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Thread: Changing a Compensated Bridge...

  1. #1
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    Question Changing a Compensated Bridge...

    EDIT: Compensated SADDLE ! (NOT bridge). apologies for the misleading heading.


    Recently ordered a Kanile'a K2 and am waiting with high anticipation. I'm curious about the included compensated (bridge) saddle. It comes strung gCEA. if I decide to try restringing with a Low G, what -if anything- will be the effect on intonation? If yes, where will it be noticeable?

    I've sent Kanile'a an inquiry, but based on their lack of response in previous inquiries, I'm not holding my breath! The gang here at UU is way more dependable...

    Yes, I realize that there's countless posts on intonation. And I expect a lot of "don't worry about it... just play" retorts. I just wonder, though... if the builder includes compensated saddles for all their builds, it must be for a reason, right?
    Last edited by Web_Parrot; 12-28-2019 at 01:04 PM. Reason: sloppy oversight... should read Compensated Bridge
    ::: Romero Creations Replica Tenor ::: Fender Montecito Tenor Koa ::: KoAloha KSM-10 Pikake ::: Kanile'a Islander MAPG-4-C ::: Kanile'a K-2 Super Concert ::: Kala KA-SSTU-SMC-C ::: Ohana SK-50G ::: Enya Nova U Concert ::: Kala KA-ABP-CTG Bari :::

  2. #2
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    My guess is that the low G will be a bit out of tune up the fretboard. My suggestion is to play it for a bit the way it arrives to make sure that it is playing in tune, then put your low G in.

    The string slot in the nut for the low G will need to be widened at the very least or better yet, buy material for a new nut and saddle for the low G. Keep the high g nut and saddle squirreled away somewhere.

    So try out your new string before changing anything. If the intonation is off, you have the opportunity to learn new stuff.
    I am the best ukulele player on my block!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug W View Post
    My guess is that the low G will be a bit out of tune up the fretboard. My suggestion is to play it for a bit the way it arrives to make sure that it is playing in tune, then put your low G in.

    The string slot in the nut for the low G will need to be widened at the very least or better yet, buy material for a new nut and saddle for the low G. Keep the high g nut and saddle squirreled away somewhere.

    So try out your new string before changing anything. If the intonation is off, you have the opportunity to learn new stuff.
    Sounds like a reasonable approach.

    I did something similar with a Kala Bari but for a different reason. It arrived with a below-2.5 action and both wound strings (DG) buzzed up to the 6th fret. And I noticed that if I moved the strings from side to side on the saddle there was a wear-groove. The nut had also been cut pretty deep (of note: made noticeable because the set-up person must have sprayed lemon oil on the fret board and the liquid seeped from between the windings and onto the nut!!). I'm pretty sure this was a display model, or perhaps a return. While no other issues, I wouldn't expect an expert to do a setup like this on an out-of-box instrument.

    A n y how.... For $5 Kala sent me new replacement set. I cut the nut for high d and sanded the new saddle to shake the buzz. When I switch back to the low D string the original nut goes back in. I also switched to flat wound on the D and an unwound G.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Last edited by Web_Parrot; 12-17-2019 at 04:40 AM. Reason: spelling
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  4. #4
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    Most organic saddles (and nuts) can be re-profiled using a rice grain sized deposit of sodium bicarbonate, a drop of super glue, a mini file and a little elbow grease. A tiny 'dam wall' of tape can be fashioned to hold the bicarb in place until it sets (almost instantaneous) .
    The result should be permanent/indefinite, but in any case it can be expected to last well past the point of your getting the intonation sorted, and settling on the correct profile for the cutting of a replacement saddle.
    There is online info on this technique, mainly for guitar nut repair.

  5. #5
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    As much as I like my Kanilea, my own experience with their saddles is that they just cut off regular guitar saddles without giving much thought. If you look at those saddles, their compensation doesn't make any sense in any possible ukulele setup: Why would the first string be placed further away from the nut than the fourth string? When I asked them for a replacement saddle, they just sent me a regular guitar saddle that I had to cut off by myself (and charged me $21 USD)! The good thing is that it doesn't seem to matter much: I have used both their compensated saddle and a straight saddle, and both intonated about the same...
    Enjoying instruments by - Beau Hannam - Jay Lichty - Jerry Hoffmann - Luis Feu de Mesquita - Kala - Kamaka - Kanile'a - KoAloha - Ko'olau - Moore Bettah - Pono - Romero Creations - and others

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rakelele View Post
    As much as I like my Kanilea, my own experience with their saddles is that they just cut off regular guitar saddles without giving much thought. If you look at those saddles, their compensation doesn't make any sense in any possible ukulele setup: Why would the first string be placed further away from the nut than the fourth string? When I asked them for a replacement saddle, they just sent me a regular guitar saddle that I had to cut off by myself (and charged me $21 USD)! The good thing is that it doesn't seem to matter much: I have used both their compensated saddle and a straight saddle, and both intonated about the same...
    Ouch!..$21 The should have shipped a luthier with it :-) Thanks for sharing your experience. (Regrettably) it sent me on a deep dive into the wonderful world of internet searches. Most of what I learned came from the craft-of-luthier diatribes on compensated saddles & bridges in the guitar world. Most of what I found dealt with wound strings (EADGXX) and didn't seem to mirror any of the design that I see in the Kanile'a saddle. Secondarily, (from what I could glean) the shorter the scale, the less the impact (need) for/of compensation of the saddle.

    Thanks again for your comment. Truly gave me inspiration to pause, play, and listen. If I ever get a reply from Kanile'a I'll share.
    Last edited by Web_Parrot; 12-28-2019 at 01:06 PM. Reason: where appropriate changed 'bridge to saddle'
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bazuku View Post
    Most organic saddles (and nuts) can be re-profiled using a rice grain sized deposit of sodium bicarbonate, a drop of super glue, a mini file and a little elbow grease. A tiny 'dam wall' of tape can be fashioned to hold the bicarb in place until it sets (almost instantaneous) .
    The result should be permanent/indefinite, but in any case it can be expected to last well past the point of your getting the intonation sorted, and settling on the correct profile for the cutting of a replacement saddle.
    There is online info on this technique, mainly for guitar nut repair.
    Thanks... I've seen and read about this 'repair' and am keeping related links in my repair library. While not anticipating any/further intonation matters, it's nice to know there's common remedies.
    ::: Romero Creations Replica Tenor ::: Fender Montecito Tenor Koa ::: KoAloha KSM-10 Pikake ::: Kanile'a Islander MAPG-4-C ::: Kanile'a K-2 Super Concert ::: Kala KA-SSTU-SMC-C ::: Ohana SK-50G ::: Enya Nova U Concert ::: Kala KA-ABP-CTG Bari :::

  8. #8
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    I agree that the nut slot depth will be a more meaningful adjustment than saddle compensation. The thicker Low G will sit too tall in the High G nut slot. If you don't have a set of gauged nut files, I would take it to someone that does. That should be a very inexpensive adjustment ($10 or less).

    Have them use a file that matches the gauge of the Low G string you prefer, and then run a High G gauge file in the bottom of the new Low G slot. This will allow you to return to High G any time without having to change the nut out or fill and re-cut the slot. You will end up with a proper width Low G slot that has a very shallow High G channel in the bottom.

    I would suggest a "smoothwound" Low G (like an Oasis) which has a smaller diameter and will therefore intonate more closely to the original High G string (from the perspective of the saddle). You could, of course, compensate the saddle (by leaning it in the direction of longer string length) but there may not be a whole lot of value in that adjustment. I've found that strings alone can vary as much as 30% in intonation from string to string and pack to pack. By this I mean that if you took 5 G strings from 5 packs of the same brand and model, you would experience very different intonation qualities. I consider this phenomenon to be a result of how the string stretches (not evenly) along it's length. Conversely, with a high nut slot, all those strings would be significantly sharp in the first 5 frets.

    Anyhow, good luck with it! Sounds like you are about to get an awesome instrument!!!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny GDS View Post
    I agree that the nut slot depth will be a more meaningful adjustment than saddle compensation. The thicker Low G will sit too tall in the High G nut slot. If you don't have a set of gauged nut files, I would take it to someone that does. That should be a very inexpensive adjustment ($10 or less).

    Have them use a file that matches the gauge of the Low G string you prefer, and then run a High G gauge file in the bottom of the new Low G slot. This will allow you to return to High G any time without having to change the nut out or fill and re-cut the slot. You will end up with a proper width Low G slot that has a very shallow High G channel in the bottom.

    I would suggest a "smoothwound" Low G (like an Oasis) which has a smaller diameter and will therefore intonate more closely to the original High G string (from the perspective of the saddle). You could, of course, compensate the saddle (by leaning it in the direction of longer string length) but there may not be a whole lot of value in that adjustment. I've found that strings alone can vary as much as 30% in intonation from string to string and pack to pack. By this I mean that if you took 5 G strings from 5 packs of the same brand and model, you would experience very different intonation qualities. I consider this phenomenon to be a result of how the string stretches (not evenly) along it's length. Conversely, with a high nut slot, all those strings would be significantly sharp in the first 5 frets.

    Anyhow, good luck with it! Sounds like you are about to get an awesome instrument!!!
    While I sincerely appreciate the additional information and see that others will benefit from the process guidance on modifying the nut ... I'm still kind-of hanging out, looking for the wisdom of why there's a compensated (xxxx) SADDLE - that SEEMS like a contradiction when a player can change between significantly different diameter-ed strings.

    This isn't a criticism of your reply! I'm just getting more and more curious as to why there's a compensated SADDLE - for nearly all Kanale'a (and Romero) ukes. Are they really compensating .... something?
    Last edited by Web_Parrot; 12-28-2019 at 12:26 PM.
    ::: Romero Creations Replica Tenor ::: Fender Montecito Tenor Koa ::: KoAloha KSM-10 Pikake ::: Kanile'a Islander MAPG-4-C ::: Kanile'a K-2 Super Concert ::: Kala KA-SSTU-SMC-C ::: Ohana SK-50G ::: Enya Nova U Concert ::: Kala KA-ABP-CTG Bari :::

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Web_Parrot View Post
    I'm just getting more and more curious as to why there's a compensated bridge - for nearly all Kanale'a (and Romero) ukes. Are they really compensating .... something?
    Just to be clear, from the comments above, we're talking about compensated Saddles, and not bridges.

    Unfortunately, we lost Paul earlier this year. Fortunately, his page is still up, and you should get the "why" that you're asking for.
    http://www.lutherie.net/saddle_angle.html

    If you're asking why for an ukulele? Same as above.

    If you want something from the underground, the topic has been discussed.
    https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com...ect-intonation

    And we touch on it here, from a different angle (pun intended):
    https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com...ide-of-the-box

    And if you really want to search, Mike Chock designed a reversible saddle for one of his Kasha bridges.
    Last edited by Kekani; 12-27-2019 at 04:08 PM.

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