Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to "setup" your ukulele

Whether you are new to the ukulele or you're an experienced player, a bad setup (or no setup at all) can often times be the difference between playing beautiful music and auditory pain for both the player and those listening.

In my own experience, I have learned that there isn't a cookie cutter approach to a good setup.  Believe me, I wish it were that simple!  But because every ukulele is different, the setup of each one will be a bit
different.  Bottom line - this is truly an art form in itself and is one of the reasons that luthiers will always exist.

Probably the best advice that can be given to a novice with very little instrument tinkering skills is to take that baby right to an experienced professional and pay a few bucks to have it professionally set up.  But for those of us that just HAVE to give it a try, read on brave souls....

The last thing that I'd want is for you to ruin your vintage Kamaka or Martin uke, so if you're a first timer, please please PLEASE try this on a beater uke that isn't worth much.  Still wanna dive right in?  Let's get to it!

One of the best things about the advances of technology over the last few years is that anyone with internet access has a wealth of information and "how to's" right at their fingertips.  A quick google search for "ukulele setup" will yield a virtual treasure trove of results.  And seeing as how I am in no position to explain this stuff with as much detail and accuracy, I have simply picked out a couple of sources that have been a big help to me...

The Sponge Bob Ukulele Setup videos on Youtube - yeah, maybe they're in German, but they are highly informative, as well as highly entertaining.  This is part 1 of a two part video.

Salem Ukes - Has Your Uke Been Set Up? - this link will guide you to a .pdf step by step complete with some theory and diagrams.

I am greatly indebted to these folks for teaching me the basics and helping me to step into a brave new world.  I hope that they will do the same for you!

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