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Thread: Fighting Your Instrument

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    CT
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    59

    Default Fighting Your Instrument

    Someone once said playing is hard enough, you don’t need to fight your instrument and she was right in saying that.

    Why am I bringing this up you ask; glad you asked. Today was supposed to be a lazy Sunday with some chores and this and that. But the one thing I wanted to do was play even if it was for a little. Well a little was a lot today and found a whole bunch of other songs and charts to add to my arsenal of things to learn.

    Now there are two songs that I am learning with bar chords. One has bar chords that bounce back and forth between the 6th and 4th fret. Hurts my hand but it is doable and as a long time player and coming back from a very long break I know I need to build the strength again.

    Then comes a different song and one part requires you bar the 1st fret while you hold down the 3rd fret on the first string. Well even if I just focus on barring it I can’t can’t the 2nd string to ring out.

    Now I am NOT asking for a chord alternative. Please read on you will see where I am going with this...soon. So to avoid frustration I decided to pull out my old faithful Taylor GS-Mini and play her a bit. But I was curious, so I did the same bar on the GS-Mini and it ran like an angel.

    So what I am getting at is the bar chord issue the instrument model/brand or is the Ukulele no matter what you own will be just as challenging? That is the question here. Note I have a tenor Lohanu from Amazon which after Amazon points I paid $47 out of pocket out of $100.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
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    1,999

    Default

    With a uke, setup is everything. If the action at the nut is too high, you’ll expend a lot energy pressing on the strings to bar frets. Most of the instruments you buy on Amazon aren’t touched after they leave the assembly line.

    That’s why you’ll see so much here about buying from dealers who offer setup even on entry-level ukes. Mim, Uke Republic, Mainland, etc. for what you’d pay to set up the uke you have, you probably could get an entry-level from Mim that’s set up perfectly.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
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    Default

    I have osteoarthritis in my hands. It's not too bad yet, but some days are—difficult.

    When I have my ukes setup, I ask for a low setup with as easy a barré at the first fret possible. Generally 1 to 1.4 mm at the 1st fret. 2.3 to 2.5 mm at the 12th. I'm willing to get a buzz now and the in trade for easier playing.

    Some ukuleles really respond. My Ko'Aloha KTM-00 comes to mind. While others are more difficult to barre, such as my Kamaka HF-3.

    My first uke, bought from Amazon was a Fender Nohea. It took vice grips to barre the first few frets. After having it set up, it was much better, but not by any means easy.

    It's primarily a combination of neck width & shape, nut shape, fret wire height and width, strings and how I'm playing. Some are sweet and barely require any pressure, others need a firmer hand. Even when they are made by the same ukulele maker.

    A great setup is so important to having the best experience possible with your uke.

    PS: Ukulele Mike suggested that we should practice playing barres from the 10th fret to the 1st every time we pick up the ukulele. (Bm7 then D7 then Bm shapes; 1 run each.) To build up strength. I try to do it at least once a day.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Mission Viejo, CA
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    Default

    Like everyone else, you need to do a setup, and maybe change the strings. Basically you need to lower the strings, especially at the nut (probably the saddle also) to a height that makes it easy to play. The issue that has already been mentioned is the cost.

    If it is just taking a nut file to lower the strings at the nut, it should be pretty cheap. That might be a five minute job. Sanding the saddle takes a bit more. The real issue would be if the frets are not level.

    I do my own setups, it is not difficult, except leveling and crowning frets, but it depends on how mechanically inclined you are. The cheap and dirty way is to use some welding torch tip cleaners, sandpaper, and YouTube.

    Thinner strings will make it easier to fret, (if the setup isn’t enough), but the sound may not be as full. It is the same as putting lighter strings on a guitar.

    John
    Last edited by 70sSanO; 08-11-2019 at 07:27 PM.

  5. #5

    Default

    As told by others, setup is everything. Yes, the nut could be too high but you may also have a high fret interfering with the barre. You say it is the 2nd string, which is being barred on the 1st fret? Could be the 2nd fret is a bit high. How does that string sound if you simply hold down the 1st fret on that string and pluck it at the same intensity as you do when you barre it?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    CT
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    59

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    Due to all these posts the plan/decision to purchase the Outside Ukulele is killed.

    I am going to go to a Ukulele focused shop that does setups and everything and they told me on the phone every ukulele they sell is pre-setup by them.

    So going to make the trip in a couple of weeks on a Sunday to this place. Anyone been to this place in NY City?

    http://www.ukehut.com/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Good move. My only advice is to get the ukulele setup to your preferences. If you want lower action than “standard” (which can be anywhere from 2.5mm to 3mm at 12th) then you need it lowered. It may be more important to get the strings at the nut the lowest possible for easy fretting. That should be be something they are willing to do.

    The give and take to low action is possible buzzing with hard strumming, but playability might be more advantageous to you. And you can raise the action down the road with a new saddle (or shim) and nut (or fill). When you walk out you needs to be happy with how it plays.

    The only downside to going to a ukulele shop is that $200 can go to $300, or $400 or... But if t’s all good.

    John

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    CT
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
    Good move. My only advice is to get the ukulele setup to your preferences. If you want lower action than “standard” (which can be anywhere from 2.5mm to 3mm at 12th) then you need it lowered. It may be more important to get the strings at the nut the lowest possible for easy fretting. That should be be something they are willing to do.

    The give and take to low action is possible buzzing with hard strumming, but playability might be more advantageous to you. And you can raise the action down the road with a new saddle (or shim) and nut (or fill). When you walk out you needs to be happy with how it plays.

    The only downside to going to a ukulele shop is that $200 can go to $300, or $400 or... But if t’s all good.

    John
    As long as the quality of the instrument is there and worth the money I will spend it but not going past $500. My goal is to keep it under $350.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
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    1,317

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    With their permission, ask if you can take a photo of the store and the kind folks who helped you out. (If you are satisfied with the end result.) Get their first names and tell them that you want to post it on a/some ukulele sites.

    DO NOT do this if things don't work out, or they don't give permission. Some people just don't like having their picture taken.

    Good luck! I hope they set you up (pun intended) with a great new ukulele.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    634

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fingerguy View Post
    Due to all these posts the plan/decision to purchase the Outside Ukulele is killed.

    I am going to go to a Ukulele focused shop that does setups and everything and they told me on the phone every ukulele they sell is pre-setup by them.

    So going to make the trip in a couple of weeks on a Sunday to this place. Anyone been to this place in NY City?

    http://www.ukehut.com/
    Are you talking about the Outdoor Ukulele? https://www.outdoorukulele.com/
    If so, their setup is great. I've played on both the tenors and sopranos and they are super playable. I've seen many people agree on that point on these forums. I just wanted to throw that out there. Happy uke hunting. I hope you find something you like.
    Last edited by jer; 08-12-2019 at 02:16 PM.

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