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Thread: Pono UL4-10 baritone uke/tenor guitar - intonation issues

  1. #1

    Default Pono UL4-10 baritone uke/tenor guitar - intonation issues

    Hi all.
    I just purchased a new Pono UL4-10 string string baritone uke/tenor guitar with 21" scale. The instrument has a fixed bridge with bone saddle.

    My intent is to keep it tuned as an octave mandolin. However the instrument has intonation issues, so badly in fact, when open tuning is correct, intonation is sharp starting at lower frets (e.g. 5th) and continuing up the fretboard to at least the 12th fret.

    The instrument manufacturer says that it could be defective springs and that "Our bridges are all in the correct location". I changed strings to D'Addarion EJ66 which is lighter gauge and different material to no avail. Still has the same or maybe worse intonation problem.

    Has anyone else experienced this? Any ideas on cause other than bridge/saddle placement? Suggestions for correction?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: Pono UL4-10 baritone uke/tenor guitar - intonation issues

    Intonation can vary with the diameter and composition of the strings you use. If the instrument's designed to be tuned one way, and you put different strings on it and tune it differently, you may find the intonation inaccurate.

    And, with a fixed bridge, your capacity for adjusting the intonation is limited. Consistent "sharping" is sometimes associated with too-high action, as the strings are stretched more when pressed to the fretboard, so you could try lowering the action and see if that helps. Do all the strings "sharp" equally? If it's more of a problem on some strings, a compensated bridge saddle may help. However, if what you're getting is significant mis-intonation across all four strings, you may have to remake or relocate the bridge if you plan to keep it in octave mandolin tuning.

    I could get a bit snarky and suggest you get an OM, but that's really unfair. I have encountered other cases of players having difficulty when they try to set up instruments to be other than what they were designed for –– mandolin in ukulele tuning (or vice versa), mandolin in guitar tuning, tenor guitar as mandocello, etc. The evident advantage of the standard mandolin floating bridge/tailpiece set-up, with its ample opportunity for adjustment, shows up when you're dealing with a fixed-bridge instrument such as your Pono.
    Allen Hopkins
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  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Norfolk, VA

    Default Re: Pono UL4-10 baritone uke/tenor guitar - intonation issues

    Not being familiar with the Pono UL4-10 baritone uke I thought it must have 10 strings. Not so. Four strings only. Should be called UL4-10 STEEL string baritone uke. Perhaps if you tried tuning it as a baritone uke instead of an octave mandolin you might get a different result with the intonation. I have no idea why this might be unless perhaps it would be due to the string gauges used for a baritone uke vs. octave mandolin strings. All the youtube demos I've seen show it played as a baritone uke. Perhaps that is the only way it will intonate correctly with the saddle set up the way it is. Just a thought. Good luck with it, I love the octave mandolin and I hope you find a way to make it work out.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Pono UL4-10 baritone uke/tenor guitar - intonation issues

    Thanks all. It is actually sold as a steel string baritone uke/tenor guitar. It has a 21" scale, a little shorter than a typical tenor guitar. I had worked on the action earlier and I don't think I can go much further, I'm nearly out of the band of suggested string height. I have changed to a heavy gauge acoustic bronze phosphor set and that seems to have helped alot. String gauges are 49/39/27/18 and are the middle 4 strings from a D'Addario EJ18 guitar set. Before the string change, I did notice some of the "sharping" was due to flexing of strings between frets. I have questions pending with the manufacturer as to whether the build can handle the tuning and gauge strings. I still have slight sharping at the 12th fret for the low string though it may be tolerable.

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