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un dernier verre
06-14-2013, 11:54 AM
Hi, everyone!

I am a complete beginner with the ukulele (not with being a musician, though), so please bear with me. :) My parents got me a pretty low-quality uke from Barnes and Noble (?) for Christmas, and I've only recently started to mess around with it. This is the product:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ukulele-josh-oswald/1100060761?ean=9781402771996

Obviously not great reviews, and I wasn't expecting anything great. However, once I finally got it tuned (this was a struggle) I realized that the first fret on the G string plays an A. I think one reviewer mentioned something like this, the others just mentioned that anyone who buys this should replace the metal strings with nylon ones and it should be a little better. Is there anything I can possibly do about the fret issue or is this ukulele just not worth it? The other strings have the same issues, by the way -- C string plays a D on 1st fret, E plays F#, and A plays B.

If there's nothing I can do, does anyone have any recommendations for a solid but cheap ukulele?

ukemunga
06-14-2013, 12:09 PM
It sounds like the nut is too high and fretting the string pulls it sharp. Quite common on inexpensive ukes. Search for "setup" and you'll find that the nut AND the saddle probably need work.

First thing to do is get some new strings. Aquila Nylgut or Martin m600s perhaps.

It will do wonders in general. Metal strings? No way.

sukie
06-14-2013, 12:11 PM
I am no expert, but can't you tune it down a note? Just turn the tuners so the notes are correct. You tuned them a note too high. But here it what I would do.....

Call Mim at Mim's Ukes. She could probably get you set up with an affordable ukulele.

The Barnes and Noble ukuleles aren't very good. Metal strings? Weird (to me)

teruterubouzu
06-14-2013, 12:14 PM
I started off with a cheap ukulele that had similar issues. Ended up finding these forums and learned that set-ups are really important with ukes. There are a lot of good shops online that offer them. I ended up getting an inexpensive Kala from Hawaii Music Supply (http://www.theukulelesite.com/), but you should also look at Uke Republic (http://www.ukerepublic.com/), Mim's Ukes (http://mimsukes.com/) and Elderly (http://www.elderly.com/).

If you really want cheap, then most folks are going to suggest you get a Dolphin. Of these shops, I think only Uke Republic carries them. They are awfully cute.

I hope you stick around UU. There are a lot of friendly and helpful people on this site.

PhilUSAFRet
06-15-2013, 02:00 AM
If you have any desire to learn how to set up a uke, you may have your perfect practice instrument. Meanwhile, if you like playing uke, take the advice above and get a decent player for now to stave off becoming discouraged. Good luck

Unforgotten
06-15-2013, 03:48 AM
Wow! Just clicked on the link... sorry to offend but it looks like a piece of tat to me.

I dunno what the market is like in the USA but here in Britain I bought a Mahalo with a piezo pickup for about 50 and the shop had plenty of basic ukes around 30-40 that, while not fantastic, are all what I call "real" ukuleles rather than mass produced dross. Jeez, even something with Spongebob on it would be better :)

You obviously have an interest, as you're here, so please don't take offence when I say: save up $50 and buy something from a music shop and hang that old one on the wall!

Pondoro
06-15-2013, 02:26 PM
I hate to tell you but I got one of those free around Christmas of 2011 - it was utter garbage and we burned it at Ukulele World Congress 2012. I hope they have gotten better since then, that one was totally unplayable and un-fixable. I am not a uke snob - I have fixed a $20 "Hello Kitty" uke for a seven year old girl and got it playing OK. (As Ukemunga or Mandalin can attest). But the B&N uke was horrific and not even functional. I am very sorry someone bought it for you. I got mine form a B&N employee because they were planning to throw it out, the steel strings had pulled the bridge partially off. The neck looked like it had been carved by me when I was eleven. The "soundboard" was so thick that I did not think it would ever make a sound and the joint between the soundboard and the sides was opening up.

Where do you live? A local uke club could look at it, as I said I sincerely hope that B&N has improved these things but I have no idea if they have. A uke club could help you get a decent but cheap uke as well. If you are in the Midwest I know a lot of people who could help you.

