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View Full Version : No looking back on Low G??



tmanson
12-07-2013, 05:38 AM
Finally decided on my new uke. Ordered a Gretsch 9121 from Elderlys. I love the sound of the low G so thought I'd try that right off the bat. They said that if I do that they would need to alter the bridge/saddle such that I could not use it for a high G should I ever want to. They said any smaller string would buzz.

Is that normal? From what people write it sounds to me like folks switch from high G to low G or even DGBE without much fanfare. I ordered the low G string suggested by Ukulele Jay in his Gretsch 9121 video review since to my ear the tone he gets out of that thing is the nicest I have found. So if he should read this: Jay, did you have to do anything special with your Gretsch for that Fremont squeakless low G and Savarez strings that you talked about in your video?

Thanks, as always, for you input.
Tom

janeray1940
12-07-2013, 05:46 AM
Is that normal? From what people write it sounds to me like folks switch from high G to low G or even DGBE without much fanfare.

I think it depends on the uke. On my Kamaka concert I switch from a wound low G (or guitar D string) to a reentrant fluorocarbon regularly and with no problems either way. I have a Kiwaya pineapple that I tried to put a low G on, and it turned out that even the thinnest fluorocarbon low G would not fit in the slot in the bridge - so, in that case, if I had had my heart set on low G, I would have had to alter it.

I've put the Fremont squeakless on the Kamaka and on a Martin tenor and it was not a problem on either one.

Lori
12-07-2013, 05:53 AM
I have had low G strings on many of my ukes, and I haven't changed the nut on any of them. On my Talsma custom, it has a slot/ bridge and the slot is too narrow for low G, so if I really wanted to go low G, I would have to get that slot widened. My Bradford Donaldson came (at my request) with an extra nut and extra saddle for low G tuning, so I have the best of both worlds.

–Lori

~dave~~wave~
12-07-2013, 06:20 AM
I've not seen the Gretsch, and far be it from me to dispute what Elderly is telling you, but...
I'm looking at a Fremont Soloist string package which says the diameter is 0.030".
On a standard Fremont hard concert set, the gauges are .022, .027, .031, .023.
So you're literally close to hair-splitting here.

In the considered opinion of a random stranger on the internet, based on my experience:
a) There's a good chance the nut may not need the slot widened, and
b) if the the slot needs to grow by a few thousandths of an inch, you haven't burned any bridges. Most uke players would never hear any noticeable degradation in sound switching back to high G.

I've done it often with no ill effects.
Unless this was an expensive custom build and I was a world-class player or an obsessive compulsive personality, I wouldn't give it a second thought. :2cents:

coolkayaker1
12-07-2013, 06:36 AM
Some high G strings will, in fact, buzz like a honey bee in a low G slot, and visa versa. Numerous threads on UU Forums about it.

An idea for tmanson: Elderly should be able to sell you another bone nut for a few bucks that would be ready for the other tuning, then you could swap it out (since the nut shouldn't be glued down) in two seconds whenever you change the entire set of strings.

Ramart
02-25-2014, 01:34 PM
...even the thinnest fluorocarbon low G would not fit in the slot in the bridge...

Guys, for clarity's sake, re nomenclature: The slots are in the nut, not the saddle or bridge.

janeray1940
02-25-2014, 01:43 PM
Guys, for clarity's sake, re nomenclature: The slots are in the nut, not the saddle or bridge.

Hmmm. For clarity's sake, this is the "slot" in the bridge that I was referring to. Funny, my luthier has no problem with me calling it that, and neither does my ukulele instructor, and they seem to understand exactly what I'm talking about. In fact, I've even heard this style of bridge called a "slotted bridge."

64266

What would you call it, if not a slot?

strumsilly
02-25-2014, 02:02 PM
I wouldn't worry about it. just get it, alterations to the nut are easy. if it buzzes with different strings, put something under the string at the nut until you can get it to someone who can fix it. a new nut is no biggie and I have used a dab of CA glue in the nut slot to good effect.
I think the squeekless low g you are referring to are polished metal wound, and as such they would be thinner than a nylon/fluero low g. as had been said, There may be no problem, and if there is a buzz, it's an easy adjustment.

blue_knight_usa
02-25-2014, 02:39 PM
Before you soak money going to a luthier, there is a simple test. If you you get a buzz switching strings, most of the time it's just that the slot maybe inappropriate. To see if it's too wide, you can slide a little piece of paper under the string at the NUT. That is the part before the first fret. Loosen the string, slide a little piece of paper under it as you tighten. The paper will want to slide out so just position it under the string toward the first fret. As you tight, it will slide back and don't worry what it looks like. If the buzz stops, and if you like that string on that instrument, you can then get a luthier to fill the slot. No need to replace the entire nut. I have done this on several ukes.

If you switch strings again to a bigger gauge (wider/thicker string) you can always widen the nut. Some of my ukes I can go from High G to Low G or from one set to another with no issues. A few ukes I need to make sure the nut is slotted appropriately or I will get a buzz. It's perfectly normal if that happens based on a string change. I have never had to touch the saddle on the bridge on any instrument.

