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View Full Version : Frets are damaging the wound string on my vintage banj-uke



barefootgypsy
03-16-2012, 06:36 AM
My 80+ year old Slingerland banj-uke reminds me of the song "The Gas Man Cometh" which gives my age away a bit! But I think the frets are damaging the wound C string (Aquila) - it looks almost broken right through. I've got the strings off at the moment, and the wound string is a real mess, although I've hardly played....I'm trying to sort out the high action, and I'm sure that's part of the problem because of having to fret so hard - but I suspect I need to clean the frets up, they're not nice and shiny as they should be. The fretboard is maple, and I treated that with linseed oil last night. Apparently lighter fuel would be a no-no for cleaning frets on a maple fretboard, according to what I've read by Googling! I've seen Crest toothpaste recommended, and metal polish! Does anyone have strong thoughts on this before I start? Thank you - again! :)

johnnyfoodstamp
03-16-2012, 07:42 AM
My 80+ year old Slingerland banj-uke reminds me of the song "The Gas Man Cometh" which gives my age away a bit! But I think the frets are damaging the wound C string (Aquila) - it looks almost broken right through. I've got the strings off at the moment, and the wound string is a real mess, although I've hardly played....I'm trying to sort out the high action, and I'm sure that's part of the problem because of having to fret so hard - but I suspect I need to clean the frets up, they're not nice and shiny as they should be. The fretboard is maple, and I treated that with linseed oil last night. Apparently lighter fuel would be a no-no for cleaning frets on a maple fretboard, according to what I've read by Googling! I've seen Crest toothpaste recommended, and metal polish! Does anyone have strong thoughts on this before I start? Thank you - again! :)

Get that wound string off there right now missy!!!! :p Go with some fluorocarbon strings from mya moe. They sound great on banjo ukes. If its a soprano you will have to buy concert length (High A) so that they will be long enough for the banjo uke bridge.

barefootgypsy
03-16-2012, 08:20 AM
Hi Johnny! It's my Slingerland - total length 20 1/2 inches. The Aquila strings I put on it were the ones they sell for banjo-ukes. So what size fluorocarbons? What do you use to clean up the frets on yours? :D

johnnyfoodstamp
03-16-2012, 08:32 AM
D6 Concert High A fluorocarbons http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/stringsAccessories.php

It sounds like you need more then a cleaning. My frets are sort of sharp on my old Slingy too. Any luthier should be able to fix that and usually uke repair is pretty cheap because they are so small. :)

barefootgypsy
03-16-2012, 09:11 AM
Thanks for that - I'll have to find one! I promptly did a search for someone local, but the one I found seems not to be in the business any more. But I'll find one, there are enough music shops round her; someone will recommend somebody. You've been really helpful - I'm grateful! And I'll check out the fluorocarbon strings! :)

SailingUke
03-16-2012, 09:34 AM
My experience with banjo ukes is they are so loud strings don't make much difference.
I use plain nylon soprano strings, no wound. I got the tip from the great Ralph Shaw.

barefootgypsy
03-16-2012, 09:55 AM
My experience with banjo ukes is they are so loud strings don't make much difference.
I use plain nylon soprano strings, no wound. I got the tip from the great Ralph Shaw.Thank you! It's certainly a steep learning curve with these babies! Plenty to get my head round....my husband is comparing my banj-uke with his brother's motor-bike when they were lads - forever tinkering, never getting to use! But I will, I will.......! Meanwhile, he's a ukulele widower! :o

coolkayaker1
03-16-2012, 10:06 AM
I don;t know your uke personally, but realize that wound strings on guitars (and I know, different tension, etc.) do eventually wear the frets themselves. So, wearing the strings is the least of the issue.

So, I guess another vote with the others to use nylon strings to reduce fret wear on your vintage uke.

johnnyfoodstamp
03-16-2012, 10:12 AM
My experience with banjo ukes is they are so loud strings don't make much difference.
I use plain nylon soprano strings, no wound. I got the tip from the great Ralph Shaw.

I'm sorry but I really don't agree. For instance, my Goldtone originally came with just random classical guitar strings because Goldtone is weird like that. (I called and spoke with someone at Goldtone and they confirmed this.) Then I tried the Nylgut. Prettier tone but not plunky like a banjo uke. Then just some cheapy Martin strings. Nice and plunky but lost most of the nice tone. The fluorocarbon strings are the best of both worlds. And that suggestion came straight from Aaron Keim. :) (When I called Mya Moe they referred me to him.)

barefootgypsy
03-16-2012, 10:21 AM
I love these discussions - and it does all help - I know now that my frets probably need more skilled attention than I can give them, and I know I need different strings. It's great to get the benefit of people's experiences! And when this baby is playable I can practise that split-stroke! Meanwhile back to my bit of bluegrass on my faithful Greg Bennett (Johnny!!) Thank you, thank you...... :D

RyanMFT
03-16-2012, 10:32 AM
Are the frets rough to the touch? I don't think dirty frets would have anything to do with your string getting chewed up. However, cleaned frets look and feel nice. I have cleaned the frets on all my vintage ukuleles. Here is what I do....

I use blue painter's tape and tear off two pieces each about two inches long. I lay the tape on each side of one fret to protect the fretboard. I then use 000 steel wool to rub down the fret to take off any grime or tarnish. Then I put some Brasso (a good general metal cleaner polish in the U.S.) on a soft cloth and then rub the fret down with that. Careful to only use a bit of Brasso for each fret as you don't want liquid wicking down between fret and fretboard. Then, wipe it off, and gently remove tape....then move to the next fret. If the tape starts to wear as you go, replace it with fresh tape.

If the surface of the frets is rough, you might have to be a little more aggressive, but the above steps will create beautiful, clean frets. I'd stay away from toothpaste. I don't think it will hurt but it is thick and will work as a bit of a polish but might leave more mess.....good luck

barefootgypsy
03-16-2012, 12:16 PM
Thank you RyanMFT! I'll do exactly as you say; we have Brasso here too - and if the frets feel sharp at all after that I'll have to take her for some professional attention! I can see where I'm going now - what a great forum this is! Thanks everyone who has posted here for me today! I raise a glass! :D

barefootgypsy
03-19-2012, 12:37 PM
Just to report back on my frets, for those who gave me advice! I found a local luthier, (lucky me) and took my 90 year old Slingerland for him to have a look at this afternoon. The frets do need leveling as one or two have lifted a bit, and flattening - he's going to do that for me as well as sort out the action and a couple of other minor bits and bobs. She'll be playing like a dream when he's done! (He said it's in fab condition for its age - he said it only looks about 5yrs old!) Thanks again! :D

barefootgypsy
03-20-2012, 06:33 AM
D6 Concert High A fluorocarbons http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/stringsAccessories.php

It sounds like you need more then a cleaning. My frets are sort of sharp on my old Slingy too. Any luthier should be able to fix that and usually uke repair is pretty cheap because they are so small. :)
The luthier is having my uke tomorrow to fix up, and I've just sent for some of those strings you recommended! Can only but try them out! Thanks for all your input, much appreciated! :D