The Mailman brought me a package today from my luthier friend Jon Dale in Philadelphia. Jon makes wonderful ukuleles and banjos under the name Jupiter Ukuleles. We share a passion for wood and it is Jon who has provided me with the wonderful Redwood from NYC water tanks. He also has a stash of Sycamore which he has generously shared with me.
In the package were three sets of terrific Sycamore. One set is rather brown, he said he had been drying it in a hot attic. One set is normal sycamore looking like the Uke I am building now, and a third set is rather spectacular spalted sycamore. All of them will make really unusual and striking tenors. I am thrilled.
With that nice start for the day, I decided to mount the bridges on lee's tenor and Beth's baritone, The French Polish is done and it is time to string them up. Locating the bridge properly is critical. Beyond measuring, I use this intonation jig to get the best intonation I can.
Strings are stretched from zero fret to saddle and tuned to a note, any note. then the bridge is moved forward and back until, when pressing at the 12th fret, the exact same note is registered on the tuner. That is the perfect place for the bridge to be.
So you carefully mark the sweet spot with tape, I located the bridge for both instruments and then moved on to another project. Putting the back on the Sycamore.
The final project for the day was inventing a clamp for the trumpet shaped Kasha bridges. Several times I have had difficulty putting clamping pressure on the "bat wings" of the bridge and failed to get a perfect connection at their extremities;. I sat down and sketched an idea I had been working on. Soon, I was off to the hardware store for some thumb screw parts.
It took just a few minutes to fashion the clamp. It will fit over the bridge and its slot will receive the saddle. The bridge with the new clamp atop it will be glued and clamped to the instrument top with the usual clamp which extends from the sound hole.
Once it is tightly clamped to the top, the thumb screws will be tightened to bring pressure on the three extended areas of the bridge.