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Shaving a saddle


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#1 OFFLINE   hb

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 08:03 AM

I need to shave a saddle on a guitar and have never done it. Can someone in the know, tell me how complicated it is and what is the best way to do it? Also I have an electric-acoustic that has a saddle that has a metal channel underneath it that has a wire connected to it that is part of the pick-up. How is shaving the saddle on this guitar going to affect the performance of the pickup?
thanks in advance,
hb

#2 OFFLINE   wjp01908

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 11:51 AM

Hi Hb

It`s quite an easy job but needs to be done with care to get a good result.

First off, you might as well replace it with a better material if the original is a cheapo plastic one. Bone is a good choice and a replacement is cheap. You`ll still have the original if you mess up too.

Try and get a rough idea how much you need to shave and use the existing base to measure from. That way you`ll preserve the slope on the top that ensures a proper action.

Glass paper is prolly the best choice for this - use a rough grade to start then a smoother one. It`s easier to stick the paper down to a firm surface and move the saddle rather than the other way around. This will keep the base straight which is important for the correct functioning of the pick up - it needs an even pressure across all 6 strings to work properly.

Check that the base is square to the sides as well.

Shave a bit off and try it - rinse and repeat until it`s just so.

HTH

Will

#3 OFFLINE   hb

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 12:01 PM

Thanks! I have never heard of "glass paper" before. Is it like sandpaper? Also, I guess that I would have to order a saddle from the guitar manufacturer, or are they something that comes uniform in size with acoustic guitars.
Thanks for the help.
hb

#4 OFFLINE   carol m

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 08:41 AM

I went to a local guitar shop and they directed me to a place down the road which had every sort of saddle and nut available. So ask at your local store - if they don't stock any they probably know where to get one locally.
One good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain - Bob Marley

#5 OFFLINE   solidwalnut

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 10:18 AM

Check out this site. Bob Colossi seems to know every thing there is to know about saddles and nuts. I called him up and learned a bunch.

I changed the saddle in my Taylor from Tusq to bone. Both have great sounding qualities. Bone will tend to make both your high and low ends brighter, Tusq amplifies the smooth tones. It's just a matter of choice.

Steve
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Becoming a great guitarist has less to do with fancy moves than it does becoming a master of the basics and learning musicianship.
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#6 OFFLINE   hb

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 11:57 AM

Thanks, I'll contact him.....looks like a useful site.
hb

#7 OFFLINE   wjp01908

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 01:31 PM

hb said:

Thanks! I have never heard of "glass paper" before. Is it like sandpaper? Also, I guess that I would have to order a saddle from the guitar manufacturer, or are they something that comes uniform in size with acoustic guitars.
Thanks for the help.
hb

Yep - in fact you`d be hard pressed to find abrasive with real sand on it these days. More usually glass / quartz, aluminium (sorry, aluminum) oxide or silicon carbide.

You should be able to get a saddle of about the right size from almost anywhere - trim to fit. All the bone ones I`ve done have been in the form of a "blank" - just a rectangular piece - you`ll need to do all the shaping on this yourself. This can give a better result as you can get exactly the fit you need.

Will

#8 OFFLINE   Father Goose

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 09:46 PM

Caution!!
Shaving the saddle may/will cause intonation to go 'off' on the guitar.
The tension on the neck will be affected.

I'm saying this based on experience. Shaved/trim the saddle of my acoustic gtr (now sold) just to lower the action and the whole thing went 'kaput'. Even a replacement saddle cannot correct the problem.

Thats the thing about acoustics; you cannot adjust the intonation. So best take it to a luthier just to be on the safe side.

#9 OFFLINE   hb

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 09:52 PM

Father Goose said:

Caution!!
Shaving the saddle may/will cause intonation to go 'off' on the guitar.
The tension on the neck will be affected.

I'm saying this based on experience. Shaved/trim the saddle of my acoustic gtr (now sold) just to lower the action and the whole thing went 'kaput'. Even a replacement saddle cannot correct the problem.

Thats the thing about acoustics; you cannot adjust the intonation. So best take it to a luthier just to be on the safe side.

Wow, Father Goose...that's wild! It's hard to imagine that replacing a saddle with a like kind could do that??? Anyone else want to chime in on this theory? I'm curious
hb

#10 OFFLINE   Father Goose

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 11:06 PM

It is simple & not complicated (shaving the saddle) but if not done right, the effect it has on an acoustic guitar can be unforgiving and costly too.

Theoretically, when you shave the saddle, the string length form nut to saddle will increase minimally, affecting intonation. Shave off more, it gets longer.

What I attempted to do was to lower the action of the GBE strings. So I trimmed a bit off that particular side of the saddle. And that’s where the intonation problems started.

