Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 36

Thread: Open strings out of tune with closed strings

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    11

    Question Open strings out of tune with closed strings

    Hello,

    I have a mele soprano ukulele. I can tune the open strings, and they are perfectly in tune relative to one another. However when I press any string, that string is out of tune relative to the open strings.

    I can tune the strings while pressed, and then as long as i play only closed strings, everything is in tune.

    Does that make sense? I sent the ukulele back to mele for this issue and they insisted my ukulele is perfectly in tune, and suggested my strings need to wear in. Iíve been playing daily for almost a year and the issue has not improved.

    Any ideas on how to fix this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
    4,991

    Default

    Sounds like it may need to be set up properly, nut &/or bridge may need adjusting.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    464

    Default

    Commonly an issue due to too high an action at the nut (assuming you are playing more in first position). However, old strings can have intonation problems as well. You stated that this problem has been going on for almost a year - I assume it was doing it from the start? Have you changed the strings in this year period?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northen California
    Posts
    313

    Default

    Start by changing the strings. After a year they need to be changed no matter what. Next, check for proper set up:

    At the nut -- hold a string down at the third fret. With your other hand tap the string at the first fret. You should be able to judge the distance of the string to the first fret with this technique. There should be almost no space between the string and the first fret when the string is fretted at the third. If that distance is more than the thickness of a business card the nut height is too high. This will cause the intonation problems you are describing because the string gets stretched more the higher the nut height, causing it to play sharp when fretted.

    At the 12th fret -- measure the distance from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of a string. That distance should be between 2.5mm and 3mm. If higher, the saddle needs to be lowered. Same issue as with a high nut in the effect on intonation.

    Neck relief -- Less likely a problem, but you should check it anyway. Capo or hold down a string at the first fret. Hold down that string at the 12th fret (some use the 15th) Press down or tap the string at the 5th fret (or 7th). There should be some very small distance between the string and the middle fret. With no distance the strings will likely buzz when played. With a lot of distance you likely have a warped neck which makes playing more difficult and can also cause intonation problems.

    If you have any of these problems they will need to be addressed. If the action is currently high, once you have a proper set up you will be pleasantly surprised at the improvement in playability.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Posts
    238

    Default

    Also though not as common, even if the nut height is not too high, intonation problems can also occur if the nut is not properly placed regarding the length of an open string.
    That can happen if for instance an originally properly placed nut is filed improperly so that the free string is not stopped at the point it is supposed to be done.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    464

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Uke Don View Post
    Neck relief -- Less likely a problem, but you should check it anyway. Capo or hold down a string at the first fret. Hold down that string at the 12th fret (some use the 15th) Press down or tap the string at the 5th fret (or 7th). There should be some very small distance between the string and the middle fret. With no distance the strings will likely buzz when played. With a lot of distance you likely have a warped neck which makes playing more difficult and can also cause intonation problems.
    Not to hijack the thread, but perhaps the OP can benefit from this as well - In regards to neck relief, how can this be adjusted with instruments with no truss rod? Surely the larger instruments will/can have them like the baritone and perhaps some tenors, but what to do with the soprano and concert instruments that don't have a truss rod? An example - I was in a local music shop and they had a very nice soprano Bruko. Upon playing it I noticed the action was very high. Sighting down the neck, sure enough there was a terrible bow. I'm fairly confident it didn't come from the manufacturer like this as the store has a reputation of not keeping their acoustic area properly humidified. I am just curious if there is a fix for this, or if the instrument is just the way it is now.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northen California
    Posts
    313

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bsfloyd View Post
    Not to hijack the thread, but perhaps the OP can benefit from this as well - In regards to neck relief, how can this be adjusted with instruments with no truss rod? Surely the larger instruments will/can have them like the baritone and perhaps some tenors, but what to do with the soprano and concert instruments that don't have a truss rod? An example - I was in a local music shop and they had a very nice soprano Bruko. Upon playing it I noticed the action was very high. Sighting down the neck, sure enough there was a terrible bow. I'm fairly confident it didn't come from the manufacturer like this as the store has a reputation of not keeping their acoustic area properly humidified. I am just curious if there is a fix for this, or if the instrument is just the way it is now.
    Unfortunately, the fix will likely cost more than the uke. Depending on how bad the neck is, pull the frets, flatten the fretboard, refret. Or, pull fretboard, flatten the neck, install new fretboard and frets. In other words, always check the neck relief on a uke before you buy it .

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    464

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Uke Don View Post
    Unfortunately, the fix will likely cost more than the uke. Depending on how bad the neck is, pull the frets, flatten the fretboard, refret. Or, pull fretboard, flatten the neck, install new fretboard and frets. In other words, always check the neck relief on a uke before you buy it .
    As I thought, thanks for confirming!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Queanbeyan, NSW Australia.
    Posts
    1,643

    Default

    The issue is called Intonation and its unfortunately common with ukuleles.

    Do the fretted strings go sharp or flat compared to the open strings?
    If you can tune the instrument so that ALL the fretted strings are in tune and only the open strings are out then its a problem of an inaccurately placed nut. This isn't that expensive to fix but which way is it out and by how much?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    under the palms in tempe, az
    Posts
    2,598

    Default

    Another thing the OP may benefit from:
    If you donít play open strings, this wonít be an issue. I was always taught to not play open strings. Although I donít recall the reason the instructor gave, I do recall doing some rewriting with songs that incorporated them. Just saying, itís not the end of the world if it turns out the uke is Ďunfixable.í

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •