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View Full Version : When an Ukulele is a source of stress, something is terribly wrong (faulty Eleuke)



kissing
07-11-2012, 06:56 AM
Just would like to vent my frustrations..

A few weeks ago, I made a topic about an Eleuke purchase that went wrong:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?66604-Bad-Luck-Eleuke

In a nutshell - I purchased a dud Eleuke on eBay that had pickup balance issues. One of the strings (the 3rd) greatly overpowered the others. I attempted to get it repaired locally, because shipping it back for a refund would be too expensive/hassle. An email I sent to Eleuke's representative was ignored.

Got it back from the repair shop, only to find that the problem was not completely fixed. Did not bother going back due to their incapability to fix it the first time round.




So having no support from Eleuke, nor the local music shop... I decided to attempt to make this cursed instrument playable myself.

I've tried everything, from sanding the bottom of the saddle to make it flat. When this didn't work, I actually made a whole new "custom" saddle by getting a spare saddle, sawing it to length and filing it down to size.

Alas, this saddle too ended up having the same balance issues (overpowered 3rd string, and other strings sounding unbalanced).

I've changed strings twice!
From Aquila Baritone to Martin Fluorocarbon Baritone and even Guadalupe's low-GCEA strings (I thought perhaps if I used an all-wound set, the situation would improve).


I then spent another few hours, repeatedly trial-and-erroring saddle adjustments, using shims and trying to get this Eleuke to sound balanced..
I am a bit closer getting the strings balanced, but now I have this horrid distortion problem where the bass strings are over-amplified.. and there is nothing I can do to fix it, it sounds horrible.

This Eleuke will probably never play balanced... and even if it did, there is now another problem... the tuners have become stiff and unpleasant to turn and probably need to be replaced. I really don't understand - I have similarly priced ukes that I've had for years, and the tuners still feel smooth. The Eleuke, I just tuned some strings a few time, and it has already gone rotten.

It is now about 3AM in the morning, and I have failed to make this Eleuke a playable instrument.

It has left me feeling drained and wanting to throw it out the window and see it break.

To be fair, I do blame myself for choosing to waste time on it.
But one thing is for sure, I am never going to purchase another Eleuke, and I am never going to recommend it to anyone else.

I had similar problems with another Eleuke purchase in the past, and wasted time and energy in the same way.

Now I am stuck with an instrument that is a waste to throw away, but has grave imperfections that frustrates when played... what to do with this thing... expensive wall-hanger? I'm really considering getting rid of this wretched thing somehow, getting a new Baritone (probably an acoustic electric of a different brand) and pretending that it never happened..


/vent.



Anyone else had experience of spending hours trying to get a half-decent uke to play decent?

janeray1940
07-11-2012, 06:59 AM
Could you put it back up for sale on eBay, disclose what you had done to it, and include a sound sample? Not everybody will have the same ear for imperfections that you do. I've re-homed several instruments that I had issues with, but the new owners seemed perfectly happy with.

Mandarb
07-11-2012, 06:59 AM
Sorry to hear of your troubles. Agreed - ukes shouldn't bring stress, they should bring happiness. Good luck with whatever you decide.

OldePhart
07-11-2012, 07:06 AM
You've ensured that the bottom of the saddle is perfectly flat - have you done the same for the slot in the bridge that it sits in? Piezo xducers are basically a compression sensor so both surfaces have to be perfectly flat.

I think before I gave up I would "blueprint" the saddle and bridge. Put a very thin coat of slow-drying paint in the saddle slot of the bridge, install the saddle and tension up the strings, then carefully remove strings and saddle. If the transfer of paint to the saddle is not uniform along the bottom then either the slot or the saddle is not perfectly flat. Note that you need to insert the saddle straight down from above and remove it the same way. If it is allowed to slide you will not get meaningful results.

If blueprinting reveals that the saddle and slot are both perfectly flat then I would say that the pickup is probably defective so replacing it would be the only remedy.

bazmaz
07-11-2012, 08:04 AM
You know - I've owned a couple of eleukes in my time - one of the very first (shocking build quality), then one of the ones when (as I recall) I think they were taken on by Kala.

in both cases I thought the sound was uninspiring and both had balance issues on the pickup. And don't get me started on how poor the headphone amp is.

It's the reason when I bought by third electric I went RISA.

Sure, the Eleukes are cheap, but for me, they are cheap for a reason. If you buy a uke purely to plug it in, it needs to work plugged in -that should be it's key important feature!

Share your pain!

RichM
07-11-2012, 08:55 AM
Could you put it back up for sale on eBay, disclose what you had done to it, and include a sound sample? Not everybody will have the same ear for imperfections that you do. I've re-homed several instruments that I had issues with, but the new owners seemed perfectly happy with.

