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jamdead
12-24-2011, 10:40 AM
I just got off the phone with a Guitar/Uke repair guy who i was referred to by a local high end retailer. I told him that my KoAloha Tenor plays sharp beginning around the 12th fret, and I asked him if he could get it to play dead on. He said that any instrument with a fixed bridge could not be adjusted to fix this. He said it is just a matter of having the strings in tune with each other up the neck. He also suggested that it may be due to a problem with ukulele strings. He said Aquila strings are the best at keeping good intonation up the neck. I was wondering what you all thought of his response. Will my ukulele just play sharp up the neck?

ghardy
12-24-2011, 10:55 AM
I think that when you play a note on the 12th fret, you're bending the string an awful lot to get it from it's "normal" state to reach the fretboard. Imagine that you're bending a string while keeping it on the fretboard (like in a guitar solo). A bend of a small magnitude can cause significant modulation to the pitch of the note.

mr moonlight
12-24-2011, 11:38 AM
Is it just one string or all of them? Is it that the notes gradually get sharper as you go up the neck? If it's on just one string, then it's probably your strings. Replace them and see if that solves the problem. Some strings materials are better when it comes to intonation, but unless you got a bad batch all of the major brands make strings that will be very much in-tune. If it's all your strings and it's a gradual change, then it's probably that you need your uke adjusted. Even with a fixed bridge minor intonation issues can be fixed with some slight bridge adjustments and like ghardy said, it could also be high action. If the problem is bigger than that, I would contact KoAloha.

Kekani
12-24-2011, 12:41 PM
I was wondering what you all thought of his response.

After the last statement, not much.

-Aaron

Dan Uke
12-24-2011, 01:01 PM
Koaloha typically has the action a little bit high so you can ask a luthier to lower the saddle. Obviously the luthier didn't see it yet since you were on the phone. Since I bought my uke directly from Koaloha, I asked them to set it low from the get go.

OldePhart
12-24-2011, 02:07 PM
The shop was about half right :)

It is sometimes difficult to get strings to intonate perfectly up the fretboard using a straight bridge. If you look on most acoustic guitars you will see they use a molded saddle that compensates for (usually) the B string. A few ukuleles come with compensated bridges (Kiwaya, for example). I have filed the bridge on my KoAloha longneck soprano to a compensated profile and that brought all strings to within about five cents of each other at the 12th. That's good enough for all but the most discriminating ears (most inexpensive ukes and guitars will be 15-20 cents out on the first couple of frets unless the uke has been set up and non-players and newbies tend not to notice even that much).

The way a string behaves up the neck is strictly a function of the tension, mass, and length of the string. Often, you can experiment with mixing and matching strings from different sets to get all of them very nearly in tune on a flat bridge saddle. Myself, I just compensate the bridge as best I can and live with it. The longer the scale gets, the less effective compensating the bridge is unless you start adding material like the compensated guitar saddles do.

I have a blind friend with perfect pitch - excellent blues and jazz guitarist - he won't play acoustic guitars because even the best of them don't get the intonation good enough to make him happy up the neck where he tends to play the most.

Edited to add - I am kind of disappointed that the high-end Hawaiiian makers, for example, don't use compensated bridges (or haven't historically, anyway). I realize that even in the $700 price range they probably can't afford a lot of hand work with a file to compensate the bridge - but they could use molded bridges like the guitar world and come much closer. Love my KoAlohas but I'm a bit tweaked about having to spend an hour with a file to get the strings within 5 cents at the 12th when, IMHO, it should have been that way from the start.
John

manapualabs
12-24-2011, 02:18 PM
Edited to add - I am kind of disappointed that the high-end Hawaiiian makers, for example, don't use compensated bridges (or haven't historically, anyway). I realize that even in the $700 price range they probably can't afford a lot of hand work with a file to compensate the bridge - but they could use molded bridges like the guitar world and come much closer. Love my KoAlohas but I'm a bit tweaked about having to spend an hour with a file to get the strings within 5 cents at the 12th when, IMHO, it should have been that way from the start.
John

