View Full Version : keeping uke in t une

06-08-2011, 10:02 AM
Hi - my first post. I got a ukulele for my daughter (5.5) she loves it. Its pink and cheap. pure tone 20 quid job with nylon strings. So when she goes to bed I've started to play it. Or try to. Its a soprano I think tuned it to GCEA so hopefully got that right. It looses its tuning so quickly. I use a digital tuner to keep checking. Is it becuase it is cheap, is it because it has nylon strings etc? Anything that I can do to try and get it to retain the tuning. For her this is fine because she's playing. Though having said that I think she can strum better than I can. :D I'd like to treat myself to a half decent model soon. I think I need to hear different tunings. Tennor is of interest so I am searching youtube for an explanation on different tones etc. Any tips in the meantime would be appreciated. Thanks Zoe

06-08-2011, 10:24 AM
Hi, Zoe!

Welcome to the Underground,and what a wonderful gift for your daughter! There are many reasons that a uke might have trouble staying in tune; here are just a few:

1. Nylon strings are stretchy-- if the strings are new, it may take a few days for them to settle in, and that means you'll need to retune fairly regularly. That's true even on expensive ukes.
2. Cheap ukes often have cheap strings. So consider replacing the strings before you do anything else.
3. If your uke has friction tuners (tuners that stick straight out the back), they may need to be adjusted. If they are friction tuners, you should see a screw in top. Once you have the uke tuned, tighten the screw a little bit, and see if your uke holds tune better. Don't tighten it too much, just snug it up a bit.

Good luck!

PS: Sopranos, concerts, and tenors are all designed to be tuned to the same pitch. But due to the differening body sizes and scales lengths, they will sound different!

06-08-2011, 10:28 AM
ahh thank you, I did buy a set of strings so I'll do that. I'll compare the strings. Do you ever use gut or steel on a uke? I am amazed that for 20 I can have so much fun. My husband is a professional double bass player - so from one extreme to another. Anyhow he loves it, we keep arguing over who's going to try out the uke next. We need to go and buy some more. I keep saying he should get one then part way through a gig pull out a uke to shock the audiance. What a fun world - I am amazed a these lovely instruments.

06-08-2011, 01:10 PM
I'm just a rookie so take what I say with more than a few grains of salt. "Gut" is what was used for strings in the past, but nylon and/or forms of it have replaced traditional gut to a large extent. My strings are nylgut. They take time to get "broken in." I'm thinking that steel strings are not a good idea for a uke and might damage it, but I'm sure some experienced folk will chime in here. FWIW

06-08-2011, 01:57 PM
I'm thinking that steel strings are not a good idea for a uke and might damage it...
You are correct. The higher tension of steel strings can warp the neck, cause the top to cave in or the bridge to pull off. There are some (electric? solid body?) ukes designed for steel strings, but most ukes are not.

06-08-2011, 02:37 PM
Get your husband a kala u bass and he won't have to carry the monster anymore---- see on u tube.

06-09-2011, 09:05 AM
My husband is a professional double bass player -

Before I confirm other people's advice may I ask how often your husband here's the phrase "He'll never do it..". It's my mum's favourite joke and when eventually she is asked "He'll never do WHAT?" she replies "He'll never get that fiddle under his chin". Sorry!.

In any case, having played a 20 Mahola that my friend bought for his boy I can confirm the tuning issies DO improve with time/playing/retuning and with nipping the headscrews a tad (if they exist!). I played it for about 4 days and noticed a marked improvement.
To stretch the strings I pinch one between thumb and forefinger and make an S shape in line with the fretboard - pulling them up (perpendicular) can stress the neck/joints unduly. I have read elsewhere here that a change to e.g. Aquila Nyguts will greatly help as well.

Hope that helps!

06-09-2011, 09:12 AM
He thinks they are great. We are quite keen to keep going. Tonight we've replaced the shop issued strings with some new ones. The tone rings much nicer now. Yep still having to retune every so often so will just be patient.

06-09-2011, 09:57 AM
This might help.