Notes playing sharp

Lapyang

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HI,

I bought a Maui Music Pre-Fire Soprano (likely from 1999 or 2000) from Ukulelefriends.com a few months ago. From the moment I opened the box, it has been playing sharp across all strings, starting from the 3rd fret, all the way up the board. Living in Morgantown WV, there is no knowledgable uke shop. The closest big city is Pittsburgh, so I did some google search and found Pittsburgh Guitar, the tech person Scott seems to have a great reputation. So I drove almost 2 hours there and left my Uke for Scott to work on. It was a weekend and Scott was not there, but the other people in the store was extremely friendly and helpful. One person, John even discovered the the fretboard was actually ever so slightly concaved inward in the middle. (When you look from the nut towards the saddle.) That sounded like bad news to me.

The next working day, I got a call from Scott and he said the main problem is the bridge was in the wrong place and the best he can do was to adjust the saddle. He said there is nothing he can do about the wrapping of the fretboard and the adjustment of the saddle should help but not solved the problem completely. It would be too much work to put the bridge where it should be, marring the finish and all.
He only charged me $20 for the work including cost for new strings. Very reasonably priced.

When I received the Uke, to my amazement, it sounded great. Intonation was accurate up to the 11th fret (instead of sounding sharp from the 3rd fret onward). Marked improvement. He rectified 95% of the problem with minimal effort and $.

So I consider the problem solved.

My questions are:
Can a mere adjustment of saddle height solves such a large error of intonation? It seems too good to be true.
Is the warpped board/neck going to be a problem later? There is no trussrod in the neck, like the Pono Tenor.
Is it possible that the bridge was actually put in a wrong place as Scott have said? But I think Maui Music Ukulele is supposed to be superb. However, the bridge does look ever so slightly not perfectly aligned to the body.

Satisfied but intrigued.
 
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anthonyg

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A bridge/saddle in the wrong place is sadly normal for ukuleles AND guitars. I have a bee in my bonnet about the lack of theoretical understanding many Companies that make stringed instruments have.

Its a sad indictment.

A SLIGHTLY concave fretboard is GOOD. Don't worry about it. A convex fretboard is BAD.
 

zztush

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HI,Can a mere adjustment of saddle height solves such a large error of intonation? It seems too good to be true.

Has your saddle just adjusted on height? We can adjusted contact points of the strings.



In acoustic guitars, we normally adjust 2nd string and upper (thicker) strings.
 

Booli

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In my experience, on a uke saddle, which is normally only about 3mm thick, you CAN adjust intonation maybe about +/- 5-7 cents (+ being sharp, and - being flat), but beyond that there is not much more room.

I can now hear if the intonation is off by about 3-4 (usually sharp) and any more than that I cannot play the instrument as it is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

However, this is EASILY remedied with something as simple as a humble emery board or nail file, whereby you file the top edge of the saddle to change the break-point of the string, which alters the length of the vibrating string, and this alters the pitch.

YouTube has lots of videos that demo this for acoustic guitar, and a few for ukulele if you want to see the procedure.

It sounds like you got a good result for little money and it has made the uke more playable.

As to the neck bow, you may want to try thinner gauge strings, which will apply less tension to the neck, and this allow it relax backward and therefore be more flat, but this may also introduce string buzzing.

If there is a slight change in string height 1-1.5mm at around the 7th fret, such that this is HIGHER above the fretboard than the action at the 12th fret, this is normal as it allows clearance for the arc-motion of the string as if vibrates, otherwise you will get fret buzzing.

Most strummers will want no less than 2.65mm string height at the 12th fret, otherwise the strings will slap the frets on your donwstroke if you strum vigorously enough. Yet, fingerstyle players tend to favor action down to 2.5mm, but lower than that, and especially with any wound strings, you run the risk of the strings slapping the frets when you play.

When the strings slap the frets, it makes a sort of 'spanking' sound and when doing so it serves to dampen the string's vibration, and thus reduce volume and sap your tone and minimize sustain. Some folks WANT this as a 'feature', whereas I tend to want as much sustain as possible and have my ukes setup (by me) such that the 12th fret string height is between 2.65-2.7mm. I play both strumming and fingerstyle and find this to be a happy medium.

If it plays well, then I would not worry about neck bow, unless there is another problem.

If you want to know more about strings and gauges and how it relates to string tension, you can follow the link in my signature to the FAQ, which will lead you to other threads where previous discussions have taken place.

:)
 

urcuzzn

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without seeing pictures of the uke I cannot comment.
remember this is a 20 year old instrument and I have no idea what may have been done to it through the years.
start by changing strings,
 

jer

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I'm glad you got it taken care of. That price seems very reasonable too. Seeing as Scott has a good reputation, he has actually had his hands and eyes on the instrument, and improved it....I'd defer to him.

I like the suggestion above about keeping with thinner or lower tension strings for this uke. Maybe that's what Scott put on it. If you like flourocarbon strings, Worth CL (clear, brighter) or BL (brown, warmer) could be a good choice.