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View Full Version : Why is my uke out of tune?



kbrough
02-22-2011, 03:23 AM
Hi there!
I'm fairly new to the ukulele. I am playing an Oscar Schmidt OU-13 Concert uke and I cannot get the thing to stay in tune. I always use an electric tuner and it always reads that all of the strings are spot on in tune. But when I play chords, they sound grossly out of tune. (For example, when I play a G chord, the E string is significantly sharper than the G string). I'm using whatever strings came on the ukulele, which probably aren't the best quality, but is this even a string issue or do I need a new uke?

Thanks,
Kylie

Ambient Doughnut
02-22-2011, 03:36 AM
I thought there was something wrong with my uke when I first started. There are a couple of things to consider - first the strings are probably still settling in, they take a bit of time and playing before they sound right. Also - no offence - your technique may not be that good yet. You need a fairly light touch to play compared to guitar for instance and it's quite easy to push a string sharp. I would suggest bearing with it a while and ideally having someone experienced have a look at it before you go changing things. It may be that it could do with a little adjustment but I wouldn't rush into it straight away.

HTH :)

mm stan
02-22-2011, 04:37 AM
Aloha Kylie,
Welcome to the UU and the forums and the ukulele...I have found my Oscar Schmidt a wonderful uke but they sound better a step down for me..How long have you had your ukulele? if it's a week or so, the
strings are probally new and are streching as mentioned..that's why they go out of tune...soon they will stabilize and hold their tune, just keep retuning them until they hold their tune......better strings does help make your uke sound better, but you may be new at playing and may not notice..Good Luck and Happy Strummings....let us know how it works out for you...MM Stan

ukulelecowboy
02-22-2011, 04:45 AM
Hi Kylie,

Another thought might be intonation. If the bridge was placed improperly during manufacture or the saddle/nut needs adjustment, this would affect intonation. After tuning the strings, fret the string at the 12th fret. It should be the same note and should register so on your electric tuner. If intonation is the issue, the uke should be looked at by a reputable luthier who can make the proper adjustments if necessary.

Good luck,

Mike

harpdog
02-22-2011, 05:39 AM
Another possibility - high frets or high nut, with too much finger pressure, bending strings sharp.

kenikas
02-22-2011, 07:59 AM
I would bet a set of good strings will make a vast improvement, all of the Oscars I've seen come with GHS strings which I usually can't wait to get off my ukes. Although the OU2P I got a while back came with them and I don't mind them as much as I usually do, I still want to get a set of Aquila Nylgut or Worth strings on it. But as has been said all strings take a while to settle in and stop stretching.

PhilUSAFRet
02-22-2011, 11:54 AM
One benefit from the Oscars is the lifetime warranty if it is a faulty build.

kbrough
02-23-2011, 02:49 AM
Thanks everyone for the advice. I got the uke in July and play it quite often so I would think that the strings would be set in by now. I'll pick up a new pair and if I don't see a difference, I'll take it into the shop to get looked at.

Thanks a lot!

OldePhart
02-23-2011, 12:28 PM
Another possibility - high frets or high nut, with too much finger pressure, bending strings sharp.

+1 - in fact, this is almost always the most serious issue on low to moderate priced ukes and even many higher-end (i.e. solid-wood) "factory" ukes.

It's not that they're always bad - it's just that the final setup of the nut on these is very spotty - sometimes okay and sometimes terrible.

John

Zerj
03-24-2011, 04:55 AM
Hi there!
I'm fairly new to the ukulele. I am playing an Oscar Schmidt OU-13 Concert uke and I cannot get the thing to stay in tune. I always use an electric tuner and it always reads that all of the strings are spot on in tune. But when I play chords, they sound grossly out of tune. (For example, when I play a G chord, the E string is significantly sharper than the G string). I'm using whatever strings came on the ukulele, which probably aren't the best quality, but is this even a string issue or do I need a new uke?

Thanks,
Kylie

I have a problem tuning my uke, too. I'm trying to use this (http://www.get-tuned.com/online_ukulele_tuner.php) online tuner but I just can't get it to sound exactly like that! :(

Nickie
03-24-2011, 05:39 AM
I have a problem tuning my uke, too. I'm trying to use this (http://www.get-tuned.com/online_ukulele_tuner.php) online tuner but I just can't get it to sound exactly like that! :(

You might try looking at the tuning 'pre-sets' on the right to make sure standard gCEA tuning is selected. Also, the 'sine wave' selection below it will not sound like a uke at all. If that is correct, you may have bad strings...

ukuloonie
03-24-2011, 06:00 AM
I might be going off topic here, but I have used the above online tuner for my Uke in the past, then I bought a clip on chromatic tuner and the tuning sounded better.

lindydanny
03-24-2011, 07:08 AM
I'll "+1" the frets and "+1" the bridge placement issues. This is the risk with buying an instrument as a novice (or purchasing online). These types of issues are common in those regards.

My advice would be to take it to a local guitar/ukulele shop and have an expert repair/setup person take a look. They may need to do some setup to get it right and that will cost money, but that's better than sounding bad because the uke's not right. The alternative may be that they feel it is okay (doubtful) and suggest different technique to playing.

~DB

ZombieSaint
03-24-2011, 09:57 AM
I can also +1 the frets and the setup. A few of the mass produced ukes I owned had issues where my pressure in fretting would sharpen some notes. Usually adjusting the nut and saddle to better heights and and fretting more lightly fixed the issue.

Zerj
03-25-2011, 06:08 AM
You might try looking at the tuning 'pre-sets' on the right to make sure standard gCEA tuning is selected. Also, the 'sine wave' selection below it will not sound like a uke at all. If that is correct, you may have bad strings...

Yeah I made sure it was selected. Today I tried to tune it again and it sounded good, I guess I just have to practice a lot. I'll also check out the DVD that came with the uke, maybe it has some other techniques.

Doghouse_Riley
03-25-2011, 06:36 PM
I agree that you should check the intonation. As mentioned above play the open string, tune it to pitch and then fret the same string at the 12th fret. You should be in tune to the same note (an octave above the open string). If it's out of tune at the 12th fret you need to take it to a luthier and have them do a set up and mention the intonation problem so they'll be sure to check it.

the52blues
03-25-2011, 06:43 PM
Thanks everyone for the advice. I got the uke in July and play it quite often so I would think that the strings would be set in by now. I'll pick up a new pair and if I don't see a difference, I'll take it into the shop to get looked at.

Thanks a lot!

Instead of a new pair why not pick up a whole set of 4 strings LOL....sorry couldn't resist hahaha