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View Full Version : compensated saddles on new Kamaka HF-2?



janeray1940
04-14-2011, 07:05 PM
A friend bought a brand spankin' new Kamaka HF-2 the other night, and it's lovely. Tonight I taught her how to change strings, and I noticed that it has a compensated saddle.

None of my HF-2s have this - I know a few of you here have bought new HF-2s recently, I'm curious if they also have the compensated saddle?

And... uh... I know what one looks like, but I don't really know what it's for. My understanding is it helps prevent intonation issues further up the neck, but - they're Kamakas, for cryin' out loud, they don't have intonation issues, do they?

ConspiracyUkeist
04-14-2011, 07:19 PM
Remember Kamaka basically INVENTED the modern ukulele, I'm sure it's 50/50 the guy could have put 'em on 100 years ago. I'd not worry about it, and yes it makes the intonation better, I think people are pickier now in this age of electronic tuners and playing Gypsy Jazz on ukes and so on.

I just barely remember going to the Kamaka shop about age 5 or 6, to buy a uke. It might have been when my older sis's pineapple one was bought, or my little brown one, or maybe that day we bought both. The pineapple came with BLACK strings, whoo

mm stan
04-14-2011, 07:20 PM
Aloha JaneRay1940,
I played and tested a new Kamaka concert a few weeks ago and it had the regular saddle...not quite sure why that would be????

Kekani
04-14-2011, 11:32 PM
And... uh... I know what one looks like, but I don't really know what it's for. My understanding is it helps prevent intonation issues further up the neck, but - they're Kamakas, for cryin' out loud, they don't have intonation issues, do they?

Every stringed instrument with set frets can have intonation issues - it'll always be a little give here, a little there. Not to mention this increases when you put crappy strings on, or really good ones that have a different gauge and you don't set it up properly.

As for the saddle, my first question is who your friend bought it from - the dealer could have compensated the saddle, not likely, but could have. I doubt if Kamaka would add the cost in, unless they're ordering the saddles in premolded to their specs (ie: from Graph Tech). Plus, how much compensation can there be, don't they still use 3/32" saddles? Of course, on a Concert, that should be enough.

Pics, lets see some pics. . .

And Kamaka didn't invent the `ukulele - he was taught by Nunes before he started his own business. Martin even learned from Nunes, but this is all another story.

mketom
04-15-2011, 02:42 AM
Here's a pic of a 2010 Kamaka HF-1 with compensated saddle from the factory.

http://treefrogukuleles.com/images/KamakaSaddle.jpg

d-mace
04-15-2011, 03:52 AM
At the kamaka booth at the norcal uke fest the sopranos had the compensated saddles also.

janeray1940
04-15-2011, 03:52 AM
Here's a pic of a 2010 Kamaka HF-1 with compensated saddle from the factory.

http://treefrogukuleles.com/images/KamakaSaddle.jpg

That's exactly what hers looks like! I was going to take pics and totally forgot :p

So, it's factory then? Seems to me like it's a nice added touch if that's how they're sending them out now.

Mandarb
04-15-2011, 04:46 AM
My 2010 Kamaka from the factory has a compensated saddle.

kenikas
04-15-2011, 05:44 AM
Every stringed instrument with set frets can have intonation issues - it'll always be a little give here, a little there. Not to mention this increases when you put crappy strings on, or really good ones that have a different gauge and you don't set it up properly.

As Kekani said a compensated saddle is just another way to improve the intonation on any stringed instrument. I think it's great to see Kamaka striving to improve their already excellent instruments.
I was a bit shocked when I got a $60 Oscar Schmidt OU2-P a while back and it had a compensated saddle!

janeray1940
04-15-2011, 06:10 AM
Thanks all! So can I say with certainty that the compensated saddle is a nice little "extra," and not a way to, um, compensate for some sort of build quality issue on specific instruments? After reading the answers here I'm starting to think that at some point in 2010 Kamaka just decided to, as kenikas (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?45382-compensated-saddles-on-new-Kamaka-HF-2&p=657036#post657036) said, improve their already excellent instruments.

Michael_
04-15-2011, 07:16 AM
It's very easy to exchange the saddle. Just get one of the new compensated saddles and put it on your hf-2. I think you can get them at the factory. Even my soprano has a compensated saddle.

OldePhart
04-15-2011, 07:34 AM
Actually, I'm surprised that premium uke builders haven't been using compensated saddles for many years. Even the cheapest (well, almost cheapest) acoustic guitars have had compensated saddles for years. I guess Kamaka finally got "shamed" into using them when first Kiwaya, then cheaper brands, started using them. They don't add any signifcant cost, and even with 3/32" or 1/8" saddles they do make a signficant difference, especially on shorter scales. The action on my KoAloha concert was quite a bit higher than I consider ideal so instead of taking material off the bottom of the saddle I compensated the top. I reduced intonation problems at the 12th fret from almost 20 cents difference between the inside and outside strings to a smidgen less than ten cents. That's still not anywhere near as good as you can get on an electric guitar with its adjustable saddles, but every little bit helps and it's on a par with high-quality acoustic guitars.

Most of us don't have ears good enough to consciously notice a ten-cent difference between strings at different notes - but we do subconsciously note it when we say "wow, that uke sounds sweet" compared to one that isn't intonated as well. Some poor souls can not only consciously hear the difference, it drives them nuts - I've a friend with perfect pitch who avoids acoustic guitar because the intonation problems on even the best of them drive him loopy.

John

janeray1940
04-15-2011, 07:49 AM
It's very easy to exchange the saddle. Just get one of the new compensated saddles and put it on your hf-2. I think you can get them at the factory. Even my soprano has a compensated saddle.

Good idea, thanks! I think I'm going to do this, on my soprano too.

Kekani
04-15-2011, 06:29 PM
Actually, I'm surprised that premium uke builders haven't been using compensated saddles for many years. . . . They don't add any signifcant cost

I think most custom builders pay attention to scale length and intonation, and most factories come to a happy medium on their production stuff. The only problem with those saddles is you can't switch them to low G on the Concert. There are a few builders for MGM that compensates saddles (well, definitely know of one anyway).

And, they add a whole lot of cost - takes me about 5 minutes at best to compensate a saddle. On the other hand, since Kamaka is probably getting theirs made that way, their initial cost setup is in the mold - definitely not a cost to borne onto the custom builders. Either way, its a cost that has to be taken into account (I've seen the setup cost with Graph Tech).

janeray1940
04-15-2011, 07:01 PM
The only problem with those saddles is you can't switch them to low G on the Concert.

I didn't know that - thanks for pointing that out! I found out today that the compensated saddles are available from Kamaka for $5 each. Guess that means I only need one if it doesn't work for low G.

Kekani
04-16-2011, 12:17 AM
I found out today that the compensated saddles are available from Kamaka for $5 each. Guess that means I only need one if it doesn't work for low G.

Smart move, they only gotta sell about 600 before they start to break even. Then again, all they have to do is raise the wholesale price by that amount. . .

Jane, you would use one of these if you're tuning reentrant, and not low g. Or am I repeating what you already said?

Personally, nice touch on Kamaka's part.

Howie1947
04-16-2011, 03:13 AM
Forgive my ignorance, but what is the difference between a "regular" saddle and a "compensated" one. Howie

guitarsnrotts
04-16-2011, 03:40 AM
Yesterday at the local Guitar Center I saw a $99 Lanikai concert uke with a compensated saddle as well. A welcome trend
if properly done. I have a couple of their more expensive solid wood ukes that are a year or so old and both have straight
saddles, but no intonation issues. I'm also wondering if the use of a compensated saddle will lead to poorer QC on the natural intonation in cheaper instruments.

mangorockfish
04-16-2011, 04:57 AM
[QUOTE=Howie1947;657863]Forgive my ignorance, but what is the difference between a "regular" saddle and a "compensated" one. Howie
I would like to know this too, as well as what makes one better than the other?

