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Thread: Why do we tie the strings to the bridge on a ukulele?

  1. #21
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    After reading Ken Franklinís post, I am reminded of the Tahitian ukulele, which has a thin wood top, floating bridge and tail piece.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuzzBD View Post
    After reading Ken Franklinís post, I am reminded of the Tahitian ukulele, which has a thin wood top, floating bridge and tail piece.
    Brad
    Brad, thanks for your responses. I was vaguely aware of the Tahitian uke but your last post prompted me to take a look at some build videos on Youtube and to hear the instrument being played. I would encourage others to do the same! Here's one example:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3zXX-pYaNc

    I sort of liken it to an 8 string banjo uke with a small wooden soundboard instead of a taut skin. Because the soundboard is small it has a bright sound. I like a deeper sound hence low G tenors are my instrument of choice. So my take from this instrument is that a 4 string version with a much larger and suitably lightly braced soundboard might be worth making.

    Several posts have pointed out that a rocking bridge attached to the soundboard results in a more interesting sound than that of a soundboard which largely only moves up and down when the strings are not attached to the bridge. That is probably the answer to my original question.

    I am aware of the fact that a floating bridge can be moved to obtain perfect intonation. However I see this as a problem. Whenever I come across someone who has acquired a banjo uke, they have no idea of correct bridge placement and cant understand why their instrument plays out of tune.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenscoe View Post
    Several posts have pointed out that a rocking bridge attached to the soundboard results in a more interesting sound than that of a soundboard which largely only moves up and down when the strings are not attached to the bridge. That is probably the answer to my original question.

    I am aware of the fact that a floating bridge can be moved to obtain perfect intonation. However I see this as a problem. Whenever I come across someone who has acquired a banjo uke, they have no idea of correct bridge placement and cant understand why their instrument plays out of tune.
    I wouldn't say it's necessarily a less interesting sound, just a different one. It will still sound like a ukulele!

    You can always glue down the bridge (though two tiny dabs would be enough, so it could be unglued and moved if necessary) - or include instructions about how to find the right place to put it.

    If you make a uke like this, don't forget to change the bracing pattern. For example, the fan bracing usually used on a tenor is wrong because it doesn't provide enough resistance to the downward force of the bridge, so you need a cross-brace in that region. And although you can definitely thin the top a little more (with the right bracing), if you thin it too much it will produce a more banjo-like sound (like the Tahitian ukulele). If you make the bridge as tall as on a normal uke that will give you enough down force to get decent volume, and the bridge will be appreciably lighter which also helps with volume.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProfChris View Post
    I wouldn't say it's necessarily a less interesting sound, just a different one. It will still sound like a ukulele!

    You can always glue down the bridge (though two tiny dabs would be enough, so it could be unglued and moved if necessary) - or include instructions about how to find the right place to put it.

    If you make a uke like this, don't forget to change the bracing pattern. For example, the fan bracing usually used on a tenor is wrong because it doesn't provide enough resistance to the downward force of the bridge, so you need a cross-brace in that region. And although you can definitely thin the top a little more (with the right bracing), if you thin it too much it will produce a more banjo-like sound (like the Tahitian ukulele). If you make the bridge as tall as on a normal uke that will give you enough down force to get decent volume, and the bridge will be appreciably lighter which also helps with volume.
    My rather simplistic solution to bridge placement change on floating bridge so instruments is to outline the bridge with a thin sharpie making it easier to find the original position. I do this for any floating bridge instruments I make including banjo, cookie tin, Tahitian style and others.
    My friends call me Titch. I have been known to clown.
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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenscoe View Post
    Beau, you misunderstand what I am saying. I am asking why we don't attach the strings to the end of the box and then run them over the saddle/bridge so that the soundboard only takes the downward force and not the pull of the strings. I mention using a classical guitar type bridge only so that we still get the correct break angle (strings through but not tied to this): it was suggested that using a tail piece would mean an insufficient break angle.

    I mentioned mandolins, violins, etc where the strings arent tied to the bridge in any way. Not attaching the strings to the bridge would result in a soundboard which would be much lighter braced and therefore sound differently presumably.
    So, like an arch top guitar with a tail piece.
    You could do that, but you have to make the top thicker, with 1 or 2 decent braces.

    The answer is similar to my previous one- essential it is time.

    Hand carving an arched top is very time consuming.

    The other method is laminating it into an arched shape.

    Like you said, it would sound different.

    Someone from ko'olau ukulele made a very nice one.

  6. #26
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    Isn't it interesting the timing of threads. Yesterday the bead on the A string I added to my new bamboo uke popped off while the uke was hanging on the stand. The bead seems to have disappeared into the Twilight Zone. Luckily I bought a string of beads.

  7. #27
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    Thanks for this tip, Beau. I love through the body bridges, but have had troubles getting the string ends to stay in, which aggravates me to no end. I think this will work, and I want to try it the next time I restring!
    Now, where can I find those gems and glue?
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  8. #28
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    Getting off topic slightly, but another low tech idea for string-through mounting under the bridge is using a button. The very small ones that come on dress shirts for holding down the collar, with four holes. Weave through a couple holes in lieu of a knot, works well on the g/a strings. Next person who changes the strings will hopefully discover the button and reuse it.

  9. #29
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    I've also had a bead snap, as well as a button. What a PIA, and can be shocking, especially while playing. I'm gonna look for some metal beads, which should be stronger.
    John

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