Gibson ABR1 Bridge Saddles Could Be The Problem

Discussion in 'Historics & Reissues' started by ashbass, Sep 6, 2017.

  1. ashbass

    ashbass V.I.P. Member

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    I don't like Nashville bridges and replace them with ABR1 bridges on every Gibson guitar I get. My historic GT of course already had one. Gibson parts tolerances are all over the place as has been discussed many times. Here are two ways that Gibson F's up your ABR1 before it even gets to you.

    1) Bent saddle screws. This happens when techs at Gibson use a hammer or similar instrument to notch a saddle by hitting a string going over the saddle. Too much force and the saddle screw will bend like below. This make the saddle screw hard to turn and makes the saddle go up and down depending on in what position the screw is left.

    [​IMG]

    2) All saddles are not made the same. Some are by design taller or shorter than the others. The idea behind the abr1 bridge is that the saddles should match a 12" radius across the bridge. Looking sideways at the bridge you can see the holes for the ends of the screws are aligned in an arc. If the saddles are all the same size, they will follow this arch also. BUT. The saddles are not all the same size. Some have more/less saddle to ride above the bridge, thus throwing off your radius and your string to string action.

    [​IMG]

    In this image, the saddle on the left will sit higher than the saddle on the right if they are put in the same slot. Years ago I tried to match up the taller/smaller saddles so that I had similar heights across the bridge by buying separate saddle replacement sets from Gibson. Those were still bad on a whole but I could cherry-pick to make roughly even sets. Now I just buy new bridges from Kluson for less than ten dollars more than those Gibson saddle sets. The Kluson, and other aftermarket bridges, are more precise and way less of a headache to deal with.

    Now, a good tech will notch saddles correctly regardless of the starting radius. Some saddles may seem slotted deeper than others and this saddle height discrepancy is the likely cause. But straight out of the box? Straight off the wall at a guitar store? No good tech will have probably been working on your guitar before you buy it. A wonky set of bridge saddles may keep you from buying an otherwise great instrument.
     

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  2. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    So, a long post to say 'get your guitar setup well if you want it to play well'
     
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  3. bdc

    bdc Junior Member

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    Thank you ashbass for the great info. I wondered why my intonation screws were binding while turning, this could be the answer. Why would they do that!? They should use a little more finesse and a little less brute force.
     
  4. Roshy Boy

    Roshy Boy Senior Member

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    Thanks for taking time to post and comment on this. This is a much more hidden issue that a simple set up won't fully address.
     
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  5. bdc

    bdc Junior Member

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    This got me to thinking... bent screws means the saddle is riding on the screw itself, not on the flats like I think it should. To me, that's a poor quality bridge. Am I wrong?
     
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  6. ashbass

    ashbass V.I.P. Member

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    Poor quality. Yes, I agree.
     
  7. bdc

    bdc Junior Member

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    I don't mean to belabor this subject, but I think my previous post was not correct. I inspected my ABR-1 closely last night. The saddles do not ride on the screws, they ride on the middle flats like they should. So I think the quality is just fine, and period correct as well.

    I watched a YouTube video of someone notching the saddles with a plastic mallet, ugh, made me cringe. I can see now that if the mallet blow is angled, it could bend the saddle screw which would make them bind and lift the saddle when turned, which is what mine does.

    The odd thing is, my saddles appear to have been notched by machine. Big, nasty burrs kicked out under the strings on each saddle. My G string had a nasty buzz until I tracked down and eliminated these burrs.

    The devil is in the details.
     
  8. Sct13

    Sct13 Gold Supporter Premium Member

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    My CC#7 was like this when I got it...Gibson said that the screws were a known problem due to the materials used it their manufacturing....too soft...I guess they didn't correct the problem....
     
  9. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Senior Member

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    This (among many other issues) is why I chucked my shitty ABR for a Nashville. Never looked back.
     
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  10. frankv

    frankv What Are You Waiting For? Double Platinum Supporter Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    I did that too.. But I chucked the entire guitar and went with Ernie Ball Music Man.
     
