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Thread: Compenstated saddle?

  1. #1
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    Default Compenstated saddle?

    Hi,
    My luthier checked out one of my ukes that has intonation issues about the 7th fret. No, it's not saddle height, because one string is sharp, and the one next to it is flat.
    He said to get a compensated saddle made of bone (not plastic).
    Does anyone know where I could find such a critter?
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  2. #2
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    Why can't you compensate the existing saddle?

    All you need is a nail file or an emery board and lots of patience as you gently shave off a hair at a time and verify the intonation with your tuner? Rinse & repeat until intonation is fixed.

    This is an iterative and slow process - for if you goo too far and too fast, you WILL need a replacement saddle and then start over from scratch. Most uke saddle blanks are less than $10 from the sources I have pointed to in my post linked below.

    See my recent post here for places to get a saddle blank: http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...88#post2022688

    Keep in mind that no 'new' or 'blank' saddle is going to perfectly fit the slot in a given instrument and will need to be sanded down both in thickness and in height to fit, as well as individually compensate for THAT specific instrument and THAT specific set of strings.

    You can do this yourself, it's is NOT complicated, but tedious, and if your luthier has told you to buy a new saddle, instead of tweak the existing one (without a good reason), I am suspect of this advice. Is he over-booked or just not interested?

    YouTube has lots of videos demonstrating the process, include those by Joel of HMS, if you need them, I can see what I have in my bookmarks.

    Hope this helps!
    Just the FAQs __________Less > more.__________Serenity now, insanity later.

  3. #3
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    Hi, Booli!

    Quote Originally Posted by Booli View Post
    You can do this yourself, it's is NOT complicated, but tedious, and if your luthier has told you to buy a new saddle, instead of tweak the existing one (without a good reason), I am suspect of this advice. Is he over-booked or just not interested?
    My guess is that her luthier is guitar luthier. There are many compensated saddles of guitars. He use compensated saddle for guitars and he doesn't make it from straight saddle in usual. And he never had a high G compensated saddle of ukulele. I think we just need to get a high G compensated saddle in the Internet and bring it to him. Then he can make it fit for her ukulele. I think her saddle is now straight one.
    Last edited by zztush; 12-14-2017 at 12:51 PM.
    Kamaka HF-1 100

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickie View Post
    Hi,
    My luthier checked out one of my ukes that has intonation issues about the 7th fret. No, it's not saddle height, because one string is sharp, and the one next to it is flat.
    He said to get a compensated saddle made of bone (not plastic).
    Does anyone know where I could find such a critter?
    I can’t solve your problem but maybe my own ‘journey' might help you.

    I bought a Uke off of eBay, it was second hand Soprano but a model I wanted that’s rarely available in the U.K. . The intonation was way out, but progressively I’ve improved it and now it’s pretty much a green light on the tuner at all the frets and on all the strings - my rough target is to be near enough spot-on pitch, on all strings, at the twelfth fret. Maybe my work doesn’t apply to you but it might or might give encouragement.

    The nut wasn’t a good fit against the fretboard and neither was it cut correctly for the strings. A new nut was fitted and the slots cut for the correct height above the first fret, some improvement gained. The strings were suspect so I replaced them with a new set of Aquila’s that were fully packaged for retail sale, once the strings settled some further improvement gained - never trust the strings to be 100%. The saddle was heigher than it needed to be so I sanded down the base a little, again some improvement but I was still going sharp up the fretboard. I discarded the saddle and got a new one the top of which I sloped and slightly radiued to match the string fall, the strings break on the back edge. Again some improvement. Finally I reduced the saddle height further and it is now as low as I can make it, again some slight improvement.

    Where am I now with tuning and intonation? I have the sum of many slight improvements and that sum is worth having - a great difference. My saddle is plastic and works more than well enough, bone might be better but it’s harder to work (shape) and less available. I suggest that you go for plastic and see what you do to improve things, change to bone later if you like and have discovered what works. I’d also fit some good new strings too before you start, just to be sure that there’s no issue there.

    I hope that sharing my own ‘journey’ above is helpful to you.

    Where can you get a compensated saddle? I spotted a plastic one on eBay.com and suggest you have a look at Amazon.com too. Specialist mail order Uke shops in the US are likely to be able to help too.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 12-14-2017 at 12:44 PM.

  5. #5
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    Thanks Booli, zz, and Graham!
    My luthier is jammed with work, and is having cataract surgery soon, he's having trouble seeing. He is a guitar guy, but has repaired several of my ukes, and I've sent him a lot of other uke work. He even built 2 ukes that I know of, not bad sounding and looking at all.
    I will proceed with a couple of plastic blanks and try this with the help of YouTube.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  6. #6
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    Unless it's a really wide saddle, which is very uncommon for ukes, there isn't much room for compensation. I've compensated several myself (one recently) that resulted in such little change that it wasn't worth it in the end. I've had more success finding a different kind or gauge of string (takes some experimentation for sure) to give better intonation than compensating the saddle.
    Hopefully the fret placement is correct all the way up on your instrument.
    There are quite a few ukes, including Flukes and Fleas, that have great intonation with straight saddles. I guess I'm just saying, don't expect it to be a cure-all. You might spend hours getting the job done with little difference made...just trying to be realistic here. That said, it's good practice and always good when you can learn to work on your own instruments.

    In the end, just remember there is no such thing as perfect intonation with a fretted instrument. You might also consider slightly tuning a string sharp or flat to find a good middle ground between the open note and higher up frets. A lot of guitarists do this.
    Last edited by jer; 12-14-2017 at 03:37 PM.

  7. #7
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    Playing my Magic Fluke and grinning like a fool!

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the enlightenment, jer!
    I still may try, I like noodling with stuff like this....my ukes always end up with mods...
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  9. #9
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    Thanks maki!
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickie View Post
    Thanks for the enlightenment, jer!
    I still may try, I like noodling with stuff like this....my ukes always end up with mods...
    Same here. I do seem to like an instrument a bit more if I have some work in it. It personalizes it a bit.

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