View Full Version : Ukulele sounds horrible!1

11-03-2010, 08:53 AM
Hi, I am not sure why but my ukulele constantly sounds untuned, however many times I tune it again. It is a mahalo colourful one, with d'adarrio strings, d tuned. Help me! :(

11-03-2010, 08:56 AM
How long has it been since the strings were put on? New strings will constantly need tuning until they settle in.

Is it an issue with a particular string? Could be you need to tighten the screw on that tuner.

11-03-2010, 08:57 AM
Some mahalos just aren't any good. They aren't always intonated correctly. Also be sure the tuning pegs aren't slipping. You can try stretching the strings a little too, that might help.

Check this out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tD2kZO_Tc0

11-03-2010, 11:04 AM
My first uke was a mahalo, and even after a lot of careful set up on action, adjusting pegs etc - I did some testing and, frankly, the scale length was just set wrong, as were two of the frets. Not fixable (or not worth fixing for the price)

Chalk it to experience and buy a Makala dolphin

(sorry to sound negative - I've never played a well made Mahalo - I may get flamed for that, but I havent)

11-03-2010, 11:23 AM
I have had the strings for about a month, so they hace definately settled in. Also, a tuning pegs screw constantly unscrews itself, so that might be part of the problem. I think it must just be the intonation. Thanks for help. :)

11-03-2010, 12:49 PM
I've sorted out a few Mahalos - most are quite easily fixable:

1. Tighten the loose tuner. No point going any further until the tuners don't slip. If they are friction tuners (i.e. they stick out at the back) then tighten the screw 1/4 turn at a time until the tuner stops slipping. If these are geared tuners (they stick out at the side) then your string may be slipping through the hole in the tuner post. Unwind it, push string through hole, pull tight, if possible push string through again after a half turn round the post, then start tightening. If the turns of the string start overlapping each other on the post, your tuning will probably slip.

2. Check the 12th fret intonation. Play an open note, play the same note at the 12 fret on that string. Is the note the same (only an octave higher)? If so, great. However, on all the Mahalos I've seen the 12th fret note is a bit higher (sharp). Never fear. Look at the bridge - there is a white strip of plastic set into it, the saddle. The saddle has a camber cut on it, and the sloping side is facing the tail of the uke. Slacken the strings and push the saddle out of its slot in the bridge. Turn it round so that the sloping side is facing the tuning pegs. Re-tune and check the 12th fret - should be closer, and in my experience is usually almost exactly the same note an octave higher. Note: this does nothing irreversible to your uke, you can simply turn back the saddle as it was before if it doesn't improve matters.

3. The nut (the piece of white plastic between the fretboard and the tuners) probably has the slots cut too high. If you fret a string gently at the first fret, and then press harder, does the note change a lot? Thought so. This one is tougher to fix, though - you must either sand down the base of the nut (a gentle tap with a hammer should release it once the strings are off) or use a junior hacksaw blade or a nail file to make the slots deeper. If you mess this up, by (a) sanding too much off the base, (b) cutting the slots too deep or (c) making the slots wider, it's hard/impossible to fix. Only try this if you know what you are doing!

However, fixing these three things tends to make a Mahalo very playable. Assuming you've no set-up experience I'd say fix the tuners first, then swap round the saddle. Leave the nut until you visit a uke clubb where there will be someone who can sort that out for you.

mm stan
11-03-2010, 01:13 PM
Tighten the screws on the tuners and put some better strings on..(aqulias)
As for breaking in on the strings, It's not how long you have them, It's generally how much you play...
You can quicken the process by bending the strings from side to side 3-4 times and then tune, repeat 3-4times
Keep doing that until you feel that the strings are broken in..Generally mahalos sound not bad, but you
may have a lemon...check the intonation as stated above...should be the same on every string open fret
and fretted 12th string....Good Luck!!!! sometimes, but not often it could be bad strings....I don't think this
is your case but...you never know....hard to tell without the uke in my hands... MM Stan..
worse senerio, bad scale setting...bridge set wrong...not worth fixing on a entry level uke....

11-03-2010, 11:30 PM
One thing I've noticed with my soprano, is that by reducing the pressure I put on the strings the better the intonation.
If you form chords with lots of pressure the string has to bend further, so try playing lighter at the fret end and see if it helps! It's a lot cheaper then a new uke!!