View Full Version : Converting slot bridge to string through?

01-19-2018, 06:15 AM
Hi everyone. I think this is my first post in this forum. I know some about setup work, but not so much other aspects that are more related to building or modifying. I'm thinking I will get the best advice here in this forum from you pros who build and do repairs.

Is it possible to convert pretty much any soprano uke that has a slotted bridge to one that will be a string through?
If so, is it just as simple as drilling holes down through the top in between the slots already there?

I have seen inside quite a few guitars, but not so much ukes. I'm not sure if the string through ones need to have a special bridge plate or what. The uke specifically in question here would be a Martin OX (HPL material) soprano I'll be trying. I'll be adding geared tuners, if I keep it, and doing a bit of nut and saddle work probably. I do have experience with those things, and good tools for them. I'm just thinking about going farther and doing this bridge mod if it is reasonable. I just really like the idea of string through vs. attaching with the standard slots.

Thanks in advance for reading this and any thoughts or advice. If you think this would be a stupid idea, with good reason not to do it, feel free to tell me that too. Ha.

01-19-2018, 06:54 AM
That would work. You don't need a special bridge plate for nylon strings. The nylon knots don't really chew up the underside wood like steel strings.

01-19-2018, 08:09 AM
If you do use the string through method, tie a glass bead on the end of the string.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-19-2018, 08:23 AM
new bridge

01-19-2018, 09:03 AM
Personally I'd replace the bridge with one with the design you want. And the glass bead is easy and the much safer option with a string through bridge.


01-19-2018, 10:00 AM
Since it's a Martin OX, and that HPL material is so tough, you won't have any issues on the underside. The beads are a good idea because you can end up with a string knot halfway pulled thru that's a pain to deal with. I think you're fine just drilling the bridge as is. Not sure what glue martin uses to attach to the HPL material. May be a lot of grief getting it off and a new one back on. Just be sure to use a drill bit accurately sized for each string.

01-19-2018, 10:43 AM
Hey jer, let me know how it goes if you do it, I’ve been wanting to do the same. On my Martin OX HPL, I installed the UPT tuners, drilled a side sound port, and I have tenor strings (Aquila AGxAQ) with the Aquila Red Low G tenor single string and I love it. String through bridge is what I was heavily considering next.

01-19-2018, 10:47 AM
I'll be adding geared tuners, ...

Funny how everyone has different preferences. I have seen sopranos that have geared tuners and I end up thinking- It would be great if it had friction pegs! Personally If I were to modify, I would throw a set of Pegheds on.

Have fun with the mods and let us know how it turns out.

01-19-2018, 12:42 PM
I've done it to a couple of my ukes right through the existing bridge, works perfectly fine. I used little plastic discs in which I drilled small holes to hold the knot.

http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Bridge string thru.jpg

7 tenor cutaway ukes, 3 acoustic bass ukes, 8 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini bass electric guitars

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01-19-2018, 12:51 PM
Thank you all.

Replacing a bridge completely is something I've never done before, so that is out of the question for me right now. I can make nuts and saddles from scratch and do tuner installs (ream, drill, etc.) and such, but not enough experience with the more structural type stuff like that to try it on this uke. I am comfortable with a drill though, so just drilling some holes in the top is something I'm confident I can pull off well.

I did decide I will be keeping the uke, so I got my Grover gears (model 9, white, 14:1 ratio) installed this afternoon and like them a lot better than the friction. I will say, those friction tuners that came with it were nice for what they were...just not for me.
I wasn't sure how this laminate neck capped off with the HPL material would react to my reamer for the tuning hole enlargement and then drill for the set screws on the tuners, but it went smoothly.

I'm going to experiment with strings a bit and probably get the rest of my nut and saddle setup fine tuned (if needed) before I make a final decision on the bridge. It may just stay as-is...I could go either way right now...I'm just wanting to weigh my options and make an informed decision.

We certainly do all have our own preferences, as noted above.
I got this uke at a discount from Musician's Friend with a coupon. It was still sealed in the box Martin sent it to them in. The factory setup was really good. The frets were even polished already.