Lime
06-15-2013, 03:54 PM
Being a total noob myself, my inclination would be to just buy a better instrument and use the old one for any experiments you're scared to try on something you care about.


I am no expert, but can't you tune it down a note? Just turn the tuners so the notes are correct. You tuned them a note too high. But here it what I would do.....

I don't know about just tuning strings down, I think that only works if the frets are spaced properly. You can tune the open strings differently, but then the frets will still go up and down scale at the same interval, so you could tune your ukulele so that the first fret plays G# like it should, but the open string would be would be A#, not G then. Wouldn't it? Then I don't know about the rest of the frets, but if they're all spaced incorrectly, then it's hopeless.

pdxuke
06-15-2013, 05:02 PM
Do yourself a favor. If you actually want to stck with playing, I'd suggest you get either of these:

Makala Dolphin
http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/makala-dolphin-soprano-mk-s

or

The Gretsch G9100
http://www.theukulelesite.com/gretsch-mahogany-soprano-g9100.html

The latter is the uke I now recommend to beginners who want something under $100. HMS will set it up, and they are really sweet little ukes and a great bargain for the price.

You would be able to go far in your playing with either.

Good luck!

igorthebarbarian
06-15-2013, 09:18 PM
Dang PDX, that Gretsch looks like a great deal for $100!

Also consider emailing MIM's Ukes - she is on the UU Forums here or on her ebay store/her own website. She's on the East Coast (NC?). She can get you a nicely set-up instrument too. Her shipping is usually $10, so that might be a little cheaper than HMS in Hawaii, depending on your location.

Any of those 3 sellers - HMS, MIM's, Uke Republic - are well-established good reliable places to get a uke.

A nicely set-up instrument can really be the difference between sticking-with-it vs. quitting.





Do yourself a favor. If you actually want to stck with playing, I'd suggest you get either of these:

Makala Dolphin
http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/makala-dolphin-soprano-mk-s

or

The Gretsch G9100
http://www.theukulelesite.com/gretsch-mahogany-soprano-g9100.html

The latter is the uke I now recommend to beginners who want something under $100. HMS will set it up, and they are really sweet little ukes and a great bargain for the price.

You would be able to go far in your playing with either.

Good luck!

Pikagirl
06-16-2013, 03:08 AM
N
I am not a uke snob - I have fixed a $20 "Hello Kitty" uke for a seven year old girl and got it playing OK. (As Ukemunga or Mandalin can attest)

I'm assuming you mean the pink one at Toys R Us (and I'd love to know how to fix that as it woul be kind of fun to have a playable Hello Kitty uke) and not this object of my lust from vox:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003ULLKYQ

Of course you're talking to a woman who bought red sparkly sneakers because.... Well why wouldn't I?

Pondoro
06-16-2013, 02:48 PM
N

I'm assuming you mean the pink one at Toys R Us (and I'd love to know how to fix that as it woul be kind of fun to have a playable Hello Kitty uke) and not this object of my lust from vox:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003ULLKYQ



Of course you're talking to a woman who bought red sparkly sneakers because.... Well why wouldn't I?

It was a $20 Toys R Us Hello Kitty Uke. The poor girl's mom bought it for her. The strings at the nut were crazy high, I lowered them radically and the uke went from sounding "horrible" to "OK." Her uke-playing cousin still owes her some better strings. I think with decent strings it would be better still.

Of course then you would need pink sparkly sneakers to go with it.

malweth
06-17-2013, 01:32 AM
We brought something like this back from Hawai'i for the kids. It's great for that -- it can be tuned (and loses its tuning - off at least a full step - within seconds) and the young kids (3 & 1) can play along. It's also great because it made me buy a real one (I didn't do it correctly, i.e. Amazon, but I lucked out). I also got a Makala Dolphin for my son (now 8), who has also taken a class. All of this was about a year ago.

I have firmly relegated that first Uke to "toy" status... the tuners are the pressure type and can be screw tightened between no pressure to infinite pressure (with nothing in between). You might be able to make something of yours, but if money is tight I would do what you can with it and save up for something new.

