For low saddles on flat top guitars
© Frank Ford, 10/31/98; Photos by FF, 10/25/98
These days we're all pretty tuned into the neck reset issue for steel string guitars.
A guitar that needs a saddle this low should have its neck reset, right?
Well, maybe in an ideal world it would have its neck reset. At any rate, something needs to be done because the first string doesn't even make contact with such a low saddle!
Lots of instruments aren't worth a whole bunch of money and can't justify that sort of restoration by their cash value alone.
Some valuable instruments are problematic. For instance, those with non removable necks.
Perhaps the owner would like to stall the time for the big job of resetting the neck until a later, more convenient time.
For those and various other reasons, it may be reasonable to make the instrument play well without raising the saddle and resetting the neck.
You could cut the bridge lower so the saddle sticks up higher. But then when the time comes to reset the neck, the bridge will need to be replaced to restore the original geometry to the guitar.
A simpler solution is to make little "ramps" for the strings to allow them to bear downward on the low saddle.
I just load my little Dremel tool with a 1/16" cylindrical bit. Holding it thusly, I try to make the most shallow ramp I can, so I don't cut away too much bridge material:
If the saddle is super low, I'll run the little ramps right up to it:
Now I have good downward pressure on the saddle:
This bridge won't be seriously impaired when, later, the neck is reset:
As long as the saddle sticks up above the bridge even just a teeny bit, I can get good contact with the strings and avoid the buzzing or dull tone I had before.
This is just the trick for those old Yamaha FG-108s and other 30-year old inexpensive guitars. Frequently, these will also require cutting the bridge to the lowest possible profile - a reasonable choice considering the alternative of simply having to discard the guitar!
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