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View Full Version : High action or lack of skill



gyosh
08-08-2011, 07:19 PM
I have a Kala KA-STg that sounds muted when you barre the first fret. I attributed it to my lack of talent, but I have a professional musician friend who picked it up and noticed the same thing. There doesn't seem to be a problem with any other frets and I was wondering if this could be solved by lowering the action a little?

Thanks in advance for your help. The people on this site are AWESOME!!!

Dan Uke
08-08-2011, 07:49 PM
I would think it would too high in the nut since you had a professional musician try it out. Of course, that could have no bearing if your friend is a professional drummer!!

PhilUSAFRet
08-08-2011, 10:17 PM
High nut a common problem......measure it.

gyosh
08-09-2011, 02:55 AM
Okay, so I'm a pretty talented DIY'er and I had wood-shop in 7th grade. Is this something I can remedy myself? What tools would I need? Are there instructional videos on how to set up your ukulele? I'd actually love to learn how to properly set up a uke.

Tudorp
08-09-2011, 03:06 AM
I typically remove the nut and shave it down from the bottom if it is really high. Being sure to shave it level though. Or you can shave it from the top too and regrove it for the strings. What is the nut made from? Bone, graphite, plastic?

P,S. keep in mind, lowering it at the nut, will also lower it further down and change the angle of the strings slightly. Be sure you don't get buzzing on the higher frets, because if it is severe enough, you might need to raise the saddle slightly to compensate to level the strings..

gyosh
08-09-2011, 03:59 AM
I typically remove the nut and shave it down from the bottom if it is really high.

Is the nut glued down or does it just sit in place like the bridge?

Tudorp
08-09-2011, 04:12 AM
There is typically glue, but they dont glue allot because they are meant to be removed, repaired over time, so they are not permantly fixed in most cases. A builder dont want them to move, but they want them to be able to be removed without damage to the headstock, neck or fretboard. So, normally, just a dot or two of glue to hold them in place. It typically takes just a stratigically placed tap to pop it loose without damage.

Mel Ott
08-09-2011, 05:25 AM
I typically remove the nut and shave it down from the bottom if it is really high. Being sure to shave it level though. Or you can shave it from the top too and regrove it for the strings. What is the nut made from? Bone, graphite, plastic?

How high should the nut be?

Tudorp
08-09-2011, 09:01 AM
I usually set the 1st string at about 1mm from the top of the 1st fret, and the 12th at about 2 to 2.5mm from the top of the fret. I like a low action, but you need to be sure your frets are pretty level and your neck pretty straight to get away with a low action.

chiefnoda
08-09-2011, 10:07 AM
I have a Kala KA-STg that sounds muted when you barre the first fret. I attributed it to my lack of talent, but I have a professional musician friend who picked it up and noticed the same thing.

Hi Gyosh

A quick test is to play a bar chord up the neck, say 4th. If you can play the chord comfortably without the muted notes, your saddle is probably too high. Another way is to hold a string on 3rd position. The string will touch 2nd fret. Now look at the spacing between the 1st fretwire and the string. There should be just a tiny space (one thickness of standard xerox paper is just about right). I bet in your case, you will see more, a lot more.

You have a Kamaka so you can compare. Can you do it more easily on the Kamaka than the Kala?

You can fix it as below. On the other hand, you live in San Jose. Take it to Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto. They can look at your ukulele and diagnose your problem. If they are not too busy, they can fix it while you wait. Cost you $20 - $30? Take all of your ukuleles and have them looked at as well. While you are there, check out their ukuleles. The trip will be worth your time.

Lowering the action at the nut is not too difficult. Ideally you use a nut file but you can probably got a set of needle files and use one that "seems right". Tudorp says remove the nut and sand the bottom. Here I respectfully disagree. Sanding the bottom is good only if *all* nut slows are equally too high. And you will still have to put it back, and tune up and test and go back. There also is a danger is not sanding it flat and even.

I would file off the nut slot one by one. You need to do it slow. If you cut too much, you will get a buzz and that's not good. When it happens (it does!), you squirk a small amunt of superglue (with some baking soda), and build up a thickness.

Cheers
Chief

gyosh
08-09-2011, 10:21 AM
Thank you chiefnoda. I have been to Gryphon, and that's a great idea. I'd still like to learn how to do set ups and/or repairs. Are there classes for that? I'd be willing to buy another decent sounding laminate to practice on. There was a place in Kona that you could build your own uke, but it takes two weeks and I'll need to save a few pennies for that.

gyosh
08-09-2011, 10:40 AM
Hi Gyosh

You have a Kamaka so you can compare. Can you do it more easily on the Kamaka than the Kala?

Cheers
Chief

I have no problems with the Kamaka so that's what got me thinking that maybe it wasn't the "archer" after all. Thanks again for the excuse to run over to Gryphon. And out of curiosity, how do you know about Gryphon, seeing as how you're on the other side of the country?

chiefnoda
08-09-2011, 10:54 AM
how do you know about Gryphon, seeing as how you're on the other side of the country?

I saw John Elway for two seasons, and my adviser finally kicked me out in 1987. As I was a poor graduate student, I could not afford much but I did buy a Martin D-28 and I did browse good at Gryphon. Got to know Michael Hedges well while he lived there.The best guitar stores to me are Music Emporium in Lexington, MA, Cotten Music in Nashville and Gryphon in Palo Alto. Eric Schoenberg's store in Tibuton, CA is #4. Gruhns, Elderly and Mando Brothers are nice but too large for me.

It's good thing I don't live near Gryphon. I know they got some nice ukuleles, too.

Cheers
Chief

chiefnoda
08-09-2011, 11:03 AM
I'd still like to learn how to do set ups and/or repairs. Are there classes for that?

For guitar repairs and adjustments, check out Frank Ford's

http://www.frets.com/

Oh yes, Frank Ford works out of Gryphon and he is one of the best (not only by me but many others)

For example, http://www.frets.com/fretspages/luthier/Technique/Setup/SetNut/setnut.html

Cheers
Chief

gyosh
08-10-2011, 09:21 AM
Problem Solved!!!!

Thank you everyone who posted suggestions, especially chiefnoda. I took my uke to Gryphon Strings as per his suggestion and they fixed it while I waited ("A" string was too high). Much easier to play now. Tomorrow I'm taking my Kamaka and Komoa for them to inspect and improve if needed.

Thanks again.

poppy
08-10-2011, 01:11 PM
For guitar repairs and adjustments, check out Frank Ford's

http://www.frets.com/

Oh yes, Frank Ford works out of Gryphon and he is one of the best (not only by me but many others)

For example, http://www.frets.com/fretspages/luthier/Technique/Setup/SetNut/setnut.html

Cheers
Chief

WOW that is the BEST set up etc. explaination I've seen in print THANK YOU. This is the link we should give everyone who asks about set up, It answered every question I had about how and why. You don't have to be a lutherer to understand it and you can tell quickly if you want to tackle the problem or take it to a pro. I read it all,lt took the afternoon but what a great read ,even if I never do it at least I will understand why it had to be done .again ty