There may be other things that cause a buzz after a string change but many times it's the nut slot. You can also put pressure on the string right behind the nut and push down as you pluck the string. If no buzz, the paper trick is going to work 99% of the time and then you can make your long term adjustments later when you find the strings you really like.

The CA glue trick works well but if you are not familiar with that process, you should take it to a qualified luthier to have that done. I only have one uke that I really need get a new nut slot on where I have found the best strings I am going to continually use on that one uke and it's a high G so the strings are much thinner relative to what was on there with a low G and there is a buzz on the G string. The paper trick worked so when I get time, I'll have my luthier do the superglue trick and just re-saw the slot on that one string.

stevepetergal
02-25-2014, 06:23 PM
If switching from low G to high G causes a buzz, I think it would be very unusual. I switch back and forth on all my ukuleles. Never had a buzz. Not ever. Plus, if you're using a wound Low G, the diameter is probably not much larger than your high G string. Don't sweat it.

cdkrugjr
02-26-2014, 01:15 AM
My Lanakai has square slots that wouldn't accommodate a low-G without some filing, which would limit its usefulness for high-G.

My Kala Soprano has Vee-shaped slots that work Just Fine with either Nylguts or Southcoast Extra Lights (Machete).

flailingfingers
02-26-2014, 05:17 AM
When I bought my new Collings UT3K it was setup for high g. I play only low g so I called Collings for advice. They said that when they know a uke is going to be played low g they adjust for that at the factory. Based on that I took the uke to a certified Collings dealer who adjusted the nut and bridge for low g. I did try playing it with low g before the adjustment and found the action on that g string to be enough higher that it was a factor in playability. Not a big deal but WTF it is a Collings and I didn't want to settle for less than perfect. As I write this I am becoming aware that I may be a bit obsessive/ compulsive. I sure do like the uke though and play it and play it and play it. Cheaper than a shrink. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Ukejenny
02-26-2014, 05:29 AM
I ordered my KPK with a low G, but he didn't change the nut as far as I know. He messaged me and said the low G would be snug, but that I could change back to a high G and go back and forth.

stevepetergal
02-26-2014, 09:38 AM
My Lanakai has square slots that wouldn't accommodate a low-G without some filing, which would limit its usefulness for high-G.

I don't see why. I had a Lanikai and I switched repeatedly. I think someone's given you reason to limit yourself with little to no reason.

OldePhart
02-26-2014, 11:47 AM
As Steve says it would be pretty unusual, but I have heard of it happening. Fortunately, if it happens it is incredibly easy to fix. Get some clear nail hardener from the beauty supply section at WalMart. Clean the top of the nut with rubbing alcohol (strong liquor might work too but it's a waste of liquor :) ). After the alcohol evaporates completely put just the tiniest dab of the nail hardener in the slot (I use a toothpick instead of the brush in the nail hardener bottle). I also keep a piece of stiff paper handy to wipe through the slot in case too much beads up in there. You should barely be able to tell that there is any hardener in the slot - if you can see a bubble of it run the stiff paper through to drag some of it away.

Let it dry for a long time - much longer than the bottle says. I usually let it dry at least an hour, often more if I can busy myself with something else. Now, your narrower string should sit just high enough not to buzz. If it still buzzes, another coat of the hardener is called for. Rinse and repeat just until the string stops buzzing - you now have absolutely the best setup possible for that string for your playing style and for the condition of your frets (often, on an inexpensive uke especially, you can get much lower without buzzing if you blueprint the frets but that's a whole 'nuther topic).

John

OldePhart
02-26-2014, 11:59 AM
My Lanakai has square slots that wouldn't accommodate a low-G without some filing, which would limit its usefulness for high-G.

My Kala Soprano has Vee-shaped slots that work Just Fine with either Nylguts or Southcoast Extra Lights (Machete).

Hmmm, I've never seen a uke come from the factory with square slots, nor V-shaped ones (if the nut is very tall, like some KoAloha nuts, it may look from the top like the slot is square but at the bottom it should be rounded). The correct shape for a nut slot is slightly tapered sides down to a rounded bottom. The molded plastic nuts on every Lanikai and Kala I have ever seen had this shape - the problem with them is usually that they are just molded in and never touched up when the uke is built, and the slots end up being too high (and, often, in the case of the C string, too narrow).

If the slots are really square and V-shaped, respectively, it sounds like someone has "adjusted" them with makeshift tools that weren't really perfect for the job.

BTW, a square slot can probably work if it is not too wide - if it is too wide the string will "squirm" in the slot and you will lose sustain. However, as mentioned above re deep slots - if the slot is square up the sides but rounded across the bottom it should be okay.

A V-shaped slot (such as might be made with a v-shaped jeweler's file) will work well for precisely one diameter of string - and tend to cut into that string and change it's diameter at the slot (if the string is soft it may also bind when tuning). Consequently, using any other diameter of strings or using the strings for too long will end up with the string height changing resulting in potential buzzing for narrower strings and poor intonation for thicker ones.

John