No, not Luther. I’m not wrestling my inner darkness to solve crimes. I’m wrestling nuts and saddles to make my ukulele sound nice.
One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned about fixing stuff is that Sometimes It Didn’t Come Right from the Factory.
It’s really easy to assume that the source of the problem isn’t the Thing Itself, it’s you.
I’ve had my rather posh ukulele for a few years now, and I’ve never been able to get a nice sounding G chord out of it. I assumed it was my bad technique, because it’s a good brand and cost me quite a lot.
Then last week (ish) I bought the banjolele and a book of technical exercises, because Lockdown. And everything on the banjolele sounded great. Scales were in tune, G chord didn’t sound horrible.
It wasn’t me. Which always comes as something of a surprise.
To the Internet, Batman. Apparently it’s a common issue with plastic fun ukes that the strings go sharp as you head up the frets. I’m a tad tetchy that it’s also an issue with a mahogany concert uke. But once you know what’s gone wrong you can start finding out how to fix it.
How do you fix it? You take the saddle and the nut out and file them down, really really carefully. And then you cut an Anchor plastic butter tub into little bits and shim them back up again because it’s surprisingly easy to overshoot. Don’t ask me how I know.
Relaxing into the idea that actually, it is broke and you should try and fix it has been a big challenge for me but it’s also a total liberation. “What a man can do,” remember?
You’d think that a musical instrument would come set up correctly out of the box, but I suppose when you work in a factory chucking them together on a production line the niceties get lost. So have a go yourself. Fine tune it. Get it a bit wrong and rescue it. And revel in the beauty of your G chord once it’s done.