Monday, December 31, 2007

Mahalo U30 Improving Intonation

If any of you had read my previous post Mahalo U30 Soprano - Sound and Intonation

You will know that while a good value for money beginner ukulele the intonation was not the greatest. Well after reading numerous posts over on Ukulele Cosmos from very knowledgeable peeps a few tips came out on how to improve the intonation. I thought I'd try some of them out.

1. Lowering the Action at the nut end.
This this the part I stressed over the most, if I went too far or made the slot too wide I could end up making the string buzz.

If you put a credit card in between the first fret wire and the string the gap between the top of the wire and the string should be just small enough as to snag on the card, if you can move the card easily between the two then the string is likely too high. I used a needle file to make the slot deeper, two swipes at a time.

Tip : Its important that the angle of the slot gently points down towards your pegs, having the angle the other way can make the string buzz or cause an unpleasant twanging dead sound.

2. Changing the Direction of the Saddle
As you fret up the neck, if the notes are sharp according to the tuner, this little tweak could work for you and is an easy one to try. One of the reasons it could be going sharp is that the distance between the nut and the saddle is too short. Fortunately on the Mahalo the saddle is shaped in such a way that simply turning it around will give you a few millimeters extra on that distance. Pop it out using a small screw driver and turn it around. See the photos below.

This shows the saddle in its original direction


This shows the saddle turned around



Here is the intonation after performing the above, as you can see although not perfect, its certainly better than it was before :)




Please Note : You make these changes at your own risk, I take no responsibility if you end up making it worse.

9 comments:

Woodshed said...

Really interesting post. Nice one!

Anonymous said...

Where'd you get the needle file? Did you use the same size file on each slot?

Ian Chadwick said...

Have you tried using glass beads to tie the strings instead of wrapping them through the hole and over the bridge?

And I suggest a better saddle design would be an inverted V (^) pointing straight up, without the lean angle that yours shows. I would think the original design would be prone to buzzing if the string was struck hard, because it could vibrate on the other side of the connection, rattling against the saddle.

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thinking about ordering one...

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