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View Full Version : Intonation Adjustments?



ejnovinsky
09-21-2011, 04:59 PM
The Intonation on my little beginner ukulele is awful. Its settled itself down now, and stays in tune great, but you can tell where its off....you can hear very well on the basic C chord that the A string is sharp....you can hear it go sharp the harder you fret....would making the groove deeper in the nut help? I was going to do this anyway as the strings have a hard time staying in the very shallow grooves factory made into the nut....any advice would be appreciated!

buddhuu
09-22-2011, 02:36 AM
Hi ejnovinsky,

Poor intonation on a cheap uke is most often due to high action at the nut, especially if the problem is most marked at lower frets.

Check out this guide to checking nut action on fretted instruments: http://www.frets.com/fretspages/musician/gensetup/nutaction/nutaction.html

Regardless of nut action it's worth bearing in mind that low-tension, stretchy strings such as those on an 'ukulele will bend slightly sharp if you press hard. Fretted noted should be held down with enough pressure to give a clean note and no harder otherwise intonation issues will arise when playing.

Personally, if you're going to adjust the action I would suggest that you get a couple of spare nuts from eBay or a luthier supplier and tweak one of those. That way, if you screw up you can always replace the original, unchanged nut and be no worse off than when you started.

ejnovinsky
09-22-2011, 11:41 PM
thanks for the input, I think part of the problem as you said is fret pressure. As a guitar player I find myself throttling the ukulele alot when obviously thats not needed. The nut is without a doubt too high, and Ill probably try to make a slight tweak, if for nothing else so the strings stay seated in the groove properly.....Im also a lefty so my ukulele is turned upside down with the strings swapped. I know this has caused intonation issues for me on acoustic guitars before, but didnt expect itd be a problem with a ukulele.......could that possibly be part of the issue?

Mim
09-23-2011, 04:55 PM
thanks for the input, I think part of the problem as you said is fret pressure. As a guitar player I find myself throttling the ukulele alot when obviously thats not needed. The nut is without a doubt too high, and Ill probably try to make a slight tweak, if for nothing else so the strings stay seated in the groove properly.....Im also a lefty so my ukulele is turned upside down with the strings swapped. I know this has caused intonation issues for me on acoustic guitars before, but didnt expect itd be a problem with a ukulele.......could that possibly be part of the issue?

Sometimes you simply need a new set of strings. If they get "old". Also a different kind of string. Do you know what your uke is strung with? Also, what brand is it? It makes a differnce. Too cheap (like not really a uke but more of a toy), they just have problems. But most with a little TLC can be good as new! Any questions you can PM me as well.

itsme
09-23-2011, 05:31 PM
Sometimes you simply need a new set of strings. If they get "old". Also a different kind of string. Do you know what your uke is strung with? Also, what brand is it? It makes a differnce. Too cheap (like not really a uke but more of a toy), they just have problems.
Yeah, what brand/model of uke and do you know what strings it came with?

Oftentimes beginner (cheaper) ukes come with less than optimal strings. A string change is about the cheapest thing you can do for an upgrade. :)

ejnovinsky
09-23-2011, 11:39 PM
The ukulele is a Lanakai Lu-11. the strings are Aquila which I was led to believe are a good name brand in strings. Overall the sound of the ukulele is great and on barred chords you really dont hear it being off...The only time I really notice it is chords that use open strings with one fretted note (like C, Am etc....) I think alot of it is still learning curve from guitar to ukulele.....The scale is obviously shorter, so slight nuances in the intonation would be easier to hear......also had an issue with the c string popping out of the nut groove while playing......overall I quite pleased with my little 60 dollar guitar center ukulele, but it will need a good setup I think...

ejnovinsky
09-24-2011, 09:08 AM
well using buddhuu's link as a guide (thanks!) I made some adjustments today, and I'm super pleased with the results. The intonation is very, very much improved. Heres basically what I did: 1) I made a thin wooden shim to mimic optimal string height off the fretboard 2) I laid a straight edge down the fretboard, and nut to serve as a string 3) using a very tiny triangular file I filed out the groove in the nut until the straight edge achieved what in the website was considered a good string height. (the site said the nut height should be about the same as if it were riding over a fret). restrung retuned, and tried it and the results were pretty dramatic for such a small tweak.....much more comfy to play in the lower frets (especially the first), and a much, much better sound....Keep in mind though this is no means a edorsement for folks to go out the there and take a file to their ukuleles. When the time comes for me to upgrade to a next level ukulele I will have it professionally setup. For this 60 dollar entry level model though it worked brilliantly...

OldePhart
09-25-2011, 10:40 AM
Congratulations. There's a lot of satisfaction to be had in basic instrument setup and, honestly, I consider being able to adjust the nut slots on a uke (or guitar) is something every player should learn right along with their chords and scales. So, you're off to a good start!

Oh, and the nut being quite high on LU-11's and LU21's and ukes in that price range from other manufacturers is not at all unusual.

John

gtrk
09-26-2011, 01:43 PM
Had the same problem on my $24 Rogue. After filing the string grooves deeper in my nut and pulling the bridge and sanding the bottom to lower it I went from 3.7mm string height to a 1.5mm string height at the point between the nut and first fret. What a difference. Much more in tune, and much easier to play. Mine came with cheap black Martin strings, I've ordered a set of Aquilas for it too.