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View Full Version : Please go grab your uke and do me a quick favor...



Stompest
06-29-2008, 01:32 PM
If you are reading this post and have an Ukulele under $400 (US) and an electronic tuner, I would love it if you could do a favor for me. It won't take long, I promise!

There are two methods I know for tuning the ukulele (with the notes GCEA on a 4 string). One method is to pluck each string open with an electronic tuner, then match the appropriate note. The other is to use a reference string to tune the ukulele to itself (for instance, as seen here: http://www.get-tuned.com/uke_tuning.php )

The favor is this: Tune your ukulele with open strings to your electronic tuner. After that, press the appropriate fret as if you were going to tune it with the reference string and pay attention to whether or not it plays the reference note.

For example, if you used the method in the link above, you would tune the C string, press the 4th fret to play an E. Does the electronic tuner say you are playing an E note perfectly on the C string? Please do this for all 4 strings.

After that, please post your results along with the make and model of your instrument. Much thanks!

----

The reason I am asking this question, is that so far I've had trouble finding one that will tune correctly to itself. I am in the market for an ukulele, and I want all 4 strings to sound good. I can understand if the ukulele is a bit sharp on the 8th or 10th fret, but a few hundred bucks should get me at least down to the 5th.:rolleyes:

Thanks
:rock:

Jimmy
06-29-2008, 01:38 PM
I had the same problem when I got my Kala from Musicguymic. I always got a solid A from my pitchpipe and it to itself from there. I changed my strings and now it's fine. Don't know the technical reason for the fix, but it'll do, eh?

Stompest
06-29-2008, 01:54 PM
Just for the sake of sharing information, I'll be the first to respond to my post
.
BTW, here is another uke tuning diagram I found: http://www.nashukes.com/how-to-tune-a-ukulele.html
Neither site used the method I use, but I suppose they all work.

My first ukulele was a soprano Kohala. Not a single string played on key if any fret was pressed.

My most recent purchase, the concert Mitchell MU100 Koa, did a little better. The E string was capable of playing the A and the G at the appropriate fret (the tuner needle was right on the dot. The problem arose when I tried to play an E on my C string; the needle was half way to the next step (sharp).

:(

Stompest
06-29-2008, 01:57 PM
Oh, looks like you beat me to the first post jimmy.

So your kala didn't match an electric tuner when you tuned with the pipe first? And after you changed the strings everything tuned fine? What model Kala do you own?

I wouldn't have thought that changing strings could affect this, I thought it was all about scale length and fret positions. :confused:

andrew
06-29-2008, 03:04 PM
My results:

A played on the E-String sounds a little sharp to my chromatic tuner (though not even remotely enough to register as an A#). All other strings -- C on the G-string, E on the C-string -- were in tune.

This is on a Kala Mango tenor with Worth clears.


I wouldn't have thought that changing strings could affect this, I thought it was all about scale length and fret positions.

Assuming perfect strings, this is true. If a string has variances in density along the length of the string (i.e. cheap strings), it could play flat or sharp when fretted "correctly".

dnewton2
06-29-2008, 03:17 PM
On my Kala Mango Tenor every thing was spot on except the E on the C string was a little sharp. Strings D'Addario J71 Tenor strings.

I also did it on mt Stagg Concert and had the same results, E on the C was a little sharp. Strings D'Addarion J92 Concert strings.

It might be a string issues since they both had D'addario strings.

Kanaka916
06-29-2008, 04:12 PM
Just checked my 8 string Tenor with a Meisel MCT-7L. A on the G string just a tad on the high side but not even close to a #, all other strings on the money. Nice (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tvemi5efs0I) uke (yea, that's the name of the uke) with Aquilla strings. You can see my toys on this thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1732&page=24), post # 238 . . .

freedive135
06-29-2008, 04:36 PM
Finally something I can help with!!! tuning...

Using a Tune Tech tt500

My cheepy (39.00) Soprano a Johnson uk-120 with whatever strings that comes on it, the tuner matches the strings.

My NEW (3days) Kala KA-T Tenor (150.00) with the strings that came on it, the tuner also matches the strings.
It is tuned High G with a wound C string, if that means anyting.
Still not sure how I feel about that string.

Hope this helps.

haynpunch
06-29-2008, 06:29 PM
Just checked my ukes,

Gregg Bennett UK-70 Concert with Aquila strings E string slightly off nothing noticeable

EleUke Tenor TC100-MHP - E String little sharp

Kanilea K-1 Tenor Soundmonster - On the money


Aquila strings really helped the Greg Bennett IMOP

Stompest
06-29-2008, 09:25 PM
I love the responses so far. Thanks a ton everybody! Keep em coming.