On the plus side, once you do get that new ukulele you should sound amazing! Making good music on a cheap instrument means you'll make great music on a (very slightly) more expensive one.

Edit: anyone else think it's terrible that places like Hilo Hattie's (where I got that 1st uke) have either toy ukes or $500+ ones? If there were a $50 option, it might have been more tempting... though probably for myself rather than the kids -- I'm satisfied with what I have now, though (with my limited skill and miniature repertoire).

Pikagirl
06-17-2013, 03:27 AM
It was a $20 Toys R Us Hello Kitty Uke. The poor girl's mom bought it for her. The strings at the nut were crazy high, I lowered them radically and the uke went from sounding "horrible" to "OK." Her uke-playing cousin still owes her some better strings. I think with decent strings it would be better still.

Of course then you would need pink sparkly sneakers to go with it.

I'd probably wear my cupcake print all star hi-tops to accessorize a Hello Kitty uke... or my Hello Kitty Off The Walls my son bought me for Mothers Day last year. Either work. ;)

Now I'll have to pick one up and play with it!

Lime
06-17-2013, 10:22 AM
I want to know how come they don't make Hello Kitty in a concert size. I mean, come on. Actually I want a green one. You know, a LIME green one.

Spud1$
06-17-2013, 12:09 PM
I want to know how come they don't make Hello Kitty in a concert size. I mean, come on. Actually I want a green one. You know, a LIME green one.
I saw one that looked like a kiwi maybe on EBay can't remember but it made me think of you!!

Lime
06-17-2013, 08:43 PM
I saw one that looked like a kiwi maybe on EBay can't remember but it made me think of you!!
I saw the kiwi one, too. It's not quiiiite a lime... maybe I should paint my own. Or make a heart-shaped lime one! Very ambitious.

I wonder if there's a ukulele shaped like a potato. You know, a Spud! LOL :D That one would be easy to make because if you can't shape it wrong. Any bumps are just part of the spud.

teruterubouzu
06-18-2013, 03:54 AM
I saw the kiwi one, too. It's not quiiiite a lime... maybe I should paint my own. Or make a heart-shaped lime one! Very ambitious.

I wonder if there's a ukulele shaped like a potato. You know, a Spud! LOL :D That one would be easy to make because if you can't shape it wrong. Any bumps are just part of the spud.

I bet you could get these people to make you a lime ukulele. They have done a lot of fruit-themed ukes. (http://www.etsy.com/shop/celentanowoodworks?ref=seller_info)

Here's a pear.

http://img2.etsystatic.com/000/0/5537739/il_570xN.166858738.jpg

Lime
06-18-2013, 04:40 AM
Those are super cute! I wonder how they are, aside from being fruit.

Spud1$
06-18-2013, 07:19 AM
I saw the kiwi one, too. It's not quiiiite a lime... maybe I should paint my own. Or make a heart-shaped lime one! Very ambitious.

I wonder if there's a ukulele shaped like a potato. You know, a Spud! LOL :D That one would be easy to make because if you can't shape it wrong. Any bumps are just part of the spud.
Well now you've got me thinking. Spuds my dog and he's pretty darn good looking although he's got bumps too because he's kinda old. I'd send you a picture except I dont know how to attach a picture but I'd buy one if it looked like him. He is named spud because even at six weeks old he was a couch potato!! Lol

Pondoro
06-18-2013, 01:42 PM
Just buy a pineapple uke and paint it like a lime.

un dernier verre
06-22-2013, 06:09 AM
Wow, sorry I haven't checked back here, but thank you so much for all of your replies! I figured this thing was pretty much a piece of junk, and yes, the tuners were driving me crazy! I play some guitar so I'm not entirely new to string instruments, and I was getting really frustrated with the way the tuners work on this ukulele. I'm starting a new job in a week, so hopefully I can set aside a little bit of cash for one of your suggestions -- thank you again for all of the recommendations! If I do continue with this, I'll definitely be spending more time on this forum!