If you're just done with the thing (and it sounds like you are), I think this is great advice. I'm always surprised at how willing people are to pick up handyman specials, often at prices not that much below the cost of a fully functioning one. I've done it twice; once with a guitar that needed a neck reset, and once with a camcorder (remember those?) that had the tape door stuck in the "open" position. In both cases I made the defects abundantly clear in the description, and opened bidding at just a few dollars. The guitar sold for 75% of what I'd paid for it new, and the camcorder at replacement cost (less than I paid for it, but about the same as a comparable model was selling at new). No doubt there's a Mr. Fixit who wants your Eleuke.

stevepetergal
07-11-2012, 10:00 AM
If you're just done with the thing (and it sounds like you are), I think this is great advice. I'm always surprised at how willing people are to pick up handyman specials, often at prices not that much below the cost of a fully functioning one. I've done it twice; once with a guitar that needed a neck reset, and once with a camcorder (remember those?) that had the tape door stuck in the "open" position. In both cases I made the defects abundantly clear in the description, and opened bidding at just a few dollars. The guitar sold for 75% of what I'd paid for it new, and the camcorder at replacement cost (less than I paid for it, but about the same as a comparable model was selling at new). No doubt there's a Mr. Fixit who wants your Eleuke.

Agreed. Sell with full disclosure.

SweetWaterBlue
07-11-2012, 10:18 AM
Kissing - this may have already been mentioned, but I read it recently on a guitar forum. Apparently guitar players sometimes have the same balance issues with under the saddle pickups and sometimes its neither a bad saddle slot or saddle, although I am sure those contribute. Instead, its the way the players tighten up a new set of strings. They put the saddle in and proceed to tighten up to pitch the highest tension string on the outside. Then, they do the one next to it all the way to pitch. This can rock the saddle up on the side without strings so much that when you do put the other strings on, the saddle doesn't make good contact on that side. This is probably not your problem, but it might be someones with a similar effect.

mds725
07-11-2012, 10:37 AM
Sorry to hear you're having problems. Selling it with full disclosure could work. In the alternative, you could try donating it to someplace that has luthier classes, and let students learning to build/repair stringed instruments have at it.

webby
07-11-2012, 11:32 AM
My heart is with you OP.

I love the way my eleuke feels when I play it unplugged, the neck is perfect for my grip, the intonation is spot on, the build quality is superb (I have a bug gear era 100 series).

BUT....Plug it in and the C string booms twice as loud as the other strings, NOTHING I have tried has fixed it, the only thing I can suggest is a good EQ in line and just pull those frequencies out, but it seems quite a few people have reported the same problems.

WhenDogsSing
07-11-2012, 12:00 PM
I have an Eleuke with a Kala headstock brand and my A string is muted compared to the others. Eleuke needs to re-compute or go out of business...!!!

Mim
07-11-2012, 05:15 PM
I wish I saw your first thread when you posted it! I CAN HELP!!! See my response to the other thread! I think it can be fixed!

Mim
07-11-2012, 05:19 PM
I have an Eleuke with a Kala headstock brand and my A string is muted compared to the others. Eleuke needs to re-compute or go out of business...!!!

But they are very pro-active as we speak to get some new and quality models out there. They are aware of the issues and working to remedy it. That being said... a good set up is really important with these and a quality check is really important. That being said, there are a lot of ebay drop-shippers out there that never even touch your uke. Make sure you are buying from someone who plays and quality checks your uke! Especially your Eleuke (for now). But I find a lot of uke brad will sometimes get a bad rap when they are being drop shipped. But that is my personal opinion.

kissing
07-12-2012, 02:23 AM
Thanks for the offer of help Mim, but I've already spent about 5 hours straight on this thing and just wanna hide it away somewhere in the closet and pretend it never existed.
It's stressed me out.

And even if the balance issue is fixed, the instrument as a whole doesn't feel very great at the moment, with some of the tuners gone stiff and rigid and the headphone jack doesn't even let me plug in headphones anymore! I plug it in, and it pops right back out (and I haven't even used the headphone jack much).

I am aware of my capabilities when it comes to instrument repair, and I'm willing to let this slide.

I've had a similar experience with an Eleuke I bought a couple of years ago, when it was marketed as Bugsgear.
I've had 3 "good" Eleukes in between, a Jazz sunburst concert, a sparkle blue Tenor and their limited edition Cigar Box concert (which I still own, love it), but this Baritone is just shameful.

Pickup imbalance, strings originally setup wrong at the factory, tuners are already worn and need replacing, headphone jack already dodgey.

As a whole, I do think Eleuke make some great stuff. And where the quality has been inspected before sale and has been setup, they are really fantastic instruments.

However, when a dud goes out, it is so very frustrating.

