Are you going to buy a Ukulele?

Then I have some tip you should consider before buying. First - what kind of ukulele do you want. The most common is the soprano ukulele tuned in D or C ( C are common in US and UK ), other ukulele types are concert ukulele ( a bigger soprano), tenor and baritone.

  Brüko soprano ukulele flat type.

   Fluke Concert ukulele.

Find a music store with ukuleles. The ukulele you will try should be proper tuned in an serious shop. (Nobody will buy a car without air in the tyres) The dealer should have more the one ukulele of the same model. A good shop should also have ukulele accessories like strings, tuning machines, gig-bags, books and plectrum.

The most common ukulele in Sweden is D-tuned soprano ukulele, so the tip are more specific for that kind of model but the tip is general for al ukuleles. D-tuned soprano ukulele has a higher tuning so there will be more pressure on the bridge. If you take a look how the bridge are glued, if there are any space under the bridge don't take that ukulele because water and condense could destroy the glue and one day when you are playing suddenly it says "pjong" and you get the bridge and the strings in your face ( it did happens for me 2 times )

 

The bridge of this type of ukulele has a very small contact surface so look specially at the ends ( see arrows ) of the bridge, if you find any space tell the dealer that you want to see another ukulele.

Next thing to check - is the saddle and the bridge on the right height? Is it to much distance between the strings and the neck? Do you feel it heavy to play on the ukulele, just tell the dealer that you want to try another ukulele.

Check that the neck is not bend like an arrow bow, turn the ukulele and compare the strings with the neck, the neck should not hang.

Nasty sound and tones that are distorted is a sign that the frets are not parallel. If you put your index finger on the first fret ( accord Eb6) and play on all the strings you should have clear tones ( If you manage to press enough).   Repeat the same procedure until you reach the 12:th fret. Another thing you can do is to use a straightedge to see if there is some frets who is under or above the other frets.

Now we shall check if the ukulele are tuned on all frets. If you should play on the first three frets, you can skip this test. Some like to use all frets on the ukulele. Normally the bridge has no way to compensate  the fact that the strings are in different widths, so the bridge are just a compromise if it is not adjustable. The same phenomena that we have with the guitar also happens on the ukulele : the problem with the third string. Try to play on a loose string and compare holding down the same string on the 12:th frett, it should bee the same tone but brighter. Try the other strings as well. My experience is that you have to try at least 4-5 ukuleles before you get one that are in better condition. One easy way to hear if there is any problems with the tuning of the frets is to play the cord  Am

compare this accord with the same accord in another position 5: the fret with loose 4:th string. If it sounds ugly her change ukulele.

If you try this tip I think you find a ukulele that will last longer and sounds OK.

Other things to think about is: Ukuleles with to heavy layers of varnish could kill the resonance of your ukulele. Good strings are the most important thing. ( you don't drive your luxuary car with 15 years olds tires ). Please beware - your friend will also catch a cold if the weather is not sunny and 20ºC warm, so get a proper gig-bag.

Good luck with your ukulele purchase!!!