I am currently building a small Ukulele and i have some issues.

It would be nice if someone could help me!

This is how it looks so far:


- 300mm scale length

- 4 nylon strings

- Bone saddle&nut

(The fretboard isnt glued yet and the 2 strings are just put on for testing.)

Issue #1:

The frets on the board should be placed right because they seem to play the correct notes.

But when i pluck the "open string" i get a note that is lower than it should be in relation to the first fret.

it is like:


fret 3 plucked then fret 2 : "note-step" Ok

fret 2 plucked then fret 1: "note-step" Ok

fret 1 plucked then "open string": "note-step" too big!

The distance from the nut to the first fret is correct...so i wonder what causes this problem.

Issue #2:

The sound is brighter and louder without the fretboard. How could i prevent this?

Issue #3:

The box contains a piezo-pickup whose "input-socket" vibrates when a string is plucked, causing weird sounds. I fixed it by just plugging in a cableless plug when i want to play accoustic, so this issue is kinda solved. Anyway...

Question #4:

Should i add a soundhole?

I hope that i could fix the intonation-problem because i have spend a lot of time on this build and it is starting to get frustrating...

~Please excuse my english for i am no native speaker.~



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MM - I can't address all of your concerns, but I'll give you my "two cents" on #1 and #4.

#1 - I had the same problem on my first uke, and really I guess every fretted build I've done.

Basically the problem I was having was that my nut and bridge were too high, mostly the nut.  For example, I'd tune the G string, push the first fret and get an A instead of G#.  With the nut and bridge too high, I was overstretching the string, causing it to go sharp.

So to fix it, I started by carefully and patiently filing the slot on the nut for the G string.  I'd file a little, put the string in the slot, tune open G, press on the first fret, is it G#? Nope, file a little more, string in slot, tune to open G, press on first fret, is it G#?  Nope, repeat, repeat, repeat.  Eventually I get down to G#.  Then I repeat the process on the other three strings.  Then I go to the bridge and see how much I can lower it and still get string clearance.  Now if you are getting really close to having the string hit the first fret (because of lowering the nut slot too much), I would try lowering the bridge a little before getting to the point of no return on your nut.  This is a slow process, and you shouldn't rush it.  I would also suggest using the nylon strings for this process as they tend to stretch differently than the metal strings.

On #4 I'd say give it a sound hole.  The nylon strings don't ring loudly like metal or acoustic strings and will need the sound hole to project sound adequately.   

Good luck!

P.S. - Not sure, but I think once the fretboard is attached the tone will brighten up, with it loose it may not resonate properly...just guessing on that one.

Some really good answers here, and I think most is covered. To expand on Wayfinder's comments on #1; check where the string is resting on the nut - the string should be resting on a very small area of the nut right next to where the fretboard begins. On a factory made nut the slots all slope downwards towards the tuners so the string only contacts the nut on one small area. If the slots are flat, this could cause buzzing and intonation problems like the ones you are describing.

Make sure your intonation is correct at the nut before lowering the bridge - I can't see very well from the photo but the bridge action looks quite low already. A side-on pic might help diagnose...

Good luck!

 First thing I noticed is that the nuts the wrong way round , the slope should be facing the tuners , you can use it that way if you file the nut slots so that there angled downwards towards the tuners .

 Forgot to add with the nut that way round the scale will start from the back of the nut instead the  front edge

Wow guys, thanks for the replies!

I took a closer look at the bridge and filed it down a little, then moved it some milimeters and now i get the right notes from one string. The other strings don't sound right though.

But i think i found the reason: bridge is uneven so the scale length of the single strings differ from each other. The nut isnt exact too... I dont know why i didnt notice it in the first place... :/

Maybe the frustration blinded me yesterday! ;)

I think i'll make a new saddle and/or nut and everything will be fine i guess.

BTW the slots in the nut DO raise towards the fretboard. It has to be an optical illusion in the photo ;) 

There also is no buzzing exept that one coming from the piezo-plug-socket.

The fretboard i made out of rosewood. It still isnt glued yet but because of the following reason i dont notice the difference that much anymore:

I added a small soundhole in the "left top" corner and it helped the sound A LOT!

It is brighter and louder!

This is btw my first fretted and my third build ever.

Thank you!

 You need to finish the uke and put all four strings on then do the intonation  just the top string and the bottom string


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