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View Full Version : I think I made a noob mistake re: setting up. Help?



Junia
07-08-2013, 06:33 PM
Hi everybody. First post here. I was going to make an introduction thread and then this one but that seemed a little bit much, so I'm just saying hi here.

So! I haven't actually gotten my first ukulele yet. A friend bought one for me from Amazon (Kala KA-S, for reference) and some Aquila strings. I did my research on what ukulele to buy pretty thoroughly but I think I made a massive, glaring error because I started reading on here and I've no idea about setting up or anything like that.

Can you guys tell me some more about this? What is it exactly? How much is it going to run me (I live in the Pittsburgh, PA general area)? Is it strictly necessary? Is it something a beginner with a lot of patience and time on their hands could do on their own? Could I possibly be asking more questions in a single post?

Thanks!

hawaii 50
07-08-2013, 06:46 PM
Hi everybody. First post here. I was going to make an introduction thread and then this one but that seemed a little bit much, so I'm just saying hi here.

So! I haven't actually gotten my first ukulele yet. A friend bought one for me from Amazon (Kala KA-S, for reference) and some Aquila strings. I did my research on what ukulele to buy pretty thoroughly but I think I made a massive, glaring error because I started reading on here and I've no idea about setting up or anything like that.

Can you guys tell me some more about this? What is it exactly? How much is it going to run me (I live in the Pittsburgh, PA general area)? Is it strictly necessary? Is it something a beginner with a lot of patience and time on their hands could do on their own? Could I possibly be asking more questions in a single post?

Thanks!



a good setup helps ukes like yours sound way better...

www.theukulelesite.com

is where you should of ordered your Kala from The Ukulele Site(aka HMS)..they setup all their ukes no matter what price before they send them out...I know that Amazon does not...
Btw they do not charge for a setup...part of their service...

a setup is lowering the action(strings) so it is easier to play and helps the uke to sound better..and they file down the frets to make them level and file the edges so it does not poke into your fingers...etc

I was at the HMS warehouse and i met the four full time guys who setup all the ukes for HMS...

I would not try to do the setup yourself...see if you can send it back and check the Ukulele Site website...

good luck!
happy strummings...

uke552
07-08-2013, 06:49 PM
Hello and welcome to you!

Do not worry...Kala is a good brand and good choice for a first uke. (Now my 2cents...) As a general rule, it will probably arrive to you in playable condition (the strings will be low near the fret board and not high off the board). If playing the basic first chords (C-G-Am-F) seems to be a real chore, the strings might be too high. If you are in the Pitt area, you certainly will have a music store nearby that can do a proper set up on a ukulele-just call around. Do a search on this website forum for "set up" and you will be quickly informed what it is.

Keep us informed when the uke arrives. Most of all, have fun-play the heck out of it! Welcome!

experimentjon
07-08-2013, 10:41 PM
In my experience, setups matter significantly more on the more "affordable" instruments. I.E. it'll probably lead to significant improvements in the Kala, unless the factory has seriously upped its quality control.

The main things you'll probably want to do once it comes in is:
1) Install the Aquila strings (pretty straightforward)
2) Use some sandpaper to sand down the bottom of the saddle (go slow, even, and flat...make sure you don't sand too much. ) If you google around, you can probably find detailed step by step instructions. But if you know you're handy with tools, you should have no problem with some sandpaper.

IMO, paying for a professional setup (i.e. not the one included free from HMS) would probably cost way more than it's worth. Those two simple steps will probably get you 90% of the results for a lot less coin. And that should probably make your Kala sound and feel way better than it did out of the box. But as mentioned above, it's likely to be fine even without any work.

strumsilly
07-09-2013, 12:45 AM
Don't worrry. Sometimes you get lucky and they come from the factory fine, though usually they need a little tweeking, especially at the nut. it may actually come with the aquilla strings too. just checked the HMS site and they didn't have a K-s listed.

mm stan
07-09-2013, 01:30 AM
Newbies often make the mistake of buying from a big retailer business or shops that don't offer free setup....they think they got a better price, but often after getting them then realize
they need a setup....which in the end may cost more in the long run than if they bought it from a reputable uke shop that offers free setups....lesson learned...
Actually it depends how much work you need done...but they start at 40-50 and up... most all ukes probally can use tweaking and the lower range ones more...
it involves action(string height), intonation, leveling of frets, crowning, fret edges etc.... also when you are at it, throw on some good either fleurocarbon strings or Aquila for good measure..
Believe me, it is well worth it, as it will decide sometimes if you don't get fustrated and quit ....Good luck....and happy Strummings..

Pukulele Pete
07-09-2013, 03:00 AM
Most new ukes don't need any setup . I think it is alot of hype. Put your strings on and play.

strumsilly
07-09-2013, 03:17 AM
Most new ukes don't need any setup . I think it is alot of hype. Put your strings on and play.

I disagree, though some new ukes don't need it, usually inversely proportional to the price.

wayfarer75
07-09-2013, 03:32 AM
My Kala KA-S came from Amazon with a dry fretboard. It was set up just fine (actually, the action is even a wee bit lower than on my other uke, which I got from HMS), and all I did was put some oil on the fretboard and later changed the strings to Martin M600s--love those strings much more than Aquilas.

