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View Full Version : Acceptable amount of bow in a neck?



hammer40
08-20-2012, 06:15 AM
I was wondering if there is an acceptable amount of neck bow in a new ukulele. Should it always be absolutely straight, or will you have some bow now and then, even on mid to high priced ukes? If holding a straight edge against the frets, what would be an unacceptable amount of them to not be touching that edge?

I ask this because I bought a mid priced (500.00) uke, that supposedly had a set up done to it before being shipped out. When I sight down the neck I see that on the left (A) side, just a tad more than on the right (G) side (slight twist I guess), I can see just little bit of a bow. When a lay a straight edge on the frets from the 4th to the 10th, they don't touch it. It's only off by about 1/100th of an inch, and that is just a guess since I can't measure it. There is no truss rod or a carbon fiber reinforcement rod on this uke.

So what do you think? Am I being to picky? This is only my second instrument, my first (Pono) is straight.

weerpool
08-20-2012, 06:34 AM
unless youre talking about guitar then yes but ukes shouldnT have any because ukes strings exert a lot less tension . most ukes nowadays has some form of neck reinforcement as an insurance. you can always exchange it

hoosierhiver
08-20-2012, 06:54 AM
Sounds like it's a little warped, not bowed.
I don't think it'd be from string tension, sometimes a neck can twist/warp from the wood drying.

katysax
08-20-2012, 10:39 AM
Send it back.

bazmaz
08-20-2012, 10:54 AM
No need for bow in a uke neck IMHO

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-20-2012, 11:29 AM
It depends how much bowing there is. I find some as a positive attribute.
When I build I always set some "relief" in to necks. Somewhere around .005" to .007" is about right (or about the thickness of two sheets of lightweight printer paper). Since strings vibrate in an arc, you're strings would be more likely to buzz on a low setup if the neck were perfectly flat. Now, most ukes that have been around for a while will develop this relief naturally due to the string tension. But since I use a carbon fiber reinforcement rod inside my necks I set them with some relief to begin with. With the proper amount of fret board relief you can set your uke for very low action without buzzing, down to .06" if desired, (which has it's own set of problems). So it's your choice, either flat or with some relief but certainly never back-bowed.
If there is indeed a difference though between the G side and the A side then Mike is probably right in the the neck may be warped.

hammer40
08-21-2012, 04:52 AM
Any other thoughts? I'm leaning towards returning the uke I guess, it dosen't sound like it should have any type of bowing then.

Jnobianchi
08-21-2012, 05:01 AM
Yes, if you can see a bow, send it back. As has been said, the wood has probably warped from drying.

~dave~~wave~
08-21-2012, 05:54 AM
It's only off by about 1/100th of an inch....

....So what do you think? Am I being to picky?

Quite possibly.

How does it sound?

hammer40
08-21-2012, 06:00 AM
Quite possibly.

How does it sound?

The uke sounds good. I just have read others say to always check the neck with a straight edge and all frets should be touching it. That and I just don't know enough to know if this is normal or to be expected from time to time.

AndrewKuker
08-21-2012, 09:07 AM
The uke sounds good. I just have read others say to always check the neck with a straight edge and all frets should be touching it. That and I just don't know enough to know if this is normal or to be expected from time to time.

A slight amount of relief is ideal. If you fret the second fret and the 15th fret you should have a very slight amount of space toward the middle. If a neck is perfectly straight it is more likely to buzz. If it's a Pono tenor just adjust the truss rod if you want it more straight. Stick the wrench in and turn toward the treble side to make more straight. We often put a touch more relief in the neck when going to a very dry climate. You can mess with the truss rod. It takes a lot of force to break those. Just remember it's dual action so if you turn to the right and it gets more loose keep going till it grabs on the other side.

hammer40
08-21-2012, 04:08 PM
A slight amount of relief is ideal. If you fret the second fret and the 15th fret you should have a very slight amount of space toward the middle. If a neck is perfectly straight it is more likely to buzz. If it's a Pono tenor just adjust the truss rod if you want it more straight. Stick the wrench in and turn toward the treble side to make more straight. We often put a touch more relief in the neck when going to a very dry climate. You can mess with the truss rod. It takes a lot of force to break those. Just remember it's dual action so if you turn to the right and it gets more loose keep going till it grabs on the other side.


No, it's not the Pono I was referring to, but thanks for the advice Andrew. Like I mentioned it's only off by a very small amount, but from what I have read in the past it was always described that every fret should be touching the straight edge. Like I said, I'm new to instruments and I don't know what is always proper or to be expected.

AndrewKuker
08-21-2012, 04:55 PM
No, it's not the Pono I was referring to, but thanks for the advice Andrew. Like I mentioned it's only off by a very small amount, but from what I have read in the past it was always described that every fret should be touching the straight edge. Like I said, I'm new to instruments and I don't know what is always proper or to be expected.

Well if you're doing fret work it works out naturally with the slightest bit of relief that comes with the tension of the strings. Twisting is not good but often the ones with a bit of relief sound the best. More dynamic headroom.

webby
08-21-2012, 08:56 PM
I'd send it back.

mm stan
08-21-2012, 09:08 PM
Wouldn't give it a second thought...there are alot more ukes to choose from in the sea....

Ukuleleblues
08-23-2012, 02:41 PM
If you sight it and it is twisted that is a warp. Be careful assuming your straight edge is truly straight. Many rulers are not, they were made for measuring and not evaluating the accuracy of a plane. I have seen metal rulers with bows or arches in them. Folks like stewart macdonald make flatness gages

BlackBearUkes
08-23-2012, 03:27 PM
The uke sounds good. I just have read others say to always check the neck with a straight edge and all frets should be touching it. That and I just don't know enough to know if this is normal or to be expected from time to time.

If the straight edge touches all the frets your uke is much more like to buzz with any kind of low action. Chuck and Andrew are right, some relief is a must for any good setup. I always set the bass side of the fingerboard with a slight amount of more relief than the treble because those bigger diameter strings tend to have bigger vibrating curve.

hammer40
08-23-2012, 07:23 PM
If you sight it and it is twisted that is a warp. Be careful assuming your straight edge is truly straight. Many rulers are not, they were made for measuring and not evaluating the accuracy of a plane. I have seen metal rulers with bows or arches in them. Folks like stewart macdonald make flatness gages

I was mistaken, it isn't warped. Intially, I thought it looked straight on the one side but it is the same on both, a very very slight bow. Like I said, I can't measure the small distance that it's not touching, but it appears to be around 1/100th of an inch. I also can't say that my straight edge is perfectly straight either.

That being said, it sounds like this isn't unusual after all, glad to hear it. And a big thanks to everyone for the information and the help.