To adjust a saddle

When I adjust the height of the saddle, I use a genius tool to sand away material from the bottom of saddle blank. I bought it many years ago direct from the inventor in Italy when I immediately realized that I had to have it.

My way of working when I adjust the saddle is as follows:

  • Make a saddle blank that fits the length and width of the ditch in the bridge and that is at least 2 mm too high.
  • Sand down the top of the saddle 1 mm on the treble side.
  • Shape the now sloped top of the saddle to the fretboard radius, first using a fretboard radius measuring tool to roughly shape the top and then a sanding block of the same radius to smooth out the curve.
  • Mount the too high saddle and string up the guitar.
  • If the nut is not already adjusted to the correct height, I put a 0,45mm feller gauge on top of the first fret for the thick E string and a 0,3 mm feeler gauge over the first fret for the thin E string. A capo is attached above the 1st fret. That way I can disconnect the saddle and fake the string height you get above the first fret with a typical zero fret.
  • I measure the actual string heights at the 12th fret for the E and E strings with two sets of feeler gauges. I write down the measurements.
  • I subtract the string height I want at E/e (in my case, 2,5/1,5 mm) at the 12th fret from the measured string height for both the E and e strings and write down the results. I double these numbers to get how much the saddle leg should be lowered at the E and E string positions. I write down the result.
  • Since my tool has an air gap of 0,3 mm down to the grinding surface, I add 0,3 mm to the two measurements and write down the final measurements. I also put a pencil mark at the bottom of the saddle on the E side, so that I don't turn the saddle the wrong way in the tool.
  • Using two sets of feeler gauges with the final thickness i have to grind down the underside of the saddle at position of the e and E strings, I can fasten the saddle in the tool with the saddle sticking out exactly to the thickness of the two sets of feeler gauges . The feeler gauges are placed right next to the protruding saddle on the bottom of the tool at the E/e string positions and the height is adjusted with the two adjustment screws in the tool until my fingers tell me that the bottom of the saddle and the two sets of feeler gauges are both even.
  • I firmly attach the saddle to the tool and roll away on top of a flat board with adhesive sandpaper until there is no more resistance from the sandpaper when rolling.

When I'm done, the saddle is mounted in place and I have the perfect string height at the 12th fret with the nut adjusted to the heights I get from a zero fret. I also have a completely straight and square bottom in the saddle. When the oversaddle has been adjusted to "zero fret height", the top of the saddle is intoned in place string by string with files, without filing down the height of the bridge leg. This mechanical way of doing it does not require much concentration and the result is predictable. I just do it and it works perfectly every time.

A 1 mm thick rosewood shim is also glued into the segmented saddle on the underside, and the tool is used one last time. Then I also have the chance to make a small final adjustment to the height of the saddle.

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