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Peterjens
10-02-2013, 08:28 AM
I recently purchased a 1920 Kumalae Style 5 soprano from a luthier. He is on vacation for two weeks so I will ask for your opinions.

I notice the sustain is not as long as I am used to hearing on my KoAloha or even my a non-descript (other than real cheap) ukulele that a friend bought for me from Poracho (The Guitar Capital of Mexico). The Kumalae apparently comes with D'addario nyltech stings. The sustain gets shorter as you pluck the A string compared to the C string - that is, the smaller the gauge, the shorter the sustain.

I have some Aquilas on order for my "El Ukulele" and will probably try them first on the Kumalae to see if it's a string issue.

I also thought it might a result of the smaller body as the Kumalae is quite more compact.

Thoughts?

RyanMFT
10-02-2013, 09:43 AM
Does you Kumalae have repairs? Kumalae built his ukuleles very thin, and they often have cracked over 70+ years under string tension and humidity/temp changes. Sometimes repairs are over done, and that can kill the sustain. Otherwise, as you are thinking, I would look at the strings. I would be careful using Aquila though...they are higher tension and I try to use lower tension strings on thin ukes. I like Martin M600 on vintage ukuleles.

Sustain won't compare to a KoAloha, but Kumalae's are often very loud and punchy. Let us know what happens.

Ukejenny
10-02-2013, 10:23 AM
Interested to see if different strings make a significant difference.

mm stan
10-02-2013, 10:35 AM
Kumaleas were actually tourist ukes....some are better than others....I would not use Aquila as the will deaden the a string more..you need a string that is a lower tension to resonate more
drop the tuning to F#, B, D#, G# and seehow it sounds..and put on Oasis strings...or martins as Ryan said...but the Oasis is a softer compound and may work better... I do not know
what set of strings you got on now and how old they are...but the A string always goes flat first...CHANGE THE STRINGS....I WOULD TRY FIRST...TRY THE EASY THINGS FIRST..
You can order oasis from strings by mail....they should work...if not try dropping the tuning to lessen the tension...

Peterjens
10-02-2013, 01:44 PM
Does you Kumalae have repairs? Kumalae built his ukuleles very thin, and they often have cracked over 70+ years under string tension and humidity/temp changes. Sometimes repairs are over done, and that can kill the sustain. Otherwise, as you are thinking, I would look at the strings. I would be careful using Aquila though...they are higher tension and I try to use lower tension strings on thin ukes. I like Martin M600 on vintage ukuleles.

Sustain won't compare to a KoAloha, but Kumalae's are often very loud and punchy. Let us know what happens.

Ryan - There is a boo-boo (repaired crack) on the face. I like your term "punchy" - that is exactly what it is. I respect your advice.
Thanks

Peterjens
10-02-2013, 01:56 PM
Kumaleas were actually tourist ukes....some are better than others....I would not use Aquila as the will deaden the a string more..you need a string that is a lower tension to resonate more
drop the tuning to F#, B, D#, G# and seehow it sounds..and put on Oasis strings...or martins as Ryan said...but the Oasis is a softer compound and may work better... I do not know
what set of strings you got on now and how old they are...but the A string always goes flat first...CHANGE THE STRINGS....I WOULD TRY FIRST...TRY THE EASY THINGS FIRST..
You can order oasis from strings by mail....they should work...if not try dropping the tuning to lessen the tension...

mm stan - I dropped the tuning as you suggested and the sustain is still punchy. The assistant luthier is pretty certain the strings are D'addario nyltech and are two months old. The lead luthier would know for sure but he's gone for two weeks. You are the second to recommend not using Aquila so I will try Oasis. Thanks for your help.

Peterjens
10-02-2013, 02:13 PM
59460

I just noticed that the strings are not centered over the soundhole. The A string barely clears the hole. I wonder if this adds to the lack of sustain. BTW, I was having this issue even prior to making my ghetto uke strap. :)

BlackBearUkes
10-02-2013, 03:31 PM
The string not centered over the sound hole has nothing to do with sustain.


