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Bridge saddle slot modification?

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Total Posts: 44
Must be 18 months since I posted here, but it's still a great site....THANKS Bill !!

Just finished my third kit build....a Stewmac 000.......and ....big mistake...the bridge slipped about 1.5 mm. towards the nut during glue-up. As a result, I haven't really got the compensation I wanted ...partic. on the treble side. The guitar plays fairly well in tune but starts to go off above the 12th. fret more than I'd like. It's also difficult to temper the tuning. The guitar definitely doesn't "ring" like it should when the intonation/bridge position is bang-on. I've figured out 2 options:

1. I reckon there's enough wood in the bridge to fill the existing saddle slot behind strings 1,2 and 3 with an ebony insert, and recut a new slot nearer the bridge pins. I'd do this for the top three strings only (the most out-of-tune ones) and thus have a two-piece staggered saddle. This mod. would give about 1.5 - 2mm extra compensation on the treble side. Strings 4 5 and 6 are less affected by the existing saddle position, and the original saddle position would be retained for those strings.

2. Leave the bridge as it is , take the fingerboard off and move it 2mm towards the peghead and re-glue. I'd need a small shim at the nut with this mod.

I dont want to remove the bridge as the pin hole positions are defined , and this would involve plugging the holes in the top and bridge plate and re-cutting.......although I suppose this is option 3.

All advice gratefully received !....thanks....John

Sep 08, 09 | 12:02 pm

Total Topics: 38
Total Posts: 480

Reglueing the fingerboard is a nasty work. You would probably have to encounter a lot of refinishing spots on the neck and top.

If it was mine I filled the bridge and make a new one or a twin slot.

Maybe others have some fine ideas.

good luck

Sep 08, 09 | 12:31 pm

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Total Posts: 43
Herman.....thanks for comments. I appreciate that fingerboard removal is somewhat drastic......but there is no finish on the guitar yet so that eliminates that issue. Also, if anything, the neck is slightly wide for my hand, so any nicks/dings on the edges caused by fingerboard removal/replacement could be sanded out to reduce neck width a bit too.......

The mistake I made was to by-pass using the 1st and 6th bridge pins as bridge locators during glue-up. I thought I could get away without that stage and paid the price!!.....

Sep 08, 09 | 12:37 pm

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Total Posts: 47
sprucetop1, I had the exact opposite problem on my acoustic.
The saddle had been installed too far forward.
So I took it to a local shop, and they filled that slot and reslotted it further back. And other than the intonation being corrected, you would never know it by looking at the guitar.

Sep 08, 09 | 1:34 pm
Ken Cierp

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Total Posts: 2262
If it came to my shop I would fill the slot and re-cut a new 1/8 slot -- full length. Plus file in some string ramps coming out of the bridge pin holes to prevent too steep of attack angle.

In his books Don Teeter shows a couple of guides for re-slotting with a Dremel. The repair will be invisible.


Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978

Sep 08, 09 | 2:07 pm

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Total Posts: 295
I'll say yhe same thing I often say when someone post a problem like this, walk away and think about the best course of action for you. Take a few hours, take a few weeks it that's what it takes. Be sure of what you want to do before you do anything.
My common warning out of the way, I would go with filling and routing a new slot rather than move the fret board. I've never done this while the bridge was attached, so I'm not sure how hard or easy it can be.
When I'm looking for ideas, I surf the web to all the luthier sites I can find. A lot of them post information about repairs they have done. Others post information about how they build. And still others will post shop photos. I get a lot of ideas during this process. It takes time, but it works.
A good starting point is the LMII site. They post a page of links to all the luthiers that participate in the Healdsburg Festival. Just click on the first page. Once you hit a luthier's site, many have links to other sites.

Good luck and take your time


Sep 08, 09 | 3:52 pm

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 43
Thanks to all for good advice. I think I'll attempt re-slotting the bridge. I have some experience of a related issue when I plugged and re-positioned the bridge pin holes on a friends guitar....the pin holes had been drilled in the wrong place. I cleaned out the wrongly positioned holes with a tapered reamer and glued in Stewmac ebony pins of the same taper with their heads cut off...then smoothed the bridge top and it was an invisible repair....and allowed re-drilling and reaming of new pin holes in the correct locations. will take some nerve though......I'll rig up some sort of Dremel jig and practise on scrap first......John

Sep 09, 09 | 12:01 am

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Remember that filling the slot and rerouting it is a common mod to fix those '70's Martins that were made with the slot in the wrong location. Bryan Kimsey and others have a good description on doing it.

Sep 10, 09 | 8:13 am

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