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Thread: What is the ideal action at the 12th on a Kanile'a tenor?

  1. #1
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    Default What is the ideal action at the 12th on a Kanile'a tenor?

    Hello, being this my first post on the board, I hope not to alienate seniors and pros with a question possibly discussed many times over.
    Today measuring the action at the 12th fret on some of my tenors i discovered that on my Kanile'a it is a bit higher than on the Koaloha and the Ko'olau.
    Measures are
    3.25 on the Kanile'a
    2.0 on the Koaloha
    2.25 on the Ko'olau.
    I am comfortable while playing on the last two but not on the Kanile'a,
    a bit hard to get good sounding notes up on the neck.
    Does anyone else share the same problem? Would shaving the saddle help?

  2. #2
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    Agree it is personal preference. I like 2.25 - 2.5. I don't know Kanilea but I think 3.25 is quite high. Going from 3.25 to 2.25 is kind of a lot for a saddle adjustment but you can try. It might also need some work at the nut. A full setup is not a bad idea.
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  3. #3
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    [QUOTE=Bill1;2278510]There is no general ideal action height.

    The ideal action for you is what works for you.

    Thank you Bill, I definitely agree with that but I was curious to hear what's the standard set up on a Kanile'a Tenor fresh out the shop.

  4. #4
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    Thank you Jim. On this Kanile'a action is pretty high and that's what prompted me to measure and compare.

  5. #5
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    Also keep in mind that action can change with humidity, but in your case I assume that all were kept at the same relative humidity for at least several months to make them comparable. One mm is quite a big difference and you will have to reduce saddle height by 2mm to bring it down to the level of your other ukes. You have to make sure that the saddle is high enough for this and that string break angle will remain sufficient. If you have a good luthier in town it may be a good idea to have him take a look.

  6. #6

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    The action that comes on your instruments are not set in stone. Instruments should always be setup to your preference.
    Each time I get a new uke, often the first month of ownership is dedicated to getting the setup just right.

    Coincidentally I recently got a new Kanile'a tenor (5 string).
    It came with about 2.5-3.0mm action at the 12th fret.

    I've taken it down to 2.25mm, and after the strings settled in it feels 'ideal' for my preferences. (slightly higher at the G end. 2.5mm at G and 2.25mm at A)
    There is no universal ideal because some people will prefer higher or lower depending on their preferences.
    Slightly higher will give better projection and volume, slightly lower will make it easier to fret the strings quicker.
    Last edited by kissing; 05-17-2021 at 02:54 PM.

  7. #7
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    The action is likely higher than you would like per your experience.

    I have the impression (from this forum likely) that 2.5 to 3.0 mm is a decent height. When people recommend going with a seller that does a setup, it largely is because they will target somewhere in this range. If not setup and uncomfortable, it is because it is higher since a setup usually only lowers the height. So many ukes will come out 3.0 or higher so that the height can be adjusted to the buyer's preference.

    A few months ago I spoke with a setup "expert" at a well regarded shop on the setup of an excellent uke I was purchasing. In discussion, I thought maybe 2.75 would be good and he recommended going a touch lower at 2.60. I am happy with this height.

  8. #8

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    It's also worth noting that the measurements at the frets are just indicators.
    Each instrument is completely unique. A 2.25mm action on one uke might feel completely different to 2.25mm on another uke depending on the neck profile, neck relief, nut, etc.

    Also, the strings will make a difference. The material, tension, width and texture all make a difference on how it feels on a particular uke of a particular action.

    Hence, over the last decade or so, I've dedicated a lot of time in doing my own setups. Went through practicing on many cheap ukes that I owned early in the hobby to now being comfortable about doing my own custom setups on K-brands

    I usually buy my ukes from a seller (like The Ukulele Site) that do setups, and I also do have a local luthier who is quite skilled.
    However, what they do for me is set up a good starting block for me to fine tune even further to the specific setup that I want.
    Only you know your preference best.

    On the Kanile'a that I recently set up, I actually went through 3 saddles to get it exactly how I want it to be!
    Sometimes you just shave that one hair too much and have to start over

    Also another factor is the profile of the TOP of the saddle. Is the saddle straight? Is it rounded slightly to accomodate a radius? Do you have it slightly higher at the G end than the A end? If your ukulele has an undersaddle pickup, is the new saddle interfering with the volume balance of the strings (that issue keeps me up all night!)

  9. #9
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    Just to provide some data, I went and measured the height of my wife's Kanile'as. The concert is between 2.25 and 2.5mm (setup by Uke Like The Pros), and the soprano and pineapple tenor are both exactly at 2.5mm (setups by The Ukulele Site). I don't play these much, but she thinks the setup is perfect for her on all three.
    I primarily play a KoAloha KTM-25 (low G) and an aNueNue Lion (high g), but UAS means there are about two dozen other ukes in the house.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hennared View Post
    Hello, being this my first post on the board, I hope not to alienate seniors and pros with a question possibly discussed many times over.
    Today measuring the action at the 12th fret on some of my tenors i discovered that on my Kanile'a it is a bit higher than on the Koaloha and the Ko'olau.
    Measures are
    3.25 on the Kanile'a
    2.0 on the Koaloha
    2.25 on the Ko'olau.
    I am comfortable while playing on the last two but not on the Kanile'a,
    a bit hard to get good sounding notes up on the neck.
    Does anyone else share the same problem? Would shaving the saddle help?
    This supports the concept I have read many times that once you find an instrument you like, get the measurements! That way you'll be able to tell a technician just how to set up an instrument to meet your needs.

    Foremost what is the action at the 12th fret?
    Next what is the action at the first fret?
    Width at the nut?
    String spacing at the nut?
    Is there any relief in the neck?
    Is there a radius to the fretboard?
    String spacing at the bridge?
    Scale length?

    That's a lot of things to measure, and for most folks you probably only need to be concerned about the first three. But once you can measure what you like, you'll always be able to get back to it with another instrument.
    Blackbird Farallon Ekoa Tenor
    Beltona Songster Resonator Tenor
    Klos Carbon Fiber Tenor
    Magic Fluke Tenor Firefly Banjolele

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