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Bridge, Nut and Strings = Done!

This will be the final ‘build-post’ for the Hawaii Uke project. There will be one more post after this one, but since all the work is now done, that last post will be the wrap-up and demo video.

Installing the Bridge

All that’s left in the build is to install the new bridge, and then shape and install the new bone nut and saddle. Since the new bridge is bigger than the original, I had to start by removing the finish from the soundboard in the area where the bridge would be glued on. I started with some low-tack tape on the soundboard, and then measured the placement to ensure the saddle would fall 382 mm from the leading edge of the nut (that’s the correct placement for a 380 mm scale per StewMac). Then I marked the position of the saddle on the tape.

Next, using a single-edge razor blade as a scraper, I carefully scraped off the finish in the area where the bridge would go. You can see in the photos how much additional glue-able surface I get from the new bridge than the old. The two holes are where the old bridge had two screws that went through the bridge and soundboard and into the brace on the underside of the soundboard. I’m not sure if these were intended to hold the bridge, or just provide clamping pressure when the original bridge was glued on, but a well-glued bridge of this size on a ukulele would never challenge the holding power of the glue, so I dispensed with the screws on my build.

The last photo above shows the bridge installed with the saddle. Once the nut and strings were on I went back and adjusted the height of the saddle to fine tune the height of the strings.

Installing the Nut

Installing the nut started with cutting the blank to the proper length. I cut the ends at a slight angle to match the flare of the head stock just above the end of the fret board.

Next, I marked the nut by slicing a pencil in half, and running the flat side along the top of the frets with the point on the nut. This gave me a reference line for the depth of my nut slots. I then made a series of marks across the top of the nut. This allowed me to see how far across the top of the nut I had removed material as I shaped the curve on the top of the nut from front to back.

Putting on the Strings

Next I cut the nut slots (and forgot to take pics of that process), and then strung it up with a set of nice Martin ukulele strings using the original tuner hardware.

Adding a Label

With the addition of a label, the project is basically done!

Don’t forget to come back for the wrap-up and demo video. Our special guest Jake Sharp will be playing the instrument for us so everyone can get a good sense of how it sounds.

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