View Full Version : Installing a MISI undersaddle pickup

01-17-2018, 03:42 PM
Had to install a couple of these so shot a few pictures of the procedure.

You will need a 1/2 inch hole for the input jack. I pilot drill this first with a 3.5mm bit because it's also the size I will use for the bridge. Then I use a step drill who's maximum size is that 1/2 inch. It will cut a nice clean hole that follows the pilot hole.


The bridge requires a hole on both sides of the saddle slot. At approximately 45 degrees at each end so the ribbon has an easy entry and exit from the saddle slot.

This is because the terminated end of the ribbon is inactive and it needs to be fed through the bridge enough to get an active area under the saddle. Sure sign that you haven'd done this right is the A string will sound dead when played throug an amp.

I make by saddles 4.0mm wide in part because it allows me to use a 3.5mm drill for the pickup ribbon. It's 3.2mm wide and makes threading it through the hole from the inside so much easier.


The pickup needs to have it's stop nut adjusted to fit the tail block. I use the brass rod to fit through the hole in the end block and clip the pickup to it through the sound hole. Pull it into place and determine if it's set correctly, or needs some adjustment.


Some fine copper wire is handy to feed through the hole in the saddle slot to attach to the ribbon. Some careful coaxing through the sound hole of the ribbon and gentle tugging on the copper wire will fish the ribbon through. Note that you will want to have the copper wire as close to the end of the ribbon as possible and exiting more or less in line with it.


And the ribbon in place in the saddle slot with a bit of the terminated side pushed through the opposite hole I drilled in the saddle slot.


01-17-2018, 06:06 PM
In case you don't have a long piece of brass like Allen has with a 1/4 inch jack end to use to pull the the end pin female jack into the end hole, you can just use a 1/4 inch jacked guitar cable. Just take off the plastic or brass fittings and push the bare jack through the hole, feed it up towards the sound hole, plug into the female and then just pull the cable back out the hole to seat. A little magic trick like making a ship in a bottle. Does that make sense?

01-17-2018, 08:08 PM
or just use a wooden dowel. I have one that fits snug, pulls that jack through the hole nicely.

Pegasus Guitars
01-18-2018, 06:28 AM
I've installed a lot of these saddle slot pickups, and although it should be logical, make sure the saddle is a loose sliding in fit in the slot. Especially in humid climates, a saddle slot too tightly made will bind up the saddle and not allow the necessary downward pressure on the pickup element. As Brian said, you can use a 1/4" wooden dowel to pull the endpin jack through. Slightly crush the end with pliers and you'll get a nice tight fit in the jack.

01-18-2018, 09:06 PM
I made my own jack "puller" with a wasted 1/4" jack soldered onto a metal shaft. Gotta say, the one thing in this whole process I would change is getting me one of those brass shafts. That is bad ass!

Like this install, I drill the two holes in all my bridges as that's what I use to keep the bridge in place when gluing. Plus, it makes it easy when HMS has to install a Five.O (which has the same UST as the MiSi) - the holes are already there. Of course, that was before moving to hide glue and my vacuum press - I now drill the holes in the bridge, but not through the top.

In addition to what Bob stated about the saddle being able to move, I cut the slot for a Turner Tilt-Back Saddle, especially for UST installs. Beau, where you at?

If anyone was wondering how to install a UST, Allen describes this process very well. If you can't install one after his post, maybe have someone else do it?

01-19-2018, 10:10 AM
All my saddles have the 7 degree tilt back. Been doing it so many years now I don't even thing about it. Just part of the machining setups on my CNC.

I used the wood dowel method for a few years then wanted something better. The brass rod is a home made job on the metal lathe. Took about 10 minutes to get the shape right.

01-19-2018, 08:13 PM
All my saddles have the 7 degree tilt back.

Now that is pretty radical. Is that square on or with compensation? Is this because of bridge rotation? Enquiring minds like to know.

01-19-2018, 08:30 PM
Now that is pretty radical. Is that square on or with compensation? Is this because of bridge rotation? Enquiring minds like to know.

Scroll to the bottom "Electronics".
The back story of how he created the angle was shared by Rick on a private group.

Here's a doc from Fishman, reprinted from a Ken Parker ASIA article:

Joe King
01-19-2018, 09:15 PM
Now that is pretty radical. Is that square on or with compensation? Is this because of bridge rotation? Enquiring minds like to know.

Over the years, I've read about many luthiers making guitars with saddles tilted back in some way.

I do not have sources, but this is not an entirely new thing. Application to ukulele may be new however.

01-19-2018, 09:38 PM
Now that is pretty radical. Is that square on or with compensation? Is this because of bridge rotation? Enquiring minds like to know.

Its square to the line of the strings. If you think about the forces acting on the saddle with it 90 degrees to the soundboard you'll see that those strings are trying to roll that saddle towards the sound hole. However if it's tilted back the string force is driving the saddle further into the saddle slot.

There are a few advantages to this set up. One with an undersaddle pickup. It forces good contact onto the pickup. With poorly fitting saddles its possible for the saddle to roll forward in the slot and have poor contact.

But there is also the advantage that adjustments to string relief at the 12th fret will also be compensated for as if you lower the saddle, the break point will move slightly forward.

I'm certainly not the first. I started doing this on my guitars years ago and it was just logical to move this over to ukuleles. I know of several custom uke builders that have been building this way for several years.