View Full Version : My first uke. Ad meliora

03-02-2013, 09:20 AM
This post was only a result of my own lack of knowledge.


03-02-2013, 09:56 AM
It is very possible that the strings are old and fatigued. Old strings are often the cause or it least contribute to poor intonation.

03-02-2013, 11:36 AM
Sorry Bill. Hoping it was an easy answer.

03-02-2013, 11:45 AM
That's not that unusual with Kalas (and most instruments in that price range). The good news is that most of them can become quite playable with a little file work on the nut and finding the right strings.

Intonation up the neck is mostly controlled by finding strings that intonate well, and giving them time to settle in. Unless the bridge saddle is just outrageously high you can't expect more than a few cents improvement by lowering it, and then only if the strings are sharp. I rarely bother to check intonation up the neck until the strings have settled enough that they will hold tuning for a least a full set of songs, and preferably a full day. Intonation tends to change a lot over that time, and more often than not it changes for the better.

I've also found that, in general, higher tension strings intonate better up the neck, and also that you can sometimes improve intonation up the neck (and tone, as well) by tuning up a step to A D F# B. Not always, but sometimes it makes a world of difference.

My best ukes that I've found the "right" strings for intonate typically within +- three or four cents at the 12th - other's are off by as much as 10 cents. (And by the way, my most expensive K brand intonates the worst up the neck of all my ukes!)

Intonation up the neck isn't super-critical anyway unless you are playing a lot of barre chords up the neck - then you may have some chords that sound bad. Most people won't notice ten cents out of tune on melodic runs, though.

Intonation at the first couple of frets is far more critical IMHO and is almost always a factor of how high the nut slots are. Too high and strings will pull sharp very noticeably when fretted at the first couple of frets. This makes some open chords sound horrible - particularly because on a reentrant uke there are very often unisons in the chord. Fortunately, this can always be fixed by carefully filing down the nut slots except in those rare cases where the frets are very unlevel or the neck has developed a back-bow.

So, yes, I'd get it set up. Then let the strings settle in for several days before you ever check intonation up the fretboard. If you still have bad intonation problems, and especially if some strings are sharp and others flat, it's mostly a matter of trying different tunings or strings until you find something that intonates acceptably. If all the strings are noticeably sharp or noticeably flat after a setup and letting strings settle, then you may have a real lemon where the bridge is not located properly. That's pretty rare, though.

One final thing, most uke bridges are rounded over the top so the string breaks approximately in the middle of the saddle. However, there are a few exceptions. If your saddle is not symmetrical then turning it around might help a little.