PDA

View Full Version : is "free setup" a myth?



3nails4holes
07-30-2009, 06:32 AM
in looking around for a recent uke purchase, i began to wonder about a uke purchased from the lowest price out there vs. one from a dealer who offers the added value of "free setup."

let's take a factory made kala, lanikai, pono, ohana, etc. if there is a claim of some sort of setup by the dealer, what does that really actually mean? i know what is implied or even offered. but why is that necessary?

doesn't ohana or kala know what kind of instruments are rolling off of their factory floors? take nut & saddle adjustments for example. if these were really necessary changes and adjustments by the dealer, wouldn't the dealer just return the item to the manufacturer rather than spend time (which =money) to fix something that should have been done right the first time by the company? or rather does the dealer simply get it out of the box, play it and determine then if any problem exists? and then send the bad ones back for exchange/refund and the good ones hit their sales floor or stock room?

in tough economic times like these, i'm looking to make the best decision i can with my money. and if store "x" offers an ohana for $200 and store "y" offers it for $205 with "free setup" that has a claimed value or implied value of $15-30, i would clearly spend the extra $5 to get something that i think is worth more than that. but did anything really happen?

strings, for example. when a vendor says that the strings have been upgraded, what does that mean? to me it means that the strings that came on a uke from the factory were of inferior quality than ones that the dealer took the time to carefully install. but what if those fancier strings came installed on the uke in the first place from the manufacturer and there was no actual removal of crummy ones and installation of these fancier strings?

i suppose i'm just asking for some feedback or thoughts on this set-up stuff.

if it really happens, what actually goes on and is it worth my extra money or the perceived value of that service?

if the ukes already come from the factory ready to play, then why claim to offer such a wonderful added service that didn't really happen?

thanks uu universe! :shaka:

Ukulele Dude
07-30-2009, 06:45 AM
If they're really taking the time to properly setup the uke, and not just claiming they are, then it is probably worth it. Many mass produced ukes will come from the factory with really high action. I think the logic is that it is easier to adjust down than up. Just lowering the action a little bit can make a huge difference in playability of an inexpensive uke. Or it might have small defects that can be corrected by a good setup, like an uneven saddle, or a defective set of strings, etc.

I always change the strings at least once after I get a uke, and you should experiment to find the right ones for your instrument, so I never give too much thought to which ones are on it when I buy it. Hope that helps.

vahn
07-30-2009, 06:51 AM
Free setups do happen and are pretty much a necessity on some ukuleles to get the most out of the instrument. Do the brands not know what they are getting? Of course they know what they are getting: A mid-quality ukulele at a very cheap price. I wont go as far to say as though they don't care if its playable, just that the guys that build them are factory workers, and the guys that set them up know how to play instruments.

I hear Ohana and Mainland are made in the same factory, and are of equivalent quality. Why is it ohanas have so many more bad reviews? Because many people misconstrue bad action as poor build quality (a baddly set up instrument can have as bad of intonation as one with a bent neck) overall and if its your first uke you got after a $30 cheapo your going to be upset. Mainlands have great customer service, and are set up by somebody who knows what they're doin. And that makes all the difference. (if only they had some w/o that rope binding)


As far as upgraded strings, that can be relative. MGM for example, told me that Aquilas were already on my kala which most ppl would consider an upgrade and I asked for Worth Clears. Strings can make as big of a difference in sound as the soundboard can IMO. Knowing what will sound good with your uke can be tricky, and theres different strokes for different folks, but you probably would like w/e new strings were on it better than what probably came on it already, at least if your lower-mid range ukes

vahn
07-30-2009, 06:55 AM
And as far as retailers/brand not accepting them, go read MGMs warranty thread a few pages back. It's a good insight as to what would happen if we sent the companies a bajillion instruments back.

DaveVisi
07-30-2009, 07:11 AM
Posts move rather quickly. It would help tremendously if you provide a link to whatever previous thread you're referring to.

