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String Setup (Read 5231 times)
unkabob
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String Setup
Dec 20th, 2008 at 11:11am
 
My first ukulele was according to the book and some guitar players questioned that the strings spread-out between the nut and the saddle. I accepted their opinion and the next two ukuleles were the same separation at both the string-guide and the anchoring holes.
In preparing to drill the holes to pin the bridge, I checked the project pictures and found out that I was right to begin with.
This project uses a Kamaka fretboard (from the factory) so I have the 1 3/8 nut and narrower fretboard but still twelve frets to the connection.

My question is what width apart are your outside anchor-holes?

Bob
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Wood_Butcher
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Re: String Setup
Reply #1 - Dec 20th, 2008 at 2:11pm
 
Hiya Bob,

On my build, I followed the Hanalima plans and used their book.  I also have the 1 3/8" (+/-) nut.  I followed the instructions to keep the low string 5/32" from the edge of the fret board and the high string 3/16" from the edge of the fret board. As a result the holes for attaching the strings to the bridge are 1 3/4 " outside to outside and the strings are about a 1/32" out to out at the nut.  Hope this is the kind of info you are looking for.

OOOPS! Now that I am re-reading your message, I see that you are using a Kamaka fret board, so I guess you might be waiting for a response from someone who owns one.  Oh well.

Mark
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unkabob
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Re: String Setup
Reply #2 - Dec 20th, 2008 at 3:28pm
 
Mark:
Your numbers are exactly what I was looking for, thanks.

The Kamaka fretboard was purchased after a tour of their factory. I carefully measured the twelfth fret to be sure that it was a 17 inch scale. It is dark rosewood and CNC cut for frets.

I am working on my third pineapple tenor and I decided that I should use this fretboard as this may be my last tenor for a while. I will build a baritone next. It should fit my hands better.

Bob
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Wood_Butcher
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Re: String Setup
Reply #3 - Dec 21st, 2008 at 8:33am
 
Bob,

Just to make sure that the dimensions I gave you wouldn't get you into trouble, I measured the width of my fret board at the 12th fret. It is a strong 1-3/4" at this point.

Funny you should mention it, once I complete the series of three tenors I am currently working on, I also plan to build a baritone.  So far I have the Hanalima cutaway plans, but not sure if I want to attempt that.  Loooking forward to hearing about what design you will be using.

Mark
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Wood_Butcher
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Re: String Setup
Reply #4 - Dec 21st, 2008 at 8:37am
 
Hey Bob,

Just noticed a misprint on my first post.  The dimension of the string width at the nut should be 1-1/32".  Leaves a little more room for the "sausage-style" fingers if you know what I mean.

Mark
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unkabob
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Re: String Setup
Reply #5 - Dec 21st, 2008 at 3:50pm
 
Mark:
I figured that was the measurement. The nut can be changed if necessary but the holes in the bridge are pretty permanent.
I have spent the day building bridges. My original (walnut) was just a 1 3/4" saddle so I will save that for a concert.
My second one (snakewood) was great until it split while marking the holes.
The third one (rosewood) looks OK so far. The saddle slot is sometimes too narrow and sometimes too wide.
Getting the saddle to seat well is another problem. My saw doesn't give a flat bottom.

My next project will be a Kasha-Baritone. I picked up the plans last year at Hana Lima. I still can't find my pua dots but this fretboard was pre-drilled but I solved that Old-School.

Thanks for the help.

Bob
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Don_Orgeman
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Re: String Setup
Reply #6 - Dec 22nd, 2008 at 10:45am
 
Bob:

My tenor fingerboard from Hana Lima measured 1 13/32 instead of 1 3/8 and I left the extra width.  The two outside strings are both 3/16 inch in from the edge leaving 33/32 for the strings and therefore the strings are 11/32 apart center to center.  I made the bridge according to the Hana Lima plan spacings.

