PDA

View Full Version : "Not much you can do to set up a uke".



Ukunewb
01-21-2013, 08:06 AM
Two separate independent local music stores told me that there isn't much setup you can do on a ukulele. The ukes come from the factory with a certain amount of setup done, and anything you do just won't make much if any difference. These are independent stores, NOT Guitar Centers or anything. One of the folks actually seemed to know what they were doing -- with guitars.

They told me this in answer to the question: "how much would it cost to do a uke setup". Thus, they had an opportunity to make money and instead they told me that it wouldn't make sense to bother.

So are online uke dealers who claim they do setup telling the truth? Or do these small local retailers just not know what they're talking about?

I believe it's the latter, but opinions, judgments, anecdotes of experience one way or another etc are all welcome.

Nicko
01-21-2013, 08:10 AM
Well, I made some very significant positive adjustments in the setup of a uke I purchased...and I don't know diddly. They are just lazy, I think. Don't want to deal with it.

Pondoro
01-21-2013, 08:24 AM
I've spent 2 to 6 hours setting up a uke and the sound improved every time.

The six-hour uke (a cheap Lanikai) got a lowered action, sound improved but not enough. I then changed the compensation of the saddle, also changing out the plastic saddle to a bone saddle at the same time.Sound improved a lot. A year later my ear had improved enough to make me upset that the nut was off a bit (too far from the 1st fret). I had measured it that way before when preparing for all the other changes but had decided not to mess with it, it was close enough. I corrected that and again the uke got noticeably better.

They are either ignorant or do not think they could charge enough to make a profit.

wallyboy
01-21-2013, 08:37 AM
my wife bought me a concert uke for xmas, was with her when she bought it i tried it in shop, being new to ukes or any instrument come to that, i thought it sounded ok, after reading on this forum that set up is so important, i duly ask the question has it been set up, was told yes all our ukes are checked, blah...blah...blah, so being new to uke took them at there word and walked out with new uke, since xmas been trying to play and it sounded buzzy, so decided to phone local music shop and they said bring it in, they said neck was slightly out of shape causing buzz, phoned shop where i bought it and they said they would change it, so only to-day 160 mile round trip i have a replacement, got same story this one will be ok its been checked,
according to shop person its a five minute fix from the bridge and it will be on peg later in the day, says it all really,

the thing is with some of these shops is they see a uke as a supplement to say guitars or other more mainstream instruments,
you can only take them at there word,

RichM
01-21-2013, 08:49 AM
Two separate independent local music stores told me that there isn't much setup you can do on a ukulele. The ukes come from the factory with a certain amount of setup done, and anything you do just won't make much if any difference. These are independent stores, NOT Guitar Centers or anything. One of the folks actually seemed to know what they were doing -- with guitars.

They told me this in answer to the question: "how much would it cost to do a uke setup". Thus, they had an opportunity to make money and instead they told me that it wouldn't make sense to bother.

So are online uke dealers who claim they do setup telling the truth? Or do these small local retailers just not know what they're talking about?

I believe it's the latter, but opinions, judgments, anecdotes of experience one way or another etc are all welcome.

That's just silly. Most of the steps you take on a guitar apply to a uke as well (nut, saddle, fret level, strings); most guitars have a truss rod to adjust neck relief and most ukes don't, so that's one step that doesn't apply.

The subtext may be: On inexpensive ukes, there is only so much we can do, because quality is low. Or, more realistically, its not worth 2 hours of our time to set up a $95 instrument, because we make almost no profit anyway.

bazmaz
01-21-2013, 08:50 AM
They are , bluntly, wrong. End of.

Every uke I buy I end up tinkering to get the action I like. In some cases it may be minor, but I can feel it.

Plainsong
01-21-2013, 08:52 AM
They just didn't want your business. I've had a guitar luthier (who does build ukes and is interested in all things fretted, but made his name with guitars) do setup and repairs, and was never ever told it wasn't worth doing. In fact he used it as an opportunity to look all inside the ukes to see how other builders were doing it. I figured that's how any luthier acts, taking opportunities to learn new things, while making stuff better.

It's a shame you got herp derp guys both times.

No correction: once it wasn't worth it. My Kala archtop. The bridge was cracked and lifting. It's screwed in there, and those f-holes don't make for easy access. It's repairable, but for what it is, not worth it.

Lalz
01-21-2013, 08:55 AM
They don't know what they're talking about. Most low to mid-range ukes hardly get any set-up done at the factory.

I find it's quite typical of guitar shops to assume they know all about ukuleles because they know about guitars, and to just see ukes as toys that will remain toys no matter what. Some even get angry at you when you ask for work to be done on a uke. They're just prejudiced or lazy.

