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fleadermaus
01-19-2010, 05:50 PM
A while ago I decided to lower the saddle on my concert by sanding it from the bottom. I was happy with the new height at first, but now I'm thinking of putting a taller saddle back in there. I know I can order saddle blanks online but I'm not sure what the next step is once I have the blank in my possession. What does it take to get the saddle in the correct shape for installing on a uke?

buddhuu
01-19-2010, 11:39 PM
Depends what you want. Plastic saddle blanks are already pretty much the right shape.

The plastic ones are easiest to work with. Bone is hard and fairly brittle. Takes longer to shape and occasionally breaks more easily if dropped/flexed etc.

The main thing to try to get right is the width of the saddle (as opposed to height or length which are easier to alter. Measure your saddle slot and check dimensions of saddle blanks for sale. Length of the saddle is easily tweaked - just snip, file, saw or sand to the right length and shape the end appropriately.

You already have experience of altering the height.

The best thing to do is to get a few spare blanks and just go at it! Experiment and have a practice.

dentuke
01-20-2010, 03:31 AM
I have a whole bunch of micarta blanks I picked up they are easy to sand and form....send me a pm if you need help

fleadermaus
01-20-2010, 04:31 AM
Thanks guys. I guess my main concern is the top edge. How much care is needed in making it rounder or pointier? Will it screw up the intonation if I do it wrong?

buddhuu
01-20-2010, 04:44 AM
If it's like most saddles then you want it kind of domed as seen from the end, with the apex/crown or whatever you want to call it of that curve in the middle. If you make it too sharp it can wear or break strings more easily.

If you're happy that the action at the nut is ok, and you're happy with the height of your saddle then the intonation should be pretty much fine with the top of that curve in the middle. Getting it wrong could mess with your intonation, but usually not by much. If you find a centered dome doesn't do it then you could sand another saddle to bring the peak of the curve forward if you need to sharpen the intonation, or back if you need to flatten it.

fleadermaus
01-20-2010, 06:56 AM
Thanks, Buddhuu. I might not get around to trying this for a couple of weeks, but this is very helpful!

fleadermaus
02-22-2010, 02:07 PM
I just wanted to update this thread. This past weekend, I tried shaping and installing a new saddle and it worked like a charm. Thing is, I don't think I got the bottom perfectly even or the crown perfectly centered but I'm still hearing a marked improvement in volume and tone with no intonation problems. I don't know if it's the height or the tusq saddle that deserves credit, but I'm glad I tried this.

buddhuu
02-22-2010, 11:46 PM
Well done. :)

As long as people keep their original nut and saddle safe and unaltered there is nothing to lose by experimenting with DIY set-ups, and plenty to gain.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
02-23-2010, 06:35 AM
I just wanted to update this thread. This past weekend, I tried shaping and installing a new saddle and it worked like a charm. Thing is, I don't think I got the bottom perfectly even or the crown perfectly centered but I'm still hearing a marked improvement in volume and tone with no intonation problems. I don't know if it's the height or the tusq saddle that deserves credit, but I'm glad I tried this.

It's generally pretty important that the saddle fit well and evenly in the bottom of the saddle slot, making good positive contact for the entire length. (This is especially critical if you have a UST pickup.) I usually advise people to work with a full sheet of sandpaper, something like 220 grit works well, and sand with long, even strokes on the flattest surface you can find. For most people at home, this surface is usually the kitchen or bathroom counter. Also, finish off the crown of the saddle with the finest sandpaper you can get your hands on; at least down to 0000 steel wool. This will minimize string wear at the saddle.
Kudos to you for learning how to tweak your uke. Good luck.

dnewton2
02-23-2010, 06:38 AM
I just ordered a new bone Nut and Saddle from Mainland to switch out of my KPK soprano. This thread is extremley helpful. Thanks to all who posted.

fleadermaus
02-23-2010, 05:34 PM
I usually advise people to work with a full sheet of sandpaper, something like 220 grit works well, and sand with long, even strokes on the flattest surface you can find. For most people at home, this surface is usually the kitchen or bathroom counter.

I did basically this--used a sheet 220 sandpaper on my kitchen table. I found that my hand would exert pressure on the saddle blank unevenly, causing a bit of a slant to the bottom, so I flipped the piece around in my hand regularly to help even things out. Thought I had it good until I installed it and saw the contact was imperfect. I guess it's also possible that there is some grit underneath the saddle that I failed to clear out before installing. Anyway, I will probably try to clean it up a bit the next time I change strings. Thanks for the tips.

buddhuu
02-23-2010, 10:30 PM
When sanding saddles I usually hold the saddle up against the side of a metal spirit level to keep it at 90 degrees to the sandpaper. BTW, there's no significance to the fact that I use a spirit level other than it's a convenient size and shape...

Another consideration is that the way many people hold the saddle when sanding puts more pressure in the centre area of the saddle. If you put the saddle on a flat surface and sight underneath it you may sometimes find that that extra pressure to the middle has resulted in you taking more material off the middle of the saddle base - you'll see a slight concavity there.

It's easily remediable by ensuring that even pressure is applied along the length of the saddle. If you leave it, especially if you have an undersaddle pickup, then you may find that the volume of the middle string courses can suffer as the bridge presses down less firmly beneath them.

Funny thing is that this doesn't seem to happen on mandolins, where there is often a deliberate gap under the middle section of a bridge, but on ukes I've experienced it several times.

It's good to see people trying this stuff out. :)



EDIT: Thinking about it, it's not that surprising that the bridges on the two instruments behave differently. Gibson style mandolin bridges are subject to simple downward force, whereas uke bridges endure a much more complex set of twisting and sheering forces...

I'll get me anorak...