Just checked my ukes,

Gregg Bennett UK-70 Concert with Aquila strings E string slightly off nothing noticeable

EleUke Tenor TC100-MHP - E String little sharp

I wonder if one could merely adjust the saddle (with a file, btw I know nothing about this) in order to correct very small discrepancies like this. Every string instrument I own comes with a saddle that isn't straight, but compensated. These generalized compensations may not be appropriate for every one out of the factory. If anybody doesn't know what I'm talking about look here:

http://www.sheehans.com/images/help/compensated-saddle.jpg
Or this link if that one doesn't work: http://www.jammit-music.com/images/set24.gif



My cheepy (39.00) Soprano a Johnson uk-120 with whatever strings that comes on it, the tuner matches the strings.

My NEW (3days) Kala KA-T Tenor (150.00) with the strings that came on it, the tuner also matches the strings.
...
Hope this helps.

It does indeed help :D . I'm wowed to your $40 uke having perfect fretted notes. Flabbergasted in-fact, after hearing of these others with their $900 ukes having tweaked tuning. I might need to go check out a Johnson...


Just checked my 8 string Tenor with a Meisel MCT-7L. A on the G string just a tad on the high side but not even close to a #, all other strings on the money.

High/different enough that you hear a wobble in the resonance when you play them together? I find myself bothered by any deviance from the expected key. Again, I wonder whether this is an easy fix by saddle adjustment. It vexes me to think that almost all of us are playing dissonant chords, even if only slightly.



A played on the E-String sounds a little sharp to my chromatic tuner (though not even remotely enough to register as an A#). All other strings -- C on the G-string, E on the C-string -- were in tune.


Assuming perfect strings, this is true. If a string has variances in density along the length of the string (i.e. cheap strings), it could play flat or sharp when fretted "correctly".

Yours is my favorite method so far. Also, thanks for the info about strings, I see the logic.
I have a KORG chromatic, is this also what you have? How sharp does the A register? On my dial there are little dots to specify how far off the note is playing, as well as a plus and minus 20 marker, could you tell me where your needle falls?

Thanks again everybody
;)

KyleYankan
06-30-2008, 12:17 AM
About 2 month old Kala Mahogony Soprano KA-S

Stock strings


My tuner has his nifty scale... +20 is halfway to the next note
G: +10 1/8 note
C: +40 1/2 note high
E: +20 1/4 note
A: Reference string / dead on

Any reccomendation on new strings, BTW?

andrew
06-30-2008, 07:01 AM
I have a KORG chromatic, is this also what you have? How sharp does the A register? On my dial there are little dots to specify how far off the note is playing, as well as a plus and minus 20 marker, could you tell me where your needle falls?

I use the tuner in GarageBand on my Mac. It says +10 for the A on the E-String. My Sabine portable tuner/metronome (which I don't like as much, but it hasn't broken yet so I can't replace it) agrees. My ear says "what difference?"

Stompest
06-30-2008, 08:58 AM
G: +10 1/8 note
C: +40 1/2 note high
E: +20 1/4 note
A: Reference string / dead on

Whoa, +40 is enough off that I would search for a solution. I would guess that +/-20 would be around my borderline. Kala seems to have quite the variance in their instruments... I wonder how much of this could really be blamed on the strings. If you change yours, I'd be grateful to hear your new results.


I use the tuner in GarageBand on my Mac. It says +10 for the A on the E-String. My Sabine portable tuner/metronome (which I don't like as much, but it hasn't broken yet so I can't replace it) agrees. My ear says "what difference?"

With only +10 off, I would say "what difference" as well. It seems to me like you have a great/well set up instrument. It's too bad you didn't say "Kala mango concert," because then I'd be tempted to go get one... I wonder whether the other size would have the same performance... By the way, how does your mango compare to other solid wood ukes?

Some of those mangos are pretty interesting looking. MGM recently suggested that I get a Kala Koa cedar top Koa concert when I was asking him for suggestions, but for probably illogical reasons I have been steering clear of that brand so far. I get an inkling of an allusion that MGM likes pushing Kalas more than other brands. But, maybe I'll consider one after all. Now maybe I will I go for the mango... or the cedar... or just get a pono mahogany... or the rosewood cedar ohana... or the rosewood cedar bushman.... AArrgg.

dnewton2
06-30-2008, 10:01 AM
By the way, how does your mango compare to other solid wood ukes?



I might be reading this wrong but I read it like the mango is solid wood, when in fact it is not solid mango wood. They might have some new ones or something but I got my Kala Mango Tenor in March and it is laminate.

