Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 19

Thread: Is my uke too cheap?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    27

    Default Is my uke too cheap?

    Hi,

    I am just starting out and am getting to know my new (cheap) soprano ukelele. I am practising tuning the uke, but discovered something odd. If I tune the G string to G, my tuner tells me it is at 392.0 Hz. I then tune the A string to 440.0 Hz.

    Now, if I place my finger on the second fret on the G string and play it, the frequency I expect is 440 Hz (same as A), but I get 447.8 Hz and the A note played on the G string sounds wrong and grates against the A string - the two notes are not exactly same.

    Is this a common thing with ukuleles, or do I have a very cheap, nasty uke?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    England
    Posts
    105

    Default

    Scratch that, I've realised who you are
    It sounds to me like your strings are still stretching and settling and in my experience this takes a week or so to even out.
    They're going to slip out of tune pretty much continuously until they've settled and you'll have to tune a LOT.

    Hope it helped
    Last edited by bunnyrawr; 04-24-2011 at 10:19 PM.
    Peace, Love, Bunnies.

    “You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'”

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    27

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bunnyrawr View Post
    Scratch that, I've realised who you are
    It sounds to me like your strings are still stretching and settling and in my experience this takes a week or so to even out.
    They're going to slip out of tune pretty much continuously until they've settled and you'll have to tune a LOT.

    Hope it helped
    Thanks for the reply, but carefully read my post again. I have just tuned the G and A strings to my tuner so they are PERFECTLY in tune. However when I hold down the 2nd fret on the G string the pitch is different to the open A string. That's not right, is it?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    England
    Posts
    105

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by keymoo View Post
    Thanks for the reply, but carefully read my post again. I have just tuned the G and A strings to my tuner so they are PERFECTLY in tune. However when I hold down the 2nd fret on the G string the pitch is different to the open A string. That's not right, is it?
    I apologise, I thought they were slipping (the strings) between you tuning them and picking them.
    I honestly can't think of a way to resolve your conundrum because I've never experienced it, but no doubt some of the more knowledgeable members will be able to help
    Peace, Love, Bunnies.

    “You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'”

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Collingwood, ON Canada
    Posts
    3,849

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by keymoo View Post
    Is this a common thing with ukuleles, or do I have a very cheap, nasty uke?
    On inexpensive ukes, it's not uncommon to have intonation problems, but they're usually found much higher up the fretboard where the distances between frets is much more critical. At the second fret they're usually not noticeable.

    Where are you pressing your finger? It should be slightly past the fret, not directly on it. Your finger position may be sharpening it.

    Once you have all the open strings at pitch, turn the tuner off. Make micro-adjustments by ear. 4th string 2nd fret and open 1st should sound in tune. But try 1st string 7th fret open 2nd (an octave apart). 2nd string 8th fret open 3rd. And 3rd string 7th open 4th.

    Try 2nd string 3rd fret open 4th. And 1st string 3rd fret open 3rd.

    Most people rely on tuners only to get the open strings in tune, then do the rest by ear.
    Ian
    -------------------------------------------
    “Errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum, et tertium non datur. To err is human; to persevere in error is diabolical; there is no third option.”
    Seneca the Younger
    Ukulele reviews * Vintage Uke Music * Tequila * Henry Hudson * Harmonica reviews * Blog

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Smyrna, Georgia
    Posts
    2,194

    Default

    It is not uncommon on inexpensive ukes (or expensive ones that haven't been set up properly) to get sharp notes, as you are getting, when you finger frets near the nut. Almost every inexpensive uke I have ever bought had this problem, until I set it up myself. The reason is that the strings are so high that it requires stretching them a lot to get them down to the fret. That results in too much tension and a slightly sharp note. The manufacturers generally ship them with the strings too high to prevent buzzing if you change brands of strings, strum very hard, etc.

    All that is usually required to fix it is to cut the nut slots deeper on the offending strings with a nut file. I usually use an old nail file or hacksaw blade and go slowly checking it numerous times before going deeper. If you go too deep, its not a life threatening situation. You can always build the slot back up with super glue and some baking soda or slip of tissue paper, or just buy a new nut for about $3.

