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View Full Version : Intonation Drift, what is acceptable?



casarole45
02-19-2010, 11:19 PM
I need to know what people class as acceptable for intonation of the fret board. I'm currently playing a uke, the intonation is really impressive until you hit the 'A' string. At the 12th fret it falls 1/4 step flat.

It's really noticeable when playing, and quite frustrating as I go up and down the fret board.

I ran it through a tuner being careful to play the note precisely and it's coming up about 25cent flat.

But is this classed as acceptable for a uke (I guess its really noticeable as its a high pitch)??

luvdat
02-19-2010, 11:32 PM
Is this on the SK-35G? Or the Concert?

I have to say. I love sopranos. But I also think it's fair to say what you are describing is not uncommon. At the 12th fret on the A string: it's easy to push the string ever so slightly "in." Even on a concert.

For you it's not acceptable, and that's what matters. Assuming that the strings are OK, not too new, not too old, what kind of strings are you using? People report improvements w/intonation with changes in string brands.

casarole45
02-19-2010, 11:37 PM
concert, problem is though as its flat I'd have to push the string in really hard to get it up closer.

strings are two months old Aquilas but as far as I know I'm the first to play them (for a couple of weeks now).

luvdat
02-19-2010, 11:49 PM
Maybe fretwork (minor) at the 12th would help. Are you happy though with the overall sound and playability? Believe me, I know how something like that can even become a dealbreaker over time.

casarole45
02-19-2010, 11:57 PM
yep love the uke, its sounds, looks and plays great apart from the above mentioned issue... but you know, once you start noticing something it gets more of a big deal.

luvdat
02-20-2010, 12:17 AM
I might have someone look at it, a shop you trust for eval, suggestions first, before just doing the fretwork.

Ken Middleton
02-20-2010, 01:19 AM
It is much more likely to be the strings. If it is primarily the A string that is goes flat at a particular point on the fretboard, it is likely that the string does not have an even diameter. This is quite common. Nearly every company uses Aquila strings. Exactly the same thing happened to me with my brand new Kanile'a concert. I was desperate until I realised the problem.

The strings supplied to the ukulele companies sometimes have a bad string amongst them and this is often the A. Before you start filing down frets, please check this.

casarole45
02-20-2010, 02:12 AM
After chatting to luvdatuke I've ended up sending it back, I wasn't really confident messing around with setups on accoustic instruments when its still under garentee and I feel a bit stronger now that I'm not happy with that amount of drift. its a UK based company so not to expensive. Hopefully they will check the strings out. But the company does do a setup before they send it out so whether this was picked up and decided to be an acceptable amount of drift I don't know, that kinda leads back to whether its an acceptable amount or not....

thomas
02-20-2010, 02:33 AM
1/4 step is a lot of variance. 5 cents is more reasonable, but still too much for me. Absolutely perfect is kind of an unreasonable expectation, but my opinion is that is should be within a few cents. Just my opinion on things though.

Just out of curiosity, did it gradually get flatter as you moved up the board, or was it only at the 12th?

Like luvdatuke said, if it is too much for you then it is too much.

Take care,
Thomas

casarole45
02-20-2010, 02:54 AM
It gradually got flatter I think, unfortunately I've sent it off now so can't retest it all, but believe me I was pretty thorough. The other strings were about maximum of 5cent flat at the 12th fret (fretted) though I didn't check those ones very thoroughly so don't take that as an accurate reading, I'm guessing with temp changes and lots of other varients its going to fluctuate by a few cents. It's mainly the 'A' string I was concerned with.

luvdat
02-20-2010, 03:10 AM
So then what's the wait on that? Do they work on it or send you a new one?

casarole45
02-20-2010, 03:22 AM
not sure yet, they've got to check it over which is fair enough, they said if they've got one with better intonation they can send it out, if not they can either refund or order another in. Or if I'm not into the instrument I can just get a refund. Can't ask for more than that. The only difference is, if they class it as a fault then they cover the return postage, if not I pay it... didn't ask whether they'd class it as a fault though and postage is not to bad.

.... I'll give them a ring and ask them to check the string like Ken suggested.

luvdat
02-20-2010, 03:26 AM
Good luck with that. If you opt for the refund, consider an Ohana or a Mele.

casarole45
02-20-2010, 03:33 AM
Cheers bud.

I've already got an Ohana CK-75CG on order... and have been eyeing up the CK-50GS...

Don't know anything about Mele, I'll have to look at some of there stuff.

I really like Mainland, I'm sure its just one of those things. Though this is the second of two internet orders I've done that has gone completely arse up 'doh (ref. Kala thread).

thomas
02-20-2010, 04:35 AM
If it got gradually worse as you went up the board it is likely that the saddle was not compensated correctly. But a bad string is always a possibility too, as already mentioned.

Take care,
Thomas

scottie
02-20-2010, 05:26 AM
Perhaps a new saddle can be made, properly compensated to fix most or all of the problem. 25 cents is 1/4 of a one fret difference and certainly would not be acceptable to me.

Aunt Betty
02-21-2010, 08:53 AM
I love my Ohana CK-75CG, and my next "fix" (in June) should be a Mele Concert Pineapple (mahogany). I would like to know your thoughts. Could you write a review?
Thanks.

clayton56
02-21-2010, 01:02 PM
if the frets were off you would see it in the spacing, it would be obvious like in a home-made job. Saddle or strings can be changed. My sopranos have come with high action and old strings and were quite a bit off until I lowered the action and changed strings, also, changing the type of strings can help. Flourocarbons seem to have better intonation than nylon or Aquilas.

aviezero
02-21-2010, 11:16 PM
On my ukes my strings get thinner in the middle (right at the 12th) after tuning time and time again. I believe this makes them go flat on the intonation, and the thinner the string the worse the stretching is. I don't use Aquilas anymore partly because I always ran into this problem. My A string would have horrible intonation while my other strings were ok. I'd suggest trying Flourocarbons as clayton56 said. I've had good experiences with them too. Changing your nut or saddle will usually alter all your strings on all frets to some degree. Good luck.

frofrofro
02-27-2010, 03:17 PM
I got my Ohana SK 25 in the mail two days ago with aquilas on them, and it was great except that the A string got flatter as i went further up the fretboard, noticeable at the 7th, and almost 20 cents flat at the 12th fret. I was upset until i remembered this thread, took Ken's advice and replaced the string and voila! intonation solved. A good example of the benefits of the UU forum (for me, at least. It saved my uke!).

casarole45
02-27-2010, 11:32 PM
I got my Ohana SK 25 in the mail two days ago with aquilas on them, and it was great except that the A string got flatter as i went further up the fretboard, noticeable at the 7th, and almost 20 cents flat at the 12th fret. I was upset until i remembered this thread, took Ken's advice and replaced the string and voila! intonation solved. A good example of the benefits of the UU forum (for me, at least. It saved my uke!).

Ah definately, problem is I love Aquilas so don't want to get away from them.... flip side I have no problem changing strings every month or so.... anyone know how long these strings last before they start going out.... I used to change guitar strings once every week or two when gigging so a month is a definate improvement.

Ken Middleton
02-28-2010, 01:13 AM
Ah definately, problem is I love Aquilas so don't want to get away from them.... flip side I have no problem changing strings every month or so.... anyone know how long these strings last before they start going out.... I used to change guitar strings once every week or two when gigging so a month is a definate improvement.

I don't think you have quite understood. If one string is out, it is likely to be THAT string. You replace it with astring of the same make - in this case Aquilas. You don't have to change from the brand you like. The other thing is that the strings don't really develop intonation problems, a few strings start off with them. this is because they have either been extruded out of the mnachine with some irregularities in thickness or they habve been unevenly stretched when putting them on.

casarole45
02-28-2010, 01:17 AM
I don't think you have quite understood. If one string is out, it is likely to be THAT string. You replace it with astring of the same make - in this case Aquilas. You don't have to change from the brand you like. The other thing is that the strings don't really develop intonation problems, a few strings start off with them. this is because they have either been extruded out of the mnachine with some irregularities in thickness or they habve been unevenly stretched when putting them on.

A ok, I thought it was where the string was overly stretching out over time causing intonation to change. Cheers

Ken Middleton
02-28-2010, 02:23 AM
A ok, I thought it was where the string was overly stretching out over time causing intonation to change. Cheers

Yes, that happens too, particularly if you slacken the strings off and then tighten them again.

hoosierhiver
02-28-2010, 04:22 AM
I don't think you have quite understood. If one string is out, it is likely to be THAT string. You replace it with astring of the same make - in this case Aquilas. You don't have to change from the brand you like. The other thing is that the strings don't really develop intonation problems, a few strings start off with them. this is because they have either been extruded out of the mnachine with some irregularities in thickness or they habve been unevenly stretched when putting them on.

Thanks for this post Ken. This is a common point of confusion for people.

blueswithafeeling
03-04-2010, 03:48 PM
Sorry for bumping the thread again. On my Kala thinline spruce top tenor, I just noticed that on my E string, the intonation gets sharper than it should be as I go up the fretboard until it is +20 by the 12 fret, and it drifts quite quickly. The rest of the strings are basically fine, with a slight drift to maybe +5 by the 12th fret. I guess I should try changing the string and see but what possible thing on the nut/saddle could this be? My intuition is failing me on which way the saddle would be adjusted if that was what was needed . . .

blueswithafeeling
03-05-2010, 02:35 AM
Wow - I changed the string to another Aquila E (luckily had another new set) and the intonation is now perfect! Thanks Ken!

casarole45
03-05-2010, 12:07 PM
well I guess I should close this one off now anyway. Thanks everyone for your help. I didn't find out exactly what was wrong, but the uke was replaced with a new one and the intonation is great on all the strings, max of 5 cent out which for me is totally reasonable. I think some good info has come out of the thread anyhows.

Thanks to Eagle Music (UK store) as they were good as gold and did everything they possibly could to help me out, so would definately recommend/return to them in the future.

byzkarl
07-27-2010, 03:14 AM
Wow - I changed the string to another Aquila E (luckily had another new set) and the intonation is now perfect! Thanks Ken!

Ditto: These Aquila strings are strange. I had my A string play significantly flatter per fret than the other strings. It had me thinking I had bent my uke or something.

The sound is fine, perhaps even good, but from now on I will buy my Aquilas in pairs so I have a spare when one of the strings goes weird.

ProfChris
07-27-2010, 10:43 AM
A quick way of checking is simply to reverse the string. If there is a bad spot, it will put the intonation problem in a different place.

samuelbonanno
07-27-2010, 11:19 AM
Fretwork final setup neck set and string quality are all components of achieving accurate intonation. Defect in any of these areas can result in poor intonation. If you can hear is is flat then it is.
i would move forward...too many great ukes to let a bugger slow you down.