Saddle position

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Redbloke1956
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Saddle position

Post by Redbloke1956 » Fri Aug 21, 2020 4:02 pm

Hi to all,
I am building my first guitar, I am currently at this point:
Bolt on/Bolt off, Falcate braced, Steel string, 12the fret at the neck/body joint, Saddle only Compensation (not yet done) Bridge is glued down, ALL finish applied.
Today was to be the day that I routed out the saddle slot, by my measurements (with a 5 mm saddle) At the 6th string I will only have a few mm between the rear of the saddle and the Bridge Pin hole.
Any ideas other than removing and replacing the bridge?

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Mark McLean
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Mark McLean » Fri Aug 21, 2020 10:00 pm

Can we check how you are calculating the right place for the saddle? Presumably you have measured the distance from the front of the nut to the crown of the 12th fret, and then you doubled this, and then you added a bit for compensation - and that lands you on the spot that would be the front edge of the slot. But talk us through exactly how you did the measurements, and how much you have added for compensation. And just checking - you don’t have a zero fret do you?

If you have done it all correctly, and that places your slot too far to the back of the bridge - well, sorry, but you have glued the bridge in the wrong place. Annoying, but fixable.

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kiwigeo
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Re: Saddle position

Post by kiwigeo » Sat Aug 22, 2020 8:14 am

What Mark has said. Double check measurements and then if the bridge is still in same location get ready to take it off.
Martin

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Mark McLean
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Mark McLean » Sat Aug 22, 2020 12:01 pm

Get back to us with the measurements, and maybe a photo of the bridge. If you need to remove the bridge we can help you to get that done. Don’t ask me why - but I have removed the bridge on a few of my builds before. The falcate bracing, because of its close relationship to the position of the bridge pins, will present a challenge. So don’t go ahead and do anything rash - It would be best to workshop it here first. Between us we have made most of the potential mistakes at least once before, so hopefully you don’t have to.

Redbloke1956
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Redbloke1956 » Sun Aug 23, 2020 5:51 am

Thanks for all the responses guys, here is my process:
Not having a long enough accurate ruler to measure full length I have 322.6mm from fretboard side of (uncompensated) nut to centre of 12th fret.
Now the confusing part (for me) 322.6mm + 3mm for compensation = 325.6mm from nut to saddle on centre line of guitar
Saddle offset 1st string 325.6mm -1.5mm = 324.1mm
Saddle offset for 6th string 325.6 + 1.5mm = 327.1mm
I will mark up the saddle and attach a photo later today

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Mark McLean
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Mark McLean » Sun Aug 23, 2020 8:50 am

First thing I would suggest is go up to the local hardware store and invest $20 in a metre long steel ruler. You really need to be able to measure this stuff accurately. You are on the right track with the measurements. If nut to 12th is 322.6mm your overall scale length is double that at 645.2. That sounds right if you were building to a plan for 25.4 inches or thereabouts. The actual length of the string from nut to saddle needs to be a bit longer than that, and your calculations regarding compensation are OK (but maybe not expressed in the most simple way). You are essentially saying that you want the length of the 1st string to be scale length plus 1.5mm (646.7) and the 6th string to be scale length plus 4.5mm (649.7). You will find slightly different recommendations from different sources about how much compensation to add - I use 2mm and 5mm - but lets not quibble about a half millimetre. These measurements locate the front of the saddle (i.e. soundhole side). Your 5 mm saddle is pretty wide ( a good thing), so you will have wriggle room to file it to place the contact point for each string where it needs to be for best intonation.
So, now use your new long ruler to measure out those distances from the nut (which is better than measuring from the 12th fret). Measure it separately for the path of the 1st string and for the path of the 6th. Measure each multiple times, and if you are my age wear your magnifying glasses. Mark the point for those two strings on your bridge and connect them with a line to indicate the front of the saddle, and then maybe draw lines for the centre and the back edge of the saddle. So - now you know if you have a problem..........

Redbloke1956
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Redbloke1956 » Sun Aug 23, 2020 12:05 pm

BCF13997-6B20-40B1-BFAD-10C1741E594B.jpeg
This pic shows the pencil line is the rear of the 5mm saddle slot, the edge of the tape aligns with the pine holes
BCF13997-6B20-40B1-BFAD-10C1741E594B.jpeg (89.91 KiB) Viewed 1817 times

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Mark McLean
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Mark McLean » Sun Aug 23, 2020 1:41 pm

Hmmm, that does look a bit close for comfort. That curved arrangement of the pin holes is a nice look, but it does make it a bit tight at the bass end. I think you have a few options:
1. Move the bass end of the saddle slot forward 2-3mm. This would make it essentially perpendicular to the centre line. To get the bass strings to intonate properly you will need to file the saddle so that the contact point is way to the back side of the saddle. But a 5mm saddle will give you some room to play with. If you end up with an intonation problem you could try to fix it later with some nut compensation as well (I have never tried that, but it should be theoretically possible).
2. Fill the 6th string pin hole and drill a new one a bit further back. It mucks up your nice curve - but that is a purely cosmetic issue. You could move the 5th string hole too, to make a new line for the curve. But the 5th string hole is close to one of your primary falcate braces so be careful in planning that. Drilling through the brace would obviously be bad!
3. Remove the bridge and reattach it a bit further back. I think this is the least desirable thing to do. It will leave a defect in the finish in front of the new bridge position which will be difficult to repair invisibly. Also, it will move all of the holes backwards and this might bring them into conflict with the brace locations (we can blame Mr Gore for this, it would not be a problem with an X-brace).

