Chords that use more than two strings per fret make my ukulele’s tone sound terrible

I’ve seen YouTube videos with my ukulele (Kala ka-s mahogany soprano) and no one seemed to have that problem. But my ukulele just gets a really tight closed sound when I play a chord like D or E that requires a lot of finger in one fret. Is it mine or the ukes fault?

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  1. #1 by Zac on November 15, 2011 - 1:10 pm

    Alright I don’t play ukulele, just guitar. But I’m gonna throw out some ideas.

    FIRST, strum the two strings without any fingers on them. That should make the same harmony as when you are playing the same fret on them. If it sounds weird when both strings are being played ‘open’ then its something like tuning, or the ukes fault. If it sounds okay, then something is different with your fingers or that fret, try a couple of other frets and see if it still sounds weird.


    Look at your finger placement? I don’t know if you can bar chords on a uke, but I know with guitar one fret isn’t much room for more than 2 of my fingers. One of your fingers could be to the rear of the fret and producing not as nice of a sound?

    Could be the strings’ fault. Again I don’t know anything about ukulele strings but with guitar they affect the sound a lot :P If you’ve ever changed the strings you might want to look up a review of the new ones, or if you bought it used, it might have funky strings on it.

    Tuning could be just slightly *slightly* off, and be making a really really weird frequency harmony thing.

    Good luck!

  2. #2 by Mike on November 15, 2011 - 1:53 pm

    I assume what you mean by “tight closed” sound is that the strings don’t ring as long as when they are strummed and “open” (no fingers on the fret). This is usually a cause of a finger just lightly touching a string and “stopping” it from ringing. A long ringing tone is call the “sustain” of thet note.

    Close your eyes and strike one string — listen to how long the note keeps ringing after the strike.

    Now place one finger on the third fret and repeat.

    If you are placing a finger correctly on the string it will have the same amount of time ringing (same sustain).

    If you are pressing too lightly, or on top of the fret instead of just behind the fret — the sustain will be very much shorter. If it is the same (or very nearly so) then you have good single finger technique.

    Then the problem comes when you ahve to crwon many fingers in a small space and the pressure on the individual strings changes. On a soprano, it is very difficult to crowd three fingers at [2220] for the D Major chord or four fingers at [4442] for the E Major chord. Instead, I play the D Major as a bar chord [2225] and the E major [4447]. I find it easier to have good technique with a bar chord than the crowded three finger “traffic jam” at the second or fourth frets.

  3. #3 by Lab Rat on November 15, 2011 - 2:44 pm

    I agree with Mike, the Ukulele Jedi.

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