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IrishKevin
03-04-2012, 04:49 PM
I own two Ukes which I play regularly (kala tenor and tanglewood spruce top soprano) the latter being the daily player, my question is when do I bring them in for tune ups, what at home maintenance can I do and what does a said tune up consist of? My soprano doesn't seem to have been set up at all, but I love playing it.

Ken Middleton
03-04-2012, 08:34 PM
I own two Ukes which I play regularly (kala tenor and tanglewood spruce top soprano) the latter being the daily player, my question is when do I bring them in for tune ups, what at home maintenance can I do and what does a said tune up consist of? My soprano doesn't seem to have been set up at all, but I love playing it.

Something like a saxophone or a bassoon may need to checked over by an expert occasionally. But a ukulele? No. Just dust it and change the strings when they get too old.

It is already rather silly that many people think that a new uke needs to be "set-up" before it is playable. Please, let's squash this notion that a "luthier" has to maintain it too.

Just play it.

weerpool
03-04-2012, 09:44 PM
It is already rather silly that many people think that a new uke needs to be "set-up" before it is playable. Please, let's squash this notion that a "luthier" has to maintain it too.

Just play it.[/QUOTE]

i agree with you Ken, just play the damn thing. too many luthiers rightnow have become quite elitist. there's no mystery at all, its a goddamn ukulele for pete's sake.

buddhuu
03-05-2012, 02:38 AM
With huge respect to Ken, I beg to differ just a little on the setup issue.

I agree that generally, once all is as it should be, an 'ukulele should require little in the way of attention except cleaning, the occasional string change, and constant playing.

That said, IMHO some new ukes most certainly need a setup if they are to play well and in tune. The most common problem I see is high action at the nut. In bad cases this will cause poor intonation on notes at lower frets and the instrument simply will not play in tune at all positions.

High action is not a fault, it is just the common default situation of a uke that is awaiting setup to the owners personal taste and playing style.

mikelz777
03-05-2012, 02:46 AM
Something like a saxophone or a bassoon may need to checked over by an expert occasionally. But a ukulele? No. Just dust it and change the strings when they get too old.

It is already rather silly that many people think that a new uke needs to be "set-up" before it is playable. Please, let's squash this notion that a "luthier" has to maintain it too.

Just play it.

Interesting, this is the first time I've heard anyone express this opinion since I've been (heavily) reading various ukulele sites over the last two weeks. The impression I've been getting from what I've read is that unless you buy your ukulele from someone who does a setup beforehand, then you might as well be trying to play a log strung with fishing line! I understand the value of a setup but have been wondering if it was nearly as crucial as many would have you believe.

Ken Middleton
03-05-2012, 03:15 AM
With huge respect to Ken, I beg to differ just a little on the setup issue.

I agree that generally, once all is as it should be, an 'ukulele should require little in the way of attention except cleaning, the occasional string change, and constant playing.

That said, IMHO some new ukes most certainly need a setup if they are to play well and in tune. The most common problem I see is high action at the nut. In bad cases this will cause poor intonation on notes at lower frets and the instrument simply will not play in tune at all positions.

High action is not a fault, it is just the common default situation of a uke that is awaiting setup to the owners personal taste and playing style.

No, I pretty much agree with you, Rick.

I have a couple of gripes about "set-up" though. Although an instrument can be adjusted to play in tune and easy at the nut, you cannot do some sort of magical "set-up" that is right for everyone. Most people would think that the action on my uke is too high, but it enables me to play loudly when I need to. in any case, most decent makes of uke are checked and adjusted before they are sent out to dealers (including the company I work for). Most of the top Hawaiian brands, for instance, have rather high actions than most beginners would want. I suspect this is because they tend to be played by more experienced players.

I just feel that this "set-up" business is becoming a bit of an obsession on UU.

