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View Full Version : Pictures of the new Republic Beater... uh, Uke



ksiegel
03-20-2011, 11:04 AM
Earlier on, UkuDaily posted about finding a discontinued model Republic ukulele on ebay for $119, including hard shell case. The pictures looked good, so I jumped at getting one.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?43708-New-Uke-Day!-I-found-my-wide-string-beat-around-uke

I've finally got my pictures, along with a my observations, so here goes:

The case is very cheaply made, and no inspection was done.21777
For the price, I'm not going to quibble - a cheap case is better than no case.

The ukulele looks great - glossy finish, what I'm guessing is fake abalone inlay, and a decent looking binding.
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The saddle leaves a lot to be desired - one side is significantly higher than the other, but I wouldn't call it a compensating saddle, and there are no string notches - I don't know if that's positive or negative.21781.

the strings were cheap black - I called them Hilo, since that's the only black string I've run across, but they could have been anything. They were just dead, very quite, and didn't feel comfortable. So I replaced them, but more in the next post.

-Kurt

ksiegel
03-20-2011, 11:17 AM
The rest of the unit was so-so, but no worse (and probably better) than a lot of the $89 - 99 ukuleles I've tried. Aesthetically, it is hit-or-miss, as seen here:
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I've changed the strings to Aquila, and I'm waiting for them to settle in. So far, it has a much nicer sound, but there is a definite intonation issue. I can tune better by ear than with the electronic tuner, and the octave at the 12th fret is definitely off, as are some of the notes at the 5th fret.

But it looks nice, and I will have no qualms about bringing it to Uke Night as a spare, for anyone who needs a uke to play. At least, no qualms once I figure how to work on the intonation issues. Having read a lot of the posts, I think I need to widen the notches at the nut a touch, and I'm wondering if I need to notch the saddle for the strings.

Have an opinion? I'd love to hear it!


-Kurt

fitncrafty
03-20-2011, 11:27 AM
I have an opinion.. you better buy a LOT of beautiful yarn before your wife comes home.. enough to cover the pile of new ukes you are collecting in her absence!!! :)

All in fun.. I know nothing about fixing intonation... If I did I wouldn't have a a uke named Buzz that lives in it's case and never sees the light of day!

Can't wait to try out all these new ukes of yours!

RyanMFT
03-20-2011, 11:35 AM
I have not heard that notching the nut or saddle will do anything for intonation. However, it may help to even out that saddle. It may just not be seated well in the slot. I would address that obvious problem first. I would be careful widening slots on the nut unless the strings are popping out and then maybe deepen them a bit. Also, if the action is high, correcting that may help intonation a lot.

ksiegel
03-20-2011, 12:27 PM
I have not heard that notching the nut or saddle will do anything for intonation. However, it may help to even out that saddle. It may just not be seated well in the slot. I would address that obvious problem first. I would be careful widening slots on the nut unless the strings are popping out and then maybe deepen them a bit. Also, if the action is high, correcting that may help intonation a lot.

Thanks, Ryan. I did remove the saddle - it is seated all the way, just not cut with square corners. I don't know if I should sand it to square, or just leave it alone.

I was thinking about widening the slots in the nut because the Aquilas are thicker than the crap strings I removed - and if I want the strings to ride any lower in the nut, I'll have to widen the notches. But again, I don't know if I should just leave it, or tinker with it.

When I think about Olde Phart cutting a brand new Mainland up, to build a resonator uke, and I'm not sure I should file the notches on a $119 beater...

Sometimes, I think it was easier running into a burning building that committing to modify an instrument.

(And then I remember taking the binding off of a guitar when I was 13, because I thought I could fix that buzz, or when I disassembled the antique camera, so I could reattach the bellows... or when I took the rotary lawnmower engine apart because I thought the crankcase needed cleaning out... and I realize that when I ran into a burning building, I always had an exit strategy.)

-Kurt

ksiegel
03-20-2011, 12:31 PM
I have an opinion.. you better buy a LOT of beautiful yarn before your wife comes home.. enough to cover the pile of new ukes you are collecting in her absence!!! :)

All in fun.. I know nothing about fixing intonation... If I did I wouldn't have a a uke named Buzz that lives in it's case and never sees the light of day!

Can't wait to try out all these new ukes of yours!

At least I tell her about the ukes, and she is encouraging my obsession. She's only told me that she visited a "few" yarn shops while she's in the Bay Area, but won't tell me what she bought, only that it is nice...

Well, if I figure out my intonation issues with the Republic, we can always work on Buzz's buzz...

I think I may need to take some photos of the collection soon...

-Kurt

70sSanO
03-20-2011, 12:44 PM
I think you should just go for it and tinker away.

There are a number of makeshift tools that use can use to work on the the nut, you can even just fold fine sandpaper. The nut slot should be at the same angle and the headstock.

I'd do the nut first and then work on the saddle. Just sand the bottom of the saddle to lower the string height. I use an automotive feeler gauge set, but anything that you can slide betweent he 12th fret and the string that is about 2 to 2-1/2mm (.080 to .100 inch) will work.