Did you see this recent thread?
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?45382-compensated-saddles-on-new-Kamaka-HF-2

OldePhart
12-24-2011, 02:40 PM
Did you see this recent thread?
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?45382-compensated-saddles-on-new-Kamaka-HF-2
Yep - in fact I have several posts in it :) I was kind of hoping to nudge KoAloha towards using compensated saddles... LOL

Seriously, as has been very common in the guitar world for a couple of decades now, a molded compensated saddle offers a lot more "meat" to get the intonation right than a simple flat piece of 1/8" material filed to alternate angles. Look at anything from a Taylor down to a pretty humble Yamaha laminated guitar and you'll typically find a saddle with a molded "bump" sticking out wider than the saddle for the B string. Of course, this is required with guitar due to the longer scale, but even a concert or especially tenor scale uke would benefit from such "wider than the saddle" bumps.

Just my $0.02.

John


John

mm stan
12-24-2011, 02:55 PM
I just got off the phone with a Guitar/Uke repair guy who i was referred to by a local high end retailer. I told him that my KoAloha Tenor plays sharp beginning around the 12th fret, and I asked him if he could get it to play dead on. He said that any instrument with a fixed bridge could not be adjusted to fix this. He said it is just a matter of having the strings in tune with each other up the neck. He also suggested that it may be due to a problem with ukulele strings. He said Aquila strings are the best at keeping good intonation up the neck. I was wondering what you all thought of his response. Will my ukulele just play sharp up the neck?

He said Aquila strings are the best at keeping good intonation up the neck. Beats the hell out of me why he suggested Aquila's on the KoAloha...arn't the "Bright" enough....he he

manapualabs
12-24-2011, 03:07 PM
Yep - in fact I have several posts in it :) I was kind of hoping to nudge KoAloha towards using compensated saddles... LOL

Seriously, as has been very common in the guitar world for a couple of decades now, a molded compensated saddle offers a lot more "meat" to get the intonation right than a simple flat piece of 1/8" material filed to alternate angles. Look at anything from a Taylor down to a pretty humble Yamaha laminated guitar and you'll typically find a saddle with a molded "bump" sticking out wider than the saddle for the B string. Of course, this is required with guitar due to the longer scale, but even a concert or especially tenor scale uke would benefit from such "wider than the saddle" bumps.

Just my $0.02.

John


I've been wondering why the high end tenors and baritones don't have compensated saddles, also. I think it's great if Kamaka starts a trend towards doing this and it would be worth the extra money they would probably charge.

Mele Kalikimaka!

SailingUke
12-24-2011, 04:33 PM
Intonation is a common problem.
I have found a good setup can solve most intonation problems.
I have had ukes noticebly off by the 3rd fret, those I get fixed or get rid of.
As far as 12th fret intonation my personal taste is as long as it is close I'm good.
If you need a tuner to know it is off, in my mind it is not an issue, besides how much time do you spend playing up there anyway.
I play a lot of bar chords in the middle of the neck and again as long as I can't hear the off notes I am good.
With todays technology fret placement should not be an issue, but unfortunately it seem to crop up alot.
My Mya-Moe and DaSilva are dead on all the way to the last fret.

Tor
12-25-2011, 02:59 AM
Edited to add - I am kind of disappointed that the high-end Hawaiiian makers, for example, don't use compensated bridges (or haven't historically, anyway). I realize that even in the $700 price range they probably can't afford a lot of hand work with a file to compensate the bridge - but they could use molded bridges like the guitar world and come much closer. Love my KoAlohas but I'm a bit tweaked about having to spend an hour with a file to get the strings within 5 cents at the 12th when, IMHO, it should have been that way from the start.
John
I can only agree with the above - and it shouldn't be a cost-driving factor either. Even cheap guitars come with compensated bridge saddles these days, the saddles are mass-produced anyway so it's just a matter of planning to use one in the first place.

Of course, if you switch from high-G to low-G you should also switch to a differently compensated saddle.