Stompest
06-30-2008, 11:35 AM
I think you are right. I read about the mangoes after I posted and realized that they are not solid. That is a high price for a laminate, er, at least on the upper end. I guess if they sound good and look pretty it doesn't really matter.

Thanks for the heads up.

ps. I'd like to ask again whether anybody knows if the issue presented in this thread can be solved by saddle alterations (or better yet, if you've done one).

haynpunch
06-30-2008, 11:38 AM
Jus to update my entry:

Using FZONE Chromatic Tuner FT-800

Eleuke = A on E string : Dead On
E on C string : + 10
C on G string : Dead On

Gregg Bennett = A on E string : On
E on C string : Flickers between 0 and +10
C on G string : +20

It was worse with the original strings : tried Hilo they were ok then tried Kala Reds really dont like those had bad buzz on the E string then went to Aquila seems to be the best on Gregg Bennett

Hardly play with these ever since i got my Kanilea

andrew
06-30-2008, 01:11 PM
I think you are right. I read about the mangoes after I posted and realized that they are not solid. That is a high price for a laminate, er, at least on the upper end. I guess if they sound good and look pretty it doesn't really matter.

That is correct. The Kala mangoes are laminate. But I like the way mine sounds, especially after restringing (though I like the Worth browns better than the clears. I just got tired of restringing my uke.), and I like the character mango has, visually, over the plain guitar-y woods -- spruce, et. al.

Browsing MGM's shop a while ago, I thought I saw a solid wood mango. Pono, maybe?

gobes
06-30-2008, 05:42 PM
Here goes:

tenor fluke with worth browns - the A on the C string is just a hair sharp (+5), the rest are right on

concert flea with aquilas - all are right on

I'll check my ohana later.

tori8984
06-30-2008, 05:58 PM
OK
My bounty ukulele from Bounty Music plays sharp to varying degrees on most any fret that I place a finger on. I find that if I tune slightly flat I get a much better sound especially when I am playing chords. The strings will beat against each other less and I will get a much better harmonious chord sound.

P.S. D'adario J71's

Stompest
06-30-2008, 10:45 PM
I'm Glad to hear that, Gobes, because my twitchy ebay finger just landed me a Flea. :) I look forward to hearing about your Ohana.

While at first I was looking for one replacement Uke, now I've decided that the Flea can be my traveler... but I still need a woody to be fully satisfied :D

Tory: It's too bad to hear that your's play sharp all over, that is a tad suspicious. I wonder if you could fix it by increasing your scale length.

Boozelele
06-30-2008, 11:14 PM
Good choice on the flea. You can't go wrong there. Do me a favor...DONT check the tuning up and down the fret board....just grab a beer and enjoy your new uke! I know you have stressed about which uke to buy, I would love to hear you come back and tell us how much you like it.

ukemike
07-03-2008, 01:09 PM
What everyone here is talking about is intonation. It is the science, and art, of setting up fretted instruments. Everything you can imagine is a factor, scale length, neck angle, action height, string gauge, fret placement, etc. and they are all interrelated. I spent many hours trying to set up my Epiphone UkeBird. This site was most helpful:

http://www.oldcloset.com/intone.htm

Of course it is mostly aimed at electric guitars that have adjustable bridges. It took me a long to time even start grasping the basics, and tons of trial and error to get my instrument setup moderately well.

Here is an example. If your action is too high when you fret a string it will stretch it more and add tension which changes the tone. Most ukes have non-adjustable bridges (at least without major surgery) and if the frets aren't in the right place in relation to the nut and bridge you're screwed. I had a $20 Hilo once that was all wrong like this. My son has a $30 Mahalo that is setup fairly well. My Fluke is as perfect as could be expected with a non-compensated bridge.

Heavier or lighter strings might make a difference. It is wildly obvious when changing from a high G to a low G on my UkeBird. I had to adjust the bridge for that string almost 2mm (I can't remember which direction) to get the intonation right for the thicker string! But if you're off by a bit then trying different strings you might stumble on one that works. Luckily you can buy guitar strings in any gauge or material imaginable. So if you are a bit sharp up the neck try a slightly thicker string (I think). Actually the advice I kept getting from EVERYONE when I was struggling with mine was this, "take it to a pro and have them set it up for you." It would have saved me time but not money, and I wouldn't have gotten the self taught probably highly misguided education on the subject that I got.

If string changes don't work, a pro might be able to make a compensated bridge that will correct the problem. If it is bad enough that even that won't work the pro may have to remove and re-position the bridge. At least take it to a pro and ask him what the problem is, he/she should be able to tell you how much $$ it will cost to correct.