View Full Version : Making / replacing a bridge & saddle

11-26-2011, 07:21 AM
First off, I'm a fairly adept woodworker with a decent set of tools in the workshop.

Secondly, I know little about building ukes / guitars / stringed instruments.

So, here's my question(s)...

If I wanted to replace the bridge and saddle on my Makala Doplhin, what would I need to use? Why could I not use Oak for example to build the bridge? Or could I? I've also got a bundle of deer antler... could I make the saddle from that?

The intonation on the Doplhin is ever-so slightly out, resulting in a pitch that is about 20% off according to my tuner (the saddle needs moving closer to the 12th fret just a bit). I'm able to cut and mill accurately, so I wondered about just making my own bridge and saddle.


Rick Turner
11-26-2011, 07:25 AM
Ring porous woods like oak and ash are rarely if ever used for making bridges. The usual choices are for dense woods with a bit of ring to them and in the case of rosewood, much smaller open pores, and in the case of maple (as with violin bridges) or ebony (lots of guitar bridges) virtually no visible pores at all.

11-26-2011, 07:31 AM
Ring porous woods like oak and ash are rarely if ever used for making bridges.

Thank you for the quick reply! I'm lucky enough to have a lot of different types of wood in the workshop, which would be ideal for the bridge... but might I ask why woods like Oak and Ash are not used? What is it about their characteristics that makes them unsuitable... which is another way of saying what is required from a wood to be used as a bridge?


11-26-2011, 09:18 AM
If you're unsure if a wood is suitable for a bridge, you can try the "ping" test. Not very scientific but still not a bad way of determining a species suitability.

The test goes as follows. Take a piece of the wood in question sized approximately to what you will end up with. Drop it on the floor. Concrete or tile that is. If it rings or pings then it's a contender. If it goes thud....well you get the idea.

Rick Turner
11-26-2011, 11:12 AM
Note that density or toughness do not predict the "ping" which is a matter of the resonant Q...the inverse of damping. High Q woods will transfer vibrations from string to top efficiently. High damping woods will not.

11-26-2011, 11:40 AM
And so what about the notion of using a deer antler to form the saddle with?

11-26-2011, 12:40 PM
There have been discussions about using glass, but I have yet to see it done. Anyone try it yet? Rick, I'm guessing you would know if this would/wouldn't work....??

11-26-2011, 07:00 PM
Can't see why deer antler won't work. Haven't used it myself, but it's got to be hard enough to work.

11-26-2011, 07:11 PM
Recalling what I've heard on wildlife films during male dominance battles, you would think deer antlers pass the "ping" test. But aren't they kind of the equivalent to human fingernails as far as what they are made of? If so, I wouldn't think they'd work. Best to try the "ping" test with them as suggested. I've done a lot of mods on my own guitars--and replaced the nut and saddle on my Lanakai with bone spares I had sitting around--so I am very familiar with the sounds of various materials when dropped "gently" on hard surfaces. Fossilized mammoth ivory was a really neat material to work with on some of my guitars. Probably way too hard and dense for use in a uke, though.


11-26-2011, 08:32 PM
There have been discussions about using glass, but I have yet to see it done.

Glass... now there's something else I could use (my wife does stained glass so we can cut & grind to shape / size as needed).