OldePhart
04-16-2011, 05:50 AM
I think most custom builders pay attention to scale length and intonation, and most factories come to a happy medium on their production stuff. The only problem with those saddles is you can't switch them to low G on the Concert. There are a few builders for MGM that compensates saddles (well, definitely know of one anyway).

Getting the scale length "correct" is only part of the problem. Unless you can find a string set where the tension is almost exactly the same across all strings (difficult to do without throwing the relative volumes of the strings out of whack) a straight saddle is never going to give you perfect intonation of all four strings. A compensated saddle is still a compromise, but it is a better compromise than a straight saddle. Depending on strings chosen it's not unusual to find almost twenty cents difference between the inner and outer strings on a reentrant uke - even a very good one. Note that is an intonation difference between the strings - i.e. it cannot be fixed simply by careful positioning of the saddle. Compensating the saddle doesn't even completely eliminate this difference, because the saddle is too thin to allow enough compensation. Still, compensating the saddle reduces the intonation difference between the strings and that is always a good thing. On my KoAloha concert with fluorocarbon strings similar to Worth CMs the difference went from almost 20 cents between inner and outer strings at the 12th fret to a bit less than 10 cents.


And, they add a whole lot of cost - takes me about 5 minutes at best to compensate a saddle. On the other hand, since Kamaka is probably getting theirs made that way, their initial cost setup is in the mold - definitely not a cost to borne onto the custom builders. Either way, its a cost that has to be taken into account (I've seen the setup cost with Graph Tech).

If we're talking hand cut saddles, then yes, they add cost. In the case of molded saddles I doubt that Kamaka, KoAloha, etc. are molding their own saddles - I'm sure they buy them in bulk. While the cost of compensated saddle blanks might be a bit higher than straight blanks we're talking a few dollars per uke at the most. Let's call it five dollars difference (though I doubt it's really that high) - and lets say the uke in question sells for $600 - that's less than 1% of the cost of the uke and setup is no more difficult with a compensated saddle than without. Would I pay 1% more for a compensated saddle? Yep.

janeray1940
04-16-2011, 05:54 AM
Jane, you would use one of these if you're tuning reentrant, and not low g. Or am I repeating what you already said?


You're repeating what I meant to say, if it's not exactly how I said it :) I'm going to order one for my soprano, and one for my re-entrant concert.

As for what a compensated saddle does:


Compensation: Small adjustments, usually to the bridge or saddle. Compensation also refers to bridge placement to adjust for the stretch of the strings when fretted in the higher positions up the neck.

What's the point? To archive a more true intonation. (http://www.tikiking.com/luthierie_dictionary.html)

If you click the link above, there's another image of a compensated saddle that looks a little different than the Kamaka one previously posted.

OldePhart
04-16-2011, 06:03 AM
The only problem with those saddles is you can't switch them to low G on the Concert.

That's not necessarily true. It's true that you might want to use a different low G string than you've been using to get best results, but it's basically a matter of finding a string material and a tension that intonate well whether the saddle is compensated or not. You would expect that a low-G uke would be better intonated up the neck than a reentrant one because the low-G string is under tension more similar to the inside strings of the set. In practice that's not always true simply because the low-G string chosen wasn't a perfect choice from an intonation standpoint.

Also, intonation appears to go in cycles or nodes. I don't have any proof of this so take it with a healthy dose of skepticism. That said, I've observed a couple of different instances that lead me to believe it's so. Take as an example my mango tenor. With a set of fluorocarbon strings very similar to Worth CMs the high-G string intonated about fifteen cents low at the 12th fret. I changed it to low G by replacing the G string with a larger diameter string of the same brand of fluorcarbon leader. The tension at pitch on this string is very soft (right on the edge of too soft, I plan to get something a little thicker). The intonation on this string is almost identical to that of the high-G string. This shouldn't be, whiich leads me to believe that intonation goes in nodes or waves with tension. Maybe someday when I've nothing to do I might experiment some with that theory.

John

ichadwick
04-16-2011, 07:00 AM
Every stringed instrument with set frets can have intonation issues - it'll always be a little give here, a little there.
Yes, but how much that matters depends on the length of the string, as well as the preferred playing zone. Really short scales like sopranos have so little play in the intonation range that it's overkill to have a compensated saddle. Tenors and baritones are more likely to benefit from saddle compensation than shorter scales.

If you play mostly in the first five to seven frets, you won't really notice anything even with the compensated saddle. It's only when you get further up the neck that you might find issues.

pdxuke
04-16-2011, 07:23 AM
Jane:

My new K concert is compensated as well. Birthday date: 12/09/10. I haven't checked the pineapple yet.

The Kiwaya KTS4 also has a compensated saddle, as I recall.

You might also look at Southcoast strings for a "low g." I just put the linear (low) set on my Harmony Barry (GCEA) and I like them a lot.

Doc_J
04-16-2011, 07:48 AM
My HF-1 does not have it. Dated July 14, 2010.

It's intonation is near perfect to the 11th fret on all strings.

Kekani
04-16-2011, 08:46 AM
Getting the scale length "correct" is only part of the problem. Unless you can find a string set where the tension is almost exactly the same across all strings (difficult to do without throwing the relative volumes of the strings out of whack) a straight saddle is never going to give you perfect intonation of all four strings. A compensated saddle is still a compromise, but it is a better compromise than a straight saddle. Depending on strings chosen it's not unusual to find almost twenty cents difference between the inner and outer strings on a reentrant uke - even a very good one. Note that is an intonation difference between the strings - i.e. it cannot be fixed simply by careful positioning of the saddle. Compensating the saddle doesn't even completely eliminate this difference, because the saddle is too thin to allow enough compensation. Still, compensating the saddle reduces the intonation difference between the strings and that is always a good thing. On my KoAloha concert with fluorocarbon strings similar to Worth CMs the difference went from almost 20 cents between inner and outer strings at the 12th fret to a bit less than 10 cents.

I agree, I just didn't want to open up a conversation that we've already gone over in the Luthier's Corner. I personally compensate all my saddles (Tenors) because then need it as Ian referred to on longer scale lenghts.


If we're talking hand cut saddles, then yes, they add cost. In the case of molded saddles I doubt that Kamaka, KoAloha, etc. are molding their own saddles - I'm sure they buy them in bulk. While the cost of compensated saddle blanks might be a bit higher than straight blanks we're talking a few dollars per uke at the most. Let's call it five dollars difference (though I doubt it's really that high) - and lets say the uke in question sells for $600 - that's less than 1% of the cost of the uke and setup is no more difficult with a compensated saddle than without. Would I pay 1% more for a compensated saddle? Yep.

What I'm referring to in cost is for the manufacturer themself. I know KoAloha, Kanile`a and I'm sure Kamaka orders in bulk, but not a "generic" bulk. The setup cost for the molds is past 4 digits for each mold, so this goes for each different type of bridge and size of instrument. I'm just stating it from a builders, and not buyer's perspective. The initial setup cost is an investment that the business has to recoup. Its not whether you're willing to pay $5 more for a compensated saddle - I sure most of us would - its whether the builder or manufacturer is going to make the investment to add that into their cost.

In this case, good move on Kamaka's part, as evidenced by our willingness to pay less than 1% increase, and the time that I take to compensate a saddle. I should post a pic of my Tiple, its ridiculous, but I can play past the 5th fret if I wanted to.

-Aaron

Michael_
04-16-2011, 10:19 AM
Maybe the low g and high g of the kamaka string sets have the same tension when tuned correctly. Then the compensation will work for both. I can't believe that Kamaka offer a string set that won't work with their saddles.