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    Ukulele Won't Stay In Tune

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I've carried on and on about how some brand new and inexpensive ukuleles need to be tuned over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Seriously. I have this new Blue Cheap Uke that I've had to tune well over a hundred times in the last week. Really makes me grumpy. But it IS getting there. I can play whole songs on it now. It WILL get better. As long as it keeps improving, there is indeed hope.


But sometimes, that's not really what's going on. Sometimes, the string actually pulls the tuning peg back so that it becomes loose again! Sometimes this happens right away, sometimes after a couple of good strums, sometimes within a few minutes. Sometimes one string does it - sometimes some or all. It may seem like the ukulele is just broken and needs to be thrown away, because it will never, ever, ever, be in tune. I get lots of emails about this. And I think, 9 times out of 10, the problem can be solved with the proper screwdriver and a gentle touch.

There are lots of different ways to assemble the tuning pegs that are used on ukuleles, but almost all of them involve one, two, or three screws that are part of the tuning mechanism itself. Sometimes, if one of these little screws is a little too loose, the peg will not be able to hold the tension on the string. Look at your tuning mechanism. Puzzle over which of those little screws may not be tight enough to keep the peg from winding back as soon as a tight string pulls on it.

Find a screwdriver that properly fits the suspect screw. Then very, very gently tighten that screw just a little tiny bit. If you make it too tight - you'll have a whole complicated new set of problems. Just give it a little turn - and try to see if there's any difference. If anything starts to sieze up - back off. Try other screws, other turns - you may just "repair" the instrument with a few simple turns if you're thoughtful and careful about what you're doing.

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