In this case, it took me a while but I found the MGM topic you're talking about.

http://ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16301

MGM
07-30-2009, 07:52 AM
Why wouldn't I exchange a uke with high action that just needed a little saddle adjustment and nut filing. Cost...You paid to ship to to you. you pay time and money to pack it back up and then the next one may be the same. Anyone who has been to my shop has seen that we go over every ukulele and do checks and fret dressing and adjustments on all ukulele before they go out whether its a 36.00 or a higher priced ukulele.

leftovermagic84
07-30-2009, 07:56 AM
MGM is the man as far as the setup goes. I can't comment on that and say things any better than what has already been said, but as far as strings go, do a search for "GHS Strings", which are the most common on lower end ukes. Then do a search for Aquila or Worth.

hoosierhiver
07-30-2009, 08:04 AM
As far as I know, all factory ukuleles come to the respective companies already strung and "ready to go".

The problem is, the factory workers aren't ukulele players, they are factory workers. What's more, the people doing the QC at the factory are probably only looking for obvious flaws and not smaller issues.

Most ukes need at least some tweaking to make them sound their best, whether that be lowering the action, replacing a bad string, widening a groove in a nut, or a number of other possiblilties. This does not mean they are defective and should have been returned. They simply need someone who actually plays ukulele to check them out and give them a little love.

So I guess an important consideration is, are you buying from someone who is just a business man or are they a ukulele player as well?

Ahnko Honu
07-30-2009, 08:15 AM
SO many entry level 'ukulele come with high actions, sharp fret wire edges, and inexpensive (GHS) strings. These things effect playability and quality of sound. Most beginners are ignorant of the existence of these problems so are happy to accept these 'ukuleles as is from just not knowing any better. As a kid I used to play my Dad's Kamaka and when ever a string needed replacing I'd look in my tackle box and grab the appropriate diameter fishing line and restring, no problem and sounded fine to me because I did not know any better back then. For mass produced instruments the Kala and Ohana are unbeatable for the price but they are not perfect and the setup makes these 'ukuleles that much better, worth the small setup fee if you're even charged for it. People like MGM don't sell 'ukuleles solely for profit but they play, and have a love for the 'ukulele that they want to share with others so they want to sell the best sounding 'ukulele for the money which most times requires setup.
100% positive feedback in over 10,000 sales speaks for itself.

Boozelele
07-30-2009, 09:21 AM
So I guess an important consideration is, are you buying from someone who is just a business man or are they a ukulele player as well?

I've been to the Mainland shop and seen Mike and his wife pass a soprano back and forth between them trying to diagnose the cause of a minor string buzz that I couldn't even hear. This is the kind of attention to detail that he is known for. In the case of Mainland, you can be sure that "free set-up" is worth ten times as much (wait, that didn't come out right).

Pippin
07-30-2009, 12:10 PM
let's take a factory made kala, lanikai, pono, ohana, etc. if there is a claim of some sort of setup by the dealer, what does that really actually mean? i know what is implied or even offered. but why is that necessary?


Many Ohana and Kala ukes are fine from the factory, but some need a little tweaking for some people's taste, which is totally normal.

Some setup people do an outstanding job. Kala's factory setups are very good and so are Lanikai's. Most of the people here will tell you that they love their Kala ukes straight from the box.

MusicGuyMic does tweak the setups on everything he sells to make sure that you have the best shopping experience. Lots of others say they do and don't, so ask your friends and other people online.

I have a Martin guitar that played great before a setup, but, Bill Foley, one of the USA's best setup men tweaked it and it plays like butter.

ukulelearp
07-30-2009, 12:39 PM
I don't think it's a myth. Sometimes there are small issues you may not even notice at first, but make a big difference. I know something as small as lowering the action and changing the strings on mine made a huge difference.

Craig
07-30-2009, 01:26 PM
Why wouldn't I exchange a uke with high action that just needed a little saddle adjustment and nut filing. Cost...You paid to ship to to you. you pay time and money to pack it back up and then the next one may be the same. Anyone who has been to my shop has seen that we go over every ukulele and do checks and fret dressing and adjustments on all ukulele before they go out whether its a 36.00 or a higher priced ukulele.
MGM = The (aka da) BOMB!

jkevinwolfe
07-31-2009, 12:58 AM
It's not a myth, but it's not consistent. What one vendor says is good setup may not be near as discerning as setup on a uke from another vendor. Standards vary just like instruments vary. And then when the uke gets shipped and run through various climates and altitudes for a few days, it can change things again.

Two luthiers told me set up on one of my ukes was to standard, but the action still seemed way too high to me. I tweaked a little myself and got it to where I wanted it. Of course, I was incredibly lucky. I could have really screwed things up.