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View Full Version : Does moisturiser effect forming callouses? & buying 2nd uke question



Youkalaylee
12-02-2012, 11:47 AM
Hey everyone, I'm new to playing uke, mainly been reading threads but now I've got a question. Does using moisturiser effect how quickly callouses form? I work in a job where I have to wash my hands several times an hour and that dries out my hands. I've just been worrying that using it will soften my fingertips so I've avoided getting it on there just incase.

Only been playing for about a week and already I'm starting to feel like the fingertips on my left hand feel different. They permenantly feel bruised now when I press on them but I'm still playing several times a day for short periods, normally after about 30mins it gets too painful to play anyway. Which is annoying because I want to carry on!

Just as an aside question, I've got a vintage (the brand) soprano uke. Cheap one I know, but I'm thinking of getting some Aquila strings after Christmas (or for Christmas) Is it worth it or should I just buy a new uke instead in a few months?

Lori
12-02-2012, 12:44 PM
Welcome to UU Youkalaylee!
I use hand moisturizer every evening. I don't have to wash my hands as much as you do. The main thing is to keep moisturized enough to keep the callouses from cracking and peeling off. One time, when I was just starting the uke, and still building callouses, I went swimming and afterward, saw my callouses starting to crack and peel away. I put moisturizer on right away, and was able to avoid disaster. When your callouses are complete, your fingertips will be numb.

I don't know about the Vintage Brand, but Aquila strings often help a low-end instrument. If it has been staying in tune, and the intonation is good, then keep it. If the intonation is bad, or if the tuners slip, or if the action is too high (causing more finger pain than necessary) then look for a higher quality uke.

–Lori

Youkalaylee
12-02-2012, 12:59 PM
Welcome to UU Youkalaylee!
I use hand moisturizer every evening. I don't have to wash my hands as much as you do. The main thing is to keep moisturized enough to keep the callouses from cracking and peeling off. One time, when I was just starting the uke, and still building callouses, I went swimming and afterward, saw my callouses starting to crack and peel away. I put moisturizer on right away, and was able to avoid disaster. When your callouses are complete, your fingertips will be numb.

I don't know about the Vintage Brand, but Aquila strings often help a low-end instrument. If it has been staying in tune, and the intonation is good, then keep it. If the intonation is bad, or if the tuners slip, or if the action is too high (causing more finger pain than necessary) then look for a higher quality uke.

–Lori

That's okay then so I won't worry about using moisturiser. For some reason I thought it would have the effect of undoing some of the work I'd done in trying to build them up!

Can you explain the terminology you used in the last paragraph? In terms of staying in tune I've been having to re-tune every couple minutes but I'd heard that was normal in a new string instrument. The sound isn't great, but according to the amazon reviews it improves when adding Aquila strings. But I only spent £22 on it as part of a beginners set so spending around £7 on strings just seems a bit silly to me really.

Plainsong
12-02-2012, 01:11 PM
That's okay then so I won't worry about using moisturiser. For some reason I thought it would have the effect of undoing some of the work I'd done in trying to build them up!

Can you explain the terminology you used in the last paragraph? In terms of staying in tune I've been having to re-tune every couple minutes but I'd heard that was normal in a new string instrument. The sound isn't great, but according to the amazon reviews it improves when adding Aquila strings. But I only spent £22 on it as part of a beginners set so spending around £7 on strings just seems a bit silly to me really.

Intonation, means the accuracy of the pitch basically. In practice it can mean how in tune the strings are when fretted, as you you move up and down the fretboard. Aquilas are good strings and good strings can help. The cost of strings is simply...the cost of strings, sadly. I pick the sound I want first, and then sorta decide if the cost of them are highway robbery. There's some string sets I think are too much for what they are, but Aquilas are good.

Lori
12-02-2012, 01:58 PM
On cheaper ukes, the uke might sound fine when fretting on the lower frets 1-3, and then get painfully out of tune as you move to the higher frets (4 and higher). If you have an electronic tuner you can check the accuracy of the pitch as you fret higher on the neck. If it gets off by more than 20 (either sharp or flat) then you might have a problem. Sometimes new strings might help, or a professional set-up (altering the saddle height or nut slots). Action is the distance between the strings and the fingerboard. If the strings are too high, your fingers have to work too hard. If the action is too low, the strings will buzz against the frets.
–Lori

Lalz
12-02-2012, 02:10 PM
:agree: What Lori said. Do use moisturiser, keeping your skin healthy is important, especially on your hands since you use them all the time.

I'm not a big believer in callouses for playing ukuleles though. Some people have softer skin than others and get them, but they're not necessary to have in order to play the uke, as opposed to the guitar. Most of the time, beginnners fingertips hurt not because they don't have callouses but because the action is too high and/or they press the strings too hard. Ukes of the brand Vintage are quite cheaply made and have very high action. Make sure to have it lowered. After that you most likely won't need to press hard at all, just enough to get the string fretted, which usually is almost no pressure at all, especially if your fingers are almost perpendicular to the fretboard and your nails are cut short.
Good luck!

laundromatt
12-02-2012, 02:28 PM
Most of the time, beginnners fingertips hurt not because they don't have callouses but because the action is too high and/or they press the strings too hard.