Let’s see if anyone comes up with other ideas, or opinions on the above.

As an aside I can tell you that I faced a very similar problem recently. I made a falcate braced 7-string multiscale fan-fret thing. The placement of the braces and the bridge was tricky. I thought I had worked it all out perfectly, got the bridge and saddle in the right locations, and fitted the pin holes between the falcate braces in a masterful fashion. Right at the end I discovered that the pin holes were spaced a bit too wide, so that the path of the strings was too close to the edge of the fingerboard. I couldn’t move them closer because the braces would be in the way. My solution was to remove that bridge and replace it with a pinless one that had exactly the same footprint, so the finish was not affected. You could go pinless too - consider that to be option 4.

Good luck!
Mark

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kiwigeo
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Re: Saddle position

Post by kiwigeo » Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:01 pm

I agonize over this...so much so I always do a fullscale drawing of the guitar and carefully check all string runs etc.

Mark McLean wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 1:41 pm

As an aside I can tell you that I faced a very similar problem recently. I made a falcate braced 7-string multiscale fan-fret thing. The placement of the braces and the bridge was tricky. I thought I had worked it all out perfectly, got the bridge and saddle in the right locations, and fitted the pin holes between the falcate braces in a masterful fashion. Right at the end I discovered that the pin holes were spaced a bit too wide, so that the path of the strings was too close to the edge of the fingerboard. I couldn’t move them closer because the braces would be in the way. My solution was to remove that bridge and replace it with a pinless one that had exactly the same footprint, so the finish was not affected. You could go pinless too - consider that to be option 4.

Good luck!
Mark
Martin

Andos
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Andos » Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:48 pm

I feel for you. I've fallen into just about every amateur trap there is, and then some. Here's couple of ideas in no particular order.
1: Shim the neck so the 12th fret is 3 or so mm proud of the body. If you cant hide the shim, contrast it and make it a feature
2: Lift the top and move it a few mm toward the tail. You may have to increase the depth of purfling to hide the gap that'll open up between the top and body either side of neck.

If it was me, I'd go with Mark's pinless bridge idea.

Good luck and let us know how you progress.

seeaxe
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Re: Saddle position

Post by seeaxe » Sun Aug 23, 2020 8:10 pm

Well if that was my first guitar....i would cut the saddle slot as close to where you have drawn it as i dare then do the best job i can with the wide saddle. It may not be perfect but i suspect it will still sound amazing.

I would just let it go and try not to make the same mistake on No2. Time to move on.

Good luck whatever you do.
Richard

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Re: Saddle position

Post by blackalex1952 » Mon Aug 24, 2020 2:23 pm

As an aside I can tell you that I faced a very similar problem recently. I made a falcate braced 7-string multiscale fan-fret thing. The placement of the braces and the bridge was tricky. I thought I had worked it all out perfectly, got the bridge and saddle in the right locations, and fitted the pin holes between the falcate braces in a masterful fashion. Right at the end I discovered that the pin holes were spaced a bit too wide, so that the path of the strings was too close to the edge of the fingerboard. I couldn’t move them closer because the braces would be in the way.
Been there done that! More than once!!! - Ross
"Everything I say on the topic is based solely upon inexperience and assumption!"

Redbloke1956
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Redbloke1956 » Tue Aug 25, 2020 6:22 pm

Thanks to all for the most excellent and useful responses, I have come to the conclusion that my best course of action is to plug the peg holes for 1st and 6th strings and move them tailward to line up with 2nd and 5th respectively.
There are no braces near either peg hole so that issue is thankfully redundant, some semblance of aesthetic balance will also be maintained.
The other reasons for this choice are that I have a time constraint as this is a gift for a rapidly approaching birthday and the fact that any other method of repair could be very costly: I naively purchased very expensive timbers for my first build and cannot afford to cause damage beyond my comparatively amateurish skillset.
Fingers crossed, I will post pics after my attempt at repair.

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Mark McLean
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Mark McLean » Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:52 pm

That sounds like a neat solution. Everyone will think that your unique pin layout is deliberate and stylish. I have found that an important part of this game is the ability to recover from an error or unanticipated outcome. I am sure that the recipient of the gift will love it!
What are you planning for number two? Don't pretend that you haven't thought about it.......

