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Thread: C tuned an octave high by accident!

  1. #1

    Default C tuned an octave high by accident!

    Believe it or not, but I managed to tune my C-string an octave too high! And the string didn't snap. My main question is: have I done some damage to the uke? I haven't seen nor heard anything threatening.

    It was an octave high for just a couple of minutes; I noticed it after starting to play right away and then tuned down. Now it seems to be getting out of tune like new strings do - only too high, unlike the other strings.

    The strings are Aquila Sugars and the uke Flight Juliana, which I love (a koa top and an ebony bridge, okoume neck and headstock, bone nut and (compensated) saddle).

    If you're interested how this happened, well, I first left about a fingerful of slack for the strings (about halfway of the fretboard) before I started tightening. I found out that I was tuning quite often even after half a dozen hours of playing, and it also seemed that the C- and A-strings were worst in this regard. They were almost touching the bottom of the tuning peg, the part that is connected to the headstock.

    I unwound and wound the A all right, but with the C I guess I was too afraid of it having to be wound like 5 times again or so, and I pre-tightened it as well as I could without biting my teeth together, bending the rest around the corner of the headstock.

    And before I knew it, my clip-on D'Addario told me I was somewhere around A# or so, but the problem is that it doesn't show the octave - and I didn't pay attention to the sound, I just stared at the screen like a dork and kept on tuning. Well, the rest you know already.

    Maybe next time a smartphone app tuner, when changing strings?

    This was my first time. I also tightened the tuning pegs from the bottom to the headstock with a 10mm wrench. They were just a bit loose; this was thefirst time I checked them after owning the uke for 4 months (bought new from shop - I don't know about their humidity nor how long it was untightened). I think I was careful not overtightening, but how do I know?

    This was also my first post here ! Thanks for the great forum and please be gentle!

    Greetings from Finland!

    Jupu

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    West Midlands GB
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    Hi, and welcome,

    Don't make a habit of that, or if you do, be sure to wear safety goggles! Only you can tell whether the uke or the string may be damaged. If the string settles down and plays correctly, when re-tuned, I would continue to use it. Examine the uke a few times over the coming days. If there is nothing obvious, then you've got away with it.

    Happy playing!

    John Colter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Kyoto Japan
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    Hi, Jupu!

    Normal tension of C string is about 3.8kg (see the figure blow). If you tune it one octave high, it turns to 15.18kg. It is very high. I think your ukulele may be octave low. How do you prove your ukulele in right octave? We normally do not try one octave high.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
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    When you double the frequency, in this case from C4 to C5, the tension is about 4 times greater. So in effect you stressed the bridge gluing like with 2 sets of strings at the same time, assuming the string tensions normally in all strings are about the same. Surprises me a bit why Aquila C string has such a margin instead had snapped. Probably all will be fine with your uke, not sure about the string.

    Why the string now tunes upward is maybe because the windings part of the strings need also settle for the lower tension. Usually when I put new strings I usually tune strings a semitone higher for faster settling on tuning. There is some creep and then also that unevenness between free and the winding parts of a string.
    Last edited by Jarmo_S; 08-30-2019 at 10:04 PM.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks for the replies guys!

    I very much think that the string is now correctly tuned; it's the same note that f.ex. the A-string 3th fret plays. And the rest are correct too - I played with my teacher yesterday (before my messing-up) and we sounded normal together. And now, overnight, it slipped to overtuning only about a quarter step.

    And the bending point you made was good - I didn't at least detect any bending of the headstock nor haven't seen or heard any other weird things.

    Damn that tension looks high! Kudos to Flight for making it a sturdy uke! (And perhaps an anti-kudos for Aquila for making the string too sturdy - even though I was the misuser)

    I tried googling this, and the few hits I found didn't report about uke damage. Guitarists seem to at least confuse the strings from time to time - but I'm not sure how big tension differences we're talking about there.

  6. #6
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    There is the danger of top popping up like Bill1 mentioned, permanently. I did experience that with my classical guitar when I stupidly did try put steel strings on it. About 40+ years ago. Results a higher action and maybe some sharpness in intonation. The bridge bone saddle can be sandpapered lower in this case to help some.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    Kyoto Japan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarmo_S View Post
    When you double the frequency, in this case from C4 to C5, the tension is about 4 times greater.
    Thanks. We can see the tension by calculation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jupu View Post
    I played with my teacher yesterday (before my messing-up) and we sounded normal together.
    I see your tuning is normal, not octave below. You just raise the C string octave high.

  8. #8

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    I think I try to contact Flight too if they have some special insight on this. If I'm under the right impression that they're nice people and passionate about what they do.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarmo_S View Post
    There is the danger of top popping up like Bill1 mentioned, permanently. I did experience that with my classical guitar when I stupidly did try put steel strings on it. About 40+ years ago. Results a higher action and maybe some sharpness in intonation. The bridge bone saddle can be sandpapered lower in this case to help some.
    Thanks, it's reassuring to hear that others make mistakes too and that the damage is not always severe. That the saddle doesn't always fly out the window with a chunk of the top and half an eyeball with it . Not that I'm hoping for any kind of damage for my foolishness - I really like the uke!

    But in my defence, it's not super simple to get it right! The margins seem quite small, I think. It's not that I used power tools or a vice or anything.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
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    Finland
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    Remember also this as you live in Finland same as me. We have huge humidity differences between summer and winter and even if what I mentioned happened, which is probably unlikely. Without humidification we need almost 2 saddles if not humidifying our ukes or the room that we keep them. In winter the action goes lower without

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