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View Full Version : G chords makes a terrible sound - cheap Tenson uke



cdarbaud
04-21-2013, 06:21 AM
Hello all,

I'm a total newbie. I just got a cheap tenson soprano ukulele from a local music shop. The guy at the shop played it for me and it sounded ok enough.

I took it home and tuned it with clear tune and I'm having fun with it. BUT, for some reason, both G7 and G major chords sound terrible. When I strum all 4 strings, it sounds like one of the notes in the chord is off key.

I've checked the tuning and double checked. I've tuned it in regular GCEA. I'm using clear tune on my ipad to tune it.

I thought maybe the strings were bad, so I restringed it to D'addario J65. The problem remains... When I fingerpick the string, I can't quite tell which one is causing the problem. But when I strum down, it definitely sounds yuk. The other chords I've tried sound ok (Am, C, F...). I've double checked my finger position, I think I'm doing it right (but who knows).

Any idea what the problem could be? I might be doing something wrong, but what?

Could it be that there is something wrong with the instrument? It's under warranty for a year so I could try and take it back to the shop to ask them... but it's an hour drive away... will they complain that I have changed the strings?

Any hints would be greatly appreciated.
Regards
Claire

RichM
04-21-2013, 06:46 AM
Strings are the first thing to check, and you've done that-- well done! Since that doesn't appear to be the issue, odds are good that the intonation is off somewhere on the uke. Since Am, C, and F sound okay, but G and G7 don't, that would seem to point to your 3d, or C string, since it is fretted on G and G7, but not on the other chords. As usually the thickest string on a re-entrant uke, the C can be a source of intonation issues.

Since you have a tuner, it's easy to test. Does you C string note true all the way up the fretboard? Or does it go sharp or flat the further up you go?

There are many causes of intonation problems but one of the most common is a poorly cut nut. Does your 3d string sit on top of the nut, rather than nestled in the nut slot? If so, that may well be the source of your problem.

Since you are a newbie, odds are good you can't fix this issue on your own. I would definitely take it back to the shop (or call them first). Changing the strings should not ever void an instrument warranty-- you'll do it all the time!

OldePhart
04-21-2013, 09:36 AM
This is very common on inexpensive ukuleles. The problem is almost certainly that the nut is too high, this will pull the strings very sharp when you fret at the first couple of frets - in extreme cases I've seen it affect the tuning all the way to the fifth fret. Inexpensive instruments have simple molded plastic nuts that are simply popped in place and no one ever does the hand fitting needed to make the thing play properly.

You need to take it to a shop for a "setup" or, and if the uke is really cheap this is the route I would take, carefully file the nut slots down yourself. You want to make them as low as you can without the strings buzzing. If the fretwork isn't terrible you can usually achieve decent intonation even on very inexpensive ukes.

If you go too low and the string starts buzzing you can use a little super glue or even hard nail polish to build it back up slightly.

John

cdarbaud
04-21-2013, 10:03 AM
Strings are the first thing to check, and you've done that-- well done! Since that doesn't appear to be the issue, odds are good that the intonation is off somewhere on the uke. Since Am, C, and F sound okay, but G and G7 don't, that would seem to point to your 3d, or C string, since it is fretted on G and G7, but not on the other chords. As usually the thickest string on a re-entrant uke, the C can be a source of intonation issues.

You're right, it is the C string that sounds "off"


Since you have a tuner, it's easy to test. Does you C string note true all the way up the fretboard? Or does it go sharp or flat the further up you go?

I'm note sure what you mean by "note true all the way up the fretboard"
Yet, I've tried all notes up the C string and I get weird results. Empty string gives me a C, then 1st fret gives me a C# (my logic says that's normal, isn't it?), but the 2nd fret gives a note half way beetween D and Eb with a plasticky sound, then 3rd fret gives a Eb (back to normal, right?). Is that an intonation problem?


There are many causes of intonation problems but one of the most common is a poorly cut nut. Does your 3d string sit on top of the nut, rather than nestled in the nut slot? If so, that may well be the source of your problem.

It's nestled in the nut slot.

I guess I'll call the shop to,orrow and ask them...

Thanks for your fast reply :-)
Claire

cdarbaud
04-21-2013, 10:21 AM
Intersting :-) It is a cheap uke with a plastic nut. I'm intrigued when you mention "buzzing". It already feels like the C chord is somewhat "buzzing" like the buzzing on that video
http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=fLvGcXhZlQ4

So I take it I shoudn't file down or it might make the buzzing worse?

The shop also repairs instruments, so I guess they can probably fix it... I'll take it back :-)

mm stan
04-21-2013, 10:58 AM
Doing any work yourself will void the warranty....sometimes even the string change would.... self diagnosing may prove disaster, since we cannot see or hear the uke and going
by your words our suggestions are worthless.... take it back and get it checked... one thing, you said it sounded good when they played it....could your tuner be off or the intonation
cheap ukes and most dealers do not do a set up.....buy from a reputable dealer that does set up, may cost more but you save in the long run, some cheap ukes may sound good with upgraded strings and a set up....I would try martin strings too...Good Luck...