At this stage, I think it would be healthier for my mental wellbeing to let this one slide. I'll keep it in my cupboard, and maybe take it on some crazy overseas trip where I'll need a beater electric. I'm going to start saving up for an affordable, decent quality baritone electric from another brand - I'm eyeing that Riptide acoustic-electric Baritone on Mim's Ebay store :)

I'm not going to sell it - my conscience would not let me.



My heart is with you OP.

I love the way my eleuke feels when I play it unplugged, the neck is perfect for my grip, the intonation is spot on, the build quality is superb (I have a bug gear era 100 series).

BUT....Plug it in and the C string booms twice as loud as the other strings, NOTHING I have tried has fixed it, the only thing I can suggest is a good EQ in line and just pull those frequencies out, but it seems quite a few people have reported the same problems.

That's exactly what I'm feeling.
Unplugged, this thing plays fine. My hands LOVE it, it feels so comfortable to play on and it looks pretty cool too.

But alas, plugged in, it is unacceptable..

Pukulele Pete
07-12-2012, 02:59 AM
You did work to the saddle , did you make sure the nut is flat like you did with the saddle. I brought an old Martin back from the dead and one of the things is did was make a new nut, my first.
The A string didnt sound as loud as the rest , I reflattened the bottom of the nut and the slot it goes in and that did the trick.

hoosierhiver
07-12-2012, 04:33 AM
I'm going to try to put a positive spin on this, the time you spent working on this uke is not time wasted, although the uke isn't "fixed" I'm sure you've learned a few things while working on it.
Put it away for awhile and pull it back out when you are ready to fiddle with it again.

WhenDogsSing
07-12-2012, 01:54 PM
Here is a link to my YouTube channel with me playing my Eleuke tenor. Even though the A string is muted compared to the other strings, I guess it sounds okay so please disregard my previous negative comment above regarding Eleuke. I can live with the muted A string...!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhho9KzugQQ&list=UU1_yKvyq2rXV6yiC-qutTkg&index=6&feature=plpp_video

Mim
07-12-2012, 05:37 PM
I totally understand. That is why I just do not carry the new stuff right now. I do have 5 of the chorus version, but that is all I carry out of the new stuff. There is some good things coming down the road though that I hope does happen and will really be a good thing!

WhenDogsSing... this may sound silly, and yes, is not the best long term fix, but try to put a small sliver of business card or card stock paper over the A string area of your pickup. Thin and about 1/4ish of a inch long. Replace saddle. It just may fix it. It is not a fix I am comfortable with for a long-term solution, BUT, it just may fix your problem. Worth a try.

bazmaz
07-12-2012, 08:25 PM
What amazes is me is this. Since they first hit the shelves, and though their various incarnations, quality control has constantly been a source of frustration for many. Threads like this always crop up re Eleuke.

For a company that does get talked about a lot (as one of the first and still one of the few solid electrics out there) - why on earth haven't they got a grip. New potential buyers come across threads like this and that's a potential sale gone.

I'm sorry but when a brand has quality issues that have been running for some time (ie years) - then to me that smacks of complacency towards their customers.

As I said before, the whole mission statement of this brand is "electrics" - they must get that right above anything else.

WhenDogsSing
07-13-2012, 01:52 AM
I totally understand. That is why I just do not carry the new stuff right now. I do have 5 of the chorus version, but that is all I carry out of the new stuff. There is some good things coming down the road though that I hope does happen and will really be a good thing!

WhenDogsSing... this may sound silly, and yes, is not the best long term fix, but try to put a small sliver of business card or card stock paper over the A string area of your pickup. Thin and about 1/4ish of a inch long. Replace saddle. It just may fix it. It is not a fix I am comfortable with for a long-term solution, BUT, it just may fix your problem. Worth a try.

Thanks Mim. I'll give it a try.

Mim
07-13-2012, 02:56 AM
What amazes is me is this. Since they first hit the shelves, and though their various incarnations, quality control has constantly been a source of frustration for many. Threads like this always crop up re Eleuke.

For a company that does get talked about a lot (as one of the first and still one of the few solid electrics out there) - why on earth haven't they got a grip. New potential buyers come across threads like this and that's a potential sale gone.

I'm sorry but when a brand has quality issues that have been running for some time (ie years) - then to me that smacks of complacency towards their customers.

As I said before, the whole mission statement of this brand is "electrics" - they must get that right above anything else.

I completely agree. With any brand, you need to get better as you are more established, not back to square 1. And I think Eleuke USA agrees as well. They were coming in in great shape and then there was a factory change beyond their control and that is where the quality issues have arisen. That being said, I cant really talk much about it, but there is some really good things happening right now for the brand. And though I dont want to call out what is a good Eleuke and what is a bad Eleuke, it is obvious by what Eleukes I offer and what Eleukes I dont. The peanuts were a different beast when something happened to them because it was a isolated thing to basically the pick up under the saddle which was then changed to the wound and the problem was resolved.

