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View Full Version : Fixing a sharp Dolphin



andare
05-30-2012, 11:29 PM
After posting this thread http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?65782-Beater-soprano-w-o-setup-Dolphin-or-Kala-KA-S I bought a Makala Dolphin. Aquila strings doubled the volume and the fullness of the sound. For 35 Euros it's all I could ask.

Here's my intonation assessment:

- 12th fret harmonics are in tune, if ever a little flat.
- The nut height is perfect, fretting at the 3rd fret makes the strings almost lie against the 1st fret but with no buzz.
- The action at the 12th fret is a good 4mm.
- All the fretted notes are sharp, though, so first position chords sound awful.

I guess all I can do is lower the saddle 1mm and the intonation should improve a bit, right?
Obviously I don't expect miracles from this instrument.

Thanks for any help you can offer.

Doug W
06-01-2012, 11:44 AM
When you play each open string and the 12th fret, (not harmonic), of each corresponding string, how for off are they from a true octave?

andare
06-02-2012, 12:26 AM
When you play each open string and the 12th fret, (not harmonic), of each corresponding string, how for off are they from a true octave?

I do have problems fretting consistently at the 12th on a soprano and I'm still using this online tuner http://www.tunerr.com/ through my computer's mic so take it with a grain of salt but I'd say the G string is 5 cents flat, the C string is 5 cents sharp and the E and A strings are in tune.

The open position G chord sounds horrible with the open G string beating against three fretted notes that are all at least 10 cents sharp.

My other ukulele, the Islander MT-4 tenor, while not spot on to the cent, sounds great all over the fretboard.

Another thing: the distance between the nut and the 12th fret is 172 mm while the distance between the 12th fret and the saddle is 178 mm.
Is that normal on a soprano?
On my tenor the latter distance is about 1.5 mm longer which I understand is standard.

bazmaz
06-02-2012, 12:33 AM
Are you sure the nut is ok? Going sharp at low frets can be caused by a high nut. Can also be caused by high frets and squeezing too hard. If you hold the G chord so that the strings only just touch the frets is it still sharp?

andare
06-02-2012, 12:41 AM
The action at the 1st fret is slightly less than 1mm, just like on the Islander. The frets don't seem to be too high either. What with the action at the 12th being at least 3mm I do have to push down the strings quite far to fret them though so maybe that's why the notes get progressvely faltter and more in tune up the fretboard.
Pressing very lightly still produces sharp notes.

Should I take down the saddle a bit before touching the nut?

bazmaz
06-02-2012, 12:48 AM
Id give that a try. If you mess up with a saddle, easy to replace. Nuts are not so easy, just take it down a slight touch.

andare
06-02-2012, 12:53 AM
Will do! Thanks a lot everybody for the help.

Pondoro
06-02-2012, 04:08 AM
Is the nut tight against the fretboard? I had a uke where the nut was not solidly against the fretboard. The vertical face of the nut was angled so the bottom of the nut touched the fretboard but the top edge did not. Look for a gap. It was only a bit off but it affected the open chords a lot.

andare
06-03-2012, 12:13 AM
Is the nut tight against the fretboard? I had a uke where the nut was not solidly against the fretboard. The vertical face of the nut was angled so the bottom of the nut touched the fretboard but the top edge did not. Look for a gap. It was only a bit off but it affected the open chords a lot.

It's actually slightly slanted towards the fretboard.
I have to say that by pressing more lightly on the strings the open chords sound a lot better. I guess my big fat acoustic guitar calluses are overkill on a soprano so my technique is a culprit too.

CORRECTION: You're right. the nut is slanted away from the fretboard or at least it's too far from the first fret so all fretted notes are (almost) equally sharp with respect to the open strings. This ghetto fix actually worked: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?11602-Ghettofied-Lutherie-Part-II-Intonation-Fix
The zero fret raised the open strings just enough and the strings break better. The tone and the volume are so much better now. Great little instrument!
Now I have to find a way to make the fix permanent.
Thanks everybody for the help!