59460

I just noticed that the strings are not centered over the soundhole. The A string barely clears the hole. I wonder if this adds to the lack of sustain. BTW, I was having this issue even prior to making my ghetto uke strap. :)

Peterjens
10-02-2013, 05:10 PM
The string not centered over the sound hole has nothing to do with sustain.

BlackBearUkes - It was just a hunch on my part. I have a very limited understanding of the connection between the string and the hole. Thanks for the lesson.

kenikas
10-02-2013, 06:01 PM
I've got a Kumalae of about the same vintage and I really like the Worth Clear Lights on it. They are a bit lower tension and mine had some "potato chipping" in the soundboard and they seem to help keep from agravating that.

RyanMFT
10-02-2013, 07:13 PM
Glad to help....

I also suggest not using a strap which touches the sound board, that will also impact the sound. On a soprano, one can usually get pretty comfortable playing without a strap. If you try some different strings, you should have a pretty good improvement. I'm not a fan of D'addario strings for ukulele. I just haven't found them to be bright in the way I like them.

It is common for old Hawaiian built ukuleles to be less than precise in the build....bridges are often not set in the center, bodies are often somewhat asymmetrical, and those things are only aesthetics, which the Hawaiian builders didn't seem that concerned with. Kamaka was guilty of this too.

Peterjens
10-02-2013, 08:46 PM
Glad to help....

I also suggest not using a strap which touches the sound board, that will also impact the sound. On a soprano, one can usually get pretty comfortable playing without a strap. If you try some different strings, you should have a pretty good improvement. I'm not a fan of D'addario strings for ukulele. I just haven't found them to be bright in the way I like them.

It is common for old Hawaiian built ukuleles to be less than precise in the build....bridges are often not set in the center, bodies are often somewhat asymmetrical, and those things are only aesthetics, which the Hawaiian builders didn't seem that concerned with. Kamaka was guilty of this too.

Ryan - Taking off the strap makes sense to me. The strap is off now. The uke is on loan to me. If I like it, it's mine. If I don't, I send it back. I need to talk with the luthier and get his advice before changing strings. I hate to spend the money on strings if that doesn't solve the sustain issue. Being a noob makes my brain hurt. :)

RyanMFT
10-03-2013, 09:21 AM
Can you post a video of the problem? It may be normal sustain, but your KoAloha has spoiled you!

UkeKiddinMe
10-03-2013, 09:33 AM
It's interesting you posted this today, because I created a thread, too, about lack of sustain on the A string.
In my case, it's on a relatively new Epiphone Les Paul. I have had it for a few weeks, and I'm loving it.
I didn't notice the lack of sustain on the A until I started fingerpicking. Unfortunately, no one commented in my thread. :(

Peterjens
10-03-2013, 12:11 PM
Can you post a video of the problem? It may be normal sustain, but your KoAloha has spoiled you!
The "A" string is the one in question. Thanks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6VJyBaIqZ4&feature=youtu.be

mm stan
10-03-2013, 12:32 PM
Try dropping the A string tuning by -10 and do buy new strings....

Peterjens
10-04-2013, 04:31 PM
I restrung the Kumalae with Martin M600s and it lengthened the sustain of the "A" string - enough to please my ear. I am going to buy the Kumalae now that this is solved. I hope when I'm 93 years old like this Kumalae, I can be repaired as easy as this. I like the feel of these strings, too. I even treated EL Ukulele to brand new set and it improved the tone exponentially. Thanks to all for your help on this.

RyanMFT
10-04-2013, 06:23 PM
I restrung the Kumalae with Martin M600s and it lengthened the sustain of the "A" string - enough to please my ear. I am going to buy the Kumalae now that this is solved. I hope when I'm 93 years old like this Kumalae, I can be repaired as easy as this. I like the feel of these strings, too. I even treated EL Ukulele to brand new set and it improved the tone exponentially. Thanks to all for your help on this.

Great News!! I hope you play it in the very best of health!

mm stan
10-04-2013, 06:49 PM
Cool Happy Strummings...