If you are trying to play ukulele without sounding twangy, you really must add some sustain to your string. An open string is just a plain string without any kind of pitch adjustment, and a low string will have little if any tone variation as it’s not held to its resonance.
There are a few variables to look out for, though. If you’ve got an open string, the first thing you might want to do is add a high sustain to it. The easiest way to do this is just to cut and ream your open string. You can do this using a flat razor blade, a razor, or an electric guitar’s bridge pickup. Use a medium-to-sharply pitch setting, say a 1:1.
So now you’ve got a plain, open string, which can now have either a medium or soft-ish volume knob. Cut the strings and ream them to create a thicker string. Now re-enforce your open string with your high sustainer. Again, use a very low pitch setting to try to maintain the volume, and play your ukulele at a higher volume.
Do this for all the strings you have, and you’ll still have a very open string. You can go back to your usual open-string pattern and change the volume to either a medium or low setting.
If your ukulele is a little more fragile, you might want to experiment a little more.
So, is my ukulele too soft-sounding?
As I just pointed out the answer to that is a resounding ‘yes’ – you’re basically setting your ukulele too low! You might want to have an extra sustain added to your ukulele. This is a fairly easy technique to learn. You only have to cut and ream the string and re-enforce the open string, just as you did with the open string, except you now have a low sustainer.
In my practice I always add some extra sustain to my ukulele because it is very vulnerable with just a single string – especially if it is a thinner string.
I also always cut and ream the string back to its natural pitch, just as you did with your open string.
How do I get better at ukulele playing?
So now you’ve got a nice string that has some sustain to it – just how do you put it
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