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View Full Version : New to ukes....chords sound off?



theymademedoit
06-01-2011, 10:27 PM
Hi all,
I finally took the plunge and bought my first uke!
I would like to think I now have a friend for life but I have a few concerns.
After playing guitar for a few years and seeing some of my mates play a uke I thought it was the next step for me.
Yesterday I bought a Lanikai ULU21C. I got a bargain on it considering it was a UK purchase.
Looks wise and size wise the concert is great.
Itís fitted with Aquila strings too so I had peace of mind there.
The guy in the shop threw in a Tanglewood tuner worth £15.
So as soon as I got it home I tuned up, whizzed online and downloaded a few song tabs and tried to play.
My first choice seemed easyÖ.it was a song called Rise by Eddie Vedder (from Into the Wild soundtrack). There are 2 versions, I chose the simple to start with.
It consists of 3 chords Ė G, C and D.
The G sounds ok, but the C doesnít sound like the next chord in the song (I can play this on a guitar and mandolin).
The same happened when I tried a couple of other songs, as in the chords donít sound right.
I constantly re-tune so itís not that.
I tried to check the intonation, which I thinks right apart from a couple were slightly out.

Any ideas? Or do I just need to get used to how hard to strum it etc?

I understand that the uke I bought isnít the top dollar version, however I was led to believe it would do the job for a beginner/intermediate.

Thanks in advance.
Al

ItsAMeCasey
06-01-2011, 10:43 PM
If you do play it on piano and guitar you could always transpose whatever chords you're playing to the key of G and it would sound correct. Or you can just take the chords straight from the piano/guitar and play them on the uke.. it should sound right. Hope this helps!

theymademedoit
06-01-2011, 10:56 PM
If you do play it on piano and guitar you could always transpose whatever chords you're playing to the key of G and it would sound correct. Or you can just take the chords straight from the piano/guitar and play them on the uke.. it should sound right. Hope this helps!

Hi,
Thanks for the response.
I dont play the piano.
What I am concerned with is that I am getting decent song chords from the likes of Uke Hunt and they sound wrong....I am worried that my uke is a dud.....the comments on the sites regarding the chords are all positive.

Loupin' Flech
06-01-2011, 11:20 PM
It sounds to me like you're using guitar finger positioning which won't work on ukes.Google ukulele chord charts for right positions.

theymademedoit
06-01-2011, 11:25 PM
It sounds to me like you're using guitar finger positioning which won't work on ukes.Google ukulele chord charts for right positions.
No not at all....the chords are clearly shown on the songs I am looking at.....see here as an example
http://ukulelehunt.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/risebasic.pdf
I am following the charts at the top!!!!

ItsAMeCasey
06-01-2011, 11:43 PM
Oh I see what you mean now.. dead fret maybe? Idk, but if it's new it's possible that the stretch of the strings could be messing things up. When I restring my ukes things don't sound completely normal until I wear in the strings.. and sorry for misinterpreting your post lol, I thought you wrote that you played piano lol!

Loupin' Flech
06-01-2011, 11:49 PM
Hmm..Sounded ok on my wee cheapo soprano..Is the tuner on the right setting?And you're tuned GCEA from the top string down?

theymademedoit
06-01-2011, 11:50 PM
Oh I see what you mean now.. dead fret maybe? Idk, but if it's new it's possible that the stretch of the strings could be messing things up. When I restring my ukes things don't sound completely normal until I wear in the strings.. and sorry for misinterpreting your post lol, I thought you wrote that you played piano lol!

No probs....it could just be the strings....I will keep going and see how it goes!!!!

theymademedoit
06-01-2011, 11:51 PM
Hmm..Sounded ok on my wee cheapo soprano..Is the tuner on the right setting?And you're tuned GCEA from the top string down?

Its tuned to that....the tuner doesnt have any settings. All you do is strum and it shows green or red with the chord letter showing.

Loupin' Flech
06-02-2011, 12:27 AM
That's a puzzler right enough..strange the 2nd chord sounds out,usually get at least halfway through a tune on new strings before it turns to custard...

theymademedoit
06-02-2011, 01:09 AM
possibly tighten my screws in the tuning pegs?

PhilUSAFRet
06-02-2011, 02:48 AM
possibly tighten my screws in the tuning pegs?

That would be good. Have you checked the intonation? I have heard that some folks have had intonation problems with their Lanikai. We now have Lanikai represented on UU. Here's a UU post on the subject:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?6415-What-is-intonation

mm stan
06-02-2011, 03:19 AM
Aloha Al,
congratulations on the new Lanikai...Your new Aquila strings take a while to break in....a week or so...be patient..they are streching out..MM Stan

theymademedoit
06-02-2011, 03:38 AM
Aloha Al,
congratulations on the new Lanikai...Your new Aquila strings take a while to break in....a week or so...be patient..they are streching out..MM Stan

Cheers bro....I appreciate your help!
I am going camping these weekend so will take a song book and have a go!
Al

flacoclef
06-02-2011, 03:50 AM
Could it be the voicings of the chords. Remember most times in uke the lowest note is not the root and sometimes one needs to hear the bass to "understand the chord". Or put in another way, one chord shape can be used for more than one chords. For example, I use the Bm to imply a Gmaj7. Hope this helps.

jjjj
06-02-2011, 04:02 AM
I would go with the voicing being different, too.

