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Thread: "Dud" note on 4th fret A string?

  1. #1
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    Default "Dud" note on 4th fret A string?

    Ohana uke, Aquila string. For some reason get a dull/dud/dull note when plucking A string 4th fret down? Just sounds all wrong, like it's not pinging or vibrating properly. I'm wondering if it's an Aquila problem, I had noticed similar thing on a Lanikai in a shop before too, on the A string on the 1st fret.

    (I also get dud sounds on the 6th fret of the G string, 12th fret of the C, 9th fret of the E)

    Thanks for any tips/help on this

  2. #2
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    I doubt it's the strings, although changing out the strings is a cheap and easy way to change the tone of your uke. While it's hard to say exactly what the problem is without seeing it, my guess would be uneven frets. Either the "dud" fret is too low, or another fret elsewhere on the uke is too high, and the string is touch that fret and stopping it from vibrating. If the uke was purchased from a reputable dealer, you would be within your rights to ask to have it adjusted. If you bought it from Amazon or a drop shipper, they won't be able to do the setup, but most reputable shops should be able to handle it.



  3. #3
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    I don't think it's a string. All of those notes are C or C# - it sounds like you have a uke with a resonant dead spot. In reality, all acoustic instruments have a resonant dead spot, it's just that usually that spot happens at a frequency outside of the instrument's range. Sometimes you can move the dead spot by adding weight to a specific place on the top or the bridge. Use blu-tac to stick a nickel to the side of the bridge and see if the dead spot moves as you move the nickel around. Sometimes if it's a narrow enough dead spot you can actually "fix" an instrument this way by moving the dead spot in between notes.

    However, if the uke is still under warranty, don't mess with it, just have it replaced.

    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!

  4. #4
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    Sounds like you are getting the dull sound on the note C# in various places on the fretboard (well, on the 12th fret it's the note C, but the string could be leaning sharp that far up the fretboard). I had a similar issue sometime ago, diagnosed by OldePharte as he describes above. You can read more about the "nickel" solution here and here.
    Last edited by cantsing; 04-23-2014 at 03:05 AM.
    Live long, prosper, and play your ukulele.

  5. #5
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    How is the intonation? Has anyone worked on it? Are the frets level or near level? Action? these are all things I would check and are easy to check.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichM View Post
    I doubt it's the strings, although changing out the strings is a cheap and easy way to change the tone of your uke. While it's hard to say exactly what the problem is without seeing it, my guess would be uneven frets. Either the "dud" fret is too low, or another fret elsewhere on the uke is too high, and the string is touch that fret and stopping it from vibrating. If the uke was purchased from a reputable dealer, you would be within your rights to ask to have it adjusted. If you bought it from Amazon or a drop shipper, they won't be able to do the setup, but most reputable shops should be able to handle it.
    Quote Originally Posted by OldePhart View Post
    I don't think it's a string. All of those notes are C or C# - it sounds like you have a uke with a resonant dead spot. In reality, all acoustic instruments have a resonant dead spot, it's just that usually that spot happens at a frequency outside of the instrument's range. Sometimes you can move the dead spot by adding weight to a specific place on the top or the bridge. Use blu-tac to stick a nickel to the side of the bridge and see if the dead spot moves as you move the nickel around. Sometimes if it's a narrow enough dead spot you can actually "fix" an instrument this way by moving the dead spot in between notes.

    However, if the uke is still under warranty, don't mess with it, just have it replaced.

    John
    Quote Originally Posted by cantsing View Post
    Sounds like you are getting the dull sound on the note C# in various places on the fretboard (well, on the 12th fret it's the note C, but the string could be leaning sharp that far up the fretboard). I had a similar issue sometime ago, diagnosed by OldePharte as he describes above. You can read more about the "nickel" solution here and here.
    Ah ha! All very interesting I hadn't noticed they were all C/C#. I will have a look at the nickel tip you suggested now.

