Why Set-Ups Count (especially when giving a uke or guitar as a gift)
You’re giving a ukulele or guitar to a beginner, so making sure the instrument is set-up properly is no big deal, right? Nope, and here’s why:
Manufacturers know that appearance and sound are what people first react to, and so that’s what they focus on. Even the final stages of set-up to a little uke takes time, and those extra minutes during final assembly are often skipped in the quest for a lower price. Sometimes this is hard to spot, especially the string height at the nut, but believe it or not a proper set-up when you’re playing in first position is even more critical when you’re starting out than it is for a serious pro. Why? Because a beginner spends more of their playing time on those lower frets, and their fingers aren’t as strong yet and their fingertips don’t have a tough callous. So if making those first-position chords is difficult because the strings are too high at the nut a beginner may get discouraged, especially since a nut that’s too high can also make those chords sound out-of-tune. Of course having the string action low overall is also important for beginners, simply because the longer a beginner can practice without fatigue the faster they will progress.
The Gryphon Repair Dept. does a lot of difficult and highly involved repairs and restorations, but they also spend a lot of time doing set-ups. They set-up all the instruments Gryphon sells, but they also do a lot of set-ups for instruments people buy elsewhere, and that includes a lot of instruments sold online. Of course spending an extra $85 isn’t tragic when it’s a guitar that cost several hundred dollars, but the set-up on a little ukulele is likely to cost at least $50 and that’s a real jolt when you didn’t spend more than $100 on the instrument itself.
When giving an instrument, don’t skip making sure the guitar or ukulele you give is as easy to play as possible!