how to shape a guitar saddle

Once the saddle is marked with the radius line at the desired height, you’re ready to cut down the blank. Even if you don’t attempt work like this yourself, knowing what’s involved helps you communicate better with your local guitar tech. Radius blocks are available online, as are instructions to make your own, if you’re so inclined. But similar to top nuts, a saddle pretty much unique to each guitar so it’s best to create a bespoke one rather than an off-the-shelf pre-cut saddle. #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; width:100%;} You usually don't have much to work with, but you at least need this much. Another option is to use a Dremel rotary tool, which also offers a high degree of control and precision. If the point of contact is too shallow or too steep, it can cause tuning problems and string breakage. To finish the basic shaping job, I like to flip the saddle upside down and sand the top on a 14" radius block fitted with fine self-adhesive sandpaper. 6. This ensures a smooth surface and accurate radius. First Look: Hughes & Kettner Spirit Nano Series. Installing a bone saddle into your acoustic guitar isn’t just something to consider if you’ve lost or broken your original saddle. Setting the saddle height on an acoustic is a crucial part of setting one up, and sometimes you’ll need a replacement. Many people report a better tone, as bone tends to be harder than materials commonly used in many acoustic guitars, and it transfers the strings’ vibration into the guitar’s top more efficiently. Tip: When carving a bone saddle, it’s a good idea to add a little extra to your calculations. Your Pedalboards 2020: Part Deux, 1. Fig. It’s easier to remove excess material than begin anew. PRS SE Hollowbody II Piezo: The PG Review, 3. John LeVan has written five guitar repair books published by Mel Bay. The truss rod, the nut slot depths, the bridge saddle radius, the fret tops condition and the playing style all have a role to play in the final string height achievable without fret buzz. 8. Most modern flattops have a drop-in saddle that’s housed in a slot routed into the bridge. After the saddle ends are properly contoured, it’s time to compensate the saddle. By filing the contact points forward for the flat strings and back for the sharp strings—especially the B string (Fig. As you adjust the contact points, keep this simple rule in mind: When flat, move toward the neck. Fig. Shaping the saddle ends to match the bridge contour on a drill press.Another way to do this is with a Dremel rotary tool. Fig. By laying your file against both the pin hole and saddle contact point, you’ll be able to visually determine the correct angle for each string. To carve those nice curves for each end of the saddle, I use a small spindle sander attached to my drill press (Fig. Carving a new saddle for any flattop guitar takes skill and patience, but crafting an open-slot saddle—the type that’s found on vintage Martins and many other older guitars—is especially tricky. Carving new intonation points. Each string typically emerges from the pin hole at a unique angle, and you want the contact point on the rear of the saddle to match this angle for every string. On an open-slot saddle, always remove material from the top of the saddle. I use my shop band saw for this (Fig. Privacy Policy | A drop-in saddle is surrounded on its front, back, and both ends by the bridge. The bridge saddle for your guitar is unique. Once the top is shaped, slide the new saddle into its slot. I put new strings on the 000-18 and checked the intonation on my strobe tuner. His best seller, Guitar Setup, Maintenance & Repair, is a hands-on guide with a forward by Bob Taylor. Each string’s intonation point can be subtly shifted by removing material from either the front or rear of the saddle. Remember, the finished saddle has curved ends—which we’re about to finalize—and filing the bottom of the saddle will mean our “faded” ends will “fade away” and not match the bridge curves. Removing excess material from the saddle blank. Restring the guitar and check your action. The more you understand about how your guitar is constructed, the easier it is to coax great sounds from it. Earlier I mentioned the intonation was a little off on the 000-18’s original saddle. 6), but you can manually trim off the excess material using a fine-tooth hobby saw. /* Add your own Mailchimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. Important: If the action is still too high, do not sand the bottom of the saddle. */, Copyright ©2020. Design, CMS, Hosting & Web Development :: ePublishing, On, "Sponsored Content" refers to articles, videos, or audio recordings that are produced or curated by an advertiser but that, DIY: How to Set Up and Intonate an Acoustic Guitar, Guitar Shop 101: Touch-up a String Nut with Super Glue, Guitar Shop 101: Using Super Glue in Guitar Repair, Guitar Shop 101: Happy Little (String) Trees, Guitar Shop 101: How to Repair Delaminated Neck Binding, Guitar Shop 101: How to Intonate an Acoustic 12-String, Guitar Shop 101: How to Install an Onboard Buffer System in a Strat, Guitar Shop 101: How to Take Your Les Paul into the Slide Zone, Guitar Shop 101: How to Replace a Zero Fret, 1. To watch a video with a detailed, step-by-step explanation of how to carve the intonation points on a bone saddle, visit PG’s YouTube channel and watch “DIY: How to Set Up and Intonate an Acoustic Guitar.”. This way, if you slip when carving the angles, it won’t scar the bridge. You can do this by hand with a fine-tooth hobby saw. To learn more about John’s repair and restoration workshops for players, technicians, and retail employees, visit With the saddle in the slot, use a miniature flat file to carve the intonation points for each string (Fig. When sharp, move toward the pins. Hooked: Kenny Wayne Shepherd on Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", 4. Terms Of Use. 9)—I was able to improve the intonation. Fig. Overall, the guitar played and intonated great, and it looked classy with its new saddle. 9. Truss rod setting was covered previously, if you need to refer back. 8), based on the numbers you gathered earlier. All Rights Reserved The starting shape of a saddle under a wound E should have a bearing surface with a radius that's greater than the windings of the string, at the very least. John also authored PG’s Guitar Shop 101 column, hosted several PG DIY videos, and is an authorized warranty technician trainer for Taylor Guitars. 7). We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. Here, the B string’s intonation point is moved back toward the pin holes to extend the vibrating length of the string and slightly lower the pitch of notes fretted in the higher registers. 7. The wrap. Cover the pin holes on the bridge with a strip of painter’s tape. Go slowly and check your work frequently by fitting the saddle in the slot and comparing its ends to the bridge’s contours.

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