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View Full Version : Do high-end ukes need setup?



paeataa
01-28-2012, 07:31 AM
Hello UUers,

I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestion about this.

I have been thinking about getting a KoAloha Concert (new or used) as I love the sound of it very much. (But I still need the funds, so it probably won't happen anytime soon).

I have found some dealer offering a good deal on this KCM-00, but they do not offer any setup. The uke will come straight from the KoAloha factory.

Since KoAloha is considered as one of the high-end ukes, I'm not sure if it needs additional setup from the dealer besides the standard test/setup from the factory.

And not only KoAloha, I am curious about other K brands as well whether they need setup from the dealer.

What would you be your thought/suggestion?

Thanks!

Paul December
01-28-2012, 07:41 AM
This may be blasphemy here, but I don't even think some lower-end ukes need setups :eek:
Shhhhhhh, don't tell anyone...
...in the past I purchased ukes from well-known sellers who advertise "set up" and had problems with instrument (no fault of the sellers). When I sent them back for factory replacement, the ukes I got back were straight-out-of-the-box from the manufacturer. They were perfectly set-up. ;)

ksiegel
01-28-2012, 07:53 AM
My KoAloha Sceptre is the only ukulele I have with perfect intonation everywhere on the fretboard - every other instrument I've got has a t least one fret that is off by some degree.

I got mine from Smiley and Janet at Ukulele Source in San Jose, CA - I don't know if they did any setup on the instrument before offering it for sale, but my gut says that they didn't have to.

That being said, nearly every instrument probably needs some degree of personalization - maybe as simple as changing the strings, maybe more. I would expect that a custom instrument (Moore Bettah, DaSilva, Devine, Compass Rose, Donaldson, etc.) is less apt to need anything done than a factory instrument.

As always, your mileage may vary, offer void in Wisconsin.



-Kurt

ukulelecowboy
01-28-2012, 07:57 AM
Personally, I think every instrument requires some sort of "setup." Not that a ukulele won't be playable right from the factory but to insure that it matches the player's specific preferences.

I recently played a friend's custom baritone, which he had "setup" by the luthier. He played it beautifully. As soon as I picked it up, I knew that I would have problems. The action at the 12th fret was too high for me and the nut protruded a bit too far on the treble side for my tastes. If that were my ukulele, it would have been "setup" differently. My friend probably wouldn't have liked my choices either. Every instrument that has ever crossed our doorway, regardless of the brand or the quality has gone through some sort of adjustment.

chrimess
01-28-2012, 08:04 AM
the boys at KoAloha will set it up meticulously for you upon request.



Hello UUers,

I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestion about this.

I have been thinking about getting a KoAloha Concert (new or used) as I love the sound of it very much. (But I still need the funds, so it probably won't happen anytime soon).

I have found some dealer offering a good deal on this KCM-00, but they do not offer any setup. The uke will come straight from the KoAloha factory.

Since KoAloha is considered as one of the high-end ukes, I'm not sure if it needs additional setup from the dealer besides the standard test/setup from the factory.

And not only KoAloha, I am curious about other K brands as well whether they need setup from the dealer.

What would you be your thought/suggestion?

Thanks!

haolejohn
01-28-2012, 08:09 AM
I got my koaloha concert from the factory and they didn't set it up for me and I have never had it set up. It plays great. I had a sceptre that I got from acoustic vibes and other than the action being high, it played excellent as well.

GX9901
01-28-2012, 08:51 AM
I think whether an instrument needs setup depends a lot on what happens between the time it leaves the factory and the time it reaches your hands. I'm sure most, if not all, mid to high end ukes are setup pretty well when they leave the factory. However, a lot can happen after it leaves the factory, such as humidity change, bad setup job by shops, bad luck, etc. I do think if a uke needs setup, unless it has a crooked neck or something drastic, it's a pretty easy thing to do and something a ukulele enthusiast should learn to do anyway.

Drew Bear
01-28-2012, 09:10 AM
I have found some dealer offering a good deal on this KCM-00, but they do not offer any setup. The uke will come straight from the KoAloha factory.I would request that the dealer ask KoAloha to set up your uke to your specs. I'm pretty sure any K-brand uke is going to come with level frets and good intonation. Basically you would only be requesting a certain tuning (low or high G) and action height.

I corresponded with one KoAloha dealer who said they could request photos of the actual uke before it shipped to me. That sounds like there is some leeway for minor "customization" before the uke you order leaves the factory.

itsscottwilder
01-28-2012, 09:42 AM
It really depends on the player. If you feel like everything is perfect then no need to setup.