I've had all my ukes set-up (except for my Flea, but Fleas don't need set-up because polycarbonate fretboard), and it makes a huge difference in playability plus getting you rid of buzzes, regardless of how good quality the ukes originally are. The one that had the most significant improvement was my old Mahalo, my first uke, which went from painful to play (literally) and full of buzz, to no buzz at all and making me feel like my fingers were just dancing on the fretboard all of a sudden.

So in short: set-up = essential. Guitar guys you talked to better stop telling such bs to people. Their costumers will just end up giving up on ukuleles thinking there's nothing that can be done to improve them, all because of these guys. Grrr.

sukie
01-21-2013, 08:57 AM
Two separate independent local music stores told me that there isn't much setup you can do on a ukulele. The ukes come from the factory with a certain amount of setup done, and anything you do just won't make much if any difference. These are independent stores, NOT Guitar Centers or anything. One of the folks actually seemed to know what they were doing -- with guitars.

They told me this in answer to the question: "how much would it cost to do a uke setup". Thus, they had an opportunity to make money and instead they told me that it wouldn't make sense to bother.

So are online uke dealers who claim they do setup telling the truth? Or do these small local retailers just not know what they're talking about?

I believe it's the latter, but opinions, judgments, anecdotes of experience one way or another etc are all welcome.

That is baloney. Unless you get a custom, and even then it can be tweaked.

pdxuke
01-21-2013, 09:02 AM
I echo all of this. The difference--even on a low end uke like the Dolphin--with a set-up and without can be GIGANTIC. MGM set up Dolphins and I'm sure that set up effort made those ukes loss leaders. But he did it anyway, and most of us came back for ukes eventually at a higher price point where he made money. I spent many thousands of dollars with Mike, all because of that Dolphin.

Here's a personal experience: I bought a Gretsch vintage style uke for $99 off Amazon. The uke was beautiful and even sounded nice, but the frets were sharp. I sent it back. I should have bought it from HMS; where they would have taken care of that. I won't make that mistake again.

Any shop that can't be bothered does not deserve your business.

PedalFreak
01-21-2013, 09:04 AM
There is as much you can do to an ukulele as an acoustic guitar :)

A lot of guitar shops have really just jumped on the uke band wagon. They are not uke players, and by a reply like "there isn't much you can do" shows they don't take the instrument seriously. Here are some things you can do.

On a lot of import uke's the frets & nut are a problem. I see a lot of uke's where the frets are sprung, not seated on the fretboard correctly. So with the right tools, you can seat them flat to the fretboard where they belong. After which you can do a fret level & fret crowning. If you do a fret level/crowning before seating the frets you're kind of skipping an important step. Also you should have a bit of fall away to the frets on the fretboard extension.

After that is completed the nut should be filed to the proper height. This is usually the biggest problem on uke's. If the nut us too high when you fret you'll be pulling the strings sharp. Even if the nuts height is good, make sure there is room for the strings being used. Once that is done then measure your action. Should be approx 3mm from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the string. Even if that is good I'd suggest pulling the saddle out & making sure the saddle slot is clean, & the saddle is level, so that it makes perfect contact with the bridge.

If you do have to lower the saddle do a little at a time, the lower the action the less tone/volume you'll get out of your uke. Strings produce sound by moving in a circular direction, the lower the strings are the less they can move, which will produce less sound. And let's be honest on an instrument like an ukulele we want as much tone/volume as we can get :)

You can also reshape the saddle if the intonation is off. That is if the saddle/bridge is in the right position. I've worked on & owned uke's that these are off & intonation would be nearly impossible. Manufacturers have replaced my uke's that I've had that problem with.

This is just what can be done in a nutshell, there are other things also. But often it's the little things that matter. So if getting a uke setup make sure the place you are having it done at understands ukulele, and doesn't think it's just a toy :)

Kem
01-21-2013, 09:11 AM
When the bridge on my Blue Frog soprano came unglued, the repair guy informed me (over the phone) that it wasn't worth getting fixed because it was "just a cheap instrument." I had better luck with the same shop when my Willie Wixom concert, which I had just bought used, turned up with a back-bowed neck. However, the repair guy did feel obliged to give a little lecture about how "most ukes" were just toys (he admitted that mine wasn't). To his credit, the shop did a really good job with the instrument and even threw in a new set of strings for free. I still dread the next time something goes wrong with a uke; I know that shop will work with ukes (that isn't a guarantee in this city), but I also know what the people there think of them. I feel as if I'm on the defensive the second I enter the shop.

Bill Mc
01-21-2013, 09:21 AM
Their contentions demonstrate there are misinformed knuckleheads in every profession. Don't give them your money.

