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dawhealer
06-20-2011, 03:48 PM
I've upgraded my late father-in-law's old Silvertone soprano uke. Replaced the friction tuners with geared Grovers so it now stays in tune. Cut the wooden saddle out of the one piece bridge and replaced it with an old plastic saddle I'd taken out of a guitar so now it has some volume.

All was well until I replaced the Martin strings I'd had on it with Aquila Nylgut which I have on my other two ukes. The Martin strings had a (for want of a better term) brittle sound to me. For a while the Aquila strings sounded great. Very well balanced and warm. So much improved that it was hard to believe it's a Silvertone that probably sold for less than $10 new from Sears. However, once the strings had stretched out and I wasn't having to retune so often, the E string started sounding progressively louder and louder than the other strings until it now overwhelms them.

It's very distracting and frustrating. It only does this when I play a chord that calls for the E string to be open. If it's fretted, no problem, all the balance returns and it sounds just fine. The only problem is when the E string is played open. I've tried to damp it with a piece of cardboard from a matchbook under the string where it passes over the saddle but to no avail. I feel like I'm missing something, but I'm not sure what. Could I have just gotten a defective string?

I've played guitar for over 50 years and have never encountered anything quite like this. I'm fairly new to the ukulele so any input anyone can provide will be most greatly appreciated.

ProfChris
06-21-2011, 12:23 AM
It could be that your uke has a natural resonance at E, and the Aquilas have put enough energy into it to make that resonance ring out.

Simple test: tune to something else (D tuning - a, D, F#, B is traditional) and see if the problem goes away. If it persists, but this time at F#, then you've got a super-powerful string and can probably fix it by swapping in a new set. BTW, Aquila concerts are often even better on sopranos, giving you higher string tension and even more sustain and volume.

If the problem goes away it's a natural resonance issue. The traditional way to fix this is to take a lump of modelling clay (no idea how big, but I'd guess about hazelnut size) and stick it on the top. Move it around until the wolf note disappears. I'd guess that if you find the spot but merely reduce the imbalance then you need a bigger lump of clay. Then you make the fix permanent by sticking a weight (the same weight as your clay) inside the uke at the same spot. I'd use double-sided tape to start with so that this is reverseable.

All this is theory, but there may well be some here who have done this and can offer more precise advice. However, trying what I suggest won't take long, and won't damage your uke.

dawhealer
06-21-2011, 02:06 AM
Still there with the higher tuning. I'll change the strings. Thanks for the tip.

ProfChris
06-21-2011, 10:41 AM
Hope it works. Keep the old strings in case it turns out to be something else. Suspect B is, I guess, your new saddle, though I think you'd used the Martin strings on that and it was OK.

pulelehua
06-21-2011, 11:46 AM
If the problem goes away it's a natural resonance issue. The traditional way to fix this is to take a lump of modelling clay (no idea how big, but I'd guess about hazelnut size) and stick it on the top. Move it around until the wolf note disappears. I'd guess that if you find the spot but merely reduce the imbalance then you need a bigger lump of clay. Then you make the fix permanent by sticking a weight (the same weight as your clay) inside the uke at the same spot. I'd use double-sided tape to start with so that this is reverseable.



This makes me think of the scene at the beginning of Indiana Jones. Clay stuck to ukulele clenched in one hand. Weight in the other hand. Quick switch. Sudden earth tremor, followed by a massive boulder thundering down as you grab your uke in one hand, whip in the other, and make for the nearest exit.

SailingUke
06-21-2011, 12:09 PM
Aquila strings are a higher tension at pitch. This is in part what gives them their bright/loud voice.
Try a little softer string like Worth browns, or Orcas. I even like the new Kala Reds, they are monofiliment and not wound as in the past.

OldePhart
06-21-2011, 12:25 PM
If replacing the strings doesn't work, my first guess would be that when you modified the bridge for the plastic saddle you managed to get a high spot on the bridge under the E string (or, possibly didn't get the saddle straight across the bottom if you sanded on that). The string(s) close to the high spot will transfer vibration to the top better than those where the saddle is kind of floating above the bridge channel.

Another possibility is that the E string is higher than the other strings at either the nut or saddle (or both) and therefore it gets whacked a bit harder when you're strumming.

John


John