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View Full Version : New UKE Frets way off? Noob error?



tiz68
02-15-2012, 03:04 PM
I bought a $30 "Denver" Uke from a local music store.

Tuned it using http://www.ukuleletricks.com/ukulele-tuner

But when I play the first basic chords I'm learning - C, F, and G, they don't sound right at all.

I soon discovered that to make a C chord I need to place my finger on the 5th fret, 1st string, which I understand is contrary to where it should be - on the 3rd fret.

But that's how it is.

So any idea if this is some kind of noob error I'm missing or if this instrument, cheap as it was, is simply two whole frets "out"?

Thanks in-advance for any comments.

GKK
02-15-2012, 03:27 PM
Your ukulele needs to be "set up" correctly to play properly.

The Nut and the Saddle will have to be lowered some for the proper sound and Intonation up the Fretboard. Generally, the height from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the string should be about 2mm-2.5mm.

The height between the top of the first fret and bottom of the 1st string should be around 1mm.

tiz68
02-15-2012, 03:39 PM
Moving the nut and/or saddle down a few mm will move the pitch of one string down two whole frets?? I'll take a look at it.

The action is pretty close near the 1st fret as it is. But I could probably adjust it down a wee bit.

MGM
02-15-2012, 03:56 PM
i cant imagine it being that off...are you sure its tuned right?

tiz68
02-15-2012, 03:59 PM
Yes. Played open, all four strings are tuned right on the money. "My dog has fleas." But if I play a Cmaj chord I essentially get a C7.

Ground Loop
02-15-2012, 07:21 PM
How high are the strings above the fretboard at the first fret?

It could also be a "novelty" uke, with frets placed any which way but tempered..

steelarts
02-15-2012, 10:48 PM
That sounds a really dodgy uke to me. There is no way it should be that far out of tune. How high is the action, because it might be that you are distorting the strings when you're fretting them?

If it's as bad as you say I wouldn't mess around with it. Take it back and get a replacement but if you are in the shop use a tuner there and then because it might just be that the make is a junk uke. Whenever anything gets popular you'll always get someone who jumps on the bandwagon and wants to make a fast buck and couldn't care less about quality or playability. They're just hoping that a novice will happen along that knows nothing about the instrument and that they can get as much money out of as possible. But if this "local music store" is worth it's salt, and cares about it's customers, the least they should do is hear your complaint and put it right especially if they want repeat custom in the future. Unless you really want to get into diy luthiery I'd return it. Just my 2 cents worth.

bongolele
02-16-2012, 01:20 AM
I soon discovered that to make a C chord I need to place my finger on the 5th fret, 1st string, which I understand is contrary to where it should be - on the 3rd fret.
So you're saying if you play the 3rd fret A string it's too low, by a whole tone, i.e. the third fret plays A#? Which indicates that the 1st and 2nd frets are playing whatever notes are in between A and A# ....

What I'd love to know is what the 1st-4th frets on that A string are actually playing for you (it should be A#, B, C, C#) - But what notes are you getting? - The easiest way of finding out is with a tuner.

lukens
02-16-2012, 03:53 AM
You've not tuned it the wrong way round, have you (starting at the bottom rather than the top - which I started doing first time I tuned mine)? Or have your fingering for the chords mirrored? Just as an A string at the 3rd fret and G string at the 5th fret, would be the same note.

Other suggestion would be to try a digital tuner, rather than tuning by ear, but I have no idea how good your ear is, so no insult meant if you're pitch perfect.

OldePhart
02-16-2012, 07:07 AM
Yes. Played open, all four strings are tuned right on the money. "My dog has fleas." But if I play a Cmaj chord I essentially get a C7.

Are you sure you haven't tuned it upside down? When you're holding your uke in playing position the strings should be G C E A from top to bottom - that is, from the string furthest from the floor to the closest to the floor.

If you tuned it the other way around then fingering the first string at the third fret would indeed play a C7.

tiz68
02-16-2012, 08:13 AM
@OldePhart & @lukens :

[red faced]

Yes, as it turns out I was employing Australian tuning sequence. Sorry for making such a stupid mistake, and thanks to all for your comments!

Nickie
02-16-2012, 08:16 AM
I wonder if they even bothered to put the strings on in the right order?

tiz68
02-16-2012, 08:21 AM
Who knows?? But it sounds quite alright now for $30. I don't think I'm going to bother "setting it up" or doing anything special. If I take a shining to Ukes I'll just donate this $30 piece to my dear wife's kindergarten class and buy something nice and decent for permanent playing fun.

Nickie
02-16-2012, 08:25 AM
What a great idea! Very generous of you. I gave two kids ukuleles, wish I could give more away. I hope you "take a shine" to the ukulele, it's a great hobby!

Pete Beardsley
02-16-2012, 11:41 AM
@OldePhart & @lukens :

[red faced]

Yes, as it turns out I was employing Australian tuning sequence. Sorry for making such a stupid mistake, and thanks to all for your comments!

Heh heh! Don't sweat it, we all make mistakes. If I had a pound/dollar for every time I did something dumb, I'd be pretty wealthy by now!
Enjoy your uke, that's all that matters.

OldePhart
02-16-2012, 02:50 PM
Heh heh! Don't sweat it, we all make mistakes. If I had a pound/dollar for every time I did something dumb, I'd be pretty wealthy by now!
Enjoy your uke, that's all that matters.

I did have a dollar for every time I've done something dumb - but most of the dumb things I've done involved foolish purchases of far more than a dollar so I think I'm in the hole... LOL

John