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  11. Wizard of Ozz

    Wizard of Ozz Senior Member

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    Use file... not hammer. :doh:
     
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  12. Sixstring63

    Sixstring63 Senior Member

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    I had to straighten the bent screws on my brand new 2013 R8 when I first got it. Was a bit pissed a $4k guitar had this issue. Also the 6-32 studs into the guitar were very bent. Cheap made POS! The ABR -1 from my 2002 LP Classic was 10x better made. I finally bought a Tone Pros AVR-II and put it on the R8 and replaced the studs into the body. Notched it correctly myself and it has been perfect since. Intonation would go out on the stock bridge from bending strings because of the sloppy tolerance of the components. I was a Toolmaker/manufacturing engineer for 25 years and that kind of crap would have never made it past QC where I worked.
     
  13. Pappy58

    Pappy58 Senior Member

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    Never had a problem with any of mine! Now I replace saddles in almost every keeper just cause, but have not seen screws bent like that. :dunno: I have sent plenty of bent studs but blame that on the users mostly. :squint:
     
  14. Sixstring63

    Sixstring63 Senior Member

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    The stud were bent from them driving them in with an impact driver. I've been working on guitars for 30 years and never seen them bent like that, especially new. I can't think of anything from normal use that would bent them like that. I was a toolmaker/manufacturing engineer in the machining industry. I know a lot about strength of metal and such. The studs Gibson used were just soft low grade junk and they were bent at assembly. I put in some good quality high carbon stud material. The studs were as cheap as the bridge. Good screws and threaded rod doesn't bend as easy as what they are using now. Off shore crap.
     
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  15. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Senior Member

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    Thank you!! Glad someone else does too!
    I prefer them too...I enjoy a lean, buzz and rattle free bridge myself, with zero detriment to tone.
     
  16. Sixstring63

    Sixstring63 Senior Member

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    Funny, my 2002 Les Paul Classic I hated the rattling wire ABR-1. I thought, how can I keep the stud into the body and use a Nashville bridge. I just replaced the 6-32 studs with 10-32 and they fit the holes of a Nashville bridge perfect. Made my own knurled adjustment wheels from 416 SS to fit the larger studs. I should have marketed the idea but it seems everyone is buffaloed into replacing the Nashville with an ABR-1 retro fit. Just because the design was old on the originals doesn't mean it was better. ;-)
     
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  17. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Senior Member

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    What I did was take a 6/32 to (M4 or M5, can't recall) conversion post, install it upside down and drill out the thumbwheel for M4/5. Came out a little sideways though, so I'll have to go back and do it right when I can get access to a drill press. Works for now, anyway.
     
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  18. Bud Stoner

    Bud Stoner Senior Member

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    That's been going on for a while. My 02 ES-333 had this problem also.

    When trying to intonate, the saddle would rise up because ALL the screws were bent.

    I replaced the screws and haven't had a problem since!
     
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  19. cmjohnson

    cmjohnson Senior Member

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    I'm amused. You say you don't like Nashville type bridges without bothering to elaborate on what you think is wrong with them, and say you replace them with ABR-1 bridges and then talk about how to deal with their deficiencies. I think that's kind of funny.

    The only reason I'd keep an ABR bridge on a guitar is to preserve originality. In every way that matters, the Nashville bridge is a superior piece of machinery and when I build a new guitar, I always use the TonePros version of the Nashville bridge

    The ABR is a rudimentary implementation of an adjustable saddle, adjustable height bridge. It's prone to buzzes and rattles and manufacturing tolerances are all over the map.

    As long as you OCCASIONALLY put a drop of oil into each saddle assembly on a Nashville bridge and turn the adjustment screws to keep them from binding up due to finger dirt (cleaning helps, too!) then Nashville bridges are trouble free and they never rattle.
     
  20. Bud Stoner

    Bud Stoner Senior Member

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    I absolutely agree on every point here.

    :thumbs:
     
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