Need new saddle for Harmony Baritone Uke

Brian Murphy

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Got a thrift shop find today ($7). The only functional issue seems to be a chipped saddle. Otherwise this thing seems to be in good shape (couple small cracks in back) Anyone sell these, or have one to sell? Thanks!

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Wiggy

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I'll start.

Loosen the strings to where you can easily move the saddle in the slot.

Is it sloppy, or does it fit (stands up at a 90-degree angle) nicely in the slot?

If it fits well, you will then need to measure (with a caliper) its thickness (how it fits in the slot), its height (how far it lifts the strings from the depth of the slot), and its length (end-to-end to the tips of the curvy parts).

Report back.

<edit> I envy your find!
 

Brian Murphy

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Well, the saddle is really in there. Appears to be plastic. Perhaps the chip happened when someone previously tried to remove it. On the ends, I see residue, but I think it is finish, not glue. Can't imagine why they would use glue. See pix.

Any suggestions?
 

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Doug W

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You could try making a little rectangular wedge of hard wood slightly thinner than the saddle and hit the saddle very lightly with the wedge with a hammer, (tiny taps), one side and then the other. If it doesn't budge, heat it up with a hair dryer being very careful not to melt the finish. You can also heat up some very thin strip of metal that you can slowly work in to loosen the saddle. Be gentle!
 

necessaryrooster

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I also got one of these recently as a thrift store find; they're great! Is your action super high at the 12th fret?

I'm eventually going to be making a new bridge for mine, I think. It's starting to come off so at the very least I'll need to re-seat it; figured I might as well just replace it entirely because the action is weirdly high and even if I took all the excess of the saddle, I don't think it would be low enough. I've also been considering altering it into a 6 or 8 string, which would require a new bridge.

Anyway, if you're still looking for a saddle in a month or so I'll send you mine.
 

Brian Murphy

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Finally got around to this. Pulled out the saddle with pliers. Now the question is where do I get a blank to make a replacement saddle. It is very thin plastic 1/16" (about 1.6mm but I don't think Harmony used metric back then). Saddle is 2 7/8 long. Any ideas would be appreciated. Maybe just need to find 1/6" plexiglass, but I was hoping for something harder.
 

Mike $

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It's pretty easy to make a saddle. If you can find a piece of ebony, you can saw it and file it down or sand it until it's fits into the bridge. You don't need those grooves to hold the strings unless you want the strings to lay a bit wider. You can also buy a cow bone from a pet store and cut it up and sand it to shape. While you're at it, make a nut and file the slots with jewlers' files or some other thin files from Harbor Freight, or some other store with tools. It's very easy and very fulfilling.
 

Brian Murphy

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You gave me an idea. I might be able to modify one of these old banjo bridges if there is enough wood there after I file/sand off the string slots (I assume they are not spaced right, but I can check)
 

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Mike $

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I would measure the original and use some of the maple from that bridge if you have to. Sand off what you don't need so that your saddle sits at the perfect height. You can fill the slots with black sawdust and thin superglue, or just superglue gel will work too. Tape it up good so the glue doesn't get all over the place.
 

jer

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Nice find!

If you decide to buy a new saddle blank, somewhere like Elderly Instruments can help you out:
Of course many other music retailers sell them too.

Then just tape some sandpaper to a flat surface and sand away til you get the dimensions just right. You especially want to make sure the bottom of the saddle is flat and even. If the blank is especially large you can always use other tools to bring it down to close enough before fine tuning with sandpaper on a flat surface.
It's not that hard if you take your time. Just remember you can always take more material off, but you can't put it back on. I think that was probably the first repair thing I ever learned.
 

emba

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Whatever you do, let us know! I’m following this with interest as I have a Harmony just like that. The saddle doesn’t need replaced yet, but it looks a little rough and being so thin I’m afraid it’s going to break/chip.

Also: the slots in the original saddle , do those look original to you? Mine has them too, and I just sort of assumed they were a modification by a previous owner to lower the action, since I’ve never seen a ukulele with string slots in the saddle. But seeing another one up close with the same thing I wonder if they came that way.
 

Doug W

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I finally bought a belt sander from Harbor Freight for jobs like this. I am not going to build instruments but it was a good investment. I used it last week to make a new saddle for my daughter's guitar. Of course you can sand off your fingerprints if you're not careful, so wear proper safety gear.

I do keep a number of bone saddle blanks around just in case, bought from places like Elderly, as mentioned above, StewMac and Ebay.