Sharkfin Uke Build – Strings

Today’s update isn’t meant to be happening. I should have been out and about with Ma and Bro, but a bad back has laid me low. I feel like crap. Still, with the benefit of pain killers, I managed a little bit of ukulele-building therapy…

Jawas Rock!

I didn’t do any work on my build this weekend and that was largely down
to the fact that I’d hit a bit of an impasse. I’d started fashioning a bridge
and I wasn’t sure how high it needed to be or where to place the saddle.
If you remember, my intention is to fit an under-saddle piezo. That
will mean having a fixed bridge, so I’ve got to get it right first time.
Nothing like a little bit of pressure to keep things interesting.
Check out the size of the bridge blank I’ve cut above! It’s of the same
wood that I fashioned the fretboard and it’s HUGE! I’d always intended
to have quite a large bridge, but this is humongous!
Finally, I figured that I’d fit the strings and using a banjolele-type bridge
I might just be able to work out what to do next. I marked and drilled 4
string holes in the head from the front through to the back. The first
3 holes were perfect. The last one is abysmal! I wanted to use my
drill press, but unfortunately my drill started sparking and I didn’t
want to risk burning it out. Plan B was to borrow my father-in-law’s
drill, which meant I had to do it all the hard way. As you can see I
had a 75% success rate. I’m not sure what, if anything I’ll do about that
wayward hole. Perhaps I should redrill it? I’ll worry about that later.
In order to fit the strings, I first needed to fit the tuning pegs. Here you
can see that I did that. This is where I realised that the tuning pegs that
I’m using really are cheap shoddy crap! Yep, and I’m perhaps pushing them
a bit too far in terms of  the thickness of the wood I’m fitting them through.
What I’ve discovered is that the heads are burring and coming loose,
meaning that I can’t tighten the strings beyond a certain point. It’s
a close-run thing… I ruined 2 whilst doing this test. Another
thing for me to think about. I don’t know if there is a way of fixing the
heads so that they are stronger, or whether I just have to rely upon a
bit of luck here? Anyone got any advice?

 

Here’s the free-floating bridge fitted. I’ve marked the wood where it needs to be to
ensure that the frets are all in tune. I know that a number of you were concerned that the
Sharkfin design of wrapping the strings around the edge of the body and through
holes in the body might create too much friction. My intention is to round the wood a
little and of course to lacquer. I haven’t done any of that here and I didn’t experience
any friction problems; The strings tuned easily and stayed in tune (as well as new
strings ever stay in tune). The bridge I used will also help be to get the right height
when I make the real bridge.

 

Here’s a view of the whole instrument strung up. It’s not looking that
bad in my opinion. It certainly has a distinctive look. You can see here
that there is just enough room to clip my tuner onto the head. I had
been wondering how a zero fret might affect the action of the strings.
Perhaps is would mean a high action up the neck towards the body?
It doesn’t look to be too bad at all.
I’m not sure how much more of this build I’m going to get done before I shut up shop for Winter. It’s bitterly cold here and my garage doesn’t have any heating. Still, it would be a shame to leave it half-done wouldn’t it 😉

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