+1 on this. By all means, moisturize!

Youkalaylee
12-02-2012, 02:33 PM
:agree: What Lori said. Do use moisturiser, keeping your skin healthy is important, especially on your hands since you use them all the time.

I'm not a big believer in callouses for playing ukuleles though. Some people have softer skin than others and get them, but they're not necessary to have in order to play the uke, as opposed to the guitar. Most of the time, beginnners fingertips hurt not because they don't have callouses but because the action is too high and/or they press the strings too hard. Ukes of the brand Vintage are quite cheaply made and have very high action. Make sure to have it lowered. After that you most likely won't need to press hard at all, just enough to get the string fretted, which usually is almost no pressure at all, especially if your fingers are almost perpendicular to the fretboard and your nails are cut short.
Good luck!

How do I have the action lowered if its necessary?

If I pick a string when its open the sound is fairly clear, but when I fret a string the string being fretted doesn't ring as clearly as an open string. It sounds really muted in comparison and doesn't seem to ring as loud. Am I being silly, is that normal? Is it how I'm doing it?

I suppose that's good then that not everyone gets callouses. The way I'm going though I hope I get some soon.

Youkalaylee
12-02-2012, 02:36 PM
On cheaper ukes, the uke might sound fine when fretting on the lower frets 1-3, and then get painfully out of tune as you move to the higher frets (4 and higher). If you have an electronic tuner you can check the accuracy of the pitch as you fret higher on the neck. If it gets off by more than 20 (either sharp or flat) then you might have a problem. Sometimes new strings might help, or a professional set-up (altering the saddle height or nut slots). Action is the distance between the strings and the fingerboard. If the strings are too high, your fingers have to work too hard. If the action is too low, the strings will buzz against the frets.
–Lori

What do you mean by off more than 20? I have a cherub electronic tuner.

kissing
12-02-2012, 02:53 PM
not in any significant way.
Calluses aren't something that you need to "work" towards or anything.
They are something that form out of need. Your body adapts.

Moisturizers should not affect it

PhilUSAFRet
12-02-2012, 03:10 PM
That amount of soreness after playing for only a week for 30 minutes is normal. Just try and remember that you only have to push on the strings hard enough for them to make contact with the fret. A common beginners mistake is to press way harder than you need to, resulting in more pain than is necessary. I still catch myself doing it once in a while, especially while playing in a group.

Lori
12-02-2012, 03:24 PM
What do you mean by off more than 20? I have a cherub electronic tuner.

When the electronic tuner is reading "0" then you are at pitch (your goal). You may notice there are other indicators marked +10, -10, +20, -20 etc. I am talking about the -20 and +20 indicators and the higher and lower numbers beyond that point in either direction.
If you have a uke only tuner, with only GCEA available, you could check intonation at the 12th fret.

As far as your tone, make sure you are placing your finger just behind the fret, not on directly top of it. You want the fret to be the breaking point, not your finger. Make sure nothing else is touching the string, no sleeves on the strum hand, and no other fingers reaching over to other strings.

Action can be lowered by sanding the bottom of the saddle or making deeper notches in the nut. It would take some gentle experimentation to get it right, with restringing in between to check the results.

–Lori

Plainsong
12-02-2012, 10:09 PM
It might sound muted simply because you're just starting out and you're not going to have perfect technique just yet. Make sure you're pushing down hard enough that the string doesn't have room to move under your finger, and make sure you have your finger between the frets and not on a fret.

If you already know all that... Nevermind. :)

If it still sounds wrong, it could well be the uke. It's tough to say without seeing it or seeing what you're doing.

Youkalaylee
12-03-2012, 01:20 AM
When the electronic tuner is reading "0" then you are at pitch (your goal). You may notice there are other indicators marked +10, -10, +20, -20 etc. I am talking about the -20 and +20 indicators and the higher and lower numbers beyond that point in either direction.
If you have a uke only tuner, with only GCEA available, you could check intonation at the 12th fret.

As far as your tone, make sure you are placing your finger just behind the fret, not on directly top of it. You want the fret to be the breaking point, not your finger. Make sure nothing else is touching the string, no sleeves on the strum hand, and no other fingers reaching over to other strings.

Action can be lowered by sanding the bottom of the saddle or making deeper notches in the nut. It would take some gentle experimentation to get it right, with restringing in between to check the results.

–Lori

But surely if I fret a string then see what it's like on the tuner I'm playing a different note so the tuner will say its wrong anyway? Sorry if I'm misunderstanding you but its been ages since I've played any sort of instrument. Lowering the action sounds too complicated for me.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions everyone. I might make a video and upload it to YouTube at some point if I still think I'm having problems.

Plainsong
12-03-2012, 01:38 AM
But surely if I fret a string then see what it's like on the tuner I'm playing a different note so the tuner will say its wrong anyway? Sorry if I'm misunderstanding you but its been ages since I've played any sort of instrument. Lowering the action sounds too complicated for me.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions everyone. I might make a video and upload it to YouTube at some point if I still think I'm having problems.

