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View Full Version : Will adjusting the nut and new strings make a big improvement?



UkeLookingatMe?
08-02-2011, 05:11 AM
I'm a very lucky person! My best friend gave me a Luna Tattoo Concert uke to use indefinitely because I was borrowing my son's uke to practice here and there. It definitely has made it possible for me to practice much more--and with my son which is great fun!

But, I've been a little unhappy with the sound (not to sound ungrateful! Any uke is better than no uke!). It sounds very rattly and not very warm. It does have one steel low G string on it and the rest of the strings are thick and white (These strings were on it when I got it. I have no clue yet how to do my own strings). I don't like the feel of the strings or how high the action is on the uke.

My only other experience is with my son's beginner uke (Ohana CK-10s) which I love the sound an feel of. Doing some research, I learned it has black GHS strings. And the action is lower on his uke which I love. In short, I still find myself waiting for my son to let me have a turn with his!

So I'm wondering if I should have a luthier adjust the nut on the Luna and put different strings on it. I think it would be only $30-$40 to do so, but I'm wondering if it will really make a significant difference or not. What do you think?

PhilUSAFRet
08-02-2011, 05:32 AM
Not sure it's worth a luthier. If you are the least bit "handy", changing strings and sanding down nut is not rocket science. Lots of info on UU.

This is quite a bit to read, but will give you insight into set up issues:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?50981-The-old-intonation-bug-again-new-uke&highlight=setup

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?51204-Action-Adjustment&highlight=lowerMore:

dhoenisch
08-02-2011, 05:46 AM
Also, since the uke is being loaned to you, even if indefinitely, I would ask the owner if he or she okay with you doing that to his/her uke. I myself am very particular about my instruments, action and all. I loaned out my mandolin to a friend a couple of years ago, and she knows to ask me before making any adjustments to it, besides new strings. Just thought I'd add that.

Dan

PoiDog
08-02-2011, 06:08 AM
As someone who owned a Luna Tattoo, I may have a bit of insight.

First, definitely try changing strings. The thick white ones you describe are without a doubt Aquilas (which come pre-strung on the Luna). Those tend to be good strings, with a lot of zing to them and they do work well with the Luna, but if they start getting a bit old, they do lose their punch. Another thing may be that they are still very new and need to settle in, so your sound problem may be just them getting out of tune. If you choose to change the strings, I found that the Ko'olau Alohis worked well.

The action on the Luna was a tad high - especially at the first and second fret, but I didn't think they were horrible. You may feel differently. But as dhoenisch said, since this isn't your uke, ask before you have the nut adjusted at all.

Also, rattling, buzzing, and poor sound could just be some fingering error. As a starter, I found myself forming a chord then plucking each string to make sure my finger was in the right place. Often I'd be out of position and that would cause some buzz or muting. Perhaps you just need a bit of practice to make sure you're doing things right?

Last, you mentioned that there is a wound 4th on this. My experience with the Luna was that the soundboard really tended to resonate with the C, to the point where it could sound like a really prominent thud instead of a nice ring, and the only way around it was to be sure I was holding the okole properly to help the soundboard produce a better vibration. I would imagine a wound 4th could also produce some odd sounds, as it is another low string. Try going back to a re-entrant G to help bring more life back into the 'ukulele.

And, of course, most importantly, have fun!

UkeLookingatMe?
08-02-2011, 06:27 AM
Yes, I asked permission and have the green light to alter it!

I did think about the fingering issue. It's a different buzz or rattle than that (when I play the Ohana, it's not present at all). I have checked each string for fingering issues, but that's not it. I think it's as PoiDog mentions--it's that low G string causing a lot of echoing/rattling. I do find the first and second frets too high for my liking. In fact, my wrist and thumb hurt terribly after playing the Luna after a few songs, whereas on the Ohana I can play much longer comfortably.

I know a luthier might sound extreme, but it's a friend of a friend, and since I might return the uke one day, I'd rather have it done right than risk my messing it up.

I'm bummed to learn the white strings are Aquila strings. I've read people rave about those strings, and I don't like their feel or thickness at all on this uke! My hands are on the smaller side, so maybe that has something to do with it?

So are GHS strings not good strings? I like the thinness and smoothness of them on my son's uke. I know there are pages of string discussions, but I'm limited in my local shop (Aquila and GHS). I just want to enjoy playing this uke! Right now, I really don't.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
08-02-2011, 06:34 AM
GHS makes fine ukulele strings. If you like their feel on the Ohana, give them a whirl on the Luna! Remember, it may take a while (even a few weeks) for a new set to achieve their best smoothness---just keep strumming and they'll get there.

mm stan
08-02-2011, 06:48 AM
Aloha UkeLookingat me,
I'd take it to a luthier just to look at and ask his opinion...we cannot see your uke and the way you desribe or the way we understand you may be inaccurate..but I would take it to a luthier first
before changing the strings..sometimes its cheaper or better gettng another uke.. but if you decide to let the luthier work on the uke..the uke will be the best it can be....for what's it worth you
set up a 100 dollar uke...you will have a good 100 uke...As for strings, I had tried both strings...you get more volume out of the aquilas and to me am more balanced clear from the GHS...As I
say GHS is not for anyone..or all ukes..they work for some of my ukes and I like them...they may sound thinner, but you get better balance and playability from them..always a trade off...I like and
order strings from elderly...they come in 4-5 day to hawaii... Martin M600, Ko'olau Alohi....are ones I prefer for my laminates..hope it helps..Happy Stummings..MM Stan

poppy
08-02-2011, 10:28 AM
short answer

YES

My new one went to the shop today, for about $40 you will get hours and hours of more enjoyment and you can play with your son ! Why gamble let the pros do it.