Will my ukulele actually get a setup?
I bet you are still tempted to write and ask me. It is indeed my most FAQ. But the Mim Motto is:
EVERY Ukulele Deserves a GREAT Set-up!
You have my word, that every ukulele, from a Makala Dolphin to a Kamaka Deluxe gets my complete attention and set-up!
What is a set-up?
Every store has a different definition of "set-up". I am known for my set-up because I am quite meticulous, thorough, and skilled. For me a Set-up is:
1) Frets: The first thing I do is level your frets. To me, the frets are the "bones" of your ukulele. If they are not level and you do not have good bones, any other adjustments are basically superficial. Is it necessary? Maybe not. You may never notice small nuanced buzzes, or maybe a high fret at the 12th fret will never go noticed. But I set-up every ukulele as if it were for myself, so you get level frets, because I would want level frets. In this process I also smooth sharp fret ends and oil and dress the fretboard.
2) Nut: I then get to work adjusting the nut slots. Most of the time they need to be lowered, rarely they need to be raised. This is SUPER important. Especially when playing on your first 5 frets and barre chords. The Bb should not be an impossible chord for you. If it is, your nut is often not cut low enough. This is also a really important adjustment for beginners and those who have arthritis issues.
3) Saddle: I adjust your saddle action so that it is ideal for the ukulele size and build that you have. I go as low as possible without giving you buzz, intonation, tone, and playability issues. A lot of people say they want low, low, low action, not realizing that they are doing themselves a disservice. Some problems include fingers hitting the fretboard and buzzing on the frets or saddle. But the biggest thing people don't realize is often it will destroy the tone of their ukulele. So please trust me that I will go as low as is ideal for your ukulele. But I have had too many times where I have audibly heard a lively uke go dead when someone has insisted on insanely low action.
4) Extras: I add the buttons, pickups, strings, etc. per customer request. I do not set a uke up until it is ordered so that I can set them up for lefty, arthritis, children, or any other unique needs.
5) Final Check: After all this your ukulele in theory should play beautifully and be buzz free, but of course I have to check. I chromatically pluck the ukulele strings, and then I strum every possible fret so I make sure there is no issues that went unnoticed in the fret leveling process.
6) Customer Service: Though I strive for perfection, sometimes things happen in shipping or I miss something. I am human. But just shoot me a note and I will get you taken care of ASAP! I stand behind every ukulele I sell.
Will you set up my ukulele that I bought elsewhere?
With my reputation for setup, I get asked this a lot. I figure it is time to put this on my FAQ page.
I am a uke retailer. Every ukulele from me gets a great setup. I will do setups for tips at ukulele events, time permitting.
As far as doing set-ups in-store however, here is my policy:
I just simply do not have time.
That is the short of it. But if you want the long of it, keep reading. The reasoning is multi-tiered:
I am a one woman show, so I really don't have the staff to dedicate time to repairs on ukuleles that were not purchased from me. Orders from my store turn around same or next day. I would like to be able to keep that part of my business a priority. I am super proud of that!
If the uke is that bad, sometimes it is a warranty claim and that should be taken up with your initial dealer before I modify your ukulele in any way. I am often asked to work on ukes that have warped necks, no neck relief, or broken braces. All of which should be taken up with your initial dealer.
I don't have a lot of excess time. I end up having to work late and my family time is very important to me.
If you drive hours to come to my shop, I will feel guilty you came so far, so I will try to set up your uke, even if it is beyond hope. But sometimes setting up certain ukuleles is the equivalent of polishing a turd (you can shine it up, but a turd is a turd), Since I don't want to disappoint you, I often end up spending hours that I don't have to try to fix something that can only be improved, but not perfected. And being a perfectionist it will bug me. In the end it will be better but may still have issues and then people say, "Mim set this up for me!" And I want to say... I did the best I could but PLEASE don't attach my name to this uke.
The same reasoning goes for why I do not allow ukuleles to be shipped to me for set-up. With an added element of not knowing who would be liable if the ukulele were to be damaged in shipping.
Then why do I set up ukes at uke fests? At a uke fest, you are there anyway for the event, so I can hand it back and say, "I don't feel comfortable working on this." or "This is an issue you need to take up with your initial dealer" and you have not lost time and money. And we get to know each other and a good time is had by all!
So if you are in the market for an ukulele, please come by my shop. I offer a very personalized boutique service where I take a lot of time with you to make sure you end up with the perfect ukulele. If you are buying an ukulele from me, I allocate enough time in my day to make sure you have plenty of time to browse and the ukulele you purchase will be set up to your specifications on the spot!
I am passionate about set-up! And I am passionate about players! And I want to see you be a successful player! Hence the write-up, because it is hard for a Mim to say 'no', so it is easier for me to provide a link to my official statement. So please don't hesitate to ask me to do a sweet set-up at an event. I will help bring your old ukulele back to life!
If I stop by, Can you teach me setup?
Due to constraints on my time, as well as a promise I made to the person who trained me, I do not teach set-up. There also is a lot of school of hard-knocks involved that can not be taught. And to be honest, it is a rabbit hole I do not wish to go down. I do teach a workshop at ukulele festivals called "The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Ukulele" that goes over many aspects of set-up, troubleshooting, and basic repair. I do not do private tutorials in my shop.