But if you find frequent intonation issues, If you're not happy with the string height, if the fret edges are grabbing at your hands, stuff like that. Then a setup is probably a cheap way to fix a bunch of issues in a single service call.

Plainsong
01-28-2012, 10:19 AM
Fixing problems that a higher end uke wouldn't have aside, all setup is, is dialing in the trade-offs of feel and sound - to your preference. So the answer is, it depends. Certainly it will be playable. But will it be too high or low for you? Hard to know. My Koaloha concert is just a smidge high at the saddle. I've had for a while, gone through a set of strings, and it bothered me so much, that I forgot about it when the strings were last off. I like the sustain, right now, why fix what isn't broken?

The Kanilea came the same way, default high at the saddle, but very playable. That one is lowered to my spec, and is lovely. Why do this? Because some players play hard, need the higher action. Maybe they want it to ring more. It's easier to lower than raise!

Things like fret dressing and all that, for the big boys, that's just part of making a uke, so yes it'll come playable, but whether you dial it in is up to you.

strumsilly
01-28-2012, 01:17 PM
my experience has been , the more you pay for an instrument, the better "set up it will be. Even the higher priced Kala / Lanikai Chinese ukes come pretty playable from the factory.
the lower priced ones seem to come with nut slots molded in and they are often ridiculously high , though sometimes you get lucky and all's well. the saddles often need to be lowered too.

OldePhart
01-28-2012, 03:03 PM
My experience with KoAloha ukes is that they don't "require" a setup - i.e. the nut will be cut perfectly and the uke will intonate well. However, my experience also shows that the bridge saddles tend to be a bit higher than I prefer and I usually end up taking about 1mm off the bridge saddle so they feel a little nicer to me up the neck.

This is not in the same category as an inexpensive ukulele where the nut is high and the uke is very difficult to play and intonates poorly until the nut is fixed.

John

mm stan
01-28-2012, 08:13 PM
Every uke can benefit from a set up....for personal preferences...as to action for playability and comfort for their style....

Shastastan
01-29-2012, 07:53 AM
It really depends on the player. If you feel like everything is perfect then no need to setup.

But if you find frequent intonation issues, If you're not happy with the string height, if the fret edges are grabbing at your hands, stuff like that. Then a setup is probably a cheap way to fix a bunch of issues in a single service call.

This makes sense to me. I think there is some subjectivity involved, too. I got a Mainland that I thought would be setup---and it may have been. However, I wanted the string height lower. The shop owner even said that it didn't look that high to him, but he adjusted it down at my request. After playing it again, he said the adjustment made more of a difference than he thought it would. It sure was an improvement for me. Just saying that different folks have different preferences. Sure we could use "one size fits" all criteria and adjust to the original string height over time, but why should we have to? I would think that it's more conservative to have the string height a little higher from the factory since it would be easier to lower the strings than to raise them??

BlackBearUkes
01-29-2012, 10:17 AM
I know factory ukes are all over the map when it comes to set up, but I don't know any luthiers building ukes that don't give the uke its best set up before it leaves their shop. There are those who sometimes what things a little lower or higher because of their playing style, but generally we try to get the best possible set up from day one. I don't let my ukes leave the shop with bad intonation, bad fret work, high nut slots, etc. It doesn't matter what I sell the uke for, high end or low, they all get a trouble free set up from the start.

OldePhart
01-29-2012, 02:13 PM
I know factory ukes are all over the map when it comes to set up, but I don't know any luthiers building ukes that don't give the uke its best set up before it leaves their shop. There are those who sometimes what things a little lower or higher because of their playing style, but generally we try to get the best possible set up from day one. I don't let my ukes leave the shop with bad intonation, bad fret work, high nut slots, etc. It doesn't matter what I sell the uke for, high end or low, they all get a trouble free set up from the start.

(Emphasis above is mine.)

That's pretty much the key. Ukes from good luthiers and top manufacturers and a few mid-range manufacturers who care don't need a setup. And, when you purchase other ukes from a reputable dealer who cares they will similarly take care of these issues. In short, the ukulele will be playable.

But that doesn't mean that some players might not want the action lowered further, etc. KoAloha, for example, seems to ship with a pretty high bridge saddle, higher than other good ukes I've seen. But, that just leaves more room for tailoring - aka for me to compensate the top of the saddle, for example.

Of course, if you are buying from a builder or someone who is going to do the final setup up you should talk with them and let them know what you like. I like actions that are almost crazy low, other folks don't like them quite that low. Mike at Mainland, for example, knows I like 'em low so ukes I've bought directly from him have come to me with bridge saddles lower than on the Mainland ukes I've purchased used where the previous owner obviously didn't want quite such crazy low action.

John