View Full Version : Sounded pretty good, now it's buzzing and hardly plays!

08-19-2014, 02:56 PM
I got my uke a few weeks ago. Besides needing to tune the hell out of it every time I picked it up, it was playing well. Until last night. I tuned it as usual, and then started to play. While playing individual open strings it seemed normal, when I tried to play chords it just sounds terribly sharp and tinny. It is almost as if the strings are far too tight. To be fair it IS a $34 Mahalo with nylon strings. But it was doing so well just this weekend!

Worse, if I ever try to play a chord like B7 or D7, it doesn't even play at all. Overall, it just sounds like the strings are way too tight- but if I loosen them, each one sounds too flat.

What to do? I hope it can be solved by better quality strings (suggestions very welcome), or even better, some adjustment. If not I am 100% going to buy a better ukulele- it felt so good to play, and now I sound terrible!


sea tangle

08-19-2014, 03:19 PM
If you don't you have a decent digital tuner, grab one and once equipped check out the basic tuning and then the intonation down the neck, there are loads of videos on youtube to help if you run into problems. Secondly try changing the strings to a reputable brand, aquilla is supposed to sound pretty good on a Mahalo. Third, if it still buzzes you can look at the setup of the nut and saddle height, again take a search on youtube for help.

Finally, you can always give in to the inevitable and impending UAS and just upgrade :)

08-19-2014, 03:21 PM
You, or someone who is more familiar with ukes needs to determine how good/bad the "set up" is on that uke. Here's a video on the subject. If you check the items generally addressed, you can determine if it can be properly "set up" and used. Those ukes come with some horrible strings and the tuning machines often loosen and need tightening. Sometimes the frets aren't level which prevents it from playing properly when you press play a chord.
Lots of tutorials on line on how to set up a ukulele, level the frets, adjust the tuners, change the strings (don't buy new strings unless you can set it up properly). Mahalo's often play well, but you can get a bad uke of any brand. If it can't be set up properly, it needs to be returned. If it can, get some Aquilas and have fun. You'll likely be upgrading it in time, even if you get it to play at an acceptable level.

08-19-2014, 03:24 PM
I'm not 100% sure that I understand what you are describing, but my guess is that you have some high frets further up the fretboard. When you fret the string, it is hitting a higher fret and producing a sharp note that probably sounds like hell.

Things tend to move a bit when you are dealing with wood, so it is possible that it played great when you got it, but things have shifted/swelled/shrunk. It really doesnt take much movement to wreak havoc.

Again, I am just shooting in the dark here. I could be completely misinterpretting your desription.

08-19-2014, 03:27 PM
First of all, Welcome to UU!
There could be a few things going on there.
Normally, new strings take time to stretch and settle in - so having to tune it every time you pick it up is normal - for maybe a week or so. After that, the strings will usually stay in tune. If they are not staying in tune, and the ukulele is not going through crazy temperature swings or anything, then perhaps your tuners are slipping. If they are geared tuners though, and I think most Mahalos have geared tuners, then this is unlikely. Perhaps maybe even the strings are poorly wound around the pegs - this is all speculation though!

I would recommend you get a new set of strings regardless, as most inexpensive ukuleles come with basic strings - you may get better performance out a higher-quality string set.

Just be aware that after putting new strings on, you will have to go through that stretching-in process again. At first, you may even have to re-tune every few minutes, again this is normal and will settle down eventually.

Once your strings stay in tune, try fretting up the neck and playing notes with the tuner still active - do the notes stay in tune up the neck, or does the tuner show the open string as in tune, but varies as you fret notes up the neck? This could be a sign of poor intonation. There may not be much you can do for that on your Mahalo.

Also, you may be inadvertently pulling the strings out of tune by applying too much pressure with your fretting hand - that takes practice and patience to get right. Ukuleles have pretty low string tension and it is easier to pull the notes out of tune than it is on say a steel-string guitar.

Good luck and don't give up!

08-19-2014, 05:50 PM
If you don't have a tuner yet, that's okay.

You can use http://www.get-tuned.com/online_ukulele_tuner.php (http://http://www.get-tuned.com/online_ukulele_tuner.php) in the meantime.

welcome and good luck!