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View Full Version : Difficulties with strumming. Lower the action?



Mr. Uke Guy
01-06-2014, 05:04 AM
I have a new Cordoba ukulele (and Iím new to ukulele playing). Iím looking for input on whether or not I should lower the action. If I press down a string, or strings, on the fretboard in order to make a chord and then I strum with my finger, there is a considerable height difference in the strings, causing some ďunevenĒ strumming. Does that make sense? This makes it difficult to get a clean-sounding strum. Is this a common issue for new ukulele players? I donít notice such a thing when I play my guitar. Should I lower the action?

Kayak Jim
01-06-2014, 05:10 AM
If there is "considerable" height difference it sounds like the action at the nut is WAY too high. Strings at first fret should be less than a dime's thickness above the fret.

katysax
01-06-2014, 05:18 AM
Be careful about lowering the action. You are probably strumming way too hard. Before you lower it have someone who knows about proper adjustment take a look at it. I've bought more than one used guitar or ukulele from someone who tried lowering the action. It's easy to lower it too much.

Mr. Uke Guy
01-06-2014, 05:30 AM
Later today when Iím at home I will measure the height of the strings at the 1st and 12th frets.

PhilUSAFRet
01-06-2014, 06:39 AM
I've made this comment before. Many new ukers fail to recognize that proper strumming is a skill and must be mastered slowly and correctly, before speeding up. Many of us, myself included, when starting out, tried to strum faster than our skill level permitted. Our fingers "got all tangled up on the adjacent strings, which are more flexible than guitar strings. Speed comes naturally with correct practice. that being said, assessing string height would still be a good idea. Perhaps this would help. If you do any setup work, most of the Cordoba's (if not all) have plastic nuts and saddles. A good time to upgrade.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/ukulele-setup.html

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-06-2014, 07:00 AM
Press down at the third fret and look at the action above the first fret. The string height should be no higher above the first fret than the thickness of a business card. I set mine even lower but your fret work has to be perfect.

Mr. Uke Guy
01-06-2014, 01:39 PM
I've made this comment before. Many new ukers fail to recognize that proper strumming is a skill and must be mastered slowly and correctly, before speeding up. Many of us, myself included, when starting out, tried to strum faster than our skill level permitted. Our fingers "got all tangled up on the adjacent strings, which are more flexible than guitar strings. Speed comes naturally with correct practice.
http://www.theukulelesite.com/ukulele-setup.html

I'm thinking this is probably the "core" issue. Since I'm so new to the ukulele perhaps I was looking for something to blame my poor strumming technique on.

kohanmike
01-06-2014, 09:10 PM
I've lowered the action on three of my six ukes, and plan on doing so to the others. I find them to play easier with lower action, they all sound good, no fret buzz at all. The first one I did, I was afraid I lowered it too much, but it's now my favorite to play, very clean sound.

coolcow
01-06-2014, 10:31 PM
Press down at the third fret and look at the action above the first fret. The string height should be no higher above the first fret than the thickness of a business card. I set mine even lower but your fret work has to be perfect.

Thanks for the tips Chuck....now I know the trick on how to check the uke's action :)

kissing
01-07-2014, 12:15 AM
In my humble opinion, I don't think high action actually disrupts "strumming".
It makes it difficult to press down on the strings/frets for the fretting hand, but as far as the strumming hand is concerned, no matter how high the action, strumming difficulty does not change.

In fact, I even think higher action may make a ukulele easier to "strum", although harder to fluidly fret the strings.

I think it boils down to technique in this case.
Good strumming technique and tone takes a LOT of practice and patience*.

A typical Cordoba may have higher action than considered optimal, but I doubt that it is unreasonably high..




*and learning how to setup an instrument takes even more!!

Newportlocal
01-07-2014, 05:36 AM
I like to get the action lowered to make fretting easier. I agree that I don't think that is the strumming issue. Just keep playing. The strumming will get more natural.

Patrick Madsen
01-07-2014, 06:16 AM
For myself, it's definitly the action but string tension also plays a factor. I use a higher tension string and feel this helps alot. I mostly fingerpick so that could make a difference also. The best string I've found for my tenors so far is the Southcoast HML-RW's; hi tension and great feel.

FrankB
01-07-2014, 11:50 AM
I have a Cordoba tenor, and I'm teaching my wife to strum. Yes, the string height changes when you fret, and she misses the A string often. The problem is, she's strumming in an upward arc. I have her using downstrokes only right now, and every other stroke is a C chord. If she misses the A string, she won't hear a tonal change. She's only been at it since last Thursday, so.... ;)