    Quote Originally Posted by moetrout View Post
    How is the intonation? Has anyone worked on it? Are the frets level or near level? Action? these are all things I would check and are easy to check.
    I'm still stretching out the strings but intonation is pretty good (there was a problem with the C string being too sharp but seems to be much better), frets seem level.

  7. #7
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    Well it seems as though this is a problem you have to live with. Seems like adding a coin does improve the resonance but changes the overall sound of all notes on the Ukelele. I guess I've learned my lesson about buying Online rather than in stores. Well actually I always feared something like this might happen but I just don't live in a place that sells a good selection of Ukes.

  8. #8
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    I posted a link about resonant frequencies, and dead/thuddy notes last week. Most stringed instruments have them somewhere, and my only gripe is when they fall on an open string. The note you're hearing is actually louder than most others, but cancels itself out. Combined with the lack of sustain, it appears dead. I just had two Martin concert ukes with a thuddy G note and open G string, and both were returned. I made a video, but can't get the vimeo link on here. In any case, here is what luthier Aaron Green wrote regarding this issue:

    "Any time you have a booming note on the guitar, there is a resonance that is very active around that frequency, not just the main cavity (A0) resonance. Very often what is known as the cross dipole on the top comes in around A.

    In any case you have to understand the underlying issue here. Guitars vibrate in many ways all at once. There are innumerable resonances that interplay between the top, back and air inside the guitar. How they all relate to each other is what determines the charecter of the guitar. What makes building such a challenge is that most desireable qualites have a contridictory relationship with each other. Evenenss of response is desirable, so is an expansive tonal pallete and a sound that is intersting to listen to. These two qualites are odds with each other. What creates an even sound is a flat frequency response, all the resonances behaving at the same level. Speak in a monotone voice and you'll get the picture. What creates an interesting sound is a lot of active resonances, what my teacher called "peaky" when we would look at a frequency plot chart (kind of like an EKG moniter).

    The real trick is to strike the balance between the two, which is lots of active resonances that behave in a controlled fashion. I tend to think of this desired interplay of the resonances like a bunch of gears. Each resonance is represented by a spoke in a gear. If they all fit together well, when one resonance peaks another one will come and fill the dip it creates. The result is an even response that still has lots of charecter and tonal capabilities. Hard to do to say the least but you only hit as high as you aim.

    Some designs lend themselves to one side of this more than the other, lattice and double top guitars can to be very even, but lack the pallete of a "traditional" guitar. And very often you'll see a "traditional" guitar that is quite musical and colorful with some real booming notes, particularly guitars that are underbuilt.

    Some uneveness of response, in a new guitar can be expected to take care of itself, if you take the time to really work the notes around the boomer. I have heard it in my own guitars, but it wasn't a glaring problem nor were there dead notes surronding the boomer. I would still have to say though that if you don't like the guitar from the get go, it is unlikely you will like it later."


    Aaron apprenticed with Al Carruth, and has become quite an accomplished luthier over the past decade or so.

  9. #9
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    Got a link to the Martin I returned a couple of days ago: http://youtu.be/R83NaZ-i9H4. All of the G notes, and the F# on the C string had a thuddy/barking quality that I just couldn't live with. Buying online can be a frustrating experience, as nearly every salesman I speak to says that they've never heard a dead note. Even after explaining it to them, they always say, "The notes all sound good to me." The Martin in that video had a fretted G note on the C string that sounded like a hammer hitting a board, and sustained for a millisecond.

    P.S. In the video, I began with a fretted note on the G string to demonstrate that it sounded fine as long as a G note wasn't being played.
    Last edited by FrankB; 04-24-2014 at 08:02 AM.

  10. #10
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    Default Dud notes

    I just bought a second hand Mainland soprano and thought it was a pretty good deal until I got home and noticed the C note sounded terrible on the A string. It just didn't resonate. Now that I have read this thread, I went back and checked all the "c" notes--and sure enough this occurs on any string. I had no idea of the need to check for this sort of thing before buying--I only checked that the intonation and action were good. This is an eye (or ear) opener! And may be why the original owner was selling.

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