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View Full Version : got my pono! question about uke nut filing



strongergodzilla
03-05-2008, 01:05 AM
I got my pono today from MGM on ebay, and this thing is great! very warm, balanced, and harmonics jump out of this thing. It came with ko'olau golds low g, and I purchased a pack of all nylon ko'olau golds to replace them with (i dont like wound strings).

so I take off the two wounds, swap on the two plains...problem

the nut slot for the C string is too small to accommodate the larger diameter C string. the wound C is only .036 while the plain C is a hefty .040 and now the string sits on top of the slot because it doesnt fit. I went to the local shop and the owner let me use his nut files and I widened it up a bit, it sits now normally, but i might have to open it up a bit more, it might be a touch snug.

did anyone else go through this? any quick fix anyone can through out. I dont want to royally screw up the nut, but its a pretty basic procedure, I think I can handle it ok. Also, realizing how big the slots are, is there any problem using strings like Worths, which are all pretty small in comparison (.032 being the biggest gauge in a tenor set i think)?

Other than that, its a beautiful uke, couldnt be more happy! video to come!

NukeDOC
03-05-2008, 06:46 AM
I got my pono today from MGM on ebay, and this thing is great! very warm, balanced, and harmonics jump out of this thing. It came with ko'olau golds low g, and I purchased a pack of all nylon ko'olau golds to replace them with (i dont like wound strings).

so I take off the two wounds, swap on the two plains...problem

the nut slot for the C string is too small to accommodate the larger diameter C string. the wound C is only .036 while the plain C is a hefty .040 and now the string sits on top of the slot because it doesnt fit. I went to the local shop and the owner let me use his nut files and I widened it up a bit, it sits now normally, but i might have to open it up a bit more, it might be a touch snug.

did anyone else go through this? any quick fix anyone can through out. I dont want to royally screw up the nut, but its a pretty basic procedure, I think I can handle it ok. Also, realizing how big the slots are, is there any problem using strings like Worths, which are all pretty small in comparison (.032 being the biggest gauge in a tenor set i think)?

Other than that, its a beautiful uke, couldnt be more happy! video to come!

its all good. if you end up with thinner strings, the deviation is not going to be noticeable at all. we're talking small fractions of an inch of deviation here. and even at that, i can almost guarantee, if the nut was cut by hand in the first place, its not spot on either. when playing you wont know the diff, as long as it doesnt buzz.

on my pono i didnt have a prob at all. switched out to the j71 pro artes with that fat ole C string and it fit fine into the nut. i did, however, shave a few mm off the bottom of the saddle. i just wasnt liking how high the action was at first. but then, i do that to all my ukes. so it wasnt a hassle for me. the finished product... mmmm gudness.

E-Lo Roberts
03-05-2008, 06:53 AM
godz, Here's a little luthier secret... go the Lowes, in their tool section, where the welding equipment is located, pick yourself up a small metal box that will contain even smaller filing sticks in it. Welder's use them to clean out their torches. However, they also work perfect for nut and bridge slot work. And oh yeah, it'll only cost you about $5! Have fun filing...e.lo........

strongergodzilla
03-05-2008, 11:23 AM
wow awesome tip e.lo, i was worried id have to invest in some tools from stewmac which cost a fortune!

and nuke, how did you go about shaving the saddle, any tips to help me make sure its uniform? I dont want screw it up :P

E-Lo Roberts
03-05-2008, 01:57 PM
wow awesome tip e.lo, i was worried id have to invest in some tools from stewmac which cost a fortune!

and nuke, how did you go about shaving the saddle, any tips to help me make sure its uniform? I dont want screw it up :P
godz, go to harbor tools and pick up a cheap little vise with a nice flat top. Take your saddle out and stick it upside down in the vise so that the bottom of the saddle is sticking out the top of the vise. Adjust the height to however much of the bottom you want to remove. Cut it off from the side with a micro saw (also at Harbor Tools) or simply sand it down with sandpaper. Then use a utility knife blade (take out of knife) to plane and smooth the saddle to the nice flat top of the vise. (use the blade sideways as in a scraping motion) pulling it towards your body. It will be perfectly smooth and flat when finished and a perfect right angle to boot....thanks, e.lo........

