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Thread: Shimming the saddle

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    West Virginia, USA

    Default Shimming the saddle

    It seems like the standard way to raise the height of the saddle (if the action is too low) is by shimming it with strip of paper card. I also read that players are particular about the material of the saddle (bone vs plastic). So wouldn't using paper to shim the height defeat the purpose of a good bone saddle? Will it affect the sound quality? After all, does it really matter what material is the saddle?
    I am currently using my old cut up health insurance card to shim the height, it is thicker and fells more plastic like. Is it better than plain old business card?
    A day without playing uke is a day not well lived.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Catskill Mountains, NY


    To a non-expert, yes, it would seem that the card would provide some insulation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2017


    Anyways making a new saddle is rewarding. Keep the old too low one as a reference.
    I would not say it is such a brief job with sandpaper only at available, first to make it thin enough to fit and then taking care of sanding the bottom

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017


    Saddles are cheap and readily available so my advice would be to buy a new one. If you’re in a ‘fix’ for some reason and want a temporary solution then I believe that an old plastic credit type card can be cut into a strip (to suit the bridge slot) and shim the old saddle up. Paper and cardboard act as insulators, not a good thing to go under a saddle unless all you want to do is correct the height.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)


    I had to raise a bone saddle on my first custom as it was buzzing like crazy with 2mm action. I glued a thin shim of ebony wood to the bottom and sanded to taste. I could not tell a difference in tone or response but took care of the buzz with action closer to 2.5.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Oak Park, Illinois


    I've heard of people being satisfied shimming the saddle with card stock. I too thought the contact between saddle and soundboard was rather too vital for this kind of solution. So, I asked my luthiers about this. In order to raise the saddle, they either fabricate a new one or, as Jim says, glue a hardwood shim to the under-side. They seem to think these are comparable solutions.
    I suppose, if I wanted to raise the saddle height on a 50 dollar uke, I'd use some kind of card stock, but would follow a more professional path with a high quality instrument.
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    -John Lennon-

  7. #7


    I do my own setups to get it just right.
    Been doing it for a while now.

    It's a far more elegant solution to do a new saddle.
    They're cheap to buy on ebay or some music stores.
    I quite like synthetic saddles like Tusq or Nubone.
    I don't know if I'm sold on them improving tone per se, but they sand down a lot quicker and easily than bone.

    Bone is tougher and wears less with wound strings.
    But if you don't use any wound strings, bone doesn't really provide any practical advantage in my opinion

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2012


    As almost everybody above said, don't use card stock! That will deaden the sound for sure. Use a strip of a plastic credit card or similar material, a hard plastic would be best. If you have a plastic saddle, probably won't make a lot of difference. I had a luthier make me a compensated bone saddle for my C1K one time, $35, very professional job.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Northen California


    Step one: Shim the saddle with something to see if it solves your particular problem.

    Step two: Install, or have installed, a new saddle of proper height.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA


    Quote Originally Posted by Uke Don View Post
    Step one: Shim the saddle with something to see if it solves your particular problem.

    Step two: Install, or have installed, a new saddle of proper height.
    I was about to make this same comment. If you like where the action is, but have some buzzing, my first step would often be to try a shim just to see if it fixes things. If it does, you now have a starting point for the height of a new saddle.

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