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View Full Version : Newbie - first Uke is a Mitchell MU-100 - need help



kjmphoto
09-12-2009, 08:10 AM
Hello all. I am new to the forums here. It looks like there is a ton of cool info, videos, etc. about ukes. I usually do a lot of research before buying anything. However, I just got a uke without doing any research.

My wife wanted to get me one for my 30th birthday, but had no clue where to start. So she decided to let me go with her to pick one out. I'm a guitar player, and didn't know anything about ukes. So we went up to Guitar Center.

They had just a few choices, and we narrowed it down to the Mitchell MU-70 & Mitchell MU-100, based on price and size. They both sounded comparable to me, based on my limited experience with ukes. So it just boiled down to looks at that point, and my wife loved the looks of the MU-100. It is a beautiful instrument, I give her that.

I've had it a few days, and like it. It has a nice tone, good volume, and good action. The biggest complaint I have so far is that it doesn't stay in tune for very long. I still have the stock strings on it, though, and I have read on these forums that they are garbage. So that could be a big part of it.

I just picked up some D'Addario J53 black nylon strings. I haven't strapped them on the uke yet, because I'm curious what you all think about the strings before I stretch them out? Should this cure my tuning problem? Does anyone have experience with the MU-100 and these strings? Are there other strings that would sound better on this uke, like the Worth strings? Should I keep the MU-100, or is there another beginner uke out there that sounds better for the same price or less (we paid around $170, I think)?

Thanks in advance!

PattyD
09-12-2009, 08:37 AM
I almost bought that one myself but ended up liking the Oscar Schmidt OU5 better and they were both listed at the same price, one at Sam Ash one at GC.

The Grover tuners and sweet sound were already tipping the scales on behalf of the OU5 and then when I told them I was considering the MU100 at another store, it magically came down in price. Cha-ching!

I had to travel to a city nearby for music stores and even found ukuleles at Best Buy. At the time didn't know there was a small uke store in the area. Now I do, next time I buy new, I"ll go there!

Enjoy embarking on a new adventure!

kjmphoto
09-12-2009, 09:37 AM
Patty,

Thanks for sharing. So far, I've had a lot of fun with the uke. Being a guitar player, it's a very different feel, and something fun and new.

RyanMFT
09-12-2009, 09:45 AM
First, welcome to U.U.!!! Glad you are here!

Have a blast with your new uke. I am a believer in the theory that the best uke is the one you love and play the most! However....

Could you get something better in that price range? Possibly....the best thing to do would be to contact MGM, which stands for Music Guy Mike through his ebay store. Unless you have a good uke store near you, connecting with Mike, who ships worldwide, will set you up with the very best uke for your money. He is on these boards all the time and is honest and cares about this community. I've NEVER heard a bad word from anyone who has dealt with Mike, myself included. Tell Mike what your budget and your needs are and he will recommend a uke that will sing!

Here is his store....
http://stores.shop.ebay.com/Musicguymics-Room__W0QQ_armrsZ1

However, if you keep your uke, changing the strings is a good place to start. I have used the DiAddario strings and I like them. It is personal taste that wins out here. Strings are cheap so try a few out.

As far as tuning, it is common for uke strings to take some time to stretch and settle in. I have found that some strings take much longer than others....sometimes up to a week of tuning a couple times a day!! Other strings have settled in quickly for me (such as Aquila). The good news is that uke strings usually last much longer then guitar strings!

Hopes that helps! Keep coming back and keep playing!

buddhuu
09-12-2009, 09:53 AM
I'd give the D'Addarios a go as you have them. You could always try out a set of Worths if the D'Addarios don't shape up ok. Worths are my favourite strings now.

One thing you'll get used to is the annoying fact that new ukes and ukes with new strings often need frequent retuning for a couple of weeks or more until the strings stretch out and stabilise.

EDIT: Apologies, I meant to add - Welcome to UU!

kjmphoto
09-12-2009, 10:33 AM
Thanks for the warm welcome and advice. I'll probably keep the stock strings on the uke for a few more days to see what I can get out of them. Then I'll throw on the D'Addario J53.

Like I said, I like the uke so far. I just want to make sure I didn't buy it for looks alone, and that it is something I can grow into it. It's not the most expensive uke, obviously, but it's not the cheapest either. So I want to make sure I got my money's worth.

Thanks again.

Citrus
09-12-2009, 11:33 AM
I've got an mu-100 right now, it's a nice instrument but the heavy lamination really cuts the volume. I've used the stock strings, aquila's, and pro-artes. Right now I'm on the pro-artes and they're pretty good, nothing special. The Aquila's were the ones I liked the most because they kind of grip your fingers and whats more important is they have more volume. They also don't go out of tune nearly as easily as pure nylon.

