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View Full Version : Ukulele out-of-tune on any frets



Osku
01-21-2012, 08:53 PM
Hello guys,

I'm a beginner with ukuleles. I have a problem that my GEWA Tennessee soprano is significantly out of tune on any frets. Every open string is in tune and stays so pretty well, but when I play any fret - the note isn't right. My tuner shows values between +20 and +30 too high, which is something like 1/4-1/8 steps I suppose? Anyway. It sounds really wrong, even my bad ears can tell it... :/

On the other hand. I have also another ukulele, which is made of totally shitty materials and parts (and costs only fourth of the GEWA)- but it's perfectly in tune on all frets, the strings feel softer and also has a smoother sound at high notes. I have to mention that this one was already "pre-tuned and stretched" in the shop, while the GEWA was taken out of its cardboard box and had very loose strings as how it probably left the factory.

I'm aware it's been less than week when I bought the GEWA, but I've tuned it few times every day and tried my best to stretch the strings by hand. It already stays in tune (@ open strings) quite well.

Could this all out-of-tune-on-frets have something to do with bad neck angle, faulty fretting, a manufacturing mistake or so? Should I take it back to the shop or let it be for sometime and wish it to settle down by itself? Any other advices?

Thanks for you help in advance. :)

Osku

Ground Loop
01-21-2012, 09:19 PM
Hi Osku! You posted in the Beginners forum, so I figure a fellow newb can chime in ... :)
I just wanted to say that both of my cheap ukulele's (Sunlite and Mahalo) have this exact same problem.

The nut is way too high. The first fret is the worst, and it improves as you go down. Most of the chords are using the top two frets, so they all sound pretty crummy.

I don't know where GEWA ranks on the quality of setup, but check to see if the intonation improves as you go down, and ends up fine by the 10th or so. My Mahalo was so cheap ($20!) that I'm looking for a small file to do some amateur luthering on it.

Osku
01-21-2012, 09:45 PM
Hi Osku! You posted in the Beginners forum, so I figure a fellow newb can chime in ... :)
I just wanted to say that both of my cheap ukulele's (Sunlite and Mahalo) have this exact same problem.

The nut is way too high. The first fret is the worst, and it improves as you go down. Most of the chords are using the top two frets, so they all sound pretty crummy.


Very good idea! but I don't think that's the case here. My tuning or intonation isn't any better as I go up the frets. :( Gets only worse by increasing the fret number. At 12th and higher it's getting absolutely horrible and feels like the string doesn't ring as clearly as it should. It's like a "plucking" sound.. dunno what's the right word.. but a little bit like playing high notes palm-muted on nylon-string acoustic guitar.


I don't know where GEWA ranks on the quality of setup, but check to see if the intonation improves as you go down, and ends up fine by the 10th or so. My Mahalo was so cheap ($20!) that I'm looking for a small file to do some amateur luthering on it.

Yeah. I would accept to have some issues with the 20 dollar ukuleles, like my Reno, but funny thing for me is that it works very well, while the much more expensive GEWA which is made of better quality wood and parts etc, does not. It's just awkward.

mm stan
01-21-2012, 10:38 PM
Sorry to hear of your problems...with the ukuleles...Yes there are some gems in inexpensive ukuleles, but most are poorly built with low quality control design and cheap materials..
I always say, try before you buy...I don't even think a setup is worth it if you're paying somebody to do it...it would over ride the cost of the ukulele..without the ukulele in my
hands, it would be difficult to know... any pictures..hmm looks like chalk this one on experience...last advice, take it to a luthier and ask and do the work yourself if that is even possible
Good Luck, let us know how it goes........if anything..change the strings first to Martin M600 and see how it goes...

stevepetergal
01-22-2012, 04:25 AM
You are experiencing an extreme case of bad intonation. There are lots of ukuleles like this (but most not so severe) Since this is a new uke, you should send it back. If the intonation is as bad as you say, no set up or adjustment will make it right. I wouldn't even change the strings. This may void any warranty. I wouldn't recommend putting time or additional money into an instrument that will never make you happy. And happiness is the whole point.

OldePhart
01-22-2012, 12:29 PM
It could be a very high bridge saddle, or bridge saddle and nut. However, if it is off by that much all the way up and down the neck I have to believe that the bridge saddle is simply not in the right position or a very unsuitable set of strings has been installed. The frets are positioned for a given exact scale length, down to a mm or two, and gage of string, and if the bridge was installed badly (or if it has a compensated or other asymmetric saddle that has been placed 180 degrees out) that would give the symptoms you describe.

I went to the GEWA site and I notice that they recommend that model for "D" or "C" tuning. Frankly, it is unlikely that both tunings are going to intonate well given the same set of strings. The shorter a scale on the instrument, the more pronounced are any intonation problems due to minor differences in string tension and or actual scale length. So, if you have tuned GCEA you might try tuning ADF#B and vice versa and check the intonation then.

John

itsscottwilder
01-22-2012, 02:02 PM
It could be a very high bridge saddle, or bridge saddle and nut. However, if it is off by that much all the way up and down the neck I have to believe that the bridge saddle is simply not in the right position or a very unsuitable set of strings has been installed. The frets are positioned for a given exact scale length, down to a mm or two, and gage of string, and if the bridge was installed badly (or if it has a compensated or other asymmetric saddle that has been placed 180 degrees out) that would give the symptoms you describe.

I went to the GEWA site and I notice that they recommend that model for "D" or "C" tuning. Frankly, it is unlikely that both tunings are going to intonate well given the same set of strings. The shorter a scale on the instrument, the more pronounced are any intonation problems due to minor differences in string tension and or actual scale length. So, if you have tuned GCEA you might try tuning ADF#B and vice versa and check the intonation then.

John

I agree if the open notes are the only notes even remotely in tune then you probably have a poorly placed bridge saddle

Osku
01-23-2012, 10:22 PM
Hey again,

I want to thank you all for your advices and kind willingness to help me in my troubles. Really appreciate that. :)

I already took my ukulele back to the shop where I bought it. The salesman played and tested it, and agreed right away it being horribly out of tune on any chord/note played - wrongly built instrument(?). They offered another same type of GEWA ukulele as replacement. I accepted, but before that I had already tested two other identical ones, and their intonation was as it should; the difference from the faulty GEWA was huge. Tested with a tuner meter as well. So, I picked one and went back home... now this one sounds fine and as a proper instrument should. Happy ending afterall!

See you!

1931jim
01-24-2012, 03:50 AM
I am glad you have had the uke replaced. It is nice whenever the problem is fixed or replaced and all is well again. Go back to your local shop often for new strings and just to say Hello now and again. Who knows there might be an upgrade in your future next summer. HaHa!!