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Thread: How picky should I be?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    3

    Default How picky should I be?

    I'm looking to buy my first ukulele, and I've been thinking about a Kala KA-C, or KA-S. I'm looking for a laminate (less humidity worries) instrument with decent tuners.

    I found that a local shop stocked them so I went by and gave them a try.

    I checked to frets to see if there was sprout, checked that the neck was strait, tuned them, strummed a few cords, and checked the intonation. This is what I would do with a guitar.

    The guy working at the store said, "Wow, I've never seen anyone check the intonation on a ukulele. You must be picky." BTW, he was actually very helpful.

    Am I being too picky? What should I reasonably expect from a ukulele? Particularly, one at this price point?

    Incidentally, the KA-C had fret sprout, the neck was a little crooked, and it (and the KA-S) I tried were quite sharp at the 12th fret.

    Thanks,
    Patrick
    Last edited by Chewbacca; 12-13-2018 at 10:19 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    390

    Default

    You can never be too picky, and it's good that you have some knowledge to look for the basics. Kala is the biggest uke producer and pretty much every store has many of them to chose from. I don't find their entry and midrange models very remarkable or of particular great value, they pretty much represent the average what is to be expected due to the large numbers produced.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    1,412

    Default

    You are not being picky. You are being sensible!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    USA
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    An informed consumer is never wrong. Good for you! Don't settle until you find what you want.
    John

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
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    3,694

    Default

    Well, considering my $65 Makala is spot on, expecting and checking intonation is not over the top.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    250

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chewbacca View Post
    I'm looking to buy my first ukulele, and I've been thinking about a Kala KA-C, or KA-S. I'm looking for a laminate (less humidity worries) instrument with decent tuners.

    I found that a local shop stocked them so I went by and gave them a try.

    I checked to frets to see if there was sprout, checked that the neck was strait, tuned them, strummed a few cords, and checked the intonation. This is what I would do with a guitar.

    The guy working at the store said, "Wow, I've never seen anyone check the intonation on a ukulele. You must be picky." BTW, he was actually very helpful.

    Am I being too picky? What should I reasonably expect from a ukulele? Particularly, one at this price point?

    Incidentally, the KA-C had fret sprout, the neck was a little crooked, and it (and the KA-S) I tried were quite sharp at the 12th fret.

    Thanks,
    Patrick
    . What is fret sprout?
    LACole
    Laurie Ann Cole

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    CPM CT-Q2 chromatic clip on tuner
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    SE Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    816

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lacole View Post
    . What is fret sprout?
    Fret sprout (at least in my book) is when the sharp ends of the frets protrude from the edges of the fretboard. It can be caused by the wood of the neck and fretboard drying out and shrinking away from the frets which, being metal, do not shrink with dry conditions. Poorly finished ukes will often have sharp ends because they weren't dressed properly or sufficiently...add a little neck drying and you have bloody fingers :/

    OP - poor intonation is definitely a deal breaker for me. Some of it can sometimes be remedied with proper setup....but sometimes all the setup in the world won't make the uke sing true. As others have pointed out, even inexpensive ukes can have proper intonation so, there's really no need to "settle" for anything that doesn't.
    Last edited by Swamp Yankee; 12-14-2018 at 07:08 AM.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Honoka'a, HI
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    Terrible intonation is a problem. ...but perfect intonation pretty much doesn't exist on an 'ukulele. If you bring a strobe tuner and check all the ukes at the store, expecting them to be as bang-on as an electric guitar, you probably will never buy one.

    For most casual players, fretting technique is going to push the strings out of tune more than intonation will (one player could "make" the intonation flat upon testing and another could make it sharp). String type will also change the intonation. If the instrument is set up for Aquilas and you go home and switch to Worth will the intonation be better or worse? It's a crap shoot. Do keep in mind that fluorocarbon strings tend to intonate better. So there's a chance that the stock strings aren't giving the best impression (I think Kala still uses Aquila from the factory?).

    I'd avoid ukes that have obviously bad intonation (obvious to the ear - and your fretting technique). But definitely don't hold out for fine-tuned perfection.
    Brad Bordessa

    Check out my new book: Right Hand Technique for 'Ukulele

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    390

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Bordessa View Post
    For most casual players, fretting technique is going to push the strings out of tune more than intonation will (one player could "make" the intonation flat upon testing and another could make it sharp). String type will also change the intonation.
    Amen to that, I have a terrible tendency to play certain notes sharp as I move from one instrument to another that require different grip strengths and have different scales and neck sizes. It takes a lot of effort to play all notes "clean".

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Palm Beach County FL
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    439

    Default

    Did you decide what size to buy? Oscar Schmidt makes to decent instruments, did you try some of them?

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