Take your time, it doesn't matter if it takes minutes or days.

You can use your tuner to see what happens when you fret the first fret after working on the nut and then at the 12th after working of the saddle.

John

fitncrafty
03-20-2011, 01:04 PM
At least I tell her about the ukes, and she is encouraging my obsession. She's only told me that she visited a "few" yarn shops while she's in the Bay Area, but won't tell me what she bought, only that it is nice...

Well, if I figure out my intonation issues with the Republic, we can always work on Buzz's buzz...

I think I may need to take some photos of the collection soon...

-Kurt

glad that you tell her.. I suppose it is better that she is squishing yarn then trying to travel with ukes. I will definitely let you look at Buzz.. He's pretty worthless. The guy at the group that one night that had the same uke, his sounded pretty decent and if it didn't buzz it would.. I do like the shape of the headstock.. right now I am in a huge love affair with my eleuke.. I really don't need anything else.. except maybe a poiple flea.. that could REALLY tempt me! :)

I would love to see some photos of your whole collection... :)

OldePhart
03-20-2011, 01:25 PM
When I think about Olde Phart cutting a brand new Mainland up, to build a resonator uke, and I'm not sure I should file the notches on a $119 beater...

Sometimes, I think it was easier running into a burning building that committing to modify an instrument.


BWAA-HAAA. I am so glad that the project seems to be working out okay - talk about egg on face if not!

As for intonation, what you want to do is work one issue at a time. First, if you have poor intonation at the first and second frets it is almost always because of nut slots not being deep enough (or wide enough if you've put wider strings on). By all means this is the most important issue to fix - but it may not be the first issue to tackle.

Because the pictures you've posted really indicate that this thing has been thrown together much more haphazardly than even most of the Chinese built ukes we see I strongly suggest you start by checking that the frets are level. If the frets aren't level, and you try to bring the action at the nut to where it needs to be, you will end up with a buzz. So, to level the frets you do this, remove the strings, apply painters tape to the fretboard between all the frets, then use a sharpie marker to color the tops of all the frets black. Use a long, very flat sanding block (I use an inexpensive hard plastic "I-beam" style level, available for a few dollars at Home Depot or Lowes with 320 wet'n'dry stuck to one side and 600 wet'n'dry stuck to the other) to sand the tops of the frets lightly. You want something long enough to cover all the frets. Also, make sure you protect the top from being scraped up by the end.

Note that, while I've had to level the frets on a number of guitars in the sub-1k price range I haven't yet run into a uke that needed the frets leveled. So this isn't a common thing. But, when I see bridge saddles not cut right, tuners not installed properly, etc., I have to assume they probably didn't spend much time leveling and crowning frets, either!

Try just a few strokes with very fine sandpaper first, then check the tops of the frets. If the sharpie has been sanded off the crowns of all of them then the frets are level. if not, sand until the frets are level (reapply sharpie as needed). If you had to take a lot off any of the frets you may need to use some wet'n'dry wrapped around your finger to restore the rounded "crown" on those frets. If you don't restore the rounded shape of the top of the fret the intonation will be off a little at that fret because the string will be hitting the fret closer to the headstock side than it should.

Now, you can begin working the nut slots down. Bring them just low enough that the strings don't pull sharp when fretted at the first fret. The last step is bringing the bridge down to set the action higher up the neck. (If you do this first, you will usually end up bringing it too low, then when you file the nut slots you'll end up with a buzz).

Have fun!

John

ksiegel
03-20-2011, 01:46 PM
BWAA-HAAA. I am so glad that the project seems to be working out okay - talk about egg on face if not!

As for intonation, what you want to do is work one issue at a time. First, if you have poor intonation at the first and second frets it is almost always because of nut slots not being deep enough (or wide enough if you've put wider strings on). By all means this is the most important issue to fix - but it may not be the first issue to tackle.

Have fun!

John

Thanks, john!
Actually, the notes are fine for the first 3-4 frets; where I'm running into issues is around 5-7, and 10-12. (or so it seems - strings are still stretching - just put them on yesterday.)

i figured I'd wait a few more days for the strings to adjust before I jump in over my head... ah, try to adjust things. But i did remove and check the saddle, ad it really wasn't cut square.

-Kurt

bigdog1002
03-20-2011, 02:03 PM
Kurt,

I got the same uke to keep at the office. I did the following to mine...

1. Change the strings
2. Using welding torch cleaning files I filed the nut so that it fit the Aquila strings better. I used my clip on tuner and filed the slots in the nut so that when I played the 1st fret it read the correct note on the tuner.
3. After the nut was set I used a Stew Mac string height gauge and trimmed the saddle down so that I had the correct height (.9 if I remember correctly ) at the 12th fret.
4. I carefully measured the distance from the nut to the 12th fret and then from the 12th fret to the saddle and filed the saddle to make sure that distance was the same for all the strings.

I think I have it setup well now.

Eric