View Full Version : Kasha Braced Uke

01-16-2016, 05:11 PM
I've been toying with the idea of building a Kasha system braced uke for awhile and I'm gonna finally get around to doing it. (Hey, I'm a little bored). Now I have never been a big believer in the Kasha system, and have even been known to poo-poo it. However I feel an experiment coming on. Nothing like actually doing something rather than talking about it to make things clearer. Plus I always thought the bridge thingy looked cool. My question is: Any Kasha system adherents out there and do they have any tips/precautions and would they mind passing on a blue-print for bracing a tenor? Negative comments on the Kasha system also welcome. My gut feeling is that the whole thing looks a little over-braced for an ukulele, but what the heck.

01-16-2016, 06:13 PM
I've built 4 Kasha Tenors. Keep in mind since there are about 4-5 times as many braces then a standard fan bracing style that the braces need to be very very small.

hawaii 50
01-16-2016, 06:38 PM

01-16-2016, 07:23 PM
I've built 4 Kasha Tenors. Keep in mind since there are about 4-5 times as many braces then a standard fan bracing style that the braces need to be very very small.

And did you like the sound?

01-16-2016, 07:37 PM
Remember, braces don't make the sound, only regulate what is already there in the top woods. Have fun but don't get your hopes up.

And did you like the sound?

01-16-2016, 09:36 PM
It's not really about the style of bracing. It's more about the style of how a builder works his magic. And yes i did like the sound.

01-17-2016, 06:21 PM
It's not really about the style of bracing. It's more about the style of how a builder works his magic. And yes i did like the sound.

I'm not sure I agree with this, but I'm not sure I disagree with you either. I do think that the style of bracing does make a difference. Lattice bracing sounds different to my ear than x-bracing, but then again maybe it had to do with the top and how the thing was built and maybe some magic... No worries, hopes are quite modest. We shall see. What a luthier (William Cumpiano) had to say about the Kasha design:

"I'm not an advocate of the Kasha system, so I'm not the best source of detailed information on it. Michael Kasha has been extolling the system's virtues for over a decade, and through a handful of zealous advocates has been trying to mainstream the system. It just hasn't caught on. He's tried to attain a mantle of scientific respectability for it by submitting the scheme to the Acoustical Society of America but has failed to get that august body of scientists to take his presentations seriously (I've been to conventions of that society where this has happened). Why? Because of the quality of his science. He makes little more than unsubstantiated claims and anecdotal explanations of why his scheme ought to work, but fails to show any data. You can claim anything, but no scientist will take you seriously without data to back you up.

But luthiers require far less stringent proof. He's gotten a lot of enthusiastic press and lot of earnest and proselyte followers, but it just has not caught on. The ear is the final arbiter, and it apparently just does not meet up to that final test. Let alone that it is far, far more complex than standard systems without the obvious increment in sound quality that would justify it.

Now if you're interested in a radical cutting edge system, take a look at the lattice bracing system, as introduced by the Australian luthier Greg Smallman. Now there's a noticeable and dramatic improvement in power with only a modest increment in complexity. I'm experimenting now with transferring the system to steel string tensions. Stay tuned. As for Kasha, I don't know: if you're impressed, follow it to where it will take you. But I am not.

Good luck and best wishes. "

J.F. Custom
01-17-2016, 07:50 PM
I've built with the Kasha system before and although the results were ok, in my opinion there are a number of bracing systems that can give "ok" results or better. Some of which, such as standard bracing, are far less complicated to create - others are more complex like the aforementioned lattice. I've not built with Lattice in ukes before, but believe Allen of Barron River has experimented quite a bit with that, so he may be of more assistance if you go down that path.