Don
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unkabob
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Re: String Setup
Reply #7 - Dec 22nd, 2008 at 8:10pm
 
Don:
All of my ukes (all three) used 1 1/2" nut with 2"fretboard width at the twelfth fret connection (kind of dumpy). That gave me a wider spacing at the saddle. This fretboard has a 1 3/8 nut and is designed for a fourteenth fret connection.

I have two bridges cut and drilled at 1 3/4". As soon as I finish sanding 1200 grit I can do two coats of Danish oil and then a million coats of truoil (it seems that many). I think that the Danish oil brings out the grain but the sound takes longer to come back.

I have been pondering whether the mass of the bridge alters the loudness or spectrum of the sound.

Bob
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Don_Orgeman
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Re: String Setup
Reply #8 - Dec 23rd, 2008 at 3:38am
 
Bob:

On a ukulele or guitar with strings attached at the bridge by pin holes or tied to a bar, most of the sound produced is from the rocking of the bridge in response to the string movement.  Very little of the sound is the result of the up and down movement of the saddle.  On a violin the majority of the sound is produced by the up and down movement of the saddle since the strings are attached to a tail piece.

As a result, it probably does not matter if your bridge is thicker or heavier unless it gets so heavy that it damps the vibration of the top.

Don
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unkabob
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Re: String Setup
Reply #9 - Dec 23rd, 2008 at 5:47am
 
Don:
I guess that my question is,"Why choose hard, dense material for a bridge and saddle if the sound is transmitted by a rocking motion from the strings". The talk about a bone or ivory saddle would appear to be just talk.

My rough estimate is that a bridge contains 0.25 cubic inches of wood. The soundboard, excluding patches and bracing, contains 5.75 cubic inches of wood. Would the more efficient method of transmitting energy from the strings to the soundboard be to use a very light soundboard (spruce) and a standing bridge like a violin?

I think that I am getting  beyond my depth here.

Bob Cheesy
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Don_Orgeman
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Re: String Setup
Reply #10 - Dec 23rd, 2008 at 12:59pm
 
Bob:

I think much of what is used in guitars is based on tradition.  Rosewood or ebony are common choices for fingerboards and there is a tendency to use the same or a similar material for the bridge.  Ivory was long the choice material because of its white color.  Bone was a second choice.   With ivory no longer being an option, bone has moved up to be the preferred material.  Again, I think tradition plays a large factor in this choice.

There are some commercially made accustic guitars that use a tail piece.  A nice feature of this design for a custom build is that the bridge can be temporarily installed, the saddle adjusted for the desired action, and the bridge moved to get the best compensation before being glued in place.  I have a friend that built a steel string guitar with this feature and it ended up being his favorite guitar for feel and sound.

I'm afraid I don't know enough about your technical questions you have posed to go any deeper, but there are lots of members that know this stuff really well and I'm sure you will get a great response from someone.  I don't know if you lose some sound volume by using a tail piece or is it the same as a pin bridge.

Don
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Zippyzingo
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Re: String Setup
Reply #11 - Jan 4th, 2009 at 5:44pm
 
Bob said, Quote:
Why choose hard, dense material for a bridge and saddle if the sound is transmitted by a rocking motion from the strings". The talk about a bone or ivory saddle would appear to be just talk.
Your question is valid. A bridge should be fit into the saddle so that it is held firmly upright with good even contact over it's length. The point is to transfer the string vibration into the soundboard. If the saddle "rocks" in the bridge it will absorb energy that should be transmitted to the face of the instrument. The choice of material has much less to do with color than it as to do with acoustic properties. Dense bone does a very good job of transferring string vibration to the top without damping too much of that energy. Bone isn't really an easy material to work with. If the choice was based on looks, there are many easier thing to use.

