PDA

View Full Version : First uke tuned fine with tuner - out of tune with itself



zacht
10-07-2011, 01:18 AM
Hi all,

I'm enjoying my first uke (Dolphin with Aquila's), and love the sound of it. One thing I noticed: I tune my uke using a kc02 chromatic tuner, it works fine and it stays in tune pretty good. Last night I noticed that all strings were in tune, but the uke was a bit out of tune with itself.
I know that a uke is never perfectly in tune, and I can't expect a lot of a cheap uke, but I was wondering if there's anything I could do about it.

Ambient Doughnut
10-07-2011, 01:29 AM
Number of possibilities.

Action may be a bit too high. If so pressing down will make the strings go sharp, especially on the first few frets. Can be adjusted by deepening the slots in the nut but be careful not to overdo it!
You may be pressing too hard, it's easy to bend a note sharp on a uke just by pressing down harder than necessary.
Strings may not have completely settled yet. It takes at least a few days of tuning and playing for them to settle down and longer to be completely stable.
May need some setup work to correct intonation but unlikely on a makala they're generally pretty good.
My advice is to get someone who's been playing for a while to have a go and see what they think.

Hope some of that helps! :)

zacht
10-07-2011, 01:42 AM
All answers help, it's my rule of life, so thanks for replying AB, and all of it helps ;).
Between making my post here and reading your reply I G@@gled a bit around, and came to the conclusion that either the ukes or my action is high. I'm still very much working on my technique, so let's try to improve that before I start throwing tools at my beloved uke.
The strings are on for a month now, with me playing for about 15 minutes daily, so they should be settled in. The nearest uke-player I know is over 200 km away :p, so that's not realy an option.
I guess I have to practise, practise and practise and see what it goes like after a while. I must say that I can slightly hear it being out of tune since I know it, but I hadn't even noticed it before I saw my tuner readings.

Flea Flicker
10-07-2011, 11:45 AM
Beginner here, and for what its worth, I've experienced this very same discrepancy or phenomenon. I have an eight-year old KoAloha brand soprano uke with friction tuners that have rarely if ever held tune properly (ugh!) . . . its current strings are over a year old, and it'll tune beautifully using a high-end (studio-grade) electronic tuner, but it's way out of tune when tuned to itself just moments later. And yes, the action is perfectly nice and low, and there are no issues with my technique. So nope, something else is clearly at-play here.

OldePhart
10-08-2011, 06:44 AM
Beginner here, and for what its worth, I've experienced this very same discrepancy or phenomenon. I have an eight-year old KoAloha brand soprano uke with friction tuners that have rarely if ever held tune properly (ugh!) . . . its current strings are over a year old, and it'll tune beautifully using a high-end (studio-grade) electronic tuner, but it's way out of tune when tuned to itself just moments later. And yes, the action is perfectly nice and low, and there are no issues with my technique. So nope, something else is clearly at-play here.
The older KoAloha tuners had cotton packing that needed to be replaced periodically - if your KoAloha has white buttons that could be the biggest part of your issue. There is a vidoe on youtube showing how to change the packing. The newer KoAloha tuners (amber buttons) don't have that issue and work beautifully.

Also, you may simply need to tighten the friction screws on your tuners. The screw at the end of each tuner doesn't just hold the button on, it also adjusts the friction. If it is too loose the tuners will not hold and will "slip." If it is too tight it's difficult to fine-tune the tuning. Kind of like Goldilocks, you gotta get it just right. :)

When set propertly friction tuners hold their tune as well or possibly even better than most geared tuners. All of my soprano and concert scale ukes (well, except the eleuke) have friction tuners and fluorocarbon strings and when the strings have fully settled they'll maintain their tune pretty well for weeks. I've pulled out the Kiwaya after it's sat in its case untouched for a couple of weeks and checked the tuning (Peterson strobe tuner) and only had to make the tiniest tweak. (Gotta love fluorocarbon strings, when they've fully settled they keep their tune almost as well as steel strings.)

bazmaz
10-08-2011, 08:59 AM
Sounds like an intonation / setup issue. Can happen with Dolphins and usually fixable

Check links below

http://www.gotaukulele.com/2010/04/ukulele-basics-intonation.html

http://www.gotaukulele.com/2010/09/ukulele-intonation-what-is-it.html

Flea Flicker
10-08-2011, 02:00 PM
Thanks gentlemen! My KoAloha tuners are indeed 'white', so I'll look into that Youtube video and into replacement of the internal cotton packing. And, if my current white ones can be replaced straight-away (without structural modifications) with the newer amber ones, then perhaps I'll do that?

zacht
10-09-2011, 12:43 AM
Sounds like an intonation / setup issue. Can happen with Dolphins and usually fixable

Check links below

http://www.gotaukulele.com/2010/04/ukulele-basics-intonation.html

http://www.gotaukulele.com/2010/09/ukulele-intonation-what-is-it.html

Interesting read. Do I get this right: the strings should be parallel to the fingerboard? I mean, the distance between strings and fingerboard should be the same at both ends?
Because I can actually see that near the nut the strings are closer to the fingerboard than at the 12th fret.

bazmaz
10-10-2011, 03:38 AM
No, they are rarely totally parallel, but the maths of the set up means the closermto being parallel the better. In reality, they rise up as you go up the neck towards the bridge

zacht
10-10-2011, 05:29 AM
Thanks Barry, mine is about 1.5mm at the first fret. I did the creditcard-first fret-friction-while fretting the third fret-test, and it seems fine.
By the way, did you change your youtube channel?

OldePhart
10-10-2011, 12:51 PM
Thanks gentlemen! My KoAloha tuners are indeed 'white', so I'll look into that Youtube video and into replacement of the internal cotton packing. And, if my current white ones can be replaced straight-away (without structural modifications) with the newer amber ones, then perhaps I'll do that?
That's up to you. I've never had the old-style KoAloha tuners but my understanding is the packing only needed to be replaced every few years and that they work pretty good otherwise. Of course, the new ones are a lot prettier. :) If you do decide to swap them I'd say keep the old ones - the uke isn't old enough to be a classic right now but some day it might be and having the original tuners might make a difference in resale value.

As for whether they fit the same diameter hole, I would contact KoAloha and ask them. I know the Gotoh UKA (better) friction tuners have a very slightly wider diameter than the UKB series. Enough so that you need to sand the hole out a bit when changing them to avoid cracking the headstock.

John

zacht
10-16-2011, 03:16 AM
I tried to adjust the pressure on the first few frets (in other words, boost my technique), and the uke is already less out of tune with itself. On my tuner there's a scale of plus/minus 50 and the notes are all less than about 15 out of tune, I'm pretty happy with that.
What I keep asking myself, what's the best thing to do under my playing conditions (beginner, only play by myself, working on both strumming and picking, cheap Makala Dolphin uke)?

A: tune all string with the tuner and live with minor out-of-tune-notes
B: tune one string (which one?) and tune the rest of the uke to that string.

OldePhart
10-17-2011, 01:11 PM
I tried to adjust the pressure on the first few frets (in other words, boost my technique), and the uke is already less out of tune with itself. On my tuner there's a scale of plus/minus 50 and the notes are all less than about 15 out of tune, I'm pretty happy with that.
What I keep asking myself, what's the best thing to do under my playing conditions (beginner, only play by myself, working on both strumming and picking, cheap Makala Dolphin uke)?

A: tune all string with the tuner and live with minor out-of-tune-notes
B: tune one string (which one?) and tune the rest of the uke to that string.

It really isn't going to make a difference because the problem is not with the tuning, but with the intonation, and only fixing the problem that is causing the intonation to be out (probably a high nut, but sometimes different strings will help) will fix that. Theoretically, if you've got a good ear, you'll get exactly the same result from A and B above. In practice someone with a good ear can actually tune more precisely than most electronic tuners (especially clip-ons) are capable of displaying.

BTW, I once considered intonation within 10 cents at the first fret "good enough" on my guitars. I've played for many years and was happy with that. Then, I bought nut files about two years ago and since then I've been playing only instruments that are set up perfectly with no perceptible intonation issues at the first fret. I recently noticed (upon getting a new uke) that now intonation being off as little as five cents just doesn't sound good to me. So, the better the instrument you play is in tune with itself, the better your ear will become.

John

John