Setup help/advice - Questions

tluxtele

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As I've posted before, I have a Kala KA-15S that my daughter has taken over. It's not bad but it has some problems.
  • The C string never stays in tune. Tune it and halfway through a song it can be flat or sharp. A few months ago I changed strings because some of you on here said that was the problem.
  • Fretted notes are sharp. Not super off... but enough that they are clearly sharp.
I played a friends Makala MKS. Basically the same ukulele and although my Kala "isn't bad," his action was better and fretted notes weren't out of tune.

Yesterday I took my KA-15S to a little local shop to get him to do a setup on it. He looked it over, played a few notes and said it looked good. He said the nut doesn't look too high to him. He said that sopranos are harder to play in tune because you can easily bend the strings while fretting chords and make them play out of tune.

I know this is an entry level uke but it was given to me so paying for a setup didn't seem like a waste of money to me. But is it? I don't know.

Anyway, here's my questions.
  1. Should I leave well enough alone and use whatever setup money we were going to spend on a new uke in the future? Is it possible when it was built that the fret (or bridge placement) was slightly off so it will never be in tune?
  2. If it is worth setting up, is this something I can do? My setup history is all related to electric guitars and bases. I've never had to do any nut filing. It's all been saddle work.
  3. If I shouldn't tackle this, does anyone know of a good place to take it in the NC Triangle area?
That's about it for right now. Thanks for your help.
 

rainbow21

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start with this:


measure how high the action is at the 12th fret. Most go between 2.5 and 3.0 mm. Sand the bridge to lower this. Nuts need filing if action is high on the first fret. It goes fast so go very slowly. I used folded sandpaper to avoid buying slot files.

I would try it yourself. Others will have links to instructions if googling does not help.
 

rhiggie

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Hello fellow NC -Triangle strummer. I have several personal ukes and I do some minor uke adjustments for myself and people in the Raleigh Uke Jam, and the Uke Jam I started in my neighborhood in Brier Creek. I'm happy to take a look at it and give you an opinion. Contact me via DM and I'll send you my phone to text. I also play in an all ukulele band. Hope to hear from you. Rick
 

tluxtele

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start with this:


measure how high the action is at the 12th fret. Most go between 2.5 and 3.0 mm. Sand the bridge to lower this. Nuts need filing if action is high on the first fret. It goes fast so go very slowly. I used folded sandpaper to avoid buying slot files.

I would try it yourself. Others will have links to instructions if googling does not help.
Thanks. Any reason you suggest this one in particular? Seems to have a lot going on.
My suggestion. Buy a new nut and saddle blank (or two). Put the ones on the uke now aside.

...

Often when plastic strings wear out, they fret sharp. Its one of the signs to fit new strings. So maybe before adjusting the saddle and bridge you could change the strings, if you haven't done that already.
First, if I go this route, do you have a suggestion of where to get the saddles and nuts? Seems like people around here don't like amazon too much but I have some points so it'd be nice if I could pick them up from there.

The strings were everyone's suggestion 9 months ago when I first asked about this. I have a set of strings laying around. I'll see if I can change them soon and that might help some but it's not going to fix all the problems.
Hello fellow NC -Triangle strummer. I have several personal ukes and I do some minor uke adjustments for myself and people in the Raleigh Uke Jam, and the Uke Jam I started in my neighborhood in Brier Creek. I'm happy to take a look at it and give you an opinion. Contact me via DM and I'll send you my phone to text. I also play in an all ukulele band. Hope to hear from you. Rick
Thanks for the offer. I'll be in touch.
 

rainbow21

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Thanks. Any reason you suggest this one in particular? Seems to have a lot going on.
Any one will do. I happen to like Sweetwater and got this. They all work the same. There are some very cheap ones on eBay if cost is important and time is not.
 

bbkobabe

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Jul 24, 2020
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As I've posted before, I have a Kala KA-15S that my daughter has taken over. It's not bad but it has some problems.
  • The C string never stays in tune. Tune it and halfway through a song it can be flat or sharp. A few months ago I changed strings because some of you on here said that was the problem.
  • Fretted notes are sharp. Not super off... but enough that they are clearly sharp.
I played a friends Makala MKS. Basically the same ukulele and although my Kala "isn't bad," his action was better and fretted notes weren't out of tune.

