Overcoming low action on a uke that's designed that way

hendulele

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Awhile back, I picked up a pre-owned Famous by Kiwaya FS-1 at a very good price. It is as advertised: light, resonant, a delight to play. And since it's laminate, I can keep it out year-round and not have to put it in a humidified case during the winter.

The past couple of months, it's not satisfied me as much as I thought it should. It was my least-punchy soprano. My all-solid Ohana mahoganies rang out more and were easier to play, as was my Flea.

I tried Martin Premium strings. No improvement. Then went to straight fluorocarbons. A little better, but still no punch and jangle.

Then I thought about changing the tuning. The problem is the action is very low (but not low enough for buzzing) and the frets are almost invisible they're so low and dressed very flat.

I went down a half-step, reducing the string tension, and it's made a world of difference. The sustain is better and the play is cleaner.

It still doesn't ring quite like the others but it's always felt so good in my hands that I hated possibly parting with it.

It's fun to play again.

Plus, I can use traditional chord shapes and drop my voice a little lower for some songs.

Moral of the story, if there is one: Don't be afraid to experiment with an instrument you really enjoy.
 

SailingUke

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I too like really low action, I sometimes describe it as dangerously low.
There is however a trade off for the easy playing. Sometimes to achieve the low action the string break at the bridge is reduced. This can cause a drop in volume and reduce that ring you are looking for.
 

KohanMike

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Simple enough to rise the action by replacing the nut and saddle with taller ones.


This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
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Rllink

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I had a ukulele come setup and it was too low for me. No buzzing, it was just touchy. So I contacted the retailer and he sent me a new saddle. I raised the action just a half of a millimeter and it was easier for me to play. But I also noticed more volume and more sustain, not something that I expected when I started.
 

kissing

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Simple enough to rise the action by replacing the nut and saddle with taller ones.


This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

Agree 100%
Either an inexpensive job at the local luthier's.
Or better yet, try to do it yourself.
Find a blank saddle that has similar dimensions to the Kiwaya.
Use sandpaper to sand it down to a size and profile of your desire.

Any new uke I get, whether it comes with a setup already, I usually find I need to do a bit of saddle adjustment myself anyway.
 

hendulele

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Agree 100%
Either an inexpensive job at the local luthier's.
Or better yet, try to do it yourself.
Find a blank saddle that has similar dimensions to the Kiwaya.
Use sandpaper to sand it down to a size and profile of your desire.

Any new uke I get, whether it comes with a setup already, I usually find I need to do a bit of saddle adjustment myself anyway.

Understood. Given the flatness/'lowness' of the frets, I'm not sure how much a nut/saddle adjustment would help. This thing's almost fretless. It wouldn't hurt to try an adjustment, I know. Maybe I will if I get inspired.

And if I do and it makes a noticeable difference, I'll give credit where it's due. Thanks.
 
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hendulele

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This thread is about a used Kiwaya FS-1 which may have been modified. Does anyone have a FS-1 from new which has the original saddle? What is the height of the action on the original?

FYI, the saddle is dramatically compensated at the factory.
 

Ukecaster

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Despite being laminate, I'd still watch humidity, as fret sprout can make those fret edges pop out of the solid wood fingerboard, I hate that feeling of sharp fret edges.
 

Davoravo

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You can also try a temporary fix, make shims from cut up credit card and slide them under the saddle (or nut if too low at the nut)
 

hendulele

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Time to eat some crow

I tried the credit-card-sliver-under-the-saddle trick. And it worked! The projection is much better. It doesn't feel choked at all. The feel is great.

Thanks ...
 

Jerryc41

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This thing's almost fretless.

I bought a neck/fretboard combo like that to make a banjo uke. I didn't notice the very low frets until I had completed the project. There are limited options. I could files down the wood between the frets or remove and replace the frets. The uke isn't important enough to do either.