Sonseeker30
09-12-2009, 11:59 AM
Glad you are here at UU. This is a great place to network and meet friends. I don't know much about the Mitchell. I have a concert Lanikai and a soprano Kamaka and I like them both. But I have been playing the Lanikai a whole lot more lately. It is the cheaper uke of the two that I have. As a beginner uke it sounds like you made a good choice. Uke strings need time to settle in. I put some ghs strings on my lanikai recently because that's all I had till I get to the music store and it took a good few days for it to stretch out. My next strings that I am going to purchase are D'Addarios for my uke. I have D'Addarios on my guitar and I like them alot. Here are a couple of sites I use to find songs.

http://ukulele.nl/
http://chordie.com/

Captain_Lovehandles
09-12-2009, 12:05 PM
Citrus nailed why I like the Aquilas. They grab your fingers sort of the way a wound guitar string does.. I've thought of trying others, but I like the feel so much, I don't plan to soon.

ukulelearp
09-12-2009, 03:43 PM
My favorite strings are Fremont Flurocarbons. Just test out different ones if you have a chance, different strings suit different instruments/players.

kjmphoto
09-15-2009, 02:13 PM
Thanks everyone for sharing your opinions. I haven't had time to play the uke (or any instrument) the past few days. We've been putting stuff in a POD, getting ready for a move...not fun. Anywho, I'll probably pick up the uke tonight and give her another spin.

I'll be back. Thanks again.

kjmphoto
09-16-2009, 03:50 PM
Hello All,

I do have one question. What is the purpose of laminate if it degrades the sound of an instrument? Is it only for looks and protection from the elements?

djny
09-16-2009, 04:35 PM
Laminate is less expensive than solid wood. As you say, it's also less vulnerable to changes in temperature and humidity.

kjmphoto
09-17-2009, 07:49 AM
Just out of curiosity, does anyone know in what respect the Mitchell MU-100 is Koa wood? Would it be the outside layer, the inside layer, neither? And speaking of laminates, is there any need for a humidifier?

Thanks.

ukulelehoo
09-17-2009, 08:08 AM
New strings usually won't stay in tune for very long. It took mine a couple of months before they settled down. Laminates typically do not need humidifiers. As for another uke that sounds "better" around the price you paid - I have never played or heard your instrument, but I think Flea Ukuleles are great and so do a lot of other people. I got mine for $146 new, I think they are usually $169 for the base model.

RyanMFT
09-17-2009, 10:10 AM
In response to what part is Koa, it would be the outer most layer of the uke because Koa is such a visually beautiful wood and it sells uke's because people do like a uke to be made of a Hawaiian wood.

One thing I have read in some places is that Koa isn't always a top choice in regards to being the best "tone wood". However, I have no knowledge in this area other then hearing how my Koa, Mahogany, and Lamanite ukes sound to my uneducated ear.

kjmphoto
09-17-2009, 01:18 PM
ukulelehoo,

A couple months?! Wow! I'm a steel string guy, being a straight acoustic guitar player for a while now. So I don't have much experience with nylons, aside from the occasional playing of a classical guitar.

As for my Mitchell, I don't dislike it. I have no experience with ukes. So I just want to make sure I won't be regretting my choice a month or 2 from now. I still have the stock strings on there, and wanted to allow them to settle a bit, so I could better judge the intonation, etc. I have to say that according to my tuner, it's pretty darn good all the way up the neck.

We'll see how things develop over the next week or so.

Ryan,

Thanks for the info. That's what I figured...that the Koa would be the outside layer.

kjmphoto
09-17-2009, 03:08 PM
I've been messing around some more with my Mitchell MU-100. I like the action on it, but the more I play it, the duller it sounds. I think I will put the d'addario J53 strings on it tomorrow. I keep putting it off, because I know it will just take more time for these strings to settle in. The stock GHS strings are close to that point it seems, but they don't do much for the uke.

This may be a dumb question, but I've never had to do this before. If I put the d'addario strings on tomorrow, and play them for a bit...then decide I'm still not real happy with the Mitchell, and decide to return it...could I take off the d'addario strings, and use them on my next uke?

The fact that I'm even talking about this makes me believe I will probably return the Mitchell, but we'll see what the d'addario strings can do for it.

