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Thread: "A" Chord Always Out of Tune?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Default "A" Chord Always Out of Tune?

    I'm a bit above a beginner, but this is definitely a beginner question...

    In G-C-E-A tuning, why does the standard "A" chord always sound out of tune? I've noticed it on cheap ukuleles and very expensive ones.

    Maybe if I know why, it will quit annoying me so much.

    Thanks for any replies...
    Fender Nohea Tenor, Risa LP Tenor, Lanikai LBU-C Banjolele, & Stagg US-20 Soprano (first ukulele). Bass guitars: '78 Rickenbacker 4001, Michael Kelly acoustic.

  2. #2

    Default

    Chickenstein:
    I don't know. Are you placing your fingers close enough to the frets? I notice that you play bass guitar. Is it possible that you miss the bass element in the chord. It would be instructional to have someone "complete" the chord for you on your bass at the same time and see if that makes a difference to your ear.

  3. #3
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    Default

    If you are not comfortable in standard tuning..you can always drop tune it..

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default

    My guess would be that your nut is too high so when you fret at the first fret or two the notes pull sharp. This is a pretty common problem on most factory ukes that haven't been set up by a shop. This is especially noticeable on the A chord because the G fretted at the second fret is unison with the A string - unisons are the interval where a tuning problem will be most noticeable.
    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!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by uker62 View Post
    Chickenstein:
    I don't know. Are you placing your fingers close enough to the frets? I notice that you play bass guitar. Is it possible that you miss the bass element in the chord. It would be instructional to have someone "complete" the chord for you on your bass at the same time and see if that makes a difference to your ear.
    Agree, take a close look at your fingering technique. Could be a nut slot, dead string once in a while, but not on "all" ukes.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by OldePhart View Post
    My guess would be that your nut is too high so when you fret at the first fret or two the notes pull sharp. This is a pretty common problem on most factory ukes that haven't been set up by a shop. This is especially noticeable on the A chord because the G fretted at the second fret is unison with the A string - unisons are the interval where a tuning problem will be most noticeable.
    i'v got a high nut on my cheap Uke and it makes the A and DM sound funny, but on my Kala they sound fine (and the nut is not too high there)
    Handcrafted Black Walnut Soprano
    Koaloha Opio Acacia Concert
    Pono MT Mahogany Tenor

  7. #7
    dhoenisch Guest

    Default

    Could also be you don't have the right frets on your uke. I've noticed that some of the cheaper ukes have standard acoustic guitar frets, so when you press down on the strings too hard against the frets, those strings go a little sharp, and it seems more noticeable on some chords, and not on others. My Grizzly uke kit ukulele has that issue most noticeable on the G and A chords, and it definitely is a fret problem. I just learned to lightly press on the strings on that uke. Now that I gave it to my mom, the next time it needs a string change, I'm going to file, crown and polish the frets for her to see if I can get it playing a little better for her.

    Dan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Eastern Massachusetts
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    Default

    Who's making the chord on the expensive ukuleles?
    If it's you, then perhaps you're fretting the strings too tightly.


    If it's not you, and the A sounds out of tune no matter who plays it on any ukulele then I would go with the chord inversion:

    An A chord on the piano is (in ascending pitch) A - C# - E, on a uke it's C# - E - A (with an extra A). Still an A chord according to Music Theory 101, but the root note is not the lowest.

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