(These low/no-cost options aren't about individually per-instrument compensated saddles, it's simply a standard compensation that can be inferred from the different mass of thin vs. thicker strings, and, on guitars, and some ukuleles, thin vs. thicker vs. wound strings. These simple mass-produced saddles actually do a great job on guitars. The practice could easily be adapted for standard, mass-produced ukuleles as well, not to mention high-end ukuleles.)

-Tor

Kekani
12-25-2011, 07:00 AM
Funny how when people compare `ukulele to a guitar, generally, the `ukulele community avoids the comparison.

Yet, when it comes to something like intonation, more specifically, compensated saddles, this thread is quick to compare two entirely different instruments.

BTW - how do we know ALL Steel string guitars with compensated saddles play in tune, once the player changes strings? We don't, and it probably doesn't, especially if the tension is changed. So, they get it setup properly. Still, different animal completely.

Also, cheap compensated saddles for guitar are readily available. Has anyone ever done a cost projection on what it would take to do a mold for your specific `ukulele? I have, its not cheap, and there's no guarantee that once the customer changes strings, it'll be the correct saddle (especially if they change to XXX). Once again, a comparison to not only a different instrument, but a different market altogether.

Ever see a compensated saddle on a NYLON stringed Classical guitar? Widespread, all over the place like Steel Strings?

jamdead
12-25-2011, 07:22 AM
Thanks for all the replies. I have learned a lot. My uke's action is quite high, and when I pay close attention not to bend the strings when check the intonation way up the neck, it comes very close. In fact I couldn't even hear the difference in the first place. I was just playing around with the tuner and noticed it read sharp, and worried that I was having a problem with the neck or something, so I checked it out. I glad to hear there is nothing going wrong with my most treasured instrument. However, I think I will lower the action a tad anyway, since I do like to spend time way up the neck.

Tor
12-25-2011, 10:46 AM
Once again, a comparison to not only a different instrument, but a different market altogether. Different market, yes, but I don't see what that has got to do with anything. The physics could care less. Different instrument, but the physics is the same. The real difference is the shorter scale (thus less to compensate), nylon or nylon-like string material and the more wildly different types of strings. Nobody talked about automatically getting a perfectly intoned instrument just by inserting a compensated saddle. It's only a question of removing the baseline part of the equation (and often that's enough for an acceptable result).



Ever see a compensated saddle on a NYLON stringed Classical guitar? Widespread, all over the place like Steel Strings? I have seen it, although my own two nylon strings just have standard saddles. But compensated saddles are a recent phenomenon, only 10-12 years ago it was quite rare to see them on guitars, although a couple of mine had it back then (a high-end 6-string and a reasonably priced 12-string). Now it's everywhere, to a lesser or greater degree (from the simple B-string compensated ones to the more elaborate ones).
Nylon stringed guitars don't need as much compensation as steel stringed guitars (which also shows in that the saddle isn't as slanted as on steel string guitars), but that's not the same as not being useful. As for ukuleles, I would argue that high-G stringed ukuleles, in particular, are candidates for compensated saddles. Some ukuleles have a completely straight saddle, while others have a slightly slanted one.. with no compensation the straight one is probably better, due to the thin G string.
I experimented on one of my cheaper ukuleles. It had a quite wide saddle with enough material to let me file it to shape, and it _does_ improve intonation up the neck.

-Tor

OldePhart
12-25-2011, 12:28 PM
Ever see a compensated saddle on a NYLON stringed Classical guitar? Widespread, all over the place like Steel Strings?

Well, I don't know if it counts as "wide spread" but of the three classical guitars I've owned (none of them expensive) two had compensated saddles (the one that didn't was a ca. 1970's Brazilian guitar).

:)

John

OldePhart
12-25-2011, 12:35 PM
As for ukuleles, I would argue that high-G stringed ukuleles, in particular, are candidates for compensated saddles. Some ukuleles have a completely straight saddle, while others have a slightly slanted one.. with no compensation the straight one is probably better, due to the thin G string.