You say that G sounds acceptable. On a uke a G is GBDG, where both Gs are the same. The standard C chord is CEGc where one of the Cs is an octave higher. As a test, try strumming only the GEC strings, or muting the A string (just lay a finger lightly on it, instead of actually pushing all the way to the fret).

Does the C sound more like you expect it to now?

theymademedoit
06-02-2011, 04:03 AM
Interesting....I didnt know that.
I will report back once I get a chance to get acquainted with it more.

franck3d
06-02-2011, 04:20 AM
Maybe this isn't your issue since you have experience playing guitar, but when I started playing ukulele, I tended to press the strings down much harder than I needed to for certain chords. Truth be told, I'm still fighting this tendency.
Good luck tracking it down!

mm stan
06-02-2011, 04:37 AM
Aloha Al,
Check this tuner....out in the picture, it has it broken down in incriments for percise tunings..see in the picture and on the left of the tuner is the notes and right is octaves in incriments...of that note.
hope it helps..good luck..get a good tuner and it will be fast, percise and less hastle....http://www.metronomes.net/CherubChromaticMateWst-550C.htm this is a really good price..Stan

joep
06-02-2011, 04:52 AM
Have one of your friends that already playing ukulele play it and see what happens.

jlester2200
06-02-2011, 05:50 AM
play tons - it'll stretch out the strings quicker. use the 'complicated' chords to rise -

http://ukulelehunt.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/rise.pdf

it looks way more complicated than it is - Gsus2 is just a G, taking finger off bottom string, ang G5 is a G blowing off bottom string. the C progression is just as simple. play along with the song - you'll get it quick, though ed throws in some triple strums that are a little timing tricky. congrats on your uke and good luck.

'rise' makes for a gorgeous uke song, as does 'society' and 'guaranteed' off ITW. jc

Coconut Willie
06-02-2011, 05:59 AM
I would believe the problem could be with the strings. Aquila strings take a bit to fully stretch. Keep checking the tuning as the strings can change while you are playing a song!

shrink9
06-02-2011, 06:16 PM
I'm not sure about this particular tuner however i have on occasion been known to have problems when the tuner wasn't set on 440. It's worth checking this out. Otherwise, you've got me stumped!

theymademedoit
06-09-2011, 02:53 AM
Hi,
Thanks for all the responses and tips!
I am happy that the chords now sound good (was just me and my fat fingers).
A couple of things if I may........
I have noticed that the uke does not sound as bright as I thought it would....is this just due to it being a cheaper uke?
Lastly the A string sounds a little flat and doesnt seem to have as much sustain on it....amost sounds quiet when I play it open or fretted.
Any ideas?

Last one....I left the uke by my side while on a beach in fairly hot sun (hot enough to burn me)...and it seemed to go really out of tune after an hour or so.....could the sun have caused damage or is this normal?
Cheers,
Al

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
06-09-2011, 06:55 AM
Glad to hear the chords are sounding better!


I have noticed that the uke does not sound as bright as I thought it would....is this just due to it being a cheaper uke?

Sound varies widely with ukuleles (even of the same model). As you play more, you'll learn to get the best tone possible out of your ukulele. Where (how far between the bridge and the nut) you strum and how hard you strum have a big influence on tone.


A string sounds a little flat and doesnt seem to have as much sustain on it....amost sounds quiet when I play it open or fretted.

Hmm, this may get better as you play your ukulele more. Strings don't just need to stretch out to stay in tune, they also need to get used to vibrating at certain frequencies. Give a couple weeks without worrying about it.


I left the uke by my side while on a beach in fairly hot sun (hot enough to burn me)...and it seemed to go really out of tune after an hour or so.....could the sun have caused damage or is this normal?

Definitely normal and it definitely can cause damage. All wooden instruments respond to changes in temperature and humidity. When you take your ukulele to the beach---and you should definitely take your ukulele to the beach---be sure to protect it from direct sunlight. If you don't have a case or a gig bag, a spare towel wrapped around your uke should do the trick. Also, if your uke was in the sun for a while, it may be thirsty, that is, the wood may have dried out more than usual. This is bad. A dry ukulele is brittle and cracks easily. You should store your uke with a humidifier in a case (or a box or wrapped up in a towel) for a while. Aldrine shows you one way to make your own in one of the "Ukulele Minutes". youtube's UkesterBrown has another method...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWhXRDBMYBk

Again, glad to hear you're having fun. Keep it up!!

theymademedoit
06-09-2011, 07:05 AM
Cheers mate....awesome post!!!

Luckily the uke was in a gig bag.
I think its ok...just worried about damage I may have caused but it sounds like it will be fine!

Again, thanks bro!