That’s because setting up an ukulele is always manual work, and costs working time — making it comparably expensive. A flat top on a fret can certainly throw out your intonation because it changes the scale length ever so slightly but this certainly affects the intonation of the instrument. If the strings are too high, the instrument becomes uncomfortable to play, if the strings are too low, it can cause fret buzz. We check for wood inconsistencies, chips, cracks or dents. This is a fairly simple fix, we use a fret levelling file to even out the frets. I also recommend a standard body shape. For thick strings, the edge should be offset slightly away from the fretboard. The ideal setup is a little bit different for every player — a vigorous playing style requires high action, while players with a soft playing style will probably prefer the comfort and better playability of a low action. In this way the progressive string height scale measures in .005" increments. If the nut is at its ideal height, you should see a very tiny space between the string and the first fret: The optimum setup depends on the instrument and on the strings here as well. These adjustments are very fine but often they make a big difference to the playability. The strings should be supported by the nut only at the edge on the fretboard side, otherwise they may buzz in their slot when playing. Therefore, in my opinion, the most important aspect for a beginner’s instrument should be good playability and a proper setup. More experienced players will have less trouble compensating a bad setup. That’s because the lower flexibility of thicker strings leads to a lower effective oscillating string length, which is compensated hereby. The optimum slot width depends on the string type. Some strings are prone to a higher oscillation amplitude, thus requiring a higher action. A quick measure and we are done with the saddle. Renaissance and baroque compact e-book: Alte Musik mit der Ukulele, Celtic e-book: Keltische Musik mit der Ukulele, Classical e-book: Klassische Musik mit der Ukulele, Klassische Musik mit der Ukulele, Volume 2: Das klinget so herrlich. We mark the saddle and then sand it down evenly. Depending on the amount of work that’s been done on the fretboard, the frets may require a quick sand with a 400 grit sandpaper to give it a nice finish. There's no need for a straightedge here, the string is straight! On the other hand, if the fretboard is very slightly arched concavely, an amazingly low action can be achieved. The fret file will typically flatten out the top of the frets and they will require a fret recrown. For cheaper instruments, one should be happy if the fretboard is perfectly flat. I find that factory setups also have a saddle that is too short. This gives you a good idea of what your ukulele undergoes. The height at the nut is set by the depth of the string slots. A fret recrown means we reshape the tops of the frets so they are a pyramid shape. It pays to be nearsighted. Only hand-crafted, premium-quality (and thus very expensive) instruments usually also have a very good setup from the beginning. Unfortunately, this can happen even with more expensive instruments — all industrially produced ukuleles exhibit some production spread. We would like to show you exactly what we do. However, this should rather be taken account of when setting up the. This solves one problem, but causes an even bigger one. The slots shouldn’t be too wide, otherwise the strings may buzz in the slots when playing. Most manufacturers want to better be safe than sorry, since too deep nut slots lead to annoying buzzing (which everybody will notice and identify as faulty), while too shallow nut slots just lead to some degradation of playability and intonation (which most players will more likely blame on their own abilities). If a fret redress is required, we will typically need to clean the fretboard. However, more than 3mm at the 12th fret are seldom reasonable. Setting up an ukulele is done by adjusting the nut and the saddle. In some cases the slots must also be widened to accommodate thicker strings. High-quality ukuleles will often have a compensated saddle. We will sand down the frets also to give them a nice shiny finish. Each instrument is a little different, so the work will vary on each instrument. The optimum setup for intonation may vary as well: Many instrument builders optimize the setup of their instruments for specific string types. A neck which is slightly off centre is a bad instrument. The optimum slot width depends on the string type. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you’d expect…. To achieve this, the top edge of the saddle is modelled by deliberately filing it into shape. The markings themselves are .005" thick, so referring to the top of a mark instead of the bottom adds .005" to the measurement. The string height markings are at increments of .010" (ten thousandths of an inch). So that covers our setup process. On the other hand, the type of wood is just a question of personal taste. This is why we set the action in the 2.5 to 3.0mm range. Often the cause of fret buzzing will be that the frets aren’t level. Instrument builders use specialized nut slotting files for this job, however, a folded piece of sand paper will “cut it” as well. However, this very slight arching is not easy to achieve correctly, so you’ll only find it on premium-quality, expensive instruments.
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