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potatowaste
02-12-2011, 02:37 PM
Aloha everyone

I've got a Mahalo U30G and want to get the best sound out of it as I can and also improve the playability.
The saddle has already been sanded down somewhat and I'll be taking it down more. The measurements for the nut seem to be normal.
The fret wire extrudes fromt he fretboard way to much for my liking and wondered if there is a way to bring them down?
Also I'm finding that the tuning machines don't hold very well therefore my strings go out of tune rather fast, any ideas how to correct this?
Any other modification suggestions will be greatly appreciated. It's not the uke I play on a regular basis so I don't mind hacking at it.
Thanks

Ken Middleton
02-12-2011, 09:17 PM
Aloha everyone

I've got a Mahalo U30G and want to get the best sound out of it as I can and also improve the playability.
The saddle has already been sanded down somewhat and I'll be taking it down more. The measurements for the nut seem to be normal.
The fret wire extrudes fromt he fretboard way to much for my liking and wondered if there is a way to bring them down?
Also I'm finding that the tuning machines don't hold very well therefore my strings go out of tune rather fast, any ideas how to correct this?
Any other modification suggestions will be greatly appreciated. It's not the uke I play on a regular basis so I don't mind hacking at it.
Thanks

You can not get the best sound out of it by sanding down the saddle. If your action is too low (and many people have it too low) the volume and the tone start to go.

The only permanent solution to cheap tuners is more expensive tuners. However, how old are the strings and which strings are they? Most string really take a long time to settle. They continue to stretch over many days. It is tempting to think that the tuners are slipping, but this happens even with the best tuners.

potatowaste
02-13-2011, 02:57 AM
Heya Ken,

Everything on this uke is still factory. The only reason I've sanded the saddle down was because I've read seeso's thread on typical measurements and my action was way too high at the saddle. I'm also trying to get the action to match my everyday Hilo.
Another question I'll put to you is about the fretwire. Would filing the fretwire down make any difference in the sound or just make me happier with the feel of the fretboard? As we know fretless instruments are in abundance so I'm thinking this would solve my distaste for the current state of this uke.

Cheers Ken

Sean

bazmaz
02-13-2011, 03:15 AM
Hi there - many moons ago I bought an entry level Mahalo like this. About the only good improvement I made to mine was to put Aquilas on it, but it was only marginal.

You may not want to hear this, but I wouldnt bother putting hours of work into such a uke because its not going to dramatically improve it in my opinion.

Sorry

SweetWaterBlue
02-13-2011, 03:33 AM
In my opinion, the most cost-effective modification to an inexpensive uke, after upgrading strings and some action adjustments, is to sell it (or keep it as a beater) and buy a better one. The ukulele manufacturing market is pretty competitive, and the makers can buy parts and labor much cheaper than you can. That means its probably not cost effective to do too much to a uke before you think about just moving up. Its pretty much the same thing with computers and most consumer goods.

potatowaste
02-13-2011, 03:53 AM
I know it's a cheap uke, that's why I'm willing to risk ruining it trying out these mods. I wouldn't dare do these things to a respectable instrument so why not learn what things can be done.
Time means nothing to me when it comes to this really.

SweetWaterBlue
02-13-2011, 04:21 AM
One other cost-effective modification is to add a pickup. They are easy to install and you can buy some pretty cheap.

CulpRJ
02-13-2011, 05:13 AM
One thing I've done with a cheap Mahalo is to fix the intonation. Before filing the saddle down too far, check your intonation (there are threads here on how to do that). Now you can file the saddle so the string makes contact at either the leading or trailing edge, or somewhere in the middle. Not sure if I'm explaining that well. Essentially, you're making the strings a little bit longer or shorter to fine tune it. This may only be a marginal improvement, though.

potatowaste
02-13-2011, 01:43 PM
It seems after doing a google search that fretless sopranos just don't exist, if it was a bass that'd be a different story.

hmgberg
02-13-2011, 06:45 PM
+1 on what Ken wrote. You have two concerns, or two sets of concerns that are at odds with each other. Volume and tone are inversely related to action, i.e., if you lower the saddle, you may find your uke to be more playable, but you will lose volume and tone. I say this with some reservation, however, since I don't think on this instrument you're going to sense much of a difference in terms of tone. To me it seems like you are more interested in playability anyway.

Ken Middleton
02-13-2011, 07:11 PM
Heya Ken,

Everything on this uke is still factory. The only reason I've sanded the saddle down was because I've read seeso's thread on typical measurements and my action was way too high at the saddle. I'm also trying to get the action to match my everyday Hilo.
Another question I'll put to you is about the fretwire. Would filing the fretwire down make any difference in the sound or just make me happier with the feel of the fretboard? As we know fretless instruments are in abundance so I'm thinking this would solve my distaste for the current state of this uke.

Cheers Ken

Sean

Fretwire sometimes becomes sharp down the side of the fingerboard. Two reasons for this: temperature and humidity. If the temperature goes up, the fretwire can expand by a small amount. If the humidity goes down, the fingerboard material can shrink a little. The frets can protrude a little. They can be sanded down to make them smooth, but extreme care is needed and you must get just the right angle. You can easily scratch the wood.

Sanding the frets down from above is much harder and is usually best left to professionals. A good guitar tech would be able to do it. The prupose is to make sure the tops of the frets are level all up the fingerboard.

I would say that, if in doubt, don't mess with the frets.

potatowaste
02-13-2011, 09:32 PM
Playability is the main drivie for wanting to modify.
It is my sons uke and he was complaining that playing it (at least that what he calls it) was hurting his hand.
I figured it was his strumming hand he was talking about seeing as he doesn't bother using his left hand other than to hold the uke, although he does slide his hand up and down the fretboard. However, the last time I played with him I just did a one chord song so I could watch what he was doing and to my suprise he was favouring his left hand!!
Later on I picked up his uke, tuned it, and played it for about 30 seconds when I agreed with him, this thing DID hurt your hand. The reason being that the frets protrude 3mm off the fretboard. So when moving your hand up and down the fret board your hand constantly gets rubbed by the fretwire, which is not enjoyable at all. Add that to the fact the string sit twice as high at the 12th fret than they need to be and you have a recipe for one uncomfortable ukulele.

hmgberg
02-14-2011, 04:44 AM
Again +1 on what Ken wrote. The sharp ends are likely the result of lack of moisture, i.e., your fretboard dried out. I see you live in Toronto; cold air cannot hold as much moisture, and you probably have been running your heat non-stop for several months. This is also contributing to the dryness, particularly if you have a furnace (hot air heat). Ukes are happiest at around 50% RH, depending on where they were built. Solving this problem is not too hard; file the ends down, but as Ken says, you have to angle your file so as not to scratch the neck. You could run some low-tack tape (blue stuff you get at the hardware store) along the neck to protect it.

The fret height issue is considerably more difficult to address. If you run a short straight edge up and down the board, the frets should be level. If you try to take them down, you have to make sure you keep them that way. I imagine if the frets are that high, the notes are sharping.

Sorry for the woes. I don't know how much you paid for the instrument, but it sounds barely playable at this point. So, you might consider working on it yourself. I'm sure that there are so fretwork tutorials on Youtube that may be helpful to you. I understand that shipping to Canada is expensive. Too bad, MGM sets up even inexpensive ukuleles really nicely.

potatowaste
02-14-2011, 04:59 AM
yeah it's just a $30 thing, but I don't want my son to be discouraged with it because it's a cheap uke.