Acoustic Guitar Maintenance - Bridge Saddles

One of the simplest tasks in respect of acoustic guitar maintenance is to adjust the bridge saddle.

A little adjustment by either raising or lowering the saddle can help your guitar play better, removing buzzes and dead notes.

Bridge Saddles

Saddles, which are made from bone, ivory or plastic do suffer from wear after periods of time due to strings constantly cutting into them. Occasionally then, they may require replacement. Alternatively they may simply need lowering or raising using a shim if you wish the action to adjusted.

  • Loosen the strings (no need to completely remove them)
  • The saddle should come free, however in rare cases it may need to be tapped lightly to free it from its slot in the bridge housing. Do this using by tapping it gently with a small block of wood.
  • Slip a new saddle into the slot and measure the length required, marking the saddle with a pencil.
  • Cut the new saddle to size with a coping saw or similar by clamping it in a vise.
  • Remove the saddle from the vise and using the old saddle trace it's outline against the new saddle allowing for making it higher or lower if required.
  • Clamp the new saddle in the vise and file it down to match the outline you have marked.
  • Smooth of the flat edges with a scraper, then using sandpaper and steel wool bring the saddle to a sheen.
  • Replace the saddle in the bridge and retune.

    If the bridge saddle is in good condition and you simply need to raise the action a little, place a wooden shim cut to the same length and width as the slot.

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