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Thread: Reworking solid top of soprano

  1. #1
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    Default Reworking solid top of soprano

    I took the back of a Stagg solid top soprano to lighten the unnecessary heavy bracing(?) and eventually thinning the top somewhat.
    So after reworked the top to my satisfaction I start to wonder: is there any idea to put the same TLC to the back as well?
    It is equally heavily braced as the top was but laminate. If that would matter anyway.
    So my question; shall I lighten the bracing of the back too?
    Last edited by Henning; 03-09-2020 at 10:02 PM.

  2. #2
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    If you want to make the instrument a little lighter to handle, or just want some carving practice, lightening the back braces probably won't hurt anything (mechanically). If you are hoping to improve the acoustics, it could go two ways. Sometimes heavy backs enhance the sound characteristics, but at other times, may contribute nothing. If you are happy with the present sound it may be a bit of a gamble, but ultimately, you will probably notice little difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bazuku View Post
    If you want to make the instrument a little lighter to handle, or just want some carving practice, lightening the back braces probably won't hurt anything (mechanically). If you are hoping to improve the acoustics, it could go two ways. Sometimes heavy backs enhance the sound characteristics, but at other times, may contribute nothing. If you are happy with the present sound it may be a bit of a gamble, but ultimately, you will probably notice little difference.
    I think the tone is good, though a little thin and weak. I hope to make it more responsive. I┤ve done this exteriorily with other acoustic fretted string instruments and found that the tone has improved.
    I┤ve lightened the bridge and sometimes even the piece of bone in the bridge. Just once been inside before. I┤ll leave the back the way it was.

  4. #4
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    I don't build many sopranos but when I do I don't brace the top at all. I use a .018 carbon fiber bridge patch and call it good. I have never had any come back with a problem and the people that have them refer to them as little firecrackers.
    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by tparse View Post
    ...when I do I don't brace the top at all. I use a .018 carbon fiber bridge patch and call it good. I have never had any come back with a problem and the...
    Tom
    Interesting, I might just as well could have completely removed "the bracing". This is a spruce top ukulele. I think it turned out to be a little better after my adjustments. The wood in the bracing isn┤t of the highest quality. Now what thickness do you work the top to and what material, please?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Henning View Post
    Now what thickness do you work the top to and what material, please?
    I reckon a good starting point for all soprano ukes is the information to be found on the Grellier plans:

    http://www.grellier.fr/en/downloads

    This is for a mahogany uke with a mahogany bridge patch. As a hobby maker I have only made 4 sopranos and all were mahogany. However I have made about 12 tenors with spruce tops and there is not a huge difference between the dimensions I have used for a hardwood vs a spruce soundboard.

    If I were to make a spruce topped soprano, I would be thinking of 1.6 or 1.7 mm for the top and a 2mm patch-no fan bracing. I would modify this if it seemed too stiff based on flexing and tapping.

    As for backs and back bracing, I dont think you will be able to improve the sound of an instrument by modifying the back bracing!
    Last edited by greenscoe; 03-11-2020 at 04:20 AM.

  8. #8
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    Thank you guys

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    Quote Originally Posted by Henning View Post
    I took the back of a Stagg solid top soprano to lighten the unnecessary heavy bracing(?) and eventually thinning the top somewhat.
    I’d be quite interested to hear details of all the work undertaken and how you overcame problems along the ‘journey’; please give the rest of us the practical details to allow us to do the same or similar improvement.

  10. #10
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    The reason for doing this is that I could see through the soundhole and soundport that the bracing was very heavy, the end of the struts were not finished in a correct way. The bracing is too heavy in those ukuleles. To make matters worse, they are finished in an epoxy lacquer and binded with a white plastic strip. I started to saw around the binding with a very thin small hobby saw on the side of the ukulele. Then I inserted the blade of a floor cutters knife from the backside of the uke. This is a tricky part. The sides are laminated and it is easy to go through the binding in to the wood. I admit I did so a few times. Not only that, the plastic is hard and it was quite difficult to cut straight as assumably a stronger glue was used for the binding (epoxy?). So the plastics binding mainly came off in short pieces. All in all this took me around, I would guess, one hour so far.
    When the binding was all loose it was quite easy to insert the floor cutters knife between the sides the back and cutting the back loose. It came off nice and gently.
    Then I simply first sand papered the bracing to thinner them. I took out a chisel and adjusted the edges of the struts in the bracing, finishing them neatly to the top. I took out the dremel and grinded as much as I could reach within. In particular the bridge brace was very thick, perhaps 4 mm and all square with sharp edges. So I rounded it off and thinned it out some bit (sand paper). Then, that┤s all. I glued the back with hot hideglue leaving it over the night and winded rubber strips cut out from bicycle rubber hoose around the body.
    When done the ukulele got more responsive and also a little sweeter tone. Now this ukulele has had a rather long sustaining tone before. That was mainly kept. But I┤ve noticed some of the tones got an almost damped, much shorter sustain. Something I don┤t recognize from before.
    The back is back, but the new binding is still a matter of question. Might have to set some thin maple or similar at the place. Because, it is unfortunately not comfortable to hold against the stomach any more.

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