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View Full Version : Lanikai Tuna Uke.....Really?



Rolfie
01-02-2014, 08:36 PM
Hi people

Just been looking at the Lanikai Tuna Uke and would like to know what the general opinion is out there. Whilst the tech that makes it possible is great, should we really have to buy specific kit to make something intonate ourselves? Isnt that the job of the manufacturer?

Im fairly new to ukes so maybe im missing something, but I think its Lanikais job to make sure its good before they sell it? Not to give us kit to fix it ourselves?

Would a car salesman do it? "Oh Hi Mr Smith, congratulations on your new car, by the way the wheels arnt fitted properly so if you want to drive it here is the kit to fit them on!"

mds725
01-02-2014, 08:58 PM
What's a Lanikai Tuna Uke?

Steveperrywriter
01-02-2014, 09:09 PM
The folks here who know about intonation (not me) have spoken at length about it, and how difficult it is to achieve and maintain on an ukulele. Even a luthier who compensates the nut and saddle is up against what a string change or hard fingering will do, and the folk who know have allowed that it isn't really possible to maintain perfect intonation all the way up the neck.

This Lanikai system seems to be an attempt to allow the user to alter it when them deem I t necessary. I dunno how well or if it works, but it seems more like a tool kit that comes with a bike, in case you need it. Because sooner or later, you will get a flat tire ...

Steve

Rolfie
01-02-2014, 09:13 PM
Thats a fair comment. Just seems like a lot of hard work to me! lol

mds725 - its a system on some Lanikai ukes that allows you to adjust the nut and saddle (moving it forward and backward at each string) to make it intonate correctly at each fret all the way down the neck.

SonSprinter
01-02-2014, 09:34 PM
Prior to watching the video below, I did not think intonation going up the neck was a big deal at all. Well, in the video, when you see how far off the intonation was at the fifth fret, I was really surprised.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzsj6rcsx8U

I think this is why many guitars, bass guitars, and even the KoAloha ukulele, has a bridge that lengthens the scale length, slightly, for the thicker/lower strings.

They should change the name to "tune-a" uke.


How can one purchase these tune-a uke nuts and bridges, alone, as a kit to install on the ukulele you already own? I could not find just the tune-a uke nuts and bridges, alone, on the Lanikai web site.

mds725
01-02-2014, 09:51 PM
http://ukeeku.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/dasilva3.jpg?w=640

kvehe
01-03-2014, 12:11 AM
I'm with you, Rolfie. I've been trying to figure this one out ever since it appeared on the market. I almost bought one just to see if I could understand why anyone would want one, and why anyone would go to all that trouble, but fortunately my UAS is dormant right now, so I didn't.

It's priced like a beginner uke, but I can't imagine a beginner wanting to do all of that work. Someone who is coming from another stringed instrument, maybe - or someone who likes to mess around with tools, maybe.

Jon Moody
01-03-2014, 02:33 AM
http://lanikaiukes.com/laniblog/2013/03/lanikai-labs-tunauke/

Just in case anyone is curious.

I took a look at it, and it's nothing that isn't already used on other types of stringed instruments. It is pretty nice to see someone apply that tech to a ukulele.

OldePhart
01-03-2014, 03:39 AM
Ditto what the bad primate said - with one addition. On something the size of a ukulele I would be a bit concerned about possible detriment to sustain and volume. I guess the proof would be in trying one.

I don't think it's really essential, either. A well constructed, well set-up ukulele with the right strings actually intonates reasonably well up the neck; especially considering that many players will end up pushing strings out of tune slightly with sloppy fingering, anyway, and this tends to happen more the higher up the fret board they go.

My Kiwaya longneck soprano with heavy fluorocarbon strings is basically as close to perfect all the way up as you would be able to get with adjustable saddles and a good tuner, my Mainland sopranos are a very close second with those same strings (though I've chosen to sacrifice intonation for tonal quality on the mango one because it was a bit too "brittle" sounding with those strings, the Ko'Olau Gold concert strings don't intonate as well but sound much nicer). My Pineapple Sunday is a very close third with the factory strings. All of these ukes are good enough that I don't think I could get much improvement with adjustable saddles - so I would not want the adjustable saddles if they have even a slight adverse effect on volume, tone, or sustain. My other ukes I just haven't found perfect strings for yet and I might be willing to sacrifice a dab of volume or sustain for better intonation.

