Uke design pet peeves

Ukecaster

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What are your uke design pet peeves, if any?

Mine are:

1. Manufacturers who seemingly use the exact same size bridge on soprano and concert as tenor. Often not bad on concert, but sometimes results in a huge looking bridge on soprano. Examples include Kala Elite, other Kalas and Kanilea.

2. Skinny nut width, and more importantly, string spread. The usual import 35mm nut and 27mm string spread is ok for many, but I need more room. I can play 35mm nuts, but much easier if they have a 28-29mm string spread. Then there are manufacturers who really squeeze it down to 34mm nuts on soprano, with 27mm spread, like a couple of Ohanas I've tried, not fun for me. The Martin 34mm nut spec on tenor scale has always been a headscratcher for me (especially when you consider that their sops and concerts are usually 36mm), although their tenor 28-29mm string spread helped a bit.

3. Somewhat related to #2, manufacturers who use overly wide neck bindings, with frets starting inside the bindings, ala Koaloha. In their case, this results in narrower string spacing at nut of only 27mm, while the nut is wide at 38mm. To me, that's a waste of a nice wide nut, and limits any option of cutting a new nut with wider string spacing. I prefer no neck bindings, with frets that go all the way to the edges.

4. Low volume/muted ukes. Drives me nut when I get a uke that is gorgeous, has great materials, plays well and has good tone, but wimpy volume. It may open up/ develop over time, but I don't have patience for that, preferring good volume from the start.

5. Too much bling/inlay. I know lots of folks love it, and it often takes superior skills to pull it off well, but just not my cup of tea, preferring plain, more understated ukes.

I guess I'm picky, but that's what it's all about, finding what's just right for you.

Got any pet peeves to share?
 
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4, 5 (add "dull" or "howley") as above.

Preinstalled neck buttons permanently deface the upper neck.
-I always remove them and it leaves a dent and nasty hole.

Satin finish is rarely offered. Satin feels better to me as it is not sticky.
-Really. When did this "glossy stuff" become the norm?

More expensive soprano (and some concert) ukuleles have friction tuners with no option to choose gears at the time of purchase.
-I don't want to won't buy a new uke and then have to modify the headstock to change the tuners.

Very few pineapple sopranos in the $200-500 range.
-Manufacturers market them as sub-$100 toys.
(One exception is the Kamehameha KS-56. It has no neck button and is very tempting. But... it's glossy.
I just can't do it, knowing I will have to sand down the back of the neck to enjoy it.
Otherwise, it's exactly what I wanted.)

<edit> Here is an old UU discussion:
 
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wide nut widths/spacings...lol. actually, mfgers/shops not specifying those things is a little annoying and sometimes eliminates a sale (yeah, I can always get the nut remade/cut, but...). Koalohas (and cousin Rebel) are quite playable for me, btw.

too much inlay/bling for sure... looks cheap when overdone. rosette decals, etchings and fancy/cutesy markers (animals, flowers, stars, etc.); sometimes simple or even none is better.

fat necks, pale bridges and fretboards that don't match well, wonkily installed/crooked tuners (but that's almost all if you look closely), gold bits (give it a gloss finish and gold tuners and let's call it "deluxe"!)...

I'm a lefty but play righty; if I played left I'd be annoyed with side dots only on the righty side.
 
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High gloss finishes. Used to love 'em, but now realize it seems to be used to enhance appearance (read: grain emphasis)

Emphasis on bling /over-bling, then: ->1) producing a uke with 'dead notes' or ghost notes that lack the resonance of every other tones; or, 2) poor intonation anywhere above the 3rd fret; or, 3) unfinished fret ends; or, 4) sharp 'un-eased' edges where top and sides meet.

Failure to provide full specs. (Online dealers should provide if builders don't)
Should be a standard that includes size measures (bout, body, full length, weight) , scale (numbers, not labels), string spacing at nut, body, saddle, woods for body, sides, back, top, bridge, fretboard, ...

Adding info about cases (separate from uke purchase ... I won't consider any case that is missing inside measurements for length, upper and lower bout, construction type.
 
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For me…

1. Nut widths under 35mm. But anything from 35 to 38mm is fine for me.
2. Higher end ukuleles coming with Aquila Nylgut strings (with very rare exceptions - they work well on my Beltona resonator).
3. Relic’ed instruments. Just not for me.
4. Bad intonation. Sometimes it’s fixable, but often it’s not - and it’s at best a set up flaw. Maybe this is beyond a peeve.
5. Fender-style headstocks on acoustic instruments.
6. Fret markers not in the expected places.
 
Lack of string clearance at the bottom of the ramps for slotted headstocks. Problem becomes worse if the action is lowered. The G and A strings end up rubbing up against the bottom of the slot ramps when tuning and carves an indentation into the faceplate.
 
Too many crazy figured woods and too blingy inlays. Don't get me wrong, I really like some figured wood but if it has several different types of figured wood it looks ugly. I like the look of a straight grained cedar or spruce with a figured/wavy side and back.
 
Lack of string clearance at the bottom of the ramps for slotted headstocks. Problem becomes worse if the action is lowered. The G and A strings end up rubbing up against the bottom of the slot ramps when tuning and carves an indentation into the faceplate.
I never paid too much attention to that detail but yes, two (maybe more) of mine have the #1 and #4 strings rubbing on their way to the winder shaft. The one with a low G will probably wear its own path. I do not want to go in there with a file to make more clearance as it will muck up the headstock. However, I won't "raise" the nut slot as greater clearance over the 1st fret would become intolerable.
 
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That sharp point at the intersection where the neck radius transitions into the headstock radius on the down facing side of the neck. There is always a sharp promontory standing proud where the two different radii meet. I've sanded this little annoyance off both of my Ponos, several Kalas, my Fluke and my two Bruce Wei's. That Fluke was the worst of all, and I had to really go at it with my Shinto saw rasp.

Why doesn't anyone sand that stupid little point off?
 
That sharp point at the intersection where the neck radius transitions into the headstock radius on the down facing side of the neck. There is always a sharp promontory standing proud where the two different radii meet. I've sanded this little annoyance off both of my Ponos, several Kalas, my Fluke and my two Bruce Wei's. That Fluke was the worst of all, and I had to really go at it with my Shinto saw rasp.

Why doesn't anyone sand that stupid little point off?
I had a Romero concert that had a round protuberance on the back of the headstock where the neck met the headstock. It was like a wood marble was placed there. Unfortunately it was right where my thumb wanted to be 90% of the time and it drove me nuts. That was one issue among others which caused me to sell it.
 
Martin’s annoying tendency to leave the nut edges square, making them uncomfortable to play some 1st position chords. Why? Why? A few seconds with a file solves the problem, yes, but that’s a basic design/QC feature. Argh.
 
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