

What do you guys think?

cashew
07-11-2009, 09:39 AM
hmm, I'd say, that since you have already modified the instrument, that you probably won't be able to take advantage of any warranty/return policy for the uke.

I'd try different strings-- if the tone is good, that might be a cheap and easy solution... I have Worth Browns on my concert uke, and I can't speak highly enough of them. (I'm actually thinking of getting some clears for my soprano)

Hope that helps
--Nut

UkuEroll
07-11-2009, 09:41 AM
As stated above.
Did you tell the guy you bought if from that you had adjusted the nut, as this may void your warranty.
It's very difficult to get over that kind of problem, unless you start paying lots of money for a really good one.

Myala509
07-11-2009, 09:53 AM
My aquilas go flat too at higher on the fret board. I dont really play up there so it does not bother me.

ukantor
07-11-2009, 10:01 AM
I would not accept the degree of inaccuracy you describe. It is not difficult for manufacturers to put the frets in the right places, and to position the nut and the saddle properly. A good setting up can often improve poor intonation, but what you are describing seems to be outside that range. Deepening a nut slot should not invalidate your warranty (provided you have not gone too far), but that's only MY opinion.

At that sort of price, I'd expect a uke to have (or be able to be set up to have) good intonation.

John Colter.

griemers
07-11-2009, 10:17 AM
I actually did mention that I had worked on the nut, and he still said that I could return it...

Is it common for Aquilas to play flat in the higher register? They are all I have ever really used. I was thinking of maybe switching those two strings to higher tension ones (would tenor strings be higher or lower tension?)

buddhuu
07-11-2009, 10:42 AM
I agree with John.

Even on an inexpensive instrument I would not expect significant intonation problems beyond those caused by poor setup, high action etc. Poor intonation caused by innaccurate fretting or bridge position is, IMO, a manufacturing defect that can render the instrument unfit for its purpose, and I would expect to return it.

If the retailer has said you can return it then I'd give him another chance as he is acting in a helpful and professional manner.

Your adjustments to the nut, as long as you didn't file down so far that the strings buzz, are unlikely to be a big deal, and I would hope that wouldn't be used by a seller as an excuse not to honour a warranty if there were a genuine defect. Your retailer obviously has more integrity than that, so respect to him.

Although I would hope that a reasonably expensive instrument would be set up at least well enough to display good intonation, many makers leave setup fairly "raw" and action high so the player can have adjustments made to taste by their local luthier or guitar tech.

If you find another instrument displays similar probs, maybe have a local store check for you to see if it just needs a setup. Any guitar store should be capable.

ukantor
07-11-2009, 10:48 AM
"Is it common for Aquilas to play flat in the higher register?"

No.

John Colter.

griemers
07-11-2009, 11:46 AM
It is interesting that you mention bridge position-- I measured, and my bridge is slightly off-center. It is the same distance from the nut to either side of the bridge--the entire bridge is just shifted slightly to the left. Would this have any effect on the intonation?

Myala509
07-11-2009, 12:23 PM
I have my aquilas on a warped lanikai right now. It could be that.

Ken Middleton
07-11-2009, 12:44 PM
If the strings have been stretched (pulled) when they were first put on, this can change the diameter at different points on the string. It is very common for a string to become flat at the 12th compared to the harmonic at the 12th.

I know, because this happened to me today. I was checking some brand new instruments and one of the strings was a 1/4 step flat at the 12th. I changed the string and the intonation was perfect.

This may be your problem.

The secret is: don't pull the strings to stretch them when you first put them on.

KEN

ukantor
07-11-2009, 01:19 PM
"the entire bridge is just shifted slightly to the left. Would this have any effect on the intonation?"

No

(I'm getting good at these monosyllabic answers!)

John C.

Craig Robertson
07-11-2009, 01:26 PM
No

(I'm getting good at these monosyllabic answers!)

John C.

Don't you think the word "monosyllabic" should be reduced to one syllable for it to be truly descriptive?

(sorry...getting into meta-linguistics here. Never mind, carry on.)

hoosierhiver
07-11-2009, 01:32 PM
Ken has a very good point,
Alot of times people think intonation is slightly off because of the ukulele is defective, it is often strings or even saddle height. I would guess most of the serious ukuleles sold by known brands offered today have the formula for correct fret intonation down.
The bridge shouldn't be off center though, you shouldn't feel bad about returning it.

Dominator
07-11-2009, 01:49 PM
It is interesting that you mention bridge position-- I measured, and my bridge is slightly off-center. It is the same distance from the nut to either side of the bridge--the entire bridge is just shifted slightly to the left. Would this have any effect on the intonation?

As has already been mentioned, this should NOT have any ill effects on the intonation. Regarding the placement of the bridge. I think that if you get out the ruler and start measuring up a number of instruments including high end customs you will be surprised at what you will find. Most uke builders are human and this sort of stuff happens (sometimes purposely). And the ukes still sound an play great.

griemers
07-11-2009, 02:57 PM
Thanks for all of the input, everybody.

I swapped the A string with one from a new set over a week ago and was still getting the same thing, so if it is a string problem, it would most likely be with Aquila's in general, not with the particular string.