This is a very good point. On most...well, many...acoustic guitars the bridge saddle is angled very slightly so the treble strings are a tad shorter than the bass strings. This isn't ideal because there does tend to be a "notch" where strings switch from wound to plain where the compensation needs to "start over." Look at a well set up electric guitar with individual saddles and you'll see what I mean. Still, on a reentrant uke slanting the bridge saddle is just going to make things worse because both of the outside strings are under noticeably more tension than the inner strings (on most sets, anyway).

One high end uke maker (and I can never remember who) makes his tenors with a two piece saddle and two notches for placing the G string based on whether you are using reentrant or linear tuning - very cool idea.

John

brucemoffatt
12-25-2011, 02:44 PM
For those of us with curiosity but not much clue, how would a compensated saddle look for a concert size and a soprano size high G uke? Does anyone have suggested corrections for each string that we could try out on our ukes by making saddles to those compensated dimensions?

OldePhart
12-25-2011, 02:50 PM
For those of us with curiosity but not much clue, how would a compensated saddle look for a concert size and a soprano size high G uke? Does anyone have suggested corrections for each string that we could try out on our ukes by making saddles to those compensated dimensions?

basically, what I've found works in most cases (as has been mentioned, even a compensated saddle is a compromise, it's just a better compromise than a straight saddle most of the time) is to bevel the top of the saddle so the portion under the outside strings is highest on the side towards the neck, and the portion under the center strings is highest away from the neck. This is because generally the outside strings are under higher tension than the inside strings. Depending on the brand and gage of strings, sometimes either the E or the C will actually be fine and then you'll just want to bevel the others.

On each string, if it pulls sharp at the 12th fret then you want to bevel it so the high end is towards the neck. If the string is going flat at the 12th fret, bevel it the opposite direction. You basically want the bevel to look like a straight ramp then take very fine sandpaper and just knock the really sharp edge off the top so it doesn't cut the strings.

This is a picture I took several months ago of the saddle I modified on my KoAloha. It's kind of difficult to tell, but if you look very closely you can see that the top of the saddle ramps up towards the neck on the G and A strings, ramps up away from the neck on the E string, and the high point under the C string is almost centered in the middle of the saddle (though it's a bit sharper than the rounded top as it comes from the factory). It's times like this that I'm glad KoAloha ships their ukes with fairly high action at the bridge. Their saddles are tall enough to leave you the room to do this (you'll end up taking 1/16" to 1/8" off the overall height of the bridge when filing these ramps in). If your action isn't pretty high to start with you'll want to order a spare saddle blank before breaking out the file. Actually, having a spare blank is not a bad idea anyway. I've done quite a few of these and I've still been known to goof once or twice. The rosewood/red cedar Mainland tenor ended up with a really ugly, though perfectly functional, saddle.

(Oh, to clarify, in this picture the neck would be at the bottom of the picture.)

Plainsong
12-25-2011, 03:05 PM
Ok, Kekani builds ukes, and when he gives some very excellent reasons why ukes don't have compensated saddles generally, and how compensated saddle != Perfect intonation anyway, and he's flamed with


Different market, yes, but I don't see what that has got to do with anything.

Jeez.

Most players wouldn't get it re-setup anyway, and FWIW, my daily drivers are close enough that I can't hear a problem, with the Kanile'a easily being teacher's pet in the intonation department. I don't have perfect pitch, but I've learned to trust it, and I've learned paying a luthier everyone loves will not save you from bad intonation.

I'm not judging if someone wants it or doesn't want it, but flaming a guy who actually builds them when he answers, because he obviously just has no idea what he's talking about is a bit... :wtf:

pulelehua
12-25-2011, 03:51 PM
It's likely a change which affects things more and more as you go up and you hear it noticeably at the 12th fret.

Obviously a KoAloha is a high-end instrument, but I know that Mike DaSilva has actually changed the nut on cheap ukes to solve the problem. The essential problem is that typically the manufacturer puts the fret in the right place WITHOUT taking into account the stretch of the string as it bends to reach the fret. Mike compensates his fret positioning to adjust for this. The trick, of course, is that there is no tension on the open string, so it gets a bit complicated as the first fret should be shorter than expected.

Lowering the saddle should be the best way to compensate. But, you could also replace the saddle. I did this on my Kala. It had been evenly rounded, like

/\
| |

I bought a square saddle and filed it

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| |

shortening the overall string length a tiny bit. It made a tiny difference, but for me was worth it.

If you do the nut, it involves chiseling out a bit of the first fret on the fingerboard, which most people would not want to do on their KoAloha.

As others have said, if it's consistent across all strings, it's very unlikely to be the strings.

You probably know, the Okami family have legendary reputations, and it's probably worth contacting them before getting out the hatchet and drill bits.....

MrKempo
12-25-2011, 04:23 PM
My Mahalo LP has a compensated saddle. All offers of trades considered. :anyone::anyone::anyone:

Tor
12-26-2011, 01:20 AM
Ok, Kekani builds ukes, and when he gives some very excellent reasons why ukes don't have compensated saddles generally, and how compensated saddle != Perfect intonation anyway, and he's flamed with
I'm quite baffled now. Why did you interpret that as "flaming" him? That was not the intention at all, I can assure you: I truly cannot see what 'different market' has got to do with intonation. What does this mean? How the physics of the instrument works doesn't depend on the market. I can't believe that he meant that it's a market where people care less about how well intonated the instrument is. So he must have meant something else, but I just cannot see what that would be. Thus, I wrote 'I don't see what that has got to do with anything'. Read it in context, please.


I'm not judging if someone wants it or doesn't want it, but flaming a guy who actually builds them when he answers[] Again: I DID NOT FLAME HIM. Please! Why on earth would I want to do that?

What my whole argument boils down to is really only that I don't see why the ukulele industry (mass-produced as well as more high-end) couldn't start to provide the instrument with saddles that look like the one in the picture OldePhart posted in post #19.

I'll refrain from posting more in this thread. OldePhart writes better than I do - if what I write can be so easily judged as "flaming" then I don't think there's anything I can possibly write in this forum and I may as well go into lurk mode and stay there.

-Tor
/signing off.

mm stan
12-26-2011, 02:02 AM
My suggestion is to make a four piece saddle like electric guitars on the wooden saddle with set screws for adjustment or four individual interchangable saddles with differernt angles to resolve
this issue...of course the bridge then would have to sort of dove tail slotted as well as the saddles for stability..

OldePhart
12-26-2011, 05:08 AM
My suggestion is to make a four piece saddle like electric guitars on the wooden saddle with set screws for adjustment or four individual interchangable saddles with differernt angles to resolve
this issue...of course the bridge then would have to sort of dove tail slotted as well as the saddles for stability..
However, there are a couple of reasons we probably won't see this on ukes much.

One of the problems is that such saddles require quite a bit of down force from the strings to prevent the various moving parts from rattling against each other - this is often a problem on electric guitars where such saddles are common. The Gibson "tune-o-matic" style bridges are especially problematic in this regard because there is usually relatively little down force on the saddle because the break angle from saddle to string anchor is not as high as it is on Fender style saddles.

The other problem is that these devices eat up quite a bit of sustain. That's not such a huge issue on an electric guitar, but it's rare to see bridges like this on acoustic steel-string guitars (with the very occasional exception of archtops). I don't think you'll ever see them on a nylon-string guitar or a ukulele - they would eat far to much sustain and volume.

Something that might work would be something like the bridge on a Hofner violin bass. The top of the bridge is hardwood with four slots running the length of the bridge - small brass saddles fit into the hardwood slots under the strings. This is fairly crude but works for a 30" scale - on short uke scales the more workable functionality would probably be a bridge with one or two slots and saddles coming with the crowns offset from the tab that goes in the slot by varying amounts. You would set the intonation by selecting saddles with appropriate amounts of offset and each saddle would actually cover two positions because you could rotate it 180. Gee, I wonder if that's patentable. I may have just given away a fortune... :)

John

Plainsong
12-26-2011, 05:19 AM
Again: I DID NOT FLAME HIM. Please! Why on earth would I want to do that?



Awesome job at the not shouting. The question was asked, he answered, and then you said his answer didn't have anything to do with anything. It seems like you read half his answer. All people can do is give you the information, it's up to you to read it.