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Thread: Strings flat along fingerboard

  1. #1

    Default Strings flat along fingerboard

    I ordered a baritone ukulele. Took it out of the box when it arrived & strummed it a while. Sounded fine. I had a really busy work schedule at the time so I put it aside (in a hardshell case, with a humidifier) for a couple of weeks.

    When I went to play it again, 2-3 weeks later, the action had completely changed! It was so low that the strings were actually lying flat along the fingerboard.

    I've been playing guitar for 10+ years, never had anything like that happen.

    I was just wondering if any of you have any thoughts as to what happened and what can be done?

    It's still within the maker's warranty period, so I can return it if necessary. I'm just wondering what could possibly have happened!

  2. #2


    Cheap nut and the strings have cut in? Saddle or bridge coming loose? I think if it was neck you'd have more space not less.
    Good luck. I'd send it back

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)


    What moved? What brand/model is it? First thought is either the saddle came out or maybe the top has sunk in? Pictures might help.
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Southern Cross concert GCEA
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, B reentrant
    Jupiter #71, A, UG1


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Queanbeyan, NSW Australia.


    Has the saddle broken?
    Is there a huge warp/ back bow in the neck?

    For the strings to be now touching the frets there must be a rather visually obvious fault going on. Sight down the neck from the headstock to the saddle and see if you can see what's going on.

  5. #5


    Thanks all! I will try & get some pictures up, but here's the thing: the uke looks fine! No warping, no bowing, laying a straightedge along the fretboard shows no problems there, the bridge & nut are solid pieces of hard wood, I can't figure out how they could have changed in any way.

    I'm holding off on naming the brand for the moment. It's solid acacia if that makes any difference.

    I've been playing fretted instruments for 10+ years and never experienced or heard of anything like this. Has anybody?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota


    The only thing I could see causing this would be someone removing the saddle, or the whole neck sliding up.

    If the ukulele is new (less than a month old), whoever made that ukulele should be willing to stand behind it. I'd contact the manufacturer and see what they say.

    About the humidifier...unless you're running something really large (I keep a drilled 50ml test tube of waterbeads in my cases, PLUS another humidifier), those humidifiers should be dried out at about a week (sometimes less).
    My ukulele blog:

    My ukulele YouTube channels:

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Proxima B


    I bought 2 cheap ukes a few years ago , advertised on Ebay as a "gamblers special " . Anyway , when they came the tenor uke had a bow in the neck so I made a few cuts
    in the back of the neck , straightened it out beautifully , Then a few months later the neck straightened itself out and now it is bowed in the opposite direction.
    It could be that your uke , coming from wherever , needed to adjust to your climate .
    " Anything larger than a soprano is cheating "
    " I'm no luthier but ,........"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    West Midlands GB


    This is intriguing, ukestudent123. What you are describing is not possible - "the uke looks fine! No warping, no bowing, laying a straightedge along the fretboard shows no problems there, the bridge & nut are solid pieces of hard wood, I can't figure out how they could have changed in any way."

    The uke played well before you put in into its case. Nothing untoward has happened to it. The strings (still taut, as before) are now so low they are touching the frets.

    Something must have moved - either gradually or suddenly. A uke with strings that drop by around 3mm at the twelfth fret is not fine. You need to find out what has happened. How else can you discuss the situation with the seller or the maker? All they can say is, "Send it back and we will have a look at it".

    The ball is in your court, as they say.

    I don't wish to seem uncaring or unhelpful, but you are not a beginner. You must have learned something about fretted instrument in the ten years that you have been playing. It is most perplexing.

    John Colter.
    Last edited by ukantor; 12-01-2019 at 06:09 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2018


    Just a stab in the dark, but it sounds like your bari may have suffered a severe acclimation event. As the forces necessary to make this change are acting against string tension, it seems likely that your fret board and neck timbers are having instability issues (acting like a truss rod). If the instrument is new and the finger board was glued with a water based glue, the uptake and dissipation of moisture by the different woods may also be contributing.
    You mention using a humidifier, so if you have the time to monitor the effect carefully, try removing it and observe the reaction of the neck over a few days. DON'T do this unless you can monitor any changes... if you are a desert dweller,
    it could void your warranty for any other issues.
    Considering that there are no apparent mechanical/physical changes, this may be worth trying.
    If the instrument has a truss rod installed, that nullifies all of the above and presents more possibilities.

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