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View Full Version : Any tips for a cheap ukulele?



emrextreme
11-27-2009, 07:51 AM
Hey all!

I have a problem with the sound of my cheap ukulele.

Firstly and sadly i need to say that i couldn't find any other brands like Oscar Schmidt, Kamaka, Pono and pretty much none of the brands you mentioned in Turkey. Only one i could found is a chinese brand Kapok (using "Pearl River" brand in U.S.A). So that's why i bought it. It's cheap and surely doesn't sound like the ukuleles in videos on youtube.

So basically my main problem is the sound. I need some advices on how to make my ukulele sound better. I really appreciate for any suggestion.

Here are the photos of my ukulele;

http://img190.imageshack.us/img190/7797/92623436.jpg (http://img190.imageshack.us/i/92623436.jpg/)

http://img22.imageshack.us/img22/2898/58346577.jpg (http://img22.imageshack.us/i/58346577.jpg/)

http://img22.imageshack.us/img22/2482/99081503.jpg (http://img22.imageshack.us/i/99081503.jpg/)

http://img22.imageshack.us/img22/7192/34246012.jpg (http://img22.imageshack.us/i/34246012.jpg/)

Ukulele JJ
11-27-2009, 08:07 AM
What about it sounds bad?

If it's tone, then I'd advise buying new, good strings.

If it's intonation (pitch), then you can sometimes adjust the nut and bridge to help a bit.

JJ

Brewerpaul
11-27-2009, 08:07 AM
That doesn't look bad at all. Is the neck nice and straight? Is the action too high or too low? You should be able to fret the strings easily without getting any buzzing on nearby frets.
Assuming all those are OK, new strings like Aquila's are probably the easiest and cheapest way to improve your uke. Also, as you become a better player, the uke will automatically start to sound better.

emrextreme
11-27-2009, 08:20 AM
Thanks for the quick answers.

@Ukulele JJ,

I tune it with AP Tuner using G4, C4, E4 and A4 notes. When i'm playing fingerstyle everything seems to be OK but when i play rhtym with chords it doesn't sound like my guitar does. So pitch might be the problem. I go check how to adjust bridge and nut then.

@Brewerpaul,

I don't hear any buzzing sound with the frets. Maybe i should also check for the new strings. Here's another photo from the side;

http://img42.imageshack.us/img42/5555/99754749.jpg (http://img42.imageshack.us/i/99754749.jpg/)

haolejohn
11-27-2009, 08:42 AM
Strings make a difference. G4 c4 e4 a4? Is that the sme as g c e a? Remeber that this is a uke. It is not a guitar. It is better.

emrextreme
11-27-2009, 08:48 AM
Thanks for your concern. Actually guitar has different notes. The notes i use for ukulele is according to here;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stringed_instrument_tunings#U

My main problem is it sounds pretty much like this guy's strumming. Is that a bad strumming or just a cheap ukulele?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tccdFBsv-zs

bazmaz
11-27-2009, 10:20 AM
Is that a bad strumming or just a cheap ukulele?

Blimey - I clicked on the youtube link with such trepidation in case you had linked to one of mine.... phew..:o

kenikas
11-27-2009, 08:10 PM
I would recommend trying some different strings, and the best strings I've found for cheaper laminate uke's are the Aguila Nylgut strings. From the pictures those look to be plain nylon strings, and I've found they don't hold tune well and really don't have enough energy to drive the laminate soundboards well. Changing strings is easy and will really change the sound of an uke.

emrextreme
11-27-2009, 08:26 PM
Thank you for the answers. I guess changing the strings is the best way to find out what the problem is but here's another problem. I couldn't find any online store selling ukulele strings in Turkey. They are selling all kind of guitar strings but none of them have strings for ukulele. I'm looking for how to use guitar strings on ukulele now and i can use any help. Thanks in advance.

Big_e
11-27-2009, 09:00 PM
Blimey - I clicked on the youtube link with such trepidation in case you had linked to one of mine.... phew..:o

+1, I was sure it was my vid! That ukulele in the video sounds right on. The singer has a deep voice and the uke has a higher voice. Your ukulele sounds about right if it sounds like the one in the vid. Aguilla strings are kind of thick and may lower the sound of your uke just a tiny bit. I've been using Martin flourocarbons and they give my ukes a high tinny sound.
Ernest

Pyrateknight
11-28-2009, 02:19 AM
I have a Mahalo and it sounded alot better after the strings were changed. I am using Aquila.

Lori
11-28-2009, 07:08 AM
Try this thread
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20478

–Lori

grammy
11-28-2009, 08:50 AM
the lanikai lt20 seems to consistently do well in user reviews and it is not dear at all.

kissing
11-29-2009, 02:53 AM
Thank you for the answers. I guess changing the strings is the best way to find out what the problem is but here's another problem. I couldn't find any online store selling ukulele strings in Turkey. They are selling all kind of guitar strings but none of them have strings for ukulele. I'm looking for how to use guitar strings on ukulele now and i can use any help. Thanks in advance.

Can you order things online?
It is quite cheap to buy ukulele strings online, since you don't pay much for postage (they just fit in regular letter envelopes).

If you want to use guitar strings, they would have to be nylon strings for classical guitars. You would have to buy a tension guage that is safe and appropriate for the ukulele. See if you can find guitar strings of these measurements:

Diameter:
0.024 Inch or 0.61mm (A string)
0.032 Inch or 0.81mm (E string)
0.034 Inch or 0.86mm (C string)
0.028 Inch or 0.71mm (G string)

Tension:
7.6 Lbs or 3.45kg
7.6 Lbs or 3.45kg
5.4 Lbs or 2.45kg
8.2 Lbs or 3.72

(at least these are the numbers on my D'Addario ukulele strings pack).

However, I'm sure any music store that stocks guitar strings would be able to order in some of the major brand ukulele strings, since guitar string companies (like D'Addario) also make nylon ukulele strings (they're the same thing really, just different diameters and tensions).

However, it may be difficult to find Aquilas without ordering online.

emrextreme
11-29-2009, 03:14 AM
Thanks for the great info. I sure can order from online for i've already been doing my shopping that way. I couldn't find the ukulele strings on local sites but maybe i should check for the foreign sites like ebay.co.uk. Can you name some trustful sites that can ship to Turkey? Thanks again for your concern.

kissing
11-30-2009, 02:56 AM
Musicguymic's ebay store is usually a top recommended place to shop for all things ukulele :D
http://stores.ebay.com/Musicguymics-Room

emrextreme
11-30-2009, 03:08 AM
Thank you. I really appreciated your help.

emrextreme
12-05-2009, 04:25 AM
Well, i finally changed the strings with new ones. I can say that it made a huge difference in sound. Now it has brighter and louder sound. I'm glad i did that. It took two days to stretch the strings completely, though. My fingertips hurt a little bit but totally worth it.

Also i changed the friction keys with the geared ones. Fortunately, i'm not into the vintage look. Now the strings stay in tune perfectly. It was such a struggle with friction keys for sure. Here's the new photos of the uke;

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/6206/sdc10111r.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/i/sdc10111r.jpg/)


http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/5043/sdc10112pj.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/i/sdc10112pj.jpg/)

ukeninam
12-05-2009, 04:44 AM
I'm glad these differences worked for you...strings would definitely change sound even intonation!!...friction tuners doesn't work for everyone..i personally think there a better for some ukes but its all about finding what works right!! :D

emrextreme
12-05-2009, 11:13 AM
Thank you, Samantha. It sure did work for me. I can suggest geared keys to anyone without hesitation. Friction keys can be really pesky every now and then.