Disaster (well, almost). (I have to repair a uke)

I received some new strings by post today, and went over to the relevant instruments that need them. First of all, my beloved red flying-v (as seen in my main blog page picture) – it is only a cheap uke, but I like it, it looks cool, is loud, and doesn’t sound bad. Remove four strings, put the replacements on, just tuning up when ARGH! The A string just pops out! The wood at the bridge is giving way! Tried to take a couple of pictures to illustrate the problem here:

You can see where the wood between string slots 1 and 2 is broken under the white screw-cover dot.
Looking at it end on…

And in taking off the strings to have a better look, here’s what happens: (I unscrewed the screws before taking this photo, though)

So, the only thing to do is replace the bridge. As this is a cheap uke, I am not going to get a new one, or get someone else to repair it, but I do want this one back up and running. To remove the old bridge involves popping off those thin screw covers (they’re some card or plastic, and just pop out), unscrewing the screws, then, carefully, inserting a stanley-knife under each side to cut through the glue sticking the bridge to the uke.

Once I’ve done that, I scrape over the wood work on the uke (it has paint on it, so I scrape away at that) to give a good surface of contact for the new glue.

Then, I sacrifice my homemade sweet-tin uke, (more pain!) by removing the bridge from that. This new bridge gets a bit of a scrape on the underside to give a good surface for the glue. Then I fiddle around trying to position the bridge exactly right (not square or the right distance from nut-to-bridge and the intonation will be out). Glue and screw in place, checking and rechecking the exact positioning as I proceed to make sure I’m not going off. Of course, until I play it, I won’t know whether I’ve actually got it exactly right.

So here is the new bridge in place, with glue, screws, and a light pressure from the strings (enough to hold it in place without stressing it too much for the next day while the glue sets fully).

Hopefully, this uke will be in working order soon, and then I’ll see if I got the positioning right. Note that the same problem cannot happen with this bridge as the strings go through holes, not slots.

And my white uke also has a string-change. But no problems with that one, fortunately.

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