Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vintage Harmony Ukulele: replacing the saddle

with the old saddle removed

Sliding in the new saddle

Just a little bit more....

 The first thing that I tackled on this project was replacing the saddle.  The original saddle (not pictured) was a black piece of plastic and was pretty worn.  Not the most desirable saddle choice.  

 I'm happy to have found this uke in a local antique store for $20...but I also don't want to sink a ton
of money into bringing it back to life.  I went to the spare parts bin in the basement and found an extra saddle.  This particular saddle is made of mahogany, as is the ukulele so they should compliment each other nicely. 

The previous saddle was very thin (less than 2mm thick).  The new part was about 3mm thick and .5 cm to long.  Modifying the size with this type of wood is fairly easy.  Just grab some low grit sandpaper (I had some 150 lying around) and sand one of the sides of the saddle down, making sure to check your progress frequently.  The last thing that you want to do is to check it and realize that you've sanded away too much.

 Try to make the fit nice and tight and find a flat surface to sand against - a table top, a flat piece of wood, etc.  I usually tape down the sand paper to a table top with double sided tape and run the wood back and forth (sanding with the wood grain).  Try your best to apply even pressure to the piece your sanding.

 I used a coping saw to cut off the extra length and sanded that end to match the uncut side.  Keep in mind that when you are replacing a saddle, you never want to pull it out.  Slide the old saddle out and slide the new one in.  To the left are some pictures to help illustrate how to do that to slide in the new saddle.  Just reverse the process for taking out the old saddle.

If the old saddle is wedged in pretty tightly and you can't slide it out with your fingers, try this process with a small flat head screwdriver.  Just put the tip in right side and apply light pressure...should slide out just enough and you can do the rest with your fingers.  That's what I had to do on this one.

Also keep in mind that you don't need to completely remove the strings like I did.  You can simply loosen the tension of the strings enough to get the old saddle out and put the new one in.  I took the strings off this uke because I'm not sure how old they are.  It's recommended that you change your uke strings once a year.  While I generally am too lazy to follow this principle, I make sure to put new strings on any new uke I make or acquire...it just seems to be the right way to break it in.  The strings on this one looked pretty fresh, but looks can be deceiving.  If you don't know how old they are, just chalk up the extra cash and get some new strings on it.

That's all for this part.  Pretty easy, huh?  Hope that you've learned a little from this post and that you'll try it out yourself sometime if you never have.  We still might have to sand the bridge again when we go through the set up process, but we're good for now.  Next up, we'll put on a new nut.

1 comment:

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