But I dont disagree at all, and I think they would not disagree as well. I have told those who want an Eleuke other than the older models I still have in stock from their last few really good runs to just hang back and wait a bit and we will see what happens when these issues get resolved. I have hopes for some really great things happening.

The Big Kahuna
07-15-2012, 07:59 PM
I strongly suggest you get hold of Guitar Rig, either the free "Player", which is a cut-down version, or download the demo of Guitar Rig Pro, which contains all the amps, cabs, effects etc, but is time limited to 30 minutes per session. This way, you can try your Eleuke with edvanced EQ, Compressor etc, to see if any of those would help. If they do, then you can take yourself off to your local music store and try some pedals.

http://www.native-instruments.com/#/en/

bazmaz
07-15-2012, 08:29 PM
Hope you are right Mim. I've still got a bit of a feeling of "but we've been here before", but I do wish them well for getting sorted.

Plainsong
07-17-2012, 01:50 AM
I so sympathize with Kissing here. For me it was also a solid-body uke that was the source of so much frustration I just wanted to kill it with fire every time I looked at it. Getting that thing into the shape it should have been would have taken a few hundreds, and I'd always have that memory of what a pain in the ass it was. I sold it with full disclosure, but the guy never paid and that's whole 'nother story. The experience was just a complete write-off and a reminder that not everything in the uke community is sunshine and cupcakes.

It wasn't an Eleuke though. In fact the Eleuke I got to replace it, was in great shape... but it was sold by someone like Mim, who gives a damn, over here in Euroland at Musique83. I agree with what Baz is saying though. This seems like an episode we've watched before. Makes you wonder about those awesome factory conditions that they won't show us.

kissing
07-17-2012, 04:09 AM
^ Was it a Stagg by any chance?

I had a really bad experience with one of those Stagg electrics. The one I got was horrid, spent money to fix it only to be told that it's unfixable.
Gave it away for free.. well not free for me as I actually even paid shipping to get rid of it.

In fact, I'm doing the same with the Eleuke told about in this thread.
I'm shipping it away to a friend of mine overseas who loves music/ukes, but isn't as fortunate to have a job yet (young student).
I hope that he can find some use for it. Sending it via Sea Mail though :P

Strummin simon
07-17-2012, 09:58 PM
oh, me too...my peanut is great to play and comfy to hold. i like the quiet uke for playing when the kids are in bed.
but plugged in, its awful. the strings all have different volumes. and there is lots of distortion.
electronically the thing is a peice of crap.
i had some dialogue with eleuke, but they were not interested.

bazmaz
07-17-2012, 10:08 PM
And there's another one. I keep hearing this. Hope Eleuke are reading.

Strummin simon
07-18-2012, 02:59 AM
Philip at Eleuke knows all about it. i emailed him directly through this site.

he isnt interested. he wouldnt return my emails.

it is disapointing, i had the older eleuke and sold it before i bought the peanut. that one was very good.

Mim
07-18-2012, 03:07 AM
oh, me too...my peanut is great to play and comfy to hold. i like the quiet uke for playing when the kids are in bed.
but plugged in, its awful. the strings all have different volumes. and there is lots of distortion.
electronically the thing is a peice of crap.
i had some dialogue with eleuke, but they were not interested.

Chances are you got the first batch of Peanuts. I sent all mine back. They have a rubbery black pickup underneath the saddle. The new models have a wound undersaddle pickup which eliminated that problem. That being said, I helped someone in England fix their Peanut. It is possible.

And yes, no one should have to fix a brand new uke, that is why I sent all the ones with the faulty pick ups back... but even silly things like cutting a rubber band and putting it underneath the saddle sometimes fixes it, or on top. Some sanding can fix it too.

I dont want people to think this is me making an excuse for the faults. I am just a dealer, it just I know a lot about Eleukes so I am trying to be helpful. For the records I do not think the ones with the issues are acceptable at all and therefore do not sell the ones that I know are like this. BUT, having seen this before, even in other brands, it is worth a try to fix it. You cut a rubber band aboout the width of the pickup to length, take the saddle out, pick the pickup strip up, and lay it underneath. Then replace everything. That should work. If not, try it above the pickup. If that does not work you can someimtes cut a strip of business card (or if you have it wood veneer) and place it across the top of the pickup. Try that first.

If it is the wound pick up, usually just adjusting it a little to the left or right can fix it up. But you probably have the black rubber one which is the one I seem to see the UK peeps having. This is not a fix I use on new instruments, but it should work for you in a pinch.

Strummin simon
07-18-2012, 03:23 AM
thanks MIm, i'd pm'd you before i saw this!