Is it a chromatic tuner? Meaning.. does it recognize all the notes? In that case, yes of course the tuner will be able to see the note you're playing. For instance, if you're fretting the A string at the 3rd fret, a chromatic tuner will recognize that the note you're playing is C, and it should tell you how sharp or flat it is.

If it's a tuner that's so uke-specific that it only sees GCEA, then you're right in that it won't work. Most tuners are chromatic.

Youkalaylee
12-03-2012, 03:18 AM
Is it a chromatic tuner? Meaning.. does it recognize all the notes? In that case, yes of course the tuner will be able to see the note you're playing. For instance, if you're fretting the A string at the 3rd fret, a chromatic tuner will recognize that the note you're playing is C, and it should tell you how sharp or flat it is.

If it's a tuner that's so uke-specific that it only sees GCEA, then you're right in that it won't work. Most tuners are chromatic.

It only sees GCEA but if I flick a switch it'll let me tune it to to a different key. I think it's g and c. Essentially when I play the string it recognises which string I'm playing then tells me how out of tune that one is by -10 or +20 etc until it lights up green in the middle.

Louis0815
12-03-2012, 04:27 AM
It only sees GCEAYou should probably get a chromatic (clip-on) tuner instead, they're not that expensive and well worth the money (IMHO).
And if you have a smartphone or tablet look for tuner apps, there's a couple of good ones available for free. These apps have some limitations in noisy environments, but they are prefect for home use. (For Android based phones I can recommend 1. DaTuner (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bork.dsp.datuna) and 2. gStrings (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.cohortor.gstrings))

In any case don't get fooled by specific Ukulele tuners, really go for a chromatic one which is suitable for all instruments.

Youkalaylee
12-03-2012, 08:37 AM
You should probably get a chromatic (clip-on) tuner instead, they're not that expensive and well worth the money (IMHO).
And if you have a smartphone or tablet look for tuner apps, there's a couple of good ones available for free. These apps have some limitations in noisy environments, but they are prefect for home use. (For Android based phones I can recommend 1. DaTuner (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bork.dsp.datuna) and 2. gStrings (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.cohortor.gstrings))

In any case don't get fooled by specific Ukulele tuners, really go for a chromatic one which is suitable for all instruments.

It is a clip on one but yeah I'll have a look into buying a new tuner, any specific brands you can recommend?

I have an iPhone and iPad but I haven't been able to find a good tuner app yet. There are some which you tune by ear too but I'm hopeless at that lol

Plainsong
12-03-2012, 09:02 AM
Yeah you can sorta use your ears to check the intonation at the 12th fret. It's a straight octave up, so if it's hugely off, your ears will know. You may not know exactly by how much or tell sharp from flat, but your ear will know in general if it's wrong.

Louis0815
12-03-2012, 10:47 AM
It is a clip on one but yeah I'll have a look into buying a new tuner, any specific brands you can recommend?

I have an iPhone and iPad but I haven't been able to find a good tuner app yet. There are some which you tune by ear too but I'm hopeless at that lolSnark (SN-2 (http://www.thomann.de/gb/danelectro_sn2_snark_tuner_metronom.htm), SN-6 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Qwik-Tune-Snark-Ukulele-Tuner/dp/B004Z17008/)) tuners are recommended quite often here on UU; personally I only use a Planet Waves Mini (available on UU (http://ukeunderground.bigcartel.com/product/ns-mini-headstock-tuner) or elsewhere in Europe (http://www.thomann.de/gb/planet_waves_pwct12_mini_headstock_tuner.htm)).

According to this post, iTuna (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ituna-chromatic-tuner/id317393235?mt=8) and The Tuning Tool are suitable for i-devices (can't tell you more coz I am a happy Android user w/o any Apple device). Here are some more apps... (http://appadvice.com/appguides/show/tuners-for-the-iphone)

Youkalaylee
12-04-2012, 09:44 AM
Snark (SN-2 (http://www.thomann.de/gb/danelectro_sn2_snark_tuner_metronom.htm), SN-6 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Qwik-Tune-Snark-Ukulele-Tuner/dp/B004Z17008/)) tuners are recommended quite often here on UU; personally I only use a Planet Waves Mini (available on UU (http://ukeunderground.bigcartel.com/product/ns-mini-headstock-tuner) or elsewhere in Europe (http://www.thomann.de/gb/planet_waves_pwct12_mini_headstock_tuner.htm)).

According to this post, iTuna (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ituna-chromatic-tuner/id317393235?mt=8) and The Tuning Tool are suitable for i-devices (can't tell you more coz I am a happy Android user w/o any Apple device). Here are some more apps... (http://appadvice.com/appguides/show/tuners-for-the-iphone)

Thanks, I can't get a new one until after Christmas but I've saved the thread into my bookmarks so I can come back again to it. I think after Christmas ill look into getting a new uke as sorting this one out may end up costing me more than I actually paid for it.

Plainsong
12-04-2012, 10:28 AM
Yeah it's one of the risks of getting an instrument, whatever it is, at that price point. It's either a gateway drug, or it puts people off entirely. Let us know how it goes.