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Bluesy jailhouse band, Cool Hand Uke, needs instrument repairs
August 9, 2012 9:24 PM   Subscribe

What's the deal with my new uke? What do I need to do to get it in tip top playable uke condition?

I impulsively bought a ukulele from an antique store for next to nothing. I have a few questions about what it is and how to fix it.

The uke has 6 strings and is about 8" wide by 22" long (so it's a tenor, I think?). It says it's a Monroy, and it has "registrada" written under the brand name. I googled the brand and couldn't find anything. I'd like to get a sense of its age and how much it's worth. If it's a junky uke that's not ever going to be very playable, I'd like to know that before I invest time and money into fixing it.

I tried to tune it to 6-string uke tuning (GCCEAA), but I had a really hard time making fine adjustments to the pitch, and it goes out of tune almost immediately. When I got it, it seemed like it was closer to standard guitar tuning than uke tuning, FWIW. The tuning machines seem kind of rudimentary, which I'm assuming has something to do with it. I'm assuming that it probably needs new strings, given that it's old, but I'm not sure if anything else should be replaced/updated. My local guitar store does not have an in-house luthier that I could consult (they contract with a local luthier), so if it needs professional repairs, I'd like to go in knowing what to ask for. A sense of the cost of repairs would also be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
posted by quiet coyote to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Definitely throw some new strings on before trying anything else. Old (and possibly cheap) strings will never stay in tune, and a good set of strings (I like Aquilas) can make even the cheapest uke sound passable.
posted by stravinsky at 9:47 PM on August 9, 2012


I think that may be a guitar. Specifically a Monroy Mexican 'guittara'.
posted by trip and a half at 9:59 PM on August 9, 2012


That's a really junky Mexican wall hanger of a guitar. I've seen these things before with what appeared to be aluminum frets, made from thin plywood, with a pine-looking neck and sides, oak/lacewood looking bridge and fingerboard, painted binding, decal rosette, and generally utterly unplayable.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:36 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


A big issue with these crappy little guitars is that they frequently have frets that aren't spaced properly so even when the strings are in tune with each other, the notes further up the fretboard won't be.
posted by MonsieurBon at 12:12 AM on August 10, 2012


Haha, ok. Problem solved. I guess I have a new ornamental baby guitar. Thanks guys.
posted by quiet coyote at 8:02 AM on August 10, 2012


Completely not relevant, but as a former aikidoka, who knows only one meaning of "uke" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uke_(martial_arts)), my answer would be "Hmmm... Just train with them more." :)
posted by Ender's Friend at 6:10 PM on August 10, 2012


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