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View Full Version : Disappointing new (used) uke day



mds725
06-29-2011, 08:48 AM
A few days ago, I won an eBay auction for a Pono PT-8 solid mahogany 8 string tenor, and I was excited to be getting a solid wood 8-string. The ukulele is here now, but to my great disappointment it has a crooked bridge!

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=25139&d=1309372491

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=25138&d=1309372491

In addition, there's what appears to be dried glue along the bottom edge of the bridge.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=25137&d=1309372490

This problem wasn't disclosed in the listing for ukulele and the only photo of the front was taken at an angle that makes it difficult to to tell that the bridge is crooked.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=25141&d=1309373063

I'm not even sure if the seller knew the bridge was crooked, and I'm not sure whether this flaw is structural or only cosmetic, but I wouldn't have bought the ukulele if I'd known about the problem, so I'm emailing the seller to let him know that I'd like to return the ukulele for a full refund. Too bad ... the ukulele is pretty and it sounds nice. I guess if I ever buy another ukulele from a private seller on eBay, I should ask for more photos.

Mouthy1
06-29-2011, 08:53 AM
Ouch, bummer!

hoosierhiver
06-29-2011, 08:58 AM
If you are stuck with it and it has intonation problems, you might be able to compensate somewhat by messing with the saddle.

ukulelecowboy
06-29-2011, 08:59 AM
It's a bit hard to see where the bridge is crooked even from your photos. Is it clear that it's been re-glued?

Skitzic
06-29-2011, 09:07 AM
Is the intonation off?

hoosierhiver
06-29-2011, 09:11 AM
I've seen ukes where the bridge is apparently crooked, but there is no problem with intonation because the neck is slightly off as well. If the bridge follows the lean of the neck the intonation should be ok.

mds725
06-29-2011, 09:16 AM
If you are stuck with it and it has intonation problems, you might be able to compensate somewhat by messing with the saddle.

Thanks, Mike! I'm waiting to hear back from the seller, but I may take the ukulele to a local luthier later this week for an evaluation.


It's a bit hard to see where the bridge is crooked even from your photos. Is it clear that it's been re-glued?

I meausured. The right side (in the photo) of the bridge is between 1/8 and 1/16 of an inch higher (closer to the soundhole) than the left side. I don't know if the bridge was re-glued or if it came that way from the factory, and I have no idea whether the seller even noticed. The fact remains that there's a flaw that's at least cosmetic, if not structural, and I wouldn't have bid as much on the ukulele if I had known about it.


Is the intonation off?

I've minimized my playing of the uke, and haven't yet checked the intonation. Even if the intonation is okay, I don't know if there's a problem with the bridge that will recur, and even if the problem is only cosmetic, I would have made a differnt decision about how much I was willing to pay for it had I known.

Pippin
06-29-2011, 09:25 AM
I have seen lots of ukes with some visible glue. That really isn't much more than a minor inconvenience most of the time, and doesn't mean that the bridge has ever been reglued. As for the angle of the bridge, Mike is right. If the neck and the bridge match, there might be no problem. I have seen lots of bridges slightly offset like that, especially on vintage ukes. Lots of people used an angle rather than a compensated saddle to address intonation variances. Yours is an 8-string, don't forget. A regular compensated saddle would be very tricky to cut.

ukulelecowboy
06-29-2011, 09:29 AM
I meausured. The right side (in the photo) of the bridge is between 1/8 and 1/16 of an inch higher (closer to the soundhole) than the left side. I don't know if the bridge was re-glued or if it came that way from the factory, and I have no idea whether the seller even noticed. The fact remains that there's a flaw that's at least cosmetic, if not structural, and I wouldn't have bid as much on the ukulele if I had known about it.

You have good eyes. Is it apparent just from looking at the instrument that the bridge is crooked?

Also, just for reference sake: does this ukulele have an adjustable truss rod?

mm stan
06-29-2011, 09:38 AM
I've seen ukes where the bridge is apparently crooked, but there is no problem with intonation because the neck is slightly off as well. If the bridge follows the lean of the neck the intonation should be ok.
Yes with a misaligned bridge...you would have to be able to tune it by ear to find the perfect pitch settings.. when I do, I write them down and keep it for future reference....

Doc_J
06-29-2011, 03:32 PM
I think a lot of those Java-made Pono's had quality issues.