I don't know how often a decent setup like that happens from an Amazon Kala, but I think tinkering with a Kala to set it up yourself wouldn't be too wacky. I would like to make a new saddle for mine out of something nicer than the cheap plastic. If I screw up, I can always just pop the old saddle back in.

mm stan
07-09-2013, 03:32 AM
Most new ukes don't need any setup . I think it is alot of hype. Put your strings on and play.

Bwahahaha You must have been fortunate to get all good ukes from the factory then... :) no disrespect....I am happy for you...:)

wayfarer75
07-09-2013, 03:42 AM
I disagree, though some new ukes don't need it, usually inversely proportional to the price.

Very true. And frankly, I think a setup only goes so far with the inexpensive laminate ukes like my Kala. It's a great little strummer for when I sing, but as a solo fingerpicking instrument it's no good. No setup is going to totally fix its intonation problems.

vanflynn
07-09-2013, 04:13 AM
Welcome to UU, Junia. Glad you joined us. Don't fret about the frets. When the uke arrives, you must first post a "New Uke Day" photo of it here and then play away. If you find you have to press harder on the first fret than the rest (say a C7 -vs- a C) to get a good tone then you might want to do something. As posted above, it may not need it. There are lots of vids on it and if you feel you want to do it yourself ask UU for advice. Most music shops that do minor guitar repair can also do it. The price may vary but I got my first uke adjusted for $25. There again, maybe someone here knows of a good shop in your area.

For now just enjoy the new uke shipping anticipation and try not to wear out the refresh button on the FedEx tracking site!

hibiscus
07-09-2013, 06:40 AM
My first uke was a KA-S from Amazon, and it played just fine. You will probably want a more expensive (all wood?) ukulele sooner or later, and then you can buy it from a dealer who does set up:-)
Enjoy it!

BgmUke
07-09-2013, 07:48 AM
The main things you'll probably want to do once it comes in is:
1) Install the Aquila strings (pretty straightforward)
2) Use some sandpaper to sand down the bottom of the saddle (go slow, even, and flat...make sure you don't sand too much. ) If you google around, you can probably find detailed step by step instructions. But if you know you're handy with tools, you should have no problem with some sandpaper.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zbp7dApxAuE
Good video on how to diy setup your uke.

Junia
07-09-2013, 09:22 AM
Thanks for your input, everyone! What a friendly and helpful community this is. I really appreciate it.

I'm not extremely concerned about it because I know Kala is a decent brand and everything. For a starter uke I think I made a good decision even if I messed up a bit about the whole setup thing. I'm reasonably sure I can handle re-stringing and sandpapering the saddle by myself if I go slowly and carefully.

My husband is a little shocked at this rabbit hole I've fallen into.
"What do you mean, your next ukulele!?" he demanded, a look of wild worry on his face. He has no idea, does he?

kvehe
07-09-2013, 10:19 AM
OMG, no, not a clue! :D

I also started out with an Amazon Kala-S, and then found this wonderful site a few days later.

The rest is history.

malweth
07-09-2013, 01:11 PM
I started the same way (Lanikai from Amazon). I think I lucked out - though it could probably use a bit of setup.

The scary thing is that I'm starting to look in the $300-500 range (I just picked out a nice Pono MCD Gloss Mahogany on the HMS site at $440 w/o case). It will be a long time off, though - at least a year. Though if I ever go back to Hawaii on travel I'll probably end up getting one. I wouldn't say this is a dangerous hobby, though... I also brew beer and the equipment cost is much higher with that!

IMO - be pragmatic. I won't be upgrading until I've firmly passed "advanced beginner" (if only I knew what that was). Where's Uncle Rod's SET-UP for the next level?

Junia
07-11-2013, 03:18 PM
My ukulele came in the mail today! I am happy to report no real issues at all to my untrained ear; the action seems pretty much perfect to me, and I don't have to push down hard at all on the strings. I'm sure an expert would be able to discern things wrong with it, but it suits my needs perfectly well until I become advanced enough to need a new ukulele. I feel like I lucked out.

My only complaint is how quickly it goes out of tune. I've tuned it like, seven times already today, haha! But I know that's to be expected with new strings and that they'll settle within a week or two.

Overall I'm super happy with it so far! My fingers are pleasantly pink from all the playing!

vanflynn
07-11-2013, 04:12 PM
Congrats on the new uke. Glad it all worked out. Got any pics yet or are you too busy enjoying?

The strings will settle out in no time.

Have fun.

oldjazznut
07-13-2013, 02:35 PM
Most new ukes don't need any setup . I think it is alot of hype. Put your strings on and play.

I think most companies do a reasonable setup on their ukes. You'll find a few slip by needing a slight tweak. Two of my three Lanikais required nothing. One LU-21C was a bit low at the nut, causing a faint buzz at the seventh fret with hard strums. I shimmed the nut with .020 styrene, matches the other LU, no more buzz. My Vineyard required nothing, but I changed to Grover gears for preference. My $30 Hilo is terrible sounding, overbraced with overly thick body wood as well. But, the action was fine besides a few fret ends that needed smoothing. The intonation is actually pretty good, too.