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caz
05-20-2009, 03:46 PM
The bridge/saddle on my Kala Tenor just popped off yesterday evening. It appears the glue just gave way. The bridge ended up snapping in half as it came undone from the body. Upon examining the piece, it appears the Kala bridge has a weak center made this way for cosmetic appearances. Other uke bridges seem to be one solid flat piece as the Kala bridge is beveled.

Has anyone repaired a broken bridge before? I am guessing that its not worth trying to salvage the bridge as it probably won't hold together with the tension from the strings. I suppose I should just toss it and order a replacement bridge?

My Kala is pretty inexpensive so perhaps this is just a loss and not worth trying to fix. Anyway, would like to know if anyone else had this problem and what they did.

To be honest, I was thinking of getting a new uke anyway. Maybe one of those Mainland uke's everyone has been raving about lately.

Ugh. For the meantime, I'm just strumming away on my cheap $20 soprano uke that goes out of tune after every song I play. Sigh.

Choboy
05-20-2009, 03:49 PM
sorry about the news. =(
if i were you i'd use your broken uke as a "practice repair uke".

and mainland ukes are def something you should check out!
they sound great!
check out youtube for some reviews!

seeso
05-20-2009, 04:31 PM
That's too bad, caz. You didn't leave your uke in a hot car, did you?

You can buy blank bridges (http://www.hanalimastore.com/servlet/Categories?category=Parts&searchpath=81009&start=9&total=36) from the Hana Lima 'Ia store. They're only 8 or 9 bucks. I'd buy one and try to glue it on.

I wouldn't know how to go about gluing it on to the uke, though. It's worth the money just to learn how to do it in case it ever happens again.

caz
05-20-2009, 05:29 PM
Thanks for the link Seeso!

I'm worried that it may already be a lost cause. The spot where the bridge tore off is a little weak as the glue ripped off a thin layer of wood.

Funster
05-20-2009, 06:20 PM
I don't think it's worth fixing with the wood tearing off. There's more tension there than you think. It's a good excuse to get a better uke.

I have three KALAs. Hope mine stay on!

carpekd
05-20-2009, 06:27 PM
I hope this never happens to my archtop kala...

That would be a pain

haole
05-20-2009, 07:41 PM
It's worth sanding down the affected area and installing a new bridge, I think. Had it been a really nice uke, I'd say contact the company and have them sort it out, but I think it would be a pretty easy, inexpensive fix for your Kala and it'll give you some practice with repairs.

If the top is structurally compromised, that's a different story.

Either way, it's an excuse to buy a new uke. ;)

buddhuu
05-20-2009, 10:33 PM
It may be worth attempting a repair, but I can foresee a few possible difficulties.

For a start I think I would be inclined to do what Seeso mentioned and get a replacement bridge. It doesn't matter too much from a practical point of view if the bridge isn't exactly the same shape as the original Kala bridge. The important thing would be to position it so that the saddle was at precisely the same distance from the nut as the original. If you don't get that right then the instrument's intonation is screwed and it'll never play in tune.

One problem is that you say the incident tore some wood off the top. The trouble with that is that it means there isn't a nice large, flat surface for gluing. I'm not 100% how well wood filler takes glue, but I think I'd try filling to bring the surface level. Give the filler time to set and cure - maybe a week to be sure (probably overkill!). After that sand it completely flat with very fine paper. Of course, you'd also need to strip the finish from any section of the top which makes contact with the bridge. You can't glue on top of varnish or lacquer.

After making sure that the filled top and the underside of the bridge were completely clean and free of grease I would try to glue the bridge on with Titebond (NOT the liquid hide glue kind, but the plain old Titebond - the red one if I recall correctly).

Now comes the real problem... You only need a very thin film of glue to get a good joint, but you do need to be able to clamp it tight while the glue sets. A bridge is in a pretty awkward place to clamp. There are clamps that do the job - StewMac have every kind you could need for instrument repair - but of course, like most tools, they come at a price. Maybe you could improvise something?

If it were mine I think I would save up and have it repaired professionally. My Kala is only an inexpensive tenor, but I already love it.

Anyway, I'm very sorry for your mishap. I hope you get something sorted out. :shaka:

Ahnko Honu
05-21-2009, 12:44 AM
I suggest you post your dilemma in the luthiers section, and I know you'll get "sound" advice from the many pros there as far as reattaching a new bridge.
http://ukuleleunderground.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=30

seeso
05-21-2009, 01:29 AM
I suggest you post your dilemma in the luthiers section, and I know you'll get "sound" advice from the many pros there as far as reattaching a new bridge.
http://ukuleleunderground.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=30

I'll go ahead and move it there for him.

dave g
05-21-2009, 02:41 AM
Rather than giving up on it, you might try something like this:

http://www.wsukes.com/temp/bridgerepair.jpg

UkeNukem
05-21-2009, 04:50 AM
I may have need of this info soon. What are we looking at here? Do the strings go through holes in the top and get knotted? Is the bridge held just by string tension? :confused:

dave g
05-21-2009, 06:42 AM
I may have need of this info soon. What are we looking at here? Do the strings go through holes in the top and get knotted? Is the bridge held just by string tension? :confused:

Pretty much so, yes. Glue it on , of course, but the glue joint doesn't have to do much of anything. As long as there is a bridge plate underneath it should be fine.

