A Huge Tone Influence Nobody Talks About

jwinger

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I've recently had an eye opening experience on just what a huge impact how saddles are cut can have on tone. I have a 58gt replica and a 59 burst replica. Both have always been great guitars but the burst rang noticeably better accoustically. Just thought it must have had extra special wood or something. Anyway, I wanted to replicate the string spacing on my burst where the high e is a little further from the edge of the fretboard than the low e; it's a personal preference that allows you to do a hard and wide vibrato without ever coming off the fretboard...

So, I ordered some new saddles from pigtail to go into the pigtail abr1. I made sure I had all the right nut slotting files - god they aren't cheap - at the proper gauges. Took bloody ages spacing the strings properly with a copy of a string spacing rule I made. Tapped the unwound strings with a small hammer. Chased a few times with appropriate gauge file but only the bare minimum to hold the string. With wound strings I marked either side with a craft knife, took out magnifying glass and marked exactly between with the craft knife again. Filed lightly on the mark again, and chased with the string guage pulled back and forth through the slot a few times. Again BARE MINIMUM depth. The other saddles, again pigtail, were cut a fair bit deeper...maybe 1/3 to 1/2 the depth of the strings on the wound side and most the string height on the unwound side.

I'm using the SAME SET OF STRINGS and it's louder, brighter, more resonant accoustically now, especially on the wound strings. Amazing difference. Can't believe my ears! Have a look at your saddles slots....who'd know what a difference they can make!!
 
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ARandall

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I'd lump that under 'setup'.....same as not slots, getting the action so its not buzzing on frets and the strings can ring freely etc.
 

moreles

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Full setup is a dying skillset. At the same time, both mass-producers and mass online retailers are generally doing an inadequate job with setup and leaving it to the owner to either accept sub-optimal playability or learn full setups for themselves. Many of us opted for the latter long ago. Of course, it's possible to be crappy at it yourself! I have a few LPs and SGs where the saddles, particularly, can be surprisingly problematic, with poor notching contributing awful ringing or really audible secondary tones. Those ABR saddles look like they should be foolproof, but once some starts off and does a poor job notching, they can really be a source of bad sounds!
 

jwinger

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Full setup is a dying skillset. At the same time, both mass-producers and mass online retailers are generally doing an inadequate job with setup and leaving it to the owner to either accept sub-optimal playability or learn full setups for themselves. Many of us opted for the latter long ago. Of course, it's possible to be crappy at it yourself! I have a few LPs and SGs where the saddles, particularly, can be surprisingly problematic, with poor notching contributing awful ringing or really audible secondary tones. Those ABR saddles look like they should be foolproof, but once some starts off and does a poor job notching, they can really be a source of bad sounds!
Interestingly this has zero apparent issues before...the notches appeared to the eye to be well shapes. It seems to be the fact I've gone less deep with these that has made the main difference
 

HogmanA

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Interestingly this has zero apparent issues before...the notches appeared to the eye to be well shapes. It seems to be the fact I've gone less deep with these that has made the main difference
I have found the same as you. The difference is going less deep into the material. I don't know why.
But it has been documented. I had a book on building guitars once and it said that both the nut and Bridge grooves should be no deeper than half the diameter of the string, ie half of the string should be sticking out of the groove.
On my faber bridge, I just left the starter notches as is, they've never been nocked out by hard playing and with a relatively shallow break over topwrapped angle.
 

Floyd Pink

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Same, I just leave the starter notches on the Faber bridges and play. They sound great, on some guitars a big improvement.
 


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