make a new bridge saddle
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