Thanks.

ukulelehoo
09-17-2009, 09:30 PM
I guess it takes time for the Nylon to stop stretching. After they finished stretching, they don't really get out of tune anymore even after 1 year. I should probably change strings. lol

You can probably take the strings off and reuse them, just don't cut the excess string. However, how are you going to get the old stock strings back on the uke before you return it? May be difficult if they've been cut.

kjmphoto
09-18-2009, 07:38 AM
Ukulelehoo,

I thought about that...that it will be tricky to put the stock strings back on the uke if I return it. I don't know if Guitar Center will take it back if I can't get the original GHS strings back on. I would think they would, but do I want to take the chance.

RevWill
09-18-2009, 07:53 AM
I guess it takes time for the Nylon to stop stretching. After they finished stretching, they don't really get out of tune anymore even after 1 year. I should probably change strings. lol

You can probably take the strings off and reuse them, just don't cut the excess string. However, how are you going to get the old stock strings back on the uke before you return it? May be difficult if they've been cut.

Yeah. Once they start staying in tune it's time to change 'em out. ;)

Some folks change strings pretty frequently and others wait until one breaks - which may take a couple of years. I say it depends upon how hard you are on your strings. The more often you play, the harder you press with your fretting hand, the harder you strum, the more fingernail you have on your strumming hand, the more you bend when you play, the more often you play in different locations or subject your uke to temp/humidity changes, etc.. the more often you'll need to change them.

ukulelehoo
09-18-2009, 01:06 PM
Ukulelehoo,

I thought about that...that it will be tricky to put the stock strings back on the uke if I return it. I don't know if Guitar Center will take it back if I can't get the original GHS strings back on. I would think they would, but do I want to take the chance.

Are the strings the same color? Maybe they won't know. Or just buy another pair of GHS. Or just tell them a string broke?

kjmphoto
09-19-2009, 06:08 AM
Thanks everyone for the advice. I'm not dead-set yet on returning the Mitchell, but I'm leaning that way. I'm actually leaning towards the Kamoa Pineapple at this point. I'm going to post a new thread about this.

Thanks again.

Sambient
09-20-2009, 02:12 AM
Hi, first post here. I happen to have just bought one of theses Friday night.
I really like it. Here's the review I wrote for Amazon, though that's not where I purchased it. I just wanted there to be something nice said about it somewhere.


Full disclosure: I only just bought this. So this inital review is not based on extensive experience. When this ukulele and I have been together longer, I plan on updating my report.
I've started playing on a little flea market purchased uke, and my husband recently bought a Lanakai LU 21C concert ukulele. The other evening I picked his up and realized how much easier and more pleasant it was. Don't get me wrong, the flea market instrument is remarkably good for what it is, and manages to stay in tune longer than most things do. But, it isn't effortless to play. As a beginner, I know I'm more likely to stick with something if it is fun.
Started looking at my affordable options online. The more I read, the more curious I became. Last night we went to one brick-and-mortar instrument retailer where I played with several models, including something I really thought I wanted. Nothing was a need, nothing was going to give me anything more than I already had. Or, was going to be the right instrument for me to learn on, maybe a later indulgence.
Another instrument retailer was immediately nearby, so we popped in there. Just to see. I'd not heard of the Mitchell brand, was told it's Guitar Center's exclusive, though as we can all see, it can be found online.
First impression was being dazzled by its looks. But I wasn't going for looks (in fact I can't wait for it to be a little less shiny). But it was clear that this is a very solid piece of craftsmanship. It felt right, it sounded good. I also tried out the MU70 model, which was nice. But I felt like this MU100 fit me. So much so that it feels sentient in my clutches, like one of my cats nestling into me. And it just felt so very well made.
Now, this has no bearing on how good an instrument will be, and I don't know what made me do this, but I extended my arm, held out two fingers, and laid the base of the back of the neck on those fingers. It balanced perfectly, ignoring gravity.
I'm not someone who goes about balancing things, I still don't know why I did this.
It was a little more than I was planning at the moment to spend, especially on an unfamiliar brand. But as I sat with it I realized that anything else I would try if I continued to shop would be being compared to this one. And I recognized it would take me awhile to outgrow this one. Might as well give in. So I did.
I downplayed the looks, but it really is beautiful. Dazzling abalone trim. The binding on the neck is a good quality.
Purists criticize this model for being laminated wood. Yes, it doesn't breathe as freely as some others, but it has a very good voice of its own. Maybe I just lucked into a particularly good one, but I think this uke is brilliant.
I know there's that breaking in period where ukuleles go out of tune constantly. We'll get through that. I have no unrealistic expectations, only the pleasant surprise of something fantastic for less money than I would have expected to pay for this level of quality.
I don't feel justified giving something without an extensive history five stars. And I wouldn't have minded if it came with a gig bag. But that just gives me something else to shop for.
For the record, the first place, Sam Ash, had the Flea and Fluke, which I was very interested in, but once in my hands, not what I'd expected. Maybe later.
Last weekend I was cooing over the white Oscar Schmidt OU3 in person. The laminate on that is so dense I thought it was a plastic ukulele. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
So with my Mitchell, I get a different showy laminate. And I think I'm going to make my own case.