There are really two issues - most production ukes are indifferently set up and pretty much all of them come with whatever strings the manufacturer gets a good price on or maybe perceives them as making the uke sell better. A good luthier-built uke is going to be fine tuned for a particular set of strings - it may work well with other strings but probably not as well as the maker intended. With a production uke you have to do it the other way around and, after setting the uke up decently, go find strings that work well on it.

John

seonachan
01-03-2014, 05:32 AM
Prior to watching the video below, I did not think intonation going up the neck was a big deal at all. Well, in the video, when you see how far off the intonation was at the fifth fret, I was really surprised.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzsj6rcsx8U

I watched the video and while I have no issue with the "tuna" system per se, I think the video is misleading at times. The very poorly intonated no-name uke he uses as a "control" is simply sharp at every fret on every string - an obvious case of the nut slots being too high. Easy to fix, but curiously the guy says "There's nothing you can do" about it without a compensated nut.

There's also the assumption that you want every note at every fret on every string to be perfectly aligned with a chromatic tuner reading (presumably in equal temperament). That's a big subject that I'm not qualified to speak to, but I don't think every micro-tone sharp or flat is necessarily a bad thing, and in some cases is preferable to the ear.

As I said, none of this is a criticism of the system itself. I can see a benefit in being able to adjust the scale length. But in my (somewhat limited) uke experience, intonation by itself is not so much the problem (once nut & saddle height is adjusted) as is the balance between intonation and fret buzzing. What I like about adjustable electric guitar saddles is that you can, say, raise the action to eliminate the buzz, and then move the saddle back to fix the intonation. But these appear to only go forward & back, not up & down (though the guy says the replacement saddles are higher, so I guess you do have some limited control over that).

katysax
01-03-2014, 05:56 AM
I think it's a marketing ploy to attempt to differentiate some of their cheap ukes from other cheap ukes. It might help some with intonation on ukes that don't have the best intonation because they are produced with less than the best care. All string instruments have intonation issues, ukes have additional ones because of the short strings. With the right fret height and the right nut, saddle and bridge positioning, played by a good player, a uke will be in tune. Ordinarily Lanikai ukes (at least some of them) are prone to intonation issues so if the tuna uke marketing thingy helps with that - then great. On the other hand they could try doing what some of their competitors do, which is use a little more care in their manufacture.

bnolsen
01-03-2014, 06:13 AM
Have to agree with oldephart on this. As long as the ukulele isn't grossly mismanufactured (bowed neck, really bad bridge placement, etc) the strings can make a bit of difference. Example: I had martin m600s on one ukulele I had messed with. On my snark tuner it seemed like i had 1-2 slivers sharp at the 12th fret, I was fine with that since I knew my modifications may have lifted the saddle a bit. Swapped over the strings to oasis lights (I had to move the martins to another ukulele), the e and c strings now go 4 slivers sharp at the 12th fret. Obvious answer with this ukulelel is to put martin m600s or another thinner lighter tensioned fluorocarbon back on.

I guess a tunauke style bridge could be used to compensate for those 2 particular strings. In fact if this idea works, the proper use of this type bridge would be exactly for allowing very fine tuned adjustments to compensate for different brands of strings.

With these ukuleles at the price they are at, I would almost hazard to guess that this bridge will be used primarily to get more poorly manufactured ukuleles through QC.

Steveperrywriter
01-03-2014, 07:30 AM
You know, when you think about it, this thread and the one on whether different kinds of strings are snake-oil might be clumped together -- maybe a player's hearing picks up small differences in intonation and causes that player to prefer the strings that come closer to his or her perception of what sounds best. Some folks might prefer slightly sharp to slightly flat, or vice-versa, and maybe one brand of strings alters things the way they like.

It's a theory, anyway …

Steve

OldePhart
01-03-2014, 10:34 AM
You know, when you think about it, this thread and the one on whether different kinds of strings are snake-oil might be clumped together -- maybe a player's hearing picks up small differences in intonation and causes that player to prefer the strings that come closer to his or her perception of what sounds best. Some folks might prefer slightly sharp to slightly flat, or vice-versa, and maybe one brand of strings alters things the way they like.

It's a theory, anyway …

Steve

There's probably a lot to that. Also, of course, some people like a more mellow sound while others like something a little brighter, and so on. Different strings definitely can intonate differently up the neck, though.