I've had 3 Java-made Pono sopranos over the last couple of years. Very pretty ukes but wasn't happy playing them.

mds725
06-29-2011, 04:30 PM
The selller has graciously agreed to my returning the ukulele for a full refund, and I offered to pay for return shipping. While I'm sorry not to have acquired a Pono 8-string ukulele, I'm glad not to have to worry about possible bridge issues. Thanks to everyone for the discussion about misaligned bridges and intonation!

Rick Turner
06-29-2011, 06:27 PM
I'm sorry, but from the photos, I see no big deal. I just do not see a bridge horribly out of position from a visual perspective.

Are you listening with your eyes or ears?

If the instrument plays horribly out of tune, you may have a point. If it's in the ballpark, you're obsessing over something that is simply not important. Try buying a few real vintage Hawaiian ukes. We're talking funky, and so what!

You are incredibly lucky that the seller is willing to take this back. Kudos on him or her for that. But really, is this to be a wall hanger or something you actually use as a musical instrument? If it's a player...and you're a player, then your ears should mean a whole lot more than your eyes...

mds725
06-30-2011, 07:20 AM
I'm sorry, but from the photos, I see no big deal. I just do not see a bridge horribly out of position from a visual perspective.

Are you listening with your eyes or ears?

If the instrument plays horribly out of tune, you may have a point. If it's in the ballpark, you're obsessing over something that is simply not important. Try buying a few real vintage Hawaiian ukes. We're talking funky, and so what!

You are incredibly lucky that the seller is willing to take this back. Kudos on him or her for that. But really, is this to be a wall hanger or something you actually use as a musical instrument? If it's a player...and you're a player, then your ears should mean a whole lot more than your eyes...

I think you sort of missed my point. The issue for me is not how playable the ukulele is, but the fact that it differed from the description in the eBay listing on which I based my decision to bid as much as I did. (By the way, it's not my intention to disparage the seller. I don't know whether he even noticed the bridge issues, and he has been gracious about taking the ukulele back.) The listing said "It has no cracks or scratches or warping." I would have been equally bothered if the bridge was fine but the soundboard had scratches, even though the scratches don't affect playability. If an ukulele described as having no scratches on it actually did have scratches, I wouldn't be getting what I thought I was paying for. Heck, eBay even lists "item not as described" as a reason for filing a claim against a seller, and I acknowledged in my first post that the bridge issue may only be cosmetic. And most listings I've seen for vintage ukes will identify issues, even cosmetic ones like wear on the soundboard, and post photos of these issues so that a buyer can make an informed bidding decision.

As an analogy, if you bought a used car with the representation that it was in mint condition, and it turned out to have chips in the body paint and dings on the body, you might be upset about the chips and dings even though they have no effect on the drivability of the car because you would have gotten something other than what you paid for and you may not have been willing to pay as much for the car that was not in mint condition. You might buy the car anyway, but maybe for not as much money.

I appreciate everything eveyone has posted about whether the ukulele is playable despite what some have said is a barely visible flaw. If I wanted to keep the ukulele notwithstandng the bridge problem, I could have asked the seller if he would have been willing to lower the purchase price. Had the bridge issue been disclosed in the listing (again, I'm assuming that any lack of disclosure was inadvertent), I could have chosen to bid what I was willing to pay for an ukulele with a bridge issue and someone who didn't care as much could have outbid me.

This was simply a matter of my not having gotten what I thought I was paying for, and that -- not the playability of the ukulele -- was the source of my disappointment.

OldePhart
06-30-2011, 07:31 AM
HOnestly, I'd test the intonation before I decided to return it. An 8-string uke is by definition a "low-G" instrument and that means that tilting the bridge in the direction it's tilted can actually be an advantage to intonation up the neck! It's very common on guitars, and on some custom tenor ukes intended to be strung low g, to find the bridge saddle slanted in this direction to improve intonation.

In the case of the Pono it's pretty likely it's a manufacturing "flaw" - but if it actually makes the uke play in tune better, who cares!

John

mm stan
06-30-2011, 07:36 AM
Yes when buying sight unseen...proper disclosure is very important...if the seller cannot be honest and trustworthy with imperfections, who's to say there nothing wrongs with the sound or voice of the ukulele...
but like Mark said, Maybe he didn't notice it...and two thumbs up for him to offer to take it back...