Sambient
09-20-2009, 02:13 AM
And, oh, my stock strings seem to be improving nicely already. My husband had instructed me to stretch the strings on the instrument a little.

kjmphoto
09-22-2009, 03:30 PM
Are you still liking the Mitchell MU-100?

cornfedgroove
09-22-2009, 04:34 PM
lets be fair...the chances that GC kept that thing tuned is about zero...you've only had it a few days, they are probably virtually brand new since chances are they've been flopping around on an instrument with no tension

Duddles
09-22-2009, 05:44 PM
My first ukulele (and my only current one) is an MU-100. I hate it. I despise it, and I can't wait for my uklectic... I think the Mitchell is killing me slowly.

My main problem is that the craftsmanship is quite a bit shoddy. The nut is not flush with the fretboard among other things that have already been covered.

Honestly, I would up your price a slight bit and get a Kala (tenor preferably, love the sound) from MGM, he does a great job working on them and they come with a case and everything usually.

Anton K
06-29-2011, 09:37 AM
I know I am going to catch some heat for this but I have the Mitchell MU100 as well as a dozen other ukes I like it good wood but as someone said heavy laquer finish. They are solid wood and to gloss them that much is a drawback. As for strings....and here comes the heat....the best I have found for this uke is believe it or not The Senorita La Bella strings made by E&O Mari out of New York. They settle in quickly for solid nylon strings and they don't break the budget. Very Cheap strings but for some reason they seem louder than others I have used on the MU100.

allUkedup
06-29-2011, 11:18 AM
I also bought the MU-100 as my first uke. What I did when I put my Aquila strings on, was tune it, then I'd pick up the uke and make the worst sound you've ever heard across the strings over and over and over, stretching them out, then tuned it again, and repeated multiple times. Now it stays in tune for a pretty long time. (sorry if someone already said that, I didn't take the time to read all the pages, just a few comments)

RenTag
11-28-2012, 10:55 AM
The mu-100 was my first uke and I still love it. I have d'addario(sp) on it now but think i am going to put aquilla's(sp) on it soon. I understand what people say about it not being super loud, but the tone is so good I can't complain. I think the Heavy coat of lacquer has helped my uke to stay in such great shape, I live near the beach in FL and the salt in the air seems to deteriorate everything.

I plan on starting to save for a new uke in 2013, maybe a used compass rose or something along those lines.

BTW
If you're ever looking for a case for the mu-100, oscar schmidt makes a pretty nice one!

I think this is the one I have.
http://www.amazon.com/Oscar-Schmidt-UC3-Concert-Ukulele/dp/B001ROZT8G

Nickie
11-28-2012, 05:23 PM
Congrats on the new uke! Even if you're not in love with it, you're learning. Most people don't stick with the first uke they buy. I've had 6 ukes now and am totally in love with my Kala with Aquilas on it. Jury still out on my new Luna with Aquilas, haven't had a chance to play it yet!

hipphop
06-06-2013, 08:01 PM
I know this is an old post, but thought I would chime in. I had my heart set on the Kamoa E3 Tenor, but I couldn't find one in stock anywhere for the lowest price I saw it for, so i thought I would go down to my local GC and see if they had something that I would like.

Being a complete newbie, all I had to go on was how the ukes I was reading about sounded on the videos online. When I got to GC, I tested a few, and I fell in love with tghe looks of the Mitchel MU-100. It was a concert size, and I wanted a tenor - but my GC didn't carry any tenors.

Even though my experience was limited, after two days with the uke, I knew something seemed off. The sound was just kind of "dead" - like, the sound was rather dull within a millisecond after strumming. After a little reading online, I found I was not the only one with this problem with the MU 100. I guess all that heavy lamination and gloss really dulls the sound. I only had the uke three days, and then I ordered a Kala solid spruce top tenor which I have now. and NOW my problem is I think I need to adjust my strings. The sound quality is amazing and bright, but I admit the Mitchell's set-up was easier to play. I know the action was lower on the Mitchell and I find i really have to strain my fingers to get the strings fully depressed on the Kala.

Since I like the sound of the Kala, I am going to try and modify the strings soon. But I think I should have gone with my instincts and held out for the Kamoa.