Ken Middleton
03-05-2012, 03:16 AM
Interesting, this is the first time I've heard anyone express this opinion since I've been (heavily) reading various ukulele sites over the last two weeks. The impression I've been getting from what I've read is that unless you buy your ukulele from someone who does a setup beforehand, then you might as well be trying to play a log strung with fishing line! I understand the value of a setup but have been wondering if it was nearly as crucial as many would have you believe.

Haha. That's exactly what I'm talking about.

Ukuleleblues
03-05-2012, 03:32 AM
I read a book once by a luthier that explained the set up of famous guitar players bb king, Stevie R V, etc. I was really surprised me how high the action was that these guys used. It made me rethink set up. I used to think the lower the better and spend hours with my guitars trying to achieve that, maybe for beginners that is great.

My fav uke is an old concert with action most would think is too high. But it projects well, is easy to pick and even with the high action it has great intonation. I've bought ukes that were set up and the action was too low and I had to make it higher. I mean the action was low and smooth but for my style of playing it was too low at the 12th so I put on a higher saddle.

vanflynn
03-05-2012, 03:46 AM
I think when someone recommends a $50 factory made uke gets "set up" we are talking about getting the action at the nut down enought so your fingers don't bleed when trying to play a Bb.

mm stan
03-05-2012, 03:51 AM
I think when someone recommends a $50 factory made uke gets "set up" we are talking about getting the action at the nut down enought so your fingers don't bleed when trying to play a Bb.

You're talking about putting high tension strings on a high action ukulele...ha ha

Pukulele Pete
03-05-2012, 04:00 AM
I've always felt that advertised "set ups " is just smoke and mirrors. New ukes shoudnt need any set up to play right . IMHO.

benjoeuke
03-05-2012, 05:45 AM
With all due respect (where applicable) set up is important and if your retailer didn't have to do it then it is because the builder did it. If you bought a Kanile'a, then no you dont need a set up, but don't kid yourself, that instrument received the most professional set up possible. If you bought a Kohala (like i did for my 5 year old) then, yes it absolutely needs a set up by someone other than the company that built it.

cantsing
03-05-2012, 09:38 AM
I just feel that this "set-up" business is becoming a bit of an obsession on UU.
I guess I think of "set up" as a kind of insurance for a beginner who is buying a mass-produced, low-to-mid-level ukulele, especially over the Internet. My assumption is that a dealer who does a set up makes sure that the ukulele is reasonably playable and checks for obvious problems. I've bought 2 relatively inexpensive ukuleles from dealers with good reputations on this board, and I've been happy with both purchases.

Maybe our emphasis should be on "reputable dealers" instead of "set ups"?

grandpoobah
03-05-2012, 10:30 AM
More often than not, I've found that uke's in the sub-$300 range can use a lowering of the birdge or filing the nuts down. However, when I first started playing, the difference wouldn't have really been apparent to me anyway.

What can be bad though, are Chinese ukes from drop ship companies. I got a Kala pocket off Amazon where the first two frets went way sharp and made all open chords sound bad even to an untrained ear. It definitely required a "set-up"

MisterRios
03-05-2012, 10:48 AM
I think when someone recommends a $50 factory made uke gets "set up" we are talking about getting the action at the nut down enought so your fingers don't bleed when trying to play a Bb.

Amen to that. I thought I would never get the Bb down, and then I got my Ohana and it is smooth and easy to nail that chord. Well- I have to bar it because I'm not built for the "normal way".

Dan Tindall
03-05-2012, 11:24 AM
If my experience with guitars is any help to me with my ukes, I imagine that buying one that is nice to play is the easiest way to do a 'set-up' - electric instruments and those with the ill-named 'tuno-matic' and movable bridges need tweaking and messing with to keep them sounding properly tuned (arch-top mandolins suffer the same fate) but neither of my ukes cost over 100 quid and both hold their tune and intonation better than some quite pricey guitars. They are lovely and uncomplicated instruments,of course, so that helps!

Dan :)