Yesterday I took my KA-15S to a little local shop to get him to do a setup on it. He looked it over, played a few notes and said it looked good. He said the nut doesn't look too high to him. He said that sopranos are harder to play in tune because you can easily bend the strings while fretting chords and make them play out of tune.

I know this is an entry level uke but it was given to me so paying for a setup didn't seem like a waste of money to me. But is it? I don't know.

Anyway, here's my questions.
  1. Should I leave well enough alone and use whatever setup money we were going to spend on a new uke in the future? Is it possible when it was built that the fret (or bridge placement) was slightly off so it will never be in tune?
  2. If it is worth setting up, is this something I can do? My setup history is all related to electric guitars and bases. I've never had to do any nut filing. It's all been saddle work.
  3. If I shouldn't tackle this, does anyone know of a good place to take it in the NC Triangle area?
That's about it for right now. Thanks for your help.
When I first got my KALA SSTU-t, one of the strings kept going out of tune... within minutes of playing. But if I tuned it right before I went to bed and then picked it up the next day it would still be in tune... until I started playing again. Hmmmmm....

I finally decided it had to be the tuner. I emailed KALA and got a quick reply. Less than a week later, I had a new replacement tuner in my mailbox. No charge, no questions asked. I installed it my self and it fixed the problem!

In my experience, KALA has an excellent customer service department. I suggest you try emailing them and see if a new tuner fixes the tuning problem. It appears that they install a bum tuner now and then, know that, and work hard to make it right.

FYI: I have bought at least 10 other KALA ukuleles to use in my music classes, and this is the only one that has had this problem. SO, it's rare but does happen.

I would, first, email KALA, and second, find someone else to work on your ukuleles in the future ;-)
 

tluxtele

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Aug 2, 2021
Messages
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Points
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When I first got my KALA SSTU-t, one of the strings kept going out of tune... within minutes of playing. But if I tuned it right before I went to bed and then picked it up the next day it would still be in tune... until I started playing again. Hmmmmm....

I finally decided it had to be the tuner. I emailed KALA and got a quick reply. Less than a week later, I had a new replacement tuner in my mailbox. No charge, no questions asked. I installed it my self and it fixed the problem!

In my experience, KALA has an excellent customer service department. I suggest you try emailing them and see if a new tuner fixes the tuning problem. It appears that they install a bum tuner now and then, know that, and work hard to make it right.

FYI: I have bought at least 10 other KALA ukuleles to use in my music classes, and this is the only one that has had this problem. SO, it's rare but does happen.

I would, first, email KALA, and second, find someone else to work on your ukuleles in the future ;-)
great reply. thank you. I have wondered if it's the tuner for the C that is giving tuning problems. that doesn't solve my intonation issues... but that string is annoying. I'll contact them and see what happens. thank you.
 

Paul1973UK

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Replacement tuners are an easy upgrade, be careful with what you're doing if screw holes don't line up and you have to drill new pilot holes.
If you have a plastic nut and saddle then I would definitely upgrade to bone, tusq or even brass, also an easy upgrade of you're careful, as mentioned above use current ones as templates for size and string spacing.
As for checking if your bridge/saddle is in the right place if your having intonation problems, measure the fretboard from the nut to the peak of the 12th fret, double that measurement, then measure again from the nut to the saddle, it should be the same as the doubled measurement you have taken, if it isn't then it will need to be moved, a much harder job but possible for a competent DIYer, if you don't have the confidence/ability to do this yourself then take it to a luthier.
YouTube is your friend as there are plenty of good instructional videos.
 

tluxtele

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Aug 2, 2021
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So a little update.

got around to sanding the saddle down a bit. We settled on about 2.5mm. It plays much better and most of the strings are much better in regards to sharp notes. My daughter likes how it plays better and says it sounds better. I think she’s hearing things in tune for the first time 🤣

The g string still frets a little sharp. Maybe a smidge of nut work would help but it’s good enough for now.

I’ve emailed Kala and they want me to send a pick of the tuner in question… hopefully so they can send me one. If not, I’ll get her a new set of tuners in the future.

Thanks for the help on this.
 

badhabits

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Kala will replace the tuner...they may send one, but if it does not match the others let them know and they will send an entire set.