View Full Version : Possible KALA uke problem plus, thoughts on my first 2 weeks at it.

12-04-2010, 05:08 PM
If any remember my other thread, the first KALA KA-CEM that was delivered was destroyed in shipping. The replacement looked pretty good with no flaws to my newbie eye.

I did confirm a possible problem tonight of an issue that I noticed the second day I had the uke but, since I am new to this, wasn't sure if this was an issue or not....

When I gave the uke a good visual inspection the day after I got it, I noticed that when looking down the edges of the fret board/neck, there is a noticable curve to the fret board. Maybe it's a curse but, I have a pretty good eye and natuarally notice when something isn't perfectly straight.

Tonight, I took a good (although plastic), straight and sturdy 3 sided drafting ruler and layed it from the first to last fret wires, checking both sides of the fret board. At the 8th fret wire, there is a very noticable gap between the fret and the rule. I would estimate somewhere around 2/64 to maybe as much as 3/64's!! I'd say the gap is about the thickness of a credit card.

I take it that this is not normal and that the tops of all your fret wires should be level (or close to)?? I'm sure that this will have a definite effect on payability although right now at my level, it may not be a severe an issue.

I wait until I get a few responses and if it is an issue, I'll call Kala on Monday.

Thing that really sucks is I have been putting in a really good effort towards practicing and find I am getting in about one to two hours (or more sometimes) practice per day. If I have to send the uke back I'll be bummed as I won't have anything to practice on until it gets resolved.

Thoughts about my experience so far.....

I'm having a really great time and am enjoying playing the ukuele a lot. I still really suck but, am amazed at how far I've come in 2 short weeks.

1. I'm finally learning chords without looking at what my left hand is doing.

2. I'm starting to get a lot better at chord changes without interupting my strumming.

3. Anything barred is still kicking my ass. A lot of the songs I'm practising with use the Bb chord. It's crushing me!! Can't get it without deadening either the C or E string or the A by not getting enough pressure on it.

The standard D chord is killing me so I keep using a barred 2nd fret with the a string pressed at the 5th fret.

4. I'm getting better at "rubber stamping" chords down.

5. My main practice song is "the Hukilau Song". I also play with "Somewhere over the Rainbow", "Meli Kaliki Maka", "I'm Yours" and "Margarittaville" just to get me introduced to other chords. At some point when I get a little better, I'm going to go back and work on Uncle Rods Boot Camp method.

6. My only 2 decent strums are DU and DD UU DU (D). No matter what though, most things I play sound the same!! LOL!! Actually, in the last few days I've noticed that my songs are really starting to sound like what they are supposed to be!

Like I said, I'm having a lot of fun and really think I will be sticking with it for the long haul.



12-04-2010, 07:49 PM
The frets should all be level on the fretboard. However, I wouldn't be surprised that many ukes have a fret or two that's not exactly level with the others given that the fretboard/neck could have moved a little due to weather and temperature changes. Assuming that you have a chromatic tuner, check the intonation up the neck. If it's not severely off (say all notes up the neck are not more than 5~10 cents off), I wouldn't bother trying to get Kala to correct the neck warp. Chances are high that you get another one with some sort of imperfection somewhere.

Those more difficult chord shapes such as B & E will become easier as you progress. Keep it fun by learning music that you enjoy and you'll be improving a lot without even noticing it.

Have fun!

12-04-2010, 08:21 PM
When I gave the uke a good visual inspection the day after I got it, I noticed that when looking down the edges of the fret board/neck, there is a noticable curve to the fret board.

Hi Jeff

The cruve you saw when sighting the neck can be a bow or a twist. Bear with me - A neck bow is like a bow (and arrow). It is a uniform curve, meaning it has the same curve on 1st and 4th strings. A neck twist is a distortion. If you use the straight edge and measure the spacing above, say, 8th fret and the straight edge, a twisted neck will show different spacings.

A neck bow may be OK. A twisted neck is bad. If the neck is twisted, it's impossible to lower the action (string to fret spacing) and that affects the playability, especially when you start playing up the neck. It also affects the intonation.

A neck bow may be a good thing. A neck should follow the shape of the string's vibration which is larger in amplitude at the center of a string.How much bow depends on a player's playing style. If you strum hard, you may want a large amount of bow. If you strum softly, or perfer a lower action, or play up the neck often, you may want to have alesser amount of bow. High tension strings will increase the bow (tiny bit, but theoretically). Some ukuleles today come with an adjustable truss rod to change the neck bow.

If your neck is twisted, I would cotact Kala but at the price range, your chance of getting a better set-up and build is 50-50...... The new one may not be any better. If it's simply a neck bow, I would keep it. Your description (one card length at 8th fret) sounds a tad above average but I don't rhink it's really horrible.

I just looked at my Kamaka. I held a string on 1st fret and on the last fret (19th?), and looked at the space between the bottom of the string and the top of 8th fret. The spacing is about 2 card thicknesses so I think you're OK.

This is assuming that all of your frets are secure and not lifting. The price you pay for more expensive ukuleles can minimize such build problems, and I'm afraid you cannot expect a perfect job in this price range.

I played a few Kalas and they sounded fine and seem to be built well.

Hope this helps

PS And enjoy!!! Glad to read you've been having so much fun.

12-05-2010, 02:22 AM
New to Ukes myself, but if Uke necks are anything like guitar necks, a small amount of "relief" (slight forward bow) built into the neck is normal. Theoretically... if the frets were perfectly leveled together, there would be substantial fret buzz. The relief (on guitars) is adjustable via the truss rod that most Ukes don't have.
I await my confirmation or correction from the more knowledgeable. :)

mm stan
12-05-2010, 05:26 AM
Aloha Habe,
Saying all that, how does your ukulele sound????do you have any intonation problems or buzzing????if not, it's a low level uke and chances returning it might be worse...since you have more inconsistancy issues
with cheaper ukes...I hope it helps!!! Happy stummings!!! Have fun and enjoy!!!! MM Stan..

12-06-2010, 04:45 AM
Thanks for the replys.

The neck does not appear twisted. Just has the slight bow. I'm trying to find some good instructions for checking intonation. As soon as I do, I'll check it out (have 2 chromatic tuners available).

I can understand how a small amount of neck bow actually could be a good thing, when playing notes on the first 4 or 5 frets but, what happens if you are playing notes down around the middle of the fret board? Wouldn't the strings be really close to the last fret because of the upward fret board curve and possible end up with buzzing?

After the commments about the price point of my uke, I starting wondering..... My Kala is laminated mahogany and can be had for around $100. The Kala mango uke is about$228 online but, is also laminated. Does anyone think that the mango uke, at more than twice the cost, is going to be manufactered with a higher degree of craftsmanship considering both come out of the same factory?

Either way, still enjoying myself. When the day comes and I'm ready, I'll move up to something better.