action & playability

 

Nearly always, the goal is to have the lowest possible action without having fret buzz. The "correct" action differs for every musician based on their playing style and string preference.

 

Action, the height of the strings above the frets, is measured at the 1st and 12th frets. Action at the 1st fret is primarily affected by the depth of the slots in the nut, while action at the 12th is affected equally by the nut and the saddle.

 

In the absence of specific information about the musician, we adjust our ukuleles to a medium-low action (about 0.080" at the 12th fret). The #3 string has a slightly higher action allowing for its larger diameter.

 

Fret buzz occurs when a string vibrates against a fret and it is heard for a short period just after the string has been plucked or strummed. There are two possible explanations and solutions for fret buzz: either the frets are not level, or the action (height of the strings above the frets) is too low for the strings and playing style of the musician.

 

Frets are not properly level

 

While it is possible to have a single high fret (or portion of a fret) which causes fret buzz, with Mya-Moe Ukuleles it is highly unlikely due to our extensive fret leveling process. During construction, we meticulously level the entire fretboard using an 18" long, radiused aluminum sanding beam. This assures perfectly level frets. We then put a slight amont of relief in the fretboard as we attach it to the neck. We inlay a non-adjustable graphite beam into the neck, helping to further stabilize the single-piece mahogany neck.

 

In rare instances a portion of a fret (usually the outer portion) may rise up slightly and will need to be reseated. Rarer still is a case where the frets need to be releveled. Both of these are, of course, covered under warranty.

 

Interplay between action, strings, playing style and fret buzz

 

When a string is plucked or strummed, it vibrates. The harder the string is attacked, the more the string vibrates. In technical terms, this is called "amplitude" and on a graph it is seen as the height of the waveform. Different brands of strings have different materials and tensions which result in different amplitudes given the same attack.

 

In other words, changing strings can allow for lower action or require higher action. On a ukulele, the largest diameter nylon string will have the largest amplitude. Usually this is the #3 string, though depending upon the tuning and brand of strings, it may be the #4 string.

 

If you are encountering fret buzz, then we can either discuss alternative string options (such as a wound #3 string instead of nylon, or higher tension fluorocarbon strings) or we can slightly raise the action.

 

If you feel the action on your ukulele is too high for your playing style, we can lower it at either the nut, saddle or both.