View Full Version : Uke setup and string changes

02-02-2014, 12:33 PM
Hey everyone,

I've been debating buying a second uke. It's been about 8-9 months of playing on my Kamoa 'hog soprano and I finally see some of the limitations of both the brand and the size. I training myself more on picking than strumming and I find the construction to not be adequate. I don't know if it's a Kamoa or a soprano thing, but I feel like it's time for a tenor.

The question that I'm having though is this: If I buy a uke from a dealer that does a setup, am I defeating the purpose of that setup when, say, two three months later, I change the strings? If so, then what's the point of a setup if I will change the strings out and lose all te benefits of a good setup?

Thanks for reading and any opinions that come out of this.


02-02-2014, 12:53 PM
I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure:
Setup is about fine tuning - adjusting the nut, saddle, sanding the frets so they're all even, etc.
It actually changes the minute structural details of the instrument "permanently" (or until they are changed again).

So it wouldn't undo anything to change the strings, assuming you tune them properly.
This is in part because ukulele strings are all relatively similar. Some instruments can have issues where someone switches from say steel strings(heavy), back to a traditional silk strings (light), and the frets have to be moved because the strings are so different.

I would never buy a Uke unless it was set up by someone skilled, otherwise it won't have proper intonation, and might have buzzes, and poor action/playability.

Edit: I forgot to mention that if you replace the strings with a different brand or style, it can change the sound of the instrument so drastically that you might THINK there's something wrong, but it's just the strings. Depending on the mass and inherent tone of the Uke, some strings sound better than others. For example, Ukes made of light, soft wood, might sound too bright with bright strings, whereas Ukes of heavy, hard wood might sound too dull with deeper sounding strings. Matching them optimally is worth the extra trouble.

Kayak Jim
02-02-2014, 12:54 PM
Warb.'s pretty well nailed it. Only if you were switching to a much fatter string in any position the nut slot might be too tight.

02-02-2014, 01:10 PM
Thanks Warbulele, that makes things clearer.

But this makes me think about action; shouldn't that be affected by re-stringing?

02-02-2014, 02:28 PM
If you are restringing with the same diameter strings, I wouldn't think the action setup would change. New strings can make the uke feel differently, though. Some strings feel softer or easier and some strings feel harder or crisper. I've found that I want to put the same string on all my ukes - Worth clears. I really like the way they feel. I also think old strings start to feel unresponsive or almost sluggish. I may be wrong about that, but I think I sense it happening on my tenor, which has had strings on it the longest and may be in need of a change.

02-02-2014, 09:53 PM
Thanks Warbulele, that makes things clearer.

But this makes me think about action; shouldn't that be affected by re-stringing?

This depends on whether you are switching from one string material to another. For example thin fluoros to thicker nylons. This will affect the action that is more noticeable at the nut. Since I use fluoros mostly now I always take it to my luthier to get the nut adjusted which going from thicker to thinner gauging he just makes a new one. As for the setup its worth every dollar. The one aspect of the setup that will change with different strings is the adjustments of the nut and possibly the saddle. The other setup steps should all transfer over to any string brand. But keep in mind that you find out what the store means by setup. I ran across a few stores who referred to a setup as meaning ONLY lowering the action. If thats the case find another store as it consists of more than that.