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Thread: Waterman on the way!

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Safety Harbor, FL
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    I'm all about cheap ukes. So far, the only uke I paid more than $60 for, I hated!

    But, this is a $30 uke, and it's plastic, and my expectations are in that place. If I decide I like playing Soprano, I'll buy a better one, but probably still keep this one for its versatility and durability. Or, maybe I'll give it to my sister for her kids to play with?

    And I'm not afraid to tinker with the intonation or action. I know it won't be as easily adjusted as a standard ukulele, but I'm crafty. If it needs adjustment, I'll do what I can!

    UPS says it'll be here tomorrow "by 9pm". It was only coming from GA. I could have driven up there and back 6 times by now!
    What could possibly go wrong?

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Safety Harbor, FL
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    My Waterman arrived!

    Now, I watched several reviews of these things before I ordered one, and like most ukuleles... a good player can make one sound okay. I, however am not a good player, and the style that I mostly play (generally "wrong") doesn't really work well for this instrument. I tend to thumb strum a lot, and fairly softly (comes from trying to play quietly while my wife sleeps... I've been doing it for years). This thing wants to be STRUMMED, and will put forth some noise when you do, and I can see it being fun for that.

    But, the way *I* play. Yeah, I'm underwhelmed. It sounds okay. Quite a bit plasticky, as you'd expect.

    The really surprising thing is that for a fully "engineered" instrument... I really expected the intonation to be "not bad". Makes no sense that it wouldn't be nearly perfect, as there aren't a lot of variables in the build. It's molded plastic, dang it, how can you mess that up?

    And yet... the intonation is downright awful! It's off in the first two frets. And it's literally off MORE than an entire semitone at the 12th fret. The good news is that each string is off EQUALLY. That might make it easier to fix.

    The only other thing I don't like (and it's probably a "pro", for a travel uke, I guess) is that the tuners are really stiff.

    I'm not really disappointed overall. I'll have fun goofing off with it. Can't complain for $30.

    I do like that all the chords and stuff that I've learned have that delightful "happy" ukulele sound on the Soprano. Even though it's not "great" sound, and the intonation is off... I can see me buying a better Soprano uke.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    I've been thinking of buying something like this for the fun of trying to fix the intonation. But with what looks like a zero nut and a one piece molded saddle/bridge, I'm not sure what I would do to fix it. What's your plan?

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Safety Harbor, FL
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    First, I'll probably try to bring the saddle down a little bit. There's precious little material there to work with, but I can probably take a half mm or so off of it.

    Then if there's still too much action at the first fret, I can shave some off of the zero fret. And that might require deepening the slots in the molded-in nut.

    If it came down to it, I could just shave the entire nut off and glue on a new custom-fit nut. Hopefully, it won't take all that.

    Given how far off the intonation is, I don't think that's going to fix it. Though it should lower the action and make it more playable (to my liking) and improve intonation "some".

    As others have noted, the strings pull the bridge, and that flexes the plastic top. So, the bridge tilts slightly toward the head. It's probably not enough to affect action very much, but it's definitely moving intonation in the wrong direction by a mm or two, which is a lot! The answer might be somewhere between working with the existing bridge... or completely redesigning some kind of bridge solution that would work better.

    Since there seems to be interest in this, I may start a new thread when I start playing with it.

    Which could be tonight. I've nothing pressing to do that's more interesting!
    What could possibly go wrong?

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Safety Harbor, FL
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    I'm stupid.

    In my defense, when I typed the above, I'd only looked at the uke for a few minutes, and I was more thinking about finishing submitting that post before dinner!

    So, my concert has fret markers at 5, 7, 10, 12 and 15. The 12 is a double-marker. And I don't play up the neck, so I ignore the 10 and 15. In my mind... I think about 3rd fret, and have markers at 5 and 7. The doubled 12 is where I check intonation. Three markers that I use. 5, 7 and 12.

    The Waterman soprano has three markers. I didn't count. I didn't think. I just assumed 5, 7 and 12.

    But, that's not right! Markers are 5, 7 and 10!

    The good news is that the intonation isn't as awful as I thought. It's not a full note off. But, it is a healthy 20 cents off at the 12th fret. A little more on E... and more still on A.

    But, 20-30 cents is much more manageable! And a lot of that probably IS due to the bridge flexing. Still, you'd think they would either design it to NOT flex, or account for the flex in the design.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  6. #16
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    Sep 2011
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    Safety Harbor, FL
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    Just to give this thread some closure:

    My "Setup" thread is here.

    With a little creativity, the intonation and action can definitely be improved a lot. I'm not quite done, but it looks like it's just going to require a little filing of the zero fret and nut slots to bring the action down by a half mm at the first few frets, a little more filing of the molded saddle, and the creation of a custom saddle to set behind what is left of the original saddle. (using the stub of the original saddle just to keep it in place) The goal there is to bring the action down to no more than 3mm at the 12th fret, and move the saddle back to where it would be (or maybe a little further back) if the top wasn't flexing.

    I've already got the intonation down to about 6-8 cents at the 12th fret on the G and C strings. Making progress.

    The whole thing sounds decidedly plasticky if you strum softly. If you wail on it, it still sounds a bit plasticky, but at least it's loud and "fun". It is surprisingly loud and clear when you give it some attack.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    st. paul, MN
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    792

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    Loren of Florida, I am duly impressed.
    You are WAY more persevering than me!
    This was fun to read.
    Can't wait to hear how you do with a decent soprano. ;^)
    Tracie

    Island Koa Instruments, prototype sop, Peter Howlett #153
    Kamaka white label sop (Tiki added!)
    Martin O sop, 1920's
    Martin O sop, 1960's
    Bruko Cedar/Mahogany archback
    Anuenue Khaya I sop
    Kala Elite 1MHG sop
    Lanikai SPS-S spruce top sop
    Blue Frog semi-custom LN soprano #1, Vic Jones
    Sawchyn hog concert (Martin copy), Peter Sawchyn
    Kamaka white label concert
    Kala KA-ASOV-C
    Kala Elite 1MHG tenor SN

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Safety Harbor, FL
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    Looking at your collection, I'm more likely to be on the Kala end. But, now that I've experienced a truly bad sounding uke, my well-set-up $60 uke sounds worlds better... and I might be ready to explore the $200 realm. (which I did once... I bought an Oscar Schmidt acoustic/electric tenor... WAY too heavy and "bright" sounding for my tastes)

    I do like tinkering with things. It's especially cool when they are cheap things that you won't feel bad if you destroy them!
    What could possibly go wrong?

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