    A simple test (before filing or cutting) is to take a sliver about 1/4" wide of a business card and place it under the string at the first fret. The card should be free to move about there on an open string. Then, push the string down at the 3rd fret. That should capture the card and make it harder to pull out. If it doesn't, that string is probably too high at the nut. You are shooting for about a 1mm space between the first fret and the bottom of the strings at that point, but I usually don't take my ukes down any lower than I need to get the intonation right on the first few frets.

    You can do a search for set-up to find out how high the strings should be down near the 12th fret, as well. That shouldn't be higher than about 3-4mm. If they are too high there, you need to sand or file a bit off the bottom of the saddle. Always be aware that if you get the strings too low you risk getting a buzz on some frets. You also lose some tone and volume when you lower the strings, so the whole thing is a balancing act.
    Last edited by SweetWaterBlue; 04-25-2011 at 02:07 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    NJ,USA
    Posts
    888

    Default

    sweetwaterblue could be correct if it is high action.
    IMO it might be better though to remove the nut altogther and file the bottom of it down and reglue it instead of fliing the slots. otherwise you could end up with rough slots that the stings catch on when trying to tune them. You can take a flat razor blade to break the seal of the glue and pop it off. you my wnat to lower the saddle too if its a real problem

    Ive not tryed this shown in the video below and havent run into this problem of an intrument having the nut set bac to far, but i guess if the above isnt the problem you might try it as an easy fix



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    DFW, TX, USA
    Posts
    8,342

    Default

    Actually I much prefer filing the slots, rather than the bottom of the nut. Usually, each string needs individual attention - you will rarely get all of the strings perfectly intonated with no buzzing by filing the bottom of the nut. You really do want to use a decent file, though. It doesn't have to be a nut file but a nut file will pretty much eliminate any "string hanging" problems. Nut files are expensive, but you don't really need a whole set like you do working on guitars. you can order just the ".026/.032" combo file from StewMac and it will do all the slots on a soprano, concert, or reentrant tenor just fine. If you're going to be doing a lot of low-g ukes you probably ought to get the next size up, as well.

    I bought a complete set of files years ago when I realized that even many guitars in the $1k price range really need touching up on the nut, and every guitar in the mid-priced range that I've ever purchased needed the nut slots deepened.

    To the OP - your uke isn't "too cheap." Some ukes costing hundreds of dollars need nut work. Any time you buy a "factory uke" that hasn't been set up by the seller you're looking at kind of a crap shoot on the nut height.

    John
    I'm not entirely convinced that it is possible to polish a turd. However, if one were to accomplish that feat one would still have a turd, and one all the more noticeable for being shiny.

    Check out my ukulele-themed "stuff" at http://www.cafepress.com/fivebyfiveukulele - proceeds go to a good cause...UAS treatment!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Smyrna, Georgia
    Posts
    2,194

    Default

    I agree with everything OldPhart said, although I have never had much trouble using make-shift files or hacksaw blades and/or sandpaper. I am sure its better to use real ones.

    I will also note that at least one of my ukes was set up by a great dealer, but it still required that I give it my own touch. You don't have to read many reviews here by good players like JumpingFlea (Kala Acacia YT review) , or Ken Middleton (Ohana Tenor review) to realize that this is not unusual. Action is kind of an individual preference thing and can even change with a string change. I can't imagine being tied to a dealer or luthier to make such adjustments for me. Its not hard to learn to do.
    Last edited by SweetWaterBlue; 04-25-2011 at 06:58 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    4,687

    Default

    Maybe, maybe not - there are some SHOCKING cheap ukes on the market - I won one randomly in a competition I didnt know I entered - totally unplayable and unfixable (the neck angle was totally wrong).

    That said, more common in even the better cheap ukes is intonation issues, but often can be sorted with a minor setup and better strings.

    See - http://www.gotaukulele.com/2010/04/u...ntonation.html

    and - http://www.gotaukulele.com/2010/09/u...hat-is-it.html

    As well as some nicer ukes, I regularly gig with a Makala Dolphin that is nicely set up - it cost me £25!
    The GOT A UKULELE REVIEWS DATABASE!

    Help Support Got A Ukulele!



    Ukes include (!) Kanile'a K1 Tenor, Tinguitar custom solid tenor, Fluke, Flea, Tinguitar Reclaimed Mahogany soprano, KM Ukuleles Dreadnought Concert, Brüko walnut soprano

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •