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View Full Version : Want to make your cheap uke sustain longer?



The Big Kahuna
04-09-2014, 06:44 AM
http://www.fender.com/accessories/fatfinger/fatfinger-guitar-nickel/

Works on electric and acoustic guitar, so no reason why it shouldn't work on uke. This isn't snake-oil btw, I've seen them demonstrated, and they do make a difference. How much of a difference is dependent on the individual instrument. Plenty of people on UU who are more than capable of knocking a few of these up to try them.

itsme
04-09-2014, 06:58 AM
Just clamp the Fatfingerô sustain enhancer on to the headstock of any guitar or other stringed instrument. It adds mass to the weak end of the instrument, so strings ring out longer, louder, and with more balance. Dead spots can be tuned out simply by changing the point of contact to the headstock.
But how does it work, exactly? Adding "mass" seems like you're just adding weight to the headstock. :confused:

The Big Kahuna
04-09-2014, 07:05 AM
I have no idea how it works actually, but I've seen video of it in action, and screen grabs of a waveform from an instrument with and without it. It in readers the time until the note starts to decay.

Jon Moody
04-09-2014, 07:07 AM
What it does (on a bass, anyway) is by adding mass to the headstock, it minimizes or removes the dead spots on an instrument. By doing that, it allows the instrument to sustain better, since those spots aren't there to kill it.

But yeah, it adds mass to the headstock, so it's something to consider if you're putting it on a uke.

The Big Kahuna
04-09-2014, 07:18 AM
I'd probably only consider one on a tenor or baritone though, so less of an issue.

sirwhale
04-09-2014, 07:22 AM
So, I still don't get it...

The Big Kahuna
04-09-2014, 07:27 AM
What's to get? It works. End of.

The Big Kahuna
04-09-2014, 07:30 AM
http://www.musicianyou.com/articles/fender-fatfinger-product-review

Jon Moody
04-09-2014, 07:35 AM
I'd probably only consider one on a tenor or baritone though, so less of an issue.

I'd be curious what balancing effect it would have by putting 3.5oz on the headstock on a tenor or baritone. On a guitar, it's a non-issue. But ukes are much smaller and lighter.

Rick Turner
04-09-2014, 07:38 AM
It helps to drive more of the string energy into the bridge and less into vibrating the peghead and neck. Yes, it works...at the cost of making the peghead heavier.

In building, we can trade off stiffness for mass to get the same effect.

DownUpDave
04-09-2014, 07:42 AM
I get it, kind of. It will basically change the vibrational properties of the neck. As you say it works so no need to understand it at the molecular level. I really don't fully understand how gravity is produced, but I know if I let go of my uke it WILL hit tne floor

This could spark a debate on whether a uke with a sold headstock sustains better than the very same model with a slotted head stock

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-09-2014, 07:58 AM
The weighted headstock is not a new idea. It's easy to try for yourself with a small spring clamp. I know a guy who routs a cavity behind the head stock veneer and inserts lead to add weight. I've always thought my slotted head stock ukes have a slight advantage over the traditional head stocks because of the heavier tuners.

The Big Kahuna
04-09-2014, 09:05 AM
I've always thought my slotted head stock ukes have a slight advantage over the traditional head stocks because of the heavier tuners.

So Pegheds make a uke sound crap because they're so light.

Can I quote you on that, Chuck?

:nana:

Kayak Jim
04-09-2014, 10:04 AM
So maybe I won't change out my geared tuners for friction.

ichadwick
04-09-2014, 10:41 AM
Without tools to measure, I'm guessing about this but...

At the headstock, string energy is lost by being absorbed through wood which is too light to return it back to the string (all of which gets translated via the nut).

The extra mass (as well as the acoustic properties of the metal itself - the energy echoes in the metal) gives the energy enough oomph to be sent back.

Sustain comes from the body - the top - so the energy has to get back there in order to have any effect.

It needs a chunk of solid metal applied directly to the wood: a workshop C clamp won't work unless it's all metal (and a solid, dense metal at that, but I doubt lead would work as well as steel or brass).

However: you have to have a good nut material that transfers the energy to and from the strings, otherwise it just gets dampened. Bone (good, dense bone), Tusq or even metal would be good for this, while wood and some of the plastics would not.

Just adding more mass won't help as much as a combination of mass, a good nut and a hardwood or dense headstock.

Another alternative would be a nut made with a higher energy transfer coefficient. Brass, for example. And adding a brass or metal plate just above the nut, right on the headstock.

If you've ever seen brass guitar pins, these do something similar, except at the bridge.

Personally, I don't think the graph in the review shows a significant improvement in sustain, and how much more sustain you'd get from a small bodied instrument with nylon strings is debatable.

Finally, keep in mind this effect is further reduced by chording. It works best with open strings, but when you chord, you are dampening the energy at your finger. The graph shows an E chord - which means three open strings. I bet it would be a lot lower with a barre F.

ukantor
04-09-2014, 10:48 AM
Is more sustain really so desireable? There is such a thing as enough.

dickadcock
04-09-2014, 11:07 AM
Wife said the device sold by Fender looks like an old catheter clamp. I wonder what kind of sustain patients are getting?

Ukejenny
04-09-2014, 11:11 AM
Wife said the device sold by Fender looks like an old catheter clamp. I wonder what kind of sustain patients are getting?
*snort*

I wonder if it would be worth it to throw the balance of the instrument in your hands out in order to get a little more sustain. I'm intrigued with the idea of a brass nut.

The Big Kahuna
04-09-2014, 11:16 AM
I'm intrigued with the idea of a brass nut.

There's a lot of monkeys in colder climates who aren't

Skinny Money McGee
04-09-2014, 11:58 AM
I developed a new one called a "Bender". They work great

Kayak Jim
04-09-2014, 12:13 PM
There's a lot of monkeys in colder climates who aren't

:cheers: Good one BK.

Nickie
04-09-2014, 12:36 PM
LOL, you guys are cracking me up again....this started out as an innocent discussion on physics, and turned into a comedy thread....I love it!
I DON'T think I'm gonna be putting one of these on my uke....

Hammond
04-09-2014, 03:32 PM
I developed a new one called a "Bender". They work great

Haha nice!

chuck in ny
04-09-2014, 08:12 PM
makes you wonder about using dense tropical woods to weight the headstock, whether increased neck mass factors in, all that stuff relating to the balance of the system. good topic.

Mrbell321
04-10-2014, 08:19 AM
I'd be willing to bet that this has more to do w/ changing the resonant frequency of the neck/headstock. If the neck starts vibrating at some frequency that corresponds to a harmonic of the string vibration, they can cancel each other resulting in a dead note.
Adding mass would change the resonant frequency of the neck to, hopefully, a range that is NOT a harmonic of the notes being played. Or at least farther away so the effect is less.
This would probably have to be "tuned" tho, or you risk making it worse.

However, I wouldn't bother. Part of the appeal of the ukulele sound, for me anyway, is the simple, near-staccato soundor t the lack of sustain(compared to something like an electric guitar w/ compressor and very high gain).

The Big Kahuna
04-10-2014, 08:32 AM
Part of the appeal of the ukulele sound, for me anyway, is the simple, near-staccato soundor t the lack of sustain(compared to something like an electric guitar w/ compressor and very high gain).

And just how do expect to play a passable rendition of Parisienne Walkways? Sheesh, some people!

ralphk
04-11-2014, 03:44 AM
Back to the question. If you are interested in experimenting, you might go to a hobby shop and get some lead weigths with a sticky back, or a golf shop and get some stickyback lead tape. Then try adding weight to the headstock in increments to see if there is any improvement. If not, take them off. A cheap experiment. Let us know your results.

ichadwick
04-11-2014, 06:29 AM
*I'm intrigued with the idea of a brass nut.
Damn, someone beat me to it....

But seriously, I did experiment with brass and glass saddles for my ukes a while back, and you can really change the tone and response using different materials. They tend to encourage high-end tones (higher-energy), so the effect isn't always the best option for a small-bodied instrument that already has a tendency to higher tonal ranges.

I'd suggest that a neck with a truss rod works the same way.

ichadwick
04-11-2014, 06:33 AM
And just how do expect to play a passable rendition of Parisienne Walkways? Sheesh, some people!

I've always wondered what would have happened if Jim Morrison had lived and he and Gary Moore did a duet of Back Door Man (you know, the live version with The Scream) that also used Moore's The Note from Parisienne Walkways. But that's getting way off topic...

And just another segue... the Mainland tenor/cedar has the best sustain I've heard in a uke, and without any geegaws. Sometimes it's all in the wood.