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Thread: Ukulele vs Guitar Setup

  1. #1
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    Aug 2019
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    Default Ukulele vs Guitar Setup

    How is ukulele setup different from guitar setup? I'm about to take my ukulele in to get setup by someone who is great with guitars, but it sounds like they're less experienced with ukuleles.

  2. #2
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    Save for the size of the instruments, the setup principles of fret leveling, neck relief, nut and saddle height, etc., are similar to a classical guitar. The ukulele is basically a wee classical guitar.

  3. #3
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    Peter, please correct me if I'm "off-base" on this, but when it comes to the ukulele, I have found that if the action is set "crazy low" at the bridge/saddle, that can noticeably diminish the volume and tone of the instrument. So, I usually ask the person doing the setup to go for a "medium-to-medium-low" action (I realize that's pretty vague!); and if I decide it needs to be lower after a few weeks of playing, I can always take it back for further downward adjustment.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by gochugogi View Post
    Save for the size of the instruments, the setup principles of fret leveling, neck relief, nut and saddle height, etc., are similar to a classical guitar. The ukulele is basically a wee classical guitar.
    Thanks! Is that neck relief, meaning with a truss rod?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Sheehan View Post
    Peter, please correct me if I'm "off-base" on this, but when it comes to the ukulele, I have found that if the action is set "crazy low" at the bridge/saddle, that can noticeably diminish the volume and tone of the instrument. So, I usually ask the person doing the setup to go for a "medium-to-medium-low" action (I realize that's pretty vague!); and if I decide it needs to be lower after a few weeks of playing, I can always take it back for further downward adjustment.
    That raises another question I had. Is there a way to raise the action without installing a new saddle or nut?

  6. #6
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    Sure, but the best way is to cut a new nut or saddle if you need higher action. However, in some cases you can insert a high quality shim to raise action. For example, inserting a rosewood shim under the saddle will raise action while maintaining good vibration transfer and the original timbre of the instrument. A metal or plastic shim changes the sound a wee bit and I'd consider it a temporary fix.

    Neck relief is a wee bit of mid-fingerboard bow to allow forte notes without buzzing. Ukuleles and classical guitars are normally set flat or with a slight amount of relief. But if you are a heavy plucker/strummer a little more relief will reduce buzzes. Relief is set with heat and a big clamp (or truss rod if you have one).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by gochugogi View Post
    Sure, but the best way is to cut a new nut or saddle if you need higher action. However, in some cases you can insert a high quality shim to raise action. For example, inserting a rosewood shim under the saddle will raise action while maintaining good vibration transfer and the original timbre of the instrument. A metal or plastic shim changes the sound a wee bit and I'd consider it a temporary fix.

    Neck relief is a wee bit of mid-fingerboard bow to allow forte notes without buzzing. Ukuleles and classical guitars are normally set flat or with a slight amount of relief. But if you are a heavy plucker/strummer a little more relief will reduce buzzes. Relief is set with heat and a big clamp (or truss rod if you have one).
    Thanks for getting both questions!

  8. #8
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    Agreed. A easy fix is just to place a thin shim under the saddle or nut. Replacing the nut can be a little bit of work since you'll have to slot it, but replacing the saddle is really simple. It's probably the same amount of work to replace it as it is to get a shim to fit properly. I'd just replace the saddle if I were you. Or you can just experiment with both ( a shim and a new saddle ) and see which one you like better.

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