BTW, Ivory is available in fossilized form, It's pretty expensive but it can add to both the beauty and the acoustics of a guitar.  Dana Bourgeois uses it on some of his High end Guitars.  Google him and take a look.
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Zippyzingo
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Re: String Setup
Reply #12 - Jan 4th, 2009 at 6:23pm
 
Don_Orgeman said: Quote:
I think much of what is used in guitars is based on tradition.  Rosewood or ebony are common choices for fingerboards and there is a tendency to use the same or a similar material for the bridge.  Ivory was long the choice material because of its white color.  Bone was a second choice.   With ivory no longer being an option, bone has moved up to be the preferred material.  


I think that tradition does play a role but these materials also serve other important purposes.  Hard, stable, darker  woods better resist the wear and tear and better hide the stains that fingerboards are subjected to, particularly with steel strings. Also, anyone that has replaced a plastic nut and/or bridge with bone can attest to the sonic value found in this denser material.

Ivory is available in fossilized form but is very expensive. Dense bone makes a good acoustic substitute. There has also been some work with metals but these haven't really caught on for various reasons.  Over all the choice of bridge saddle material has more to do with acoustic properties and the sound of the instrument than color.  

It's not really a surprise that bridges and finger boards often end up made of the same material. The criteria for them are very much the same.  

I think the problem with flat tops and tail pieces is string tension over the bridge. Arched tops have room for the strings to break over the bridge at a good angle. The flat top/ tail piece instruments have a fairly flat string path which doesn't create enough pressure on the bridge to couple the vibration to the top efficiently. Almost every instrument I've seen like this was either a inexpensive "repair" or an inexpensive instrument.  The only one that isn't, is a 12 string which produce  a lot of force because of the number of strings involved.

I don't think the nylon strings of a ukulele can generate this sort of force so I would stick with a standard bridge and saddle.
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Don_Orgeman
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Re: String Setup
Reply #13 - Jan 5th, 2009 at 4:29am
 
Zippyzingo:

Wow! Great info in your reply.

Your reply poses a new related question about metal saddles.  Using a zero fret alters the sound of open notes to sound closer to the sound of the fretted notes.  Do you know what effect using a metal saddle in a hardwood bridge would have on the sound?  A chrome steel saddle would provide a nice look even though it would be much more difficult to install and adjust.

Don
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Zippyzingo
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Re: String Setup
Reply #14 - Jan 5th, 2009 at 12:01pm
 
Hi Don,
You can call me ZZ if you want to save the letters.

First of all, I should make it clear that I'm a hobbiest, not a Pro. My brother and I have played at this for quit a while and I've picked up a lot of knowledge but I'm sure there are others that know much more.

That said, I've played with metal bridge saddles a bit. The first one was an aluminum saddle/ebony base mandolin bridge. (Gibson made these for a short time.) It was hard on strings, and brought a harsher tone that a wooden saddle doesn't. IMO, the instrument sounded better with an ebony replacement. ( I still have the metal bridge, we never used it again. )

My brother and I once installed a brass saddle on medium quality guitar we owned.  It improved the volume a bit and changed the tone a little. The guitar wasn't a great one anyway so anything might have been an improvement but later we changed it for bone and liked the sound better, however some people liked the brass saddle. The brass seemed to accent the trebles too much for our taste and didn't seem to help the basses as much as we hoped.  It also seemed a bit harsh and was hard on strings, much like the aluminum mandolin saddle.  The bone was about as loud with a mellower sound, though it didn't help the basses much either.   

Gibson built acoustic guitars with a stamped steel adjustable bridge saddles. As far as I'm concerned, these are too heavy and any guitar fitted with one can be improved by replacing it.  String height adjustment on a archtop  makes some to me but I don't think most players of flat top guitars need this adjustment enough to warrant such a heavy bridge.

Overall I would guess that all of this is far too heavy for ukulele strings to drive very well.  Of course, I could be wrong since I haven't tried it. If you try it, I would suggest avoiding chrome, it's extremely hard.

I've been looking at information on compensated nuts just lately but I haven't played with one yet. Perhaps a zero fret is what I need.

ZZ
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