Redbloke1956
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Redbloke1956 » Wed Aug 26, 2020 7:29 am

Hi Mark, thanks for the kind words mate
Ummm...have you been checking my letterbox because these arrived today
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kiwigeo
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Re: Saddle position

Post by kiwigeo » Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:25 am

I prefer less eloquent language...luthery is the art of covering up your stuff ups!! :mrgreen:

Mark McLean wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:52 pm
I have found that an important part of this game is the ability to recover from an error or unanticipated outcome.
Martin

Redbloke1956
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Redbloke1956 » Wed Aug 26, 2020 10:15 am

Hi again Brains Trust,
I am about to attempt my repair and need some info that I can’t seem to find anywhere: If I run a straightedge (as per pic) along the frets, is there a ballpark figure I should aspire to in relation to bridge height and that straightedge?

Redbloke1956
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Redbloke1956 » Wed Aug 26, 2020 10:16 am

Hi again Brains Trust,
I am about to attempt my repair and need some info that I can’t seem to find anywhere: If I run a straightedge (as per pic) along the frets, is there a ballpark figure I should aspire to in relation to bridge height and that straightedge?
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EBA8B7E9-F1CA-4598-ABAF-F210D509B8FD.jpeg

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lamanoditrento
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Re: Saddle position

Post by lamanoditrento » Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:22 pm

You could compensate the nut. Bringing the front of the nut/zero fret location 3mm towards the body. If you have Trevor's books he gives nut compensation figures for a 645.16mm scale length this would place the bridge basically at scale with no compensation. It is a bit of learning curve if you haven't read the books. I also don't know what your nut/headstock transition looks like but a small 3mm filler behind the new nut position would be quite easy to design something sympathetic. Perhaps a fretboard wood so it looks a little like a zero fret on an electric.

With regards to the bridge height, I normally aim for the straight edge to be just be kissing the top of the bridge. I can't quite tell what sized gap it is but anything more than say a mm is too much. Even a 1mm mil is pushing it.

If it is 3mm like it looks then your action will add 5mm and now you have a 8mm saddle above the bridge, which is way too high.
Trent

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TallDad71
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Re: Saddle position

Post by TallDad71 » Thu Aug 27, 2020 11:00 pm

I'd be highly tempted to plug all 6 holes with hardwood. Shim off a good 3mm from the top of the entire bridge and laminate a new 3mm thick panel on it. Then rout out your saddle slot, then put in your peg holes. As they say 'cover up your mess ups.'
Alan

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Re: Saddle position

Post by jeffhigh » Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:32 am

The 5mm width on your saddle is unnecessary. If you go to 3mm you won't end up so close to the holes

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Mark McLean
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Mark McLean » Sun Aug 30, 2020 10:04 pm

lamanoditrento wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:22 pm
With regards to the bridge height, I normally aim for the straight edge to be just be kissing the top of the bridge. I can't quite tell what sized gap it is but anything more than say a mm is too much. Even a 1mm mil is pushing it.
Trent, do you expect to see the straightedge lining up with the top of the bridge at this stage (strings off), or once it is under string tension? I would have thought that string tension will pull the neck slightly forward - tilting that ruler down a bit. And the top will dome up a bit - so the straightedge and the bridge will meet in the middle. I would have said that the illustrated position is not too bad at this stage. However, I have got this bit wrong on a couple of my builds and have not yet become confident about predicting where it will end up. I am interested in your more experienced guestimation.

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lamanoditrento
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Re: Saddle position

Post by lamanoditrento » Mon Aug 31, 2020 8:11 am

Mark, yes with strings off I aim for a straight edge to be kissing the top of the bridge (for a steel string). I would only expect 0.5mm difference of SB compression with string tension. If the neck is pulled up by string tension you will need to adjust the trust rod so that it sits back flat or with the appropriate relief.
Trent

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Mark McLean
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Re: Saddle position

Post by Mark McLean » Mon Aug 31, 2020 4:18 pm

Ahh - OK, use of the truss rod to compensate for the forward neck relief was the bit that I was not mentally factoring in. You make a good point that if string tension raises the action it should be doing so by increasing forward bow of the neck - and you have a truss rod there to correct that. In my head I was imagining it as an issue with the neck angle "settling in", and thinking it was movement at that joint.

I strung up a new guitar last week and as it has settled in the action has been rising a bit. I haven't done the final set up yet and figured I would fix it by lowering the saddle, but also thought I might need to fiddle with the neck angle a bit more (not too hard as it is bolt-on/bolt-down). After reading your post I went and had another look at it. Bugger me, you are right! The movement is mostly in the neck relief and I should be fixing it with the truss rod.

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stevemc32
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Re: Saddle position

Post by stevemc32 » Mon Aug 31, 2020 5:56 pm

lamanoditrento wrote:
Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:22 pm
With regards to the bridge height, I normally aim for the straight edge to be just be kissing the top of the bridge. I can't quite tell what sized gap it is but anything more than say a mm is too much. Even a 1mm mil is pushing it.
I have a problem with this too and I think it could be something that will make it unplayable. Unfortunately not an easy adjustment with the dovetailed neck on my one. Not far off stringing it up though so we'll soon find out!

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