I guess you need to work out what you're trying to achieve. Granted, I have not built enough in Kasha to suggest I have extracted the most it could provide, but I do feel it has inherent inadequacies in it's design, for a lot of extra work. In fact, probably the biggest supporter of Kasha's design principles in ukuleles that I'm aware of is Eric DeVine. He builds with a Kasha based design, BUT, as far as I'm aware, he installs a mini version of the "Bridge Doctor" in every one he makes from the start. What does that suggest about the system? Usually, those devices are installed to 'rescue' a collapsed belly due to over rotation of the bridge and inadequate or problematic bracing. True, some preach the tonal benefits of the bridge doctor in any case, but I'm no fan of building that into the design. I should mention this is no dig at Eric or his work whatsoever - he clearly has his design working for him and his customers.

Personally, I'm certainly in no hurry to return to Kasha though it was good experience and referencing for building more generally. I'm all for considered experimentation.

I little while ago, I had a customer who wanted something that would sound different to his other ukuleles and suggested a Kasha build - also, because he liked the aesthetics. Long story short, through discussion over what he was trying to achieve and expressing my opinion in the shortcomings of Kasha, we agreed to try a different approach. I came up with a modified design aimed at meeting his requirements of 'different' sound (to his other 'standard' instruments) and aesthetics. I used a modified Falcate bracing and to accommodate a Kasha 'look', an offset upper bout soundhole and side port. This was the result -


I actually wrote about that build here, along with more photos -


Hope that helps.

Pete Howlett
01-18-2016, 03:01 AM
Said it before - what's the point? It's a folk instrument... Kasha sadly could not 'prove;' the point for his bracing system. Lattice braced tops and double Novex tops etc are fun to try but for a ukulele? I think I could find a better use for my time. Torres got it right with fan bracing, Martin with the X brace in my very opinionated opinion...

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-18-2016, 04:42 AM
i recently did a repair on a kasha braced tenor which was ineffectually braced.
The maker wasn't american (thats all ill say on the maker) and im not sure how thick teh redwood top was, but the bracing didn't work at all and after only 12 months the top was totally rooted (to use an Australian term). The top had major dipping in front of the bridge, and the bridge was rotating so much that the intonation was out (but i dont think the saddle location was placed correctly anyway).

The Fix- i added two braces-
First brace was from the treble waist, near the soundhole and under the fingerboard.
Second brace was waist to waist OVER 7 freakin kasha braces (see pic)

I had to do all this through that tiny soundhole and an even smaller side sound port- twas a tricky repair.

SO, i restablished a good 28' top radius- the top is still dipped in front of the bridge but it is way, way more stable. It was this fix or a total retop.

I've been told the sustain is now better on this instrument.

Like Pete said- Kasha- ....why?????-
It can be a very effectual system (look at Eric Devine's success with it) but i feel that you get as good a tone with 3 fans for alot less work then 20 kasha braces. It is probably worth luthiers trying out at least once so you understand it- its a bit like a mind game really.


01-18-2016, 07:07 AM
I've heard a few on youtube videos and they sounded very.....ukulele like. Sound quality on youtube varies a lot but I don't think the Kasha bracing makes a big difference in sound for a ukulele. You'd have to decide for yourself
It would be a nice change if you're bored with the regular patterns. They look kinda cool anyway.

01-18-2016, 09:36 AM
It is my opinion that those who start uke building, stay with the fan brace system for at least the first ten builds. Until you begin to grasp what happens with top deflection when the uke is strung up, best to build with a system that has a proven record over many years. Too often, beginners (and I include myself years ago) try to reinvent the top bracing pattern when it is not necessary or needed, and they waste valuable time, energy and materials.

The Kasha system does not do what it is reported to do, especially with ukes, this has been proven simply by the fact that if it had, most luthiers would jump on that band wagon. There are always those that believe what they want to believe, regardless of any proof. All those who want to try the Kasha system should do so, how else will you get over it, maybe you can get it to work better than the simple fan design. Most of all, have fun.

01-18-2016, 06:27 PM
It is probably worth luthiers trying out at least once so you understand it- its a bit like a mind game really.

Those were some scary pictures Beau. Slight nightmare... Yes, my trying it out is (was) so I could understand "the system", however I notice a significant dip in my motivation. I wasn't really aware of the structural weaknesses. This gives me big pause. An average sounding uke is one thing, but an average sounding uke with structural top problems is quite another.