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View Full Version : has anyone tried cutting a side port on something that didn't come with one?



spookelele
02-17-2015, 05:04 AM
Just curious what it would do.

On the one hand, I would expect sound to come up toward me, which is what I want. But the physics and math of what that might do is melting my brain.

What I'm thinking I want to do, is order that Kala waterman. And if it's really not loud like it seems in the vids, cut a side port, and possibly make a plug for the top port if the new hole really messes up the helmholtz resonance.

I want a weather proof uke for backpacking that can take some battering strapped to my pack. I expect I'll be playing mostly by myself in the evenings, or maybe take it with on day hikes. But outdoors, a quiet uke is even quieter because of the space, so I'm thinking if I can throw the sound up toward me more, it would be almost as good as being louder.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone has tried adding a side port, and what the experience was.

river_driver
02-17-2015, 05:48 AM
Kind of - I've pulled the electronics from an A/E uke (Kala Archtop), which left a hole in the side, effectively a side port. I don't think it had any negative impact on the sound, if it did anything having the side port improved it.

The Waterman ukes are supposed to start at about $40 when they hit the market, at that price it's cheap enough to experiment on.

deschutestrout
02-17-2015, 06:50 AM
Cut a hole, fill it with whiskey, plug it, and see how the sound changes as your beverage is consumed :cool:

river_driver
02-17-2015, 07:05 AM
Cut a hole, fill it with whiskey, plug it, and see how the sound changes as your beverage is consumed :cool:

I'm guessing the capacity of a soprano uke is maybe 2 to 2.5 liters...that's a lot of whiskey!

Jeffelele
02-17-2015, 12:32 PM
I have a Lanikai lu 21T and have given some thought to using a hole saw drillbit on the side. This thing seems built
solidly enough to to take it but I worry that the idea is a bit too crazy.

The biggest reason I consider doing it seems to be just for the hell of it. It did seem to sound better to me when a friend played it than it sounds to me when I play it but for the sound not the difference in player. Can't get a new uke yet so maybe I can rejuvenate the one I have.

Anyone try this on a similar uke?

Jeff

kissing
02-17-2015, 02:08 PM
My Kala Archtop has a heart shaped side port that I cut out:

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y121/pactio_kiss/20140827_2142001_zps8b9887a2.jpg

It has made the uke sound more open sounding and loud for the player

mds725
02-17-2015, 04:40 PM
Side ports in wooden ukuleles need to be braced in some way, and I've heard luthiers say that it's difficult if not impossible to add the bracing after the fact, so they won't try to install side sound ports in wooden ukuleles that aren't built with one in mind. Plastic is probably a whole different thing.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
02-17-2015, 04:47 PM
A side side port is the biggest improvement you can make to your uke by taking something away. Installing one after market shouldn't be too hard if you keep a couple of things in mind. I've done it a few times on other people's ukes but it's best by far if it's built into the uke from the beginning. The biggest disadvantage is that the SSP will have no backing to strengthen the hole. Not the best case scenario but acceptable. To be safe I wouldn't use a hole cutter that could walk all over the curved surface. I would drill a fair sized starter hole and increase the size with 1/2" sanding drum in a Dremel tool. If you were building an uke with a SSP you'd make the main sound hole a bit smaller to compensate for it to keep the pitch the same. You won't have that option with an uke that's already built so I'd start rather small, not much bigger than 1" or so in diameter. You can always increase it to get the desired results. Installing a SSP can yield remarkable results at times and at other times the change is barely perceivable, depending upon a variety of factors. (It almost certainly won't be worse though.) I have found that, if everything is planned well, the uke will sound more open, appearing louder to the player while not sacrificing forward projection. (In most cases forward projection will increase.) It won't make a bad uke sound like a million bucks but it should improve it somewhat. Practice on your $30 uke though before you start making holes in your Kamaka! Not a job for the faint of heart but doable for anyone with moderate skills.

kissing
02-17-2015, 07:21 PM
Side ports in wooden ukuleles need to be braced in some way, and I've heard luthiers say that it's difficult if not impossible to add the bracing after the fact, so they won't try to install side sound ports in wooden ukuleles that aren't built with one in mind. Plastic is probably a whole different thing.

Yet many active acoustic electrics have that big hole where the sideport would go to fit the pre-amp. I don't think having a sideport weakens the uke or needs special bracing

TheCraftedCow
02-18-2015, 12:11 AM
I have done several side ports. 3 varying sized hearts on a diagonal with just the exposed wood coloured red with a Sharpie pen ---- a green uke with "duck prints closely rimmed with official Duck Yellow paint with small orange flecks on the inside edges ( If yer gonna be a Duck ya gotta step on some Beaver----Go DUCKS) and an orange ukulele with the profile of a beaver which has a piece of thin brown fuzzy short napped fabric glued to the inside, so the Beaver feels soft and from any angle it is obviously Go BEAVS and the innards of the uke are not seen and detract. I drill a pilot hole and remove the other wood with a long thin scalpel taking small pieces at a time. Conventional ovals are placed and traced from a commercial template. Many holes are cut a bit inside of the line. When they are cut with the sharp tip from hole to hole, the big center comes out and the slow and easy removing of the material to make the shape is much easier to do.

If you want to put a thin brace around the edge, there is a sure and easy way to do it. I put a piece of firm closed cell foam rubber inside of a plastic baggie. Glue does not stick to a baggie. It is a little larger than the opening you have made. Put the foam in the baggie behind your shaped area so it has a backing to it with a rim beyond the edge. with a piece of veneer that is no more than 1/4 of an inch all the way around, remove most of the inside of the center, so you have created an inside frame for whatever shape is your side port. There are a couple of different ways to get that to the inside. That backer piece of foam will help you. Place the uke so the hole is on the top side. Put the outline through the sound hole and then push the plastic covered foam behind it. When the backer foam is in place, Istuff other pieces of foam through the sound hole to keep a pressure on the backer in the bag behind the rim You can move the wood into place, so it doesn't have to be perfect at first. Whe it is where you want it, and the foam is holding it firmly in place, take a small hypodermic syringe full of yellow woodworker's glue, with the needle on it, squeeze a thin line of glue between the rim and the uke. The pressure of the foam will act as an internal clamp to keep the pressure on the two surfaces while it dries. When you remove all of the foam from the inside, your side port will be braced. If it needs trimmed , do it very gently. I am not a "luthier" I am an upholsterer. This material and method has made replacing/repairing some really nasty holes and cracks a quick-easy-effective-cheap way to make repairs. Depending on the size of your port, you really may not even need to reinforce the edge. A lot depends on the thinness of the side . (you can get the needle and syringe at any feed store)