NukeDOC
03-05-2008, 05:45 PM
godz, go to harbor tools and pick up a cheap little vise with a nice flat top. Take your saddle out and stick it upside down in the vise so that the bottom of the saddle is sticking out the top of the vise. Adjust the height to however much of the bottom you want to remove. Cut it off from the side with a micro saw (also at Harbor Tools) or simply sand it down with sandpaper. Then use a utility knife blade (take out of knife) to plane and smooth the saddle to the nice flat top of the vise. (use the blade sideways as in a scraping motion) pulling it towards your body. It will be perfectly smooth and flat when finished and a perfect right angle to boot....thanks, e.lo........

that is the right way to do it. but im stubborn and too cheap to buy a table vise so i just laid a metal file on the floor, and rubbed the saddle back and forth until i wore away enough material.

on the ponos they use actual bone for the nut and saddle. so using a blade might not be as effective for planing the bottom of the saddle. if you do use the table vise (recommended), file it down, then use very fine sand paper to smoothen it out.

UkuLeLesReggAe
03-05-2008, 11:31 PM
I got my pono today from MGM on ebay, and this thing is great! very warm, balanced, and harmonics jump out of this thing. It came with ko'olau golds low g, and I purchased a pack of all nylon ko'olau golds to replace them with (i dont like wound strings).

so I take off the two wounds, swap on the two plains...problem

the nut slot for the C string is too small to accommodate the larger diameter C string. the wound C is only .036 while the plain C is a hefty .040 and now the string sits on top of the slot because it doesnt fit. I went to the local shop and the owner let me use his nut files and I widened it up a bit, it sits now normally, but i might have to open it up a bit more, it might be a touch snug.

did anyone else go through this? any quick fix anyone can through out. I dont want to royally screw up the nut, but its a pretty basic procedure, I think I can handle it ok. Also, realizing how big the slots are, is there any problem using strings like Worths, which are all pretty small in comparison (.032 being the biggest gauge in a tenor set i think)?

Other than that, its a beautiful uke, couldnt be more happy! video to come!
Congrats, can't wait to see how it sounds, post the video once done !!

E-Lo Roberts
03-06-2008, 07:48 AM
that is the right way to do it. but im stubborn and too cheap to buy a table vise so i just laid a metal file on the floor, and rubbed the saddle back and forth until i wore away enough material.

on the ponos they use actual bone for the nut and saddle. so using a blade might not be as effective for planing the bottom of the saddle. if you do use the table vise (recommended), file it down, then use very fine sand paper to smoothen it out.
Nuke, yes the file on the floor trick will defianately work, however, you're subject to movement left or right with your hand pressure. What happens is you tend to apply pressure to one side more than the other. Standing above a small saddle with this downward pressure, your arm tends to lean (or favor) the most comfortable position while pulling the saddle back and forth over the file. As you continue to file, more of one side of the saddle starts to be removed giving you a saddle that will lean to one side or the other when completed. It can also create rounding at one or both ends of the saddle. You may get lucky and file a perfect right angle (left, right, end-to-end) when finished, but it's not a guaranttee. The vise will remove any human error leaving a perfect right angle on all ends which will result in the complete bottom of the saddle in full contact with the bridge. The end result will be... more saddle to bridge contact = more string vibration to wood = better tone + better sustain.....thanks, e.lo..........

strongergodzilla
03-06-2008, 01:32 PM
alright guys, I performed the nut slot surgery and it all went well. the string sits where it should, the slot is good, last problem, all the strings are intonated well up the neck, except the 3rd which goes sharp at the 12th fret. The harmonic is fine, but fretted it jumps up a little.
the c string i have read, is commonly the one if any that is sharp and i want to know how to fit it. I do it on my electric all the time, sadly my uke doesnt have a length adjustable saddle haha. what can i do?

E-Lo Roberts
03-06-2008, 01:56 PM
godz, you only have a few tricks up your sleeve to solve this problem. The least offensive one is to file the top part of the saddle (on the questionable string) back so that the arc (where the string actually touches the saddle) makes contact at the backside of the saddle instead of some where in the middle. Remember, if the intonation is sharp then file to the back, if it is flat then file to the front of the saddle. Keep in mind that the thicker the width of the saddle, the more you can compensate for the intonation. If this does not correct your intonation on this string. You could do a few other more radical fixes (if the intonation is sharp). 1. widen the saddle slot on the backside (not easy) and put in a wider saddle then file as stated above. 2. Cut a groove out of the string area in question and place a "false" saddle piece behind the actual bridge allowing the string to arc over the new "false" saddle piece and pass over the original saddle space. (This second method would only work with a regular uke that does not have a pickup under the saddle. Because if the pickup sits under the saddle that string will not be heard when you plugged it in.)