John

stevepetergal
01-03-2014, 11:59 AM
When I heard about the Tune-A-Uke, I was pretty excited. There is a seed of a great idea there. Some very high quality guitars have something very similar with great results. I was thinking Lanikais are pretty nice instruments, they are great to look at, they come in a huge variety of styles. I have never bought one before because every one I've tried has had fairly poor to seriously poor intonation. Well, I bought a concert Tune-A-Uke. I've had it for a couple of months and couldn't be more disappointed. Lanikai put the movable saddles on the cheapest model they build, and it shows. Adjust all you want and the cheap ukulele is incapable of good intonation. The principle is a good one. Move the saddle for each individual string until the pitch at twelve is exactly an octave above the string played open, and everything else should line up. It doesn't work on the Tune-A-Uke. The intonation is so bad it doesn't warrant serious analysis, restringing, attempt to set up. The instrument sounds like a toy in a garbage can.

Now, Lanikai claims to have plans to bring this technology to their higher-end instruments. I hope they do because the first generation is useless. Can't imagine why they started with this lousy a model. I don't even feel right selling the one I've got to some unsuspecting soul.

Uke Republic
01-03-2014, 12:27 PM
You can tune a ukulele but cha can't tune a fish...sorry, had to

ukulelearp
01-03-2014, 12:35 PM
When I saw the thread title, I thought Lanikai had come up with an answer to the Makala Dolphin.

Pondoro
01-04-2014, 04:05 AM
Ironic that Lanikai introduces this because back in 2006-2008 they flooded the market with ukes that had horrific intonation. It was easy to fix if you knew how to adjust the string height and compensation but the beginners that bought cheap Lanikais didn't know how! Anyway recently they have been better (although Steve got a bad one I have seen more decent-sounding ones lately).

This does sound like a nice option for an advanced player with an expensive uke who changes string brands for a different sound but wants intonation perfect. It seems wasted on a cheap uke.

kissing
01-04-2014, 06:56 PM
You can only get so far with intonation on a nylon-strung short scale instrument...
Especially if you come from a background of steel-string instruments.. especially electric ones with adjustable saddles, truss rods and adjustable everything!

An acoustic steel string (usually) lacks adjustable saddles like an electric, so their intonation is not usually regarded as perfect, but they have long scale and harder tension metal strings to fall back on.

Next level down in intonation accuracy are nylon-strung Classical guitars which also (usually) do not have adjustable parts. Just a simple nut and saddle (sometimes compensated, to be cute). Again, the longer scale makes it easier to achieve reasonable intonation. Generally in a more expensive instrument, the maker would have gone to more trouble to get it intonate more accurately... but the moment you decide to use a different brand of strings.. or the weather fluctuates a bit... intonation never stays stationary.


Coming from all this, I think it's almost laughable that people expect perfect intonation on SHORT SCALE, NYLON-STRUNG instruments with relatively FLOPPY STRING TENSION and usually NON-ADJUSTABLE saddle/bridges nor truss rods, etc. Most ukes just beyond the cheapest kind intonate "reasonably" well in my opinion. Just change strings to whatever makes you happy, get a playing action you like and enjoy. Even if you do, after hours of painstaking tinkering, achieve a near-perfect intonation, all it takes is for the weather/temperature/humidity to change a bit, causing the wood to expand/contract and affect how it plays..

This Tuna-uke is a cute idea though. I wouldn't be opposed to the fact that a ukulele I happen to want comes with it.. but it'll never be a deal breaker. If it was really all that great, it would already be an industry standard.

Kevin B
01-05-2014, 09:47 AM
The upside to all this is Amazon and Musicians Friend ran some deep discounts on the old models for a time adding that they LU series had been replaced. The LU21 Pineapples got down to $39 at Musician's Friend. I think Lanikai may have shot themselves in the foot if they replaced their entry level LU series with these (Just because of the initial additional purchase cost).

peaceweaver3
01-09-2014, 04:13 PM
I left this thread alone originally. Thought it was a uke with some unsuspecting tuna's picture on it... You know, one of the big 'uns from Wicked Tuna? Or a uke made of tuna cans, which might have been cool. Come to find out it's a tune-a-uke? Gee, who knew! So thanks for the laugh, though it was all in my head, as it usually is. :D

On a similar note, I agree 100% with Steve's comments below. I, for one, have heard others' ukes, supposedly in tune, as being out of tune. It doesn't happen often, but often enough to notice. And I've had one guy, not a uke player if that makes a difference?, say my Flea was "way off." So I handed it over, he "tuned" it, and I heard it as being even more way off! Took it back, re-tuned, and went on my merry way. Perception is everything, fortunately or unfortunately.