UkeNukem
05-21-2009, 07:44 AM
Thanks, but when you say "bridge plate" do you mean a thicker piece of wood on the other side of the top? Something thick enough to drill holes into and support the knotted strings?

ksquine
05-21-2009, 08:00 AM
That's a strange place for it to break :confused:
It couldn't hurt to try to fix it. If the saddle part is still glued in place ....you could just glue the tie bar area back on. Its just a place to hold the strings so position doesn't matter much. You could even do a tail piece fix. Then you could fix it AND get a new uke too :nana:
If you get a bridge blank to replace it, you'll need some tools to do the final shaping. That could make it not worth the effort

Kekani
05-21-2009, 08:31 AM
"Glue joints are stronger than wood." Fairly common statement in woodworking circles - there was a "test" in Wood Magazine the other month (I think). You already have the guidelines to achieve this - not too much glue (Titebond original), GREAT clamping pressure.

You have two things to clamp - the tie block area to the saddle area (basically the bridge itself), and the bridge to the body. Be sure that clamping pressure is ALL around the bridge, especially the tie block area (this is what probably caused it pull in the first place). You can buy a deep throat clamp (maybe Linda has some for sale) and make a caul for the bridge. Depending on the bracing, you may need one for the bridge patch as well. I'm too lazy to make a caul, so I use three clamps on bridges - now that I have a MIG at my house, I'll make a steel caul similar to Stew Mac's.

Personally, I'd use epoxy for this fix. Why? It gap fills so any wood lost during the break will be filled, and its a Kala - you'll probably not worry about removing the bridge in the future.

-Aaron

buddhuu
05-21-2009, 10:05 PM
[...]
Personally, I'd use epoxy for this fix. Why? It gap fills so any wood lost during the break will be filled, and its a Kala - you'll probably not worry about removing the bridge in the future.[...]


I wouldn't have thought of that. You think that would work well, Aaron?

I'm taking a great interest in this thread. Since Caz posted his tale of woe I'm kind of paranoid in case the bridge on my Kala pops! It's like hypochondria - I've already convinced myself that there is the tiniest gap between the back edge of the bridge and the top (just as there is on every uke I own!). I think it's just that glue didn't go right up to every edge when the ukes were built, but I think I may start to lose sleep soon! :D

As for that unorthodox through-top stringing arrangement... Is that likely to have any significant impact on the way the sound energy is transmitted to the top? Would it change the sound a lot, do you guys think?

Kekani
05-21-2009, 10:21 PM
. . .I've already convinced myself that there is the tiniest gap between the back edge of the bridge and the top (just as there is on every uke I own!). I think it's just that glue didn't go right up to every edge when the ukes were built, but I think I may start to lose sleep soon! :D

As for that unorthodox through-top stringing arrangement... Is that likely to have any significant impact on the way the sound energy is transmitted to the top? Would it change the sound a lot, do you guys think?

Personally, I use LMI glue - much better than Titebond. I do have a supply of West Systems Epoxy with fast and slow hardeners, mostly for inlay work, but I've done a couple of Cocobolo F/B's, and some neck joints a la Kawika with Epoxy. Again, the use of Epoxy is assuming that you won't have to remove it in the future, which, technically, you shouldn't have to do to a bridge anyway. I have a friend that builds high end instruments (more well known in the guitar community) that glues his bridges on with CA, directly onto his Polyester (not urethane) finishes.

Why do I mention CA? Well, if you have a known gap, and don't plan on removing the bridge to glue it on correctly, do the cheat thing, and wick in some thin CA, and clamp away. Then you can sleep.

As for pinless bridges, I used to do that exclusively for one reason, I liked the break angle over the saddle. Suffice to say, I've altered some design elements on my bridges and saddle angles, and now I'm doing the same with a tie bridge. Being paranoid about pull through, the pinless bridges were strung with ceramic beads, pulling on a thin carbon fiber sheet on the bridge patch.

Bottom line, its a Kala. It serves it purpose at the price, and that's why so many of them are sold. I would probably have my kids play them, if they didn't have access to their current instruments. Doesn't mean that other instruments don't have popped bridges either - I have 3 midrange factory instruments that popped the bridge, so I wouldn't put it past the lower end ones. In the end, I've got to imagine anyone serious about their playing is going to move on from there at some point in time. Fix the thing bring it to the beach, leave it in the car, whatever. You'll get another one soon enough.

-Aaron

buddhuu
05-21-2009, 10:41 PM
Right. Thanks.

UkeNukem
05-22-2009, 04:30 AM
Rather than giving up on it, you might try something like this:

http://www.wsukes.com/temp/bridgerepair.jpg

Back to my original question. So the above setup has additional wood under the top for strength. Also, the strings are knotted to not slip through. And, would it need to be glued (maybe just to stay at the correct length) :confused:

And I found the following that might be local, less expensive options for clamping.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=45919

Not necessarily the right size but I think the general idea.