I then levelled the base of the saddle (now only 1 mm shorter than before) thinking that it might correct the problem. It didn’t. An exact replacement saddle; bought earlier; couldn’t even get it back to its original state and so... I ended up selling the guitar.

Don’t forget the string grooves on the saddles too. If you replace the saddle with a new one, I think you won’t get the same groove.

Yup… my ‘moment of genius/madness’ (depends on how you look at it).

Funny thing is, there was no mention of it anywhere (web & books) when I did ‘homework’.

#11 OFFLINE   wjp01908

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 01:19 AM

I`m not convinced that 1mm off a saddle will cause serious problems with the intonation. Naturally, if the action is lowered, the strings will be stretched less when fretted and this will mean that it will sound extremely slightly flat compared to it`s original state.

I`d contend that you`d have to have an extremely sensitive ear to notice any difference. I`ve never noticed any problems and I`ve done a fair few.

Acoustic guitar intonation - at least with a simple sloping saddle - is always a bit of a compromise. It`s generally fixed at manufacture to sound OK with a range of actions and with a range of string gauges.

If you are at all worried, then keep the original, shaving the replacement.

Will

#12 OFFLINE   Father Goose

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 02:12 AM

wjp01908 said:


If you are at all worried, then keep the original, shaving the replacement.

Will

Good idea.
I should've thought of that before i messed with it.

#13 OFFLINE   skinnybloke

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 03:23 AM

I think shaving the saddle is a prerequisite for most new guitars, as Will suggests it's a bit of a non event.
I got blisters on my fingers........!

#14 OFFLINE   hb

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 03:30 PM

I pulled the saddle out of my electic/acoustic and saw that it sat in a metal trough that belongs to the pick-up...no problem there. But what scared me off is after looking at the bottom of the saddle, I noticed that it is not absolutely flat on bottom. It is strategically cut on the bottom so as to fit in the metal trough just right. I'm thinking that if this isn't done right, it could effect the sounds and effects of the pick-up. Hence, there will be no laying it on sand paper and just start shaving! I even looked at the sight mentioned above, and for my guitar, he says, that this saddle will not be duplicated, so there must be stuff going on here that's outa my league.
My question now is...I have some pretty deep string grooves in the top of the saddle, so can I just shave the TOP of the saddle and leave the bottom alone?????
thanks,
hb:dunno:

#15 OFFLINE   Father Goose

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 12:29 AM

hb said:

........... so can I just shave the TOP of the saddle and leave the bottom alone?????
thanks,
hb:dunno:


Sorry. I dont know :crying2:

Do let us know the outcome tho.

#16 OFFLINE   Father Goose

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 03:14 AM

But then again...
Heres some pics on how its done.

FRETS.COM

#17 OFFLINE   skinnybloke

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 05:12 AM

Can you post a couple of pics hb...There's got to be someone here that can help.
I got blisters on my fingers........!

#18 OFFLINE   hb

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 07:47 PM

Father Goose said:

Sorry. I dont know :crying2:

Do let us know the outcome tho.

Yea, I took it to a shop and they shaved the top down.....a little tricky though as evidently, you have to maintain the correct bevel angles on the top of the saddle or you're up a creek! Looks like they did a good job, though.
hb

#19 OFFLINE   Sugarlander

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 07:59 PM

hb said:

I need to shave a saddle on a guitar and have never done it. Can someone in the know, tell me how complicated it is and what is the best way to do it? Also I have an electric-acoustic that has a saddle that has a metal channel underneath it that has a wire connected to it that is part of the pick-up. How is shaving the saddle on this guitar going to affect the performance of the pickup?
thanks in advance,
hb

This is a common thing that I hear and see done by people new (and old) to guitar playing. Very often what needs to be done is lowering the nut action and straightening the neck (reducing neck relief with truss rod adjustment) and this is enough to take care of poor action. Lowering the saddle can reduce volume/tone from a guitar and can certainly be lowered. But not until the nut and neck relief is proper.

#20 OFFLINE   hb

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 09:27 PM

Sugarlander said:

This is a common thing that I hear and see done by people new (and old) to guitar playing. Very often what needs to be done is lowering the nut action and straightening the neck (reducing neck relief with truss rod adjustment) and this is enough to take care of poor action. Lowering the saddle can reduce volume/tone from a guitar and can certainly be lowered. But not until the nut and neck relief is proper.

I see what you're saying Sugarlander, and one thing that I am not, is a Luthier, but after adjusting the truss rod, I still had a large gap under the strings up on the neck, (measuring at the 12th fret), so what I thought would help lower the action up on the "dusty" end of the fretboard, would be to lower the saddle. I did get a full 32nd off the action up there without touching the truss rod.
Any thoughts are appreciated.
hb





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