You know, when you think about it, this thread and the one on whether different kinds of strings are snake-oil might be clumped together -- maybe a player's hearing picks up small differences in intonation and causes that player to prefer the strings that come closer to his or her perception of what sounds best. Some folks might prefer slightly sharp to slightly flat, or vice-versa, and maybe one brand of strings alters things the way they like.

It's a theory, anyway

Steve

13down
07-21-2015, 03:43 PM
Thanks so much for playing one so we don't have to, and confirming that they use it on shitty ukes.

CactusWren
09-03-2015, 08:15 AM
Old thread, but I just was at the Music Store and played a couple of these Tunas. Had never heard of them before. Maybe just luck, but the two tenors I tried were good instruments. Pretty wood, good sound, good players. They had some pretty low-tension strings on them, which was nice for comfort. Intonation was fine off-the-shelf. It looks like a fun thing to play around with. Both ukes were a little under $300.

ralphgonz
11-14-2015, 07:01 AM
I was just at a music store shopping for a uke for my son. I'm a (so-so) guitar player, and appreciate good intonation and tone. They had solid cedar top Lanikai concerts with the tuneauke system. I really liked the sound compared with the cheaper (also tuneauke) laminate Lanikai I compared it with. But in comparison a (tenor) Kahala model sounded like sh*t.

I hear a lot of ukulele owners in this thread rationalizing about how this is not a great idea, yet at the same time complaining that getting instruments with short nylon strings to intonate well is a matter of trial and error.

Seems like an innovation that should have happened many years ago -- a lightweight adjustable saddle system for nylon strings. It would be great to compare the same instrument with/without the tuneauke system to see how it affects sustain, brightness, etc.

LDS714
11-14-2015, 12:22 PM
If any enterprising uke builders want to play with this concept, Ben over at cbgitty.com has some cool little 4-string adjustable metal bridges. They work great on CBGs.

kohanmike
11-14-2015, 01:05 PM
I saw them at the last NAMM show and thought it's a really good idea. I agree that many string instruments have intonation adjusters, I'm very happy my electric mini basses have them and would like them on my ukes.

vanflynn
11-14-2015, 04:03 PM
I've tried the tuna's at a couple music stores and have two observations. First- Lanikai only put it on an entry level uke ( looks and plays like a LU series) and second- the bridge seemed a bit cheap and plastic. If this is such a great thing then why not put it on an upper level uke? I like the idea a lot but this mechanism falls short IMHO. Hoping for a 2.0!

Full disclosure: I have a Lanikai Monkey Pod uke and its my run-around knock-about uke. It's great and am not trashing Lanikai

vanflynn
11-15-2015, 12:43 AM
Cool. Thanks for pointing that out.

ukuleleden
11-15-2015, 02:21 AM
Ironic that Lanikai introduces this because back in 2006-2008 they flooded the market with ukes that had horrific intonation. It was easy to fix if you knew how to adjust the string height and compensation but the beginners that bought cheap Lanikais didn't know how! Anyway recently they have been better (although Steve got a bad one I have seen more decent-sounding ones lately).

This does sound like a nice option for an advanced player with an expensive uke who changes string brands for a different sound but wants intonation perfect. It seems wasted on a cheap uke.

I have to agree about them fixing an issue they horrifically suffered from on their own ukuleles. Years ago when I was shopping for my first Soprano after buying a Fender Tenor (which was surprisingly good out of the box), the LU-21 and LU-21P were among the most recommended value priced Soprano Ukes I was told to seriously consider. So I bought one new in the box. It was horrific in its setup, and intonation was flat at the fifth fret. Fortunately, the local shop I bought it from had fielded similar issues with others and ran it through their tech's bench who quickly corrected the intonation and action. After that, no need to worry about it, even with multiple string changes testing varied sets of strings. When I first saw the NAMM video of their Tuna-Uke system, all I thought to myself was it was a cheesy marketing gimmick that is quite unnecessary compared to a properly built and set-up uke, and may only end up frustrating it's owners who probably have never performed a set-up in their lives.

bazmaz
11-15-2015, 06:51 AM
I reviewed one of the Tuna Ukes - wasn't totally impressed. I mean - it's not a bad instrument, but just an over priced version of a LU21 because of the fancy bridge.

So when you look closer at the bridge i was just left thinking 'why'? For me they have created something that at best will mean meddling and at worst is an excuse for a badly made instrument (or badly set up).

Think about it - you CAN get ukuleles at this price with intonation that is spot on - and WITHOUT adjustable bridges.

End of the day, it's just an LU21


Here was my review - http://www.gotaukulele.com/2014/04/lanikai-lutu-21c-tunauke-concert.html