SailingUke
01-21-2013, 09:47 AM
Unfortunately the ukulele is seen by many as a toy and not an instrument.
I believe one of the main drivers in the popularity & resurgence is people learning to appreciate the ukulele as a real instrument.
That being said looks like the music store you are dealing with needs some better exposure to the wonderful world of ukulele.
And yes, a few good tweeks can improve the playability and sound of a ukulele.

Plainsong
01-21-2013, 10:26 AM
Oh how awful! It reminds me of some years ago, a luthier who put off a customer's repair so that the customer had to demand it back. Got it back with bonus cracks and scratches, because the uke is just a toy. I wish I knew a search string that would turn up that thread. People like this don't deserve your money, but I also know it wouldn't be your first choice if you had one either.

Maybe write a letter of complaint to the owner. Just because they don't like an instrument doesn't give them the excuse to be assholes, when it's you giving them money.


When the bridge on my Blue Frog soprano came unglued, the repair guy informed me (over the phone) that it wasn't worth getting fixed because it was "just a cheap instrument." I had better luck with the same shop when my Willie Wixom concert, which I had just bought used, turned up with a back-bowed neck. However, the repair guy did feel obliged to give a little lecture about how "most ukes" were just toys (he admitted that mine wasn't). To his credit, the shop did a really good job with the instrument and even threw in a new set of strings for free. I still dread the next time something goes wrong with a uke; I know that shop will work with ukes (that isn't a guarantee in this city), but I also know what the people there think of them. I feel as if I'm on the defensive the second I enter the shop.

Louis0815
01-21-2013, 10:33 AM
So are online uke dealers who claim they do setup telling the truth? Or do these small local retailers just not know what they're talking about?

I believe it's the latter, but opinions, judgments, anecdotes of experience one way or another etc are all welcome.Should you ever go back to these local dealers let them have a look e.g. at http://www.theukulelesite.com/ukulele-setup.html and do some reading about the subject.

OldePhart
01-21-2013, 11:55 AM
If you took them a real piece of crap they might be telling you "you wouldn't want to pay us for the time it would take to make this thing play decently."

In any other case, they're just plain wrong. In fact, it is typically inexpensive ukuleles that most benefit from a setup and the most important part is getting the action low enough for good intonation at the nut. On very cheap ukes that can also require leveling the frets - and that's something that's not worth their time on a cheap instrument. However, I've only set up one uke that needed the frets leveled, a $40 Dolphin. All others I've been able to get acceptable action and intonation at the nut without touching the frets.


Unfortunately, a lot of guitar shops just don't have a clue when it comes to ukes - even if they're good guitar outfits. Most of them would crap bricks if they ever saw what some of us will pay for a nice uke. LOL

Edited to add: One other thing - I probably wouldn't trust those shops to work on a guitar, either. It sounds like it's quite possible that all they know about setting up a guitar is tweaking the truss rod and changing strings. That would explain why they would think there was not much you could do to improve a uke - no truss rod = no setup in their minds, possibly. If so, they aren't going to be very good at setting up guitars, either!


John

Dan Uke
01-21-2013, 01:13 PM
I would want to know what uke it was. If someone did spend six hours to do setup, it might not be worth it as the cost would d be too high.

Pondoro
01-21-2013, 01:15 PM
If you are going to buy ukes either buy from a reputable dealer, buy custom, or learn to do set-ups. Or do all three. People her can help with all of those.

kissing
01-21-2013, 09:19 PM
Your experience is atrocious, but not surprising.

I don't have high expectations from most guitar techs and ukes - most I've come across locally have no idea how to set up a uke.

Setup on a uke from someone who knows what they're doing makes a HUGE difference.
In my collection of 10+ ukes, some are just stock instruments, and some are setup professionally.
There is a huge difference in playability due to improved action height, etc.

hawaii 50
01-22-2013, 08:13 AM
When the bridge on my Blue Frog soprano came unglued, the repair guy informed me (over the phone) that it wasn't worth getting fixed because it was "just a cheap instrument." I had better luck with the same shop when my Willie Wixom concert, which I had just bought used, turned up with a back-bowed neck. However, the repair guy did feel obliged to give a little lecture about how "most ukes" were just toys (he admitted that mine wasn't). To his credit, the shop did a really good job with the instrument and even threw in a new set of strings for free. I still dread the next time something goes wrong with a uke; I know that shop will work with ukes (that isn't a guarantee in this city), but I also know what the people there think of them. I feel as if I'm on the defensive the second I enter the shop.



Wow i would never shop there again..a hint that person has no clue"most ukes are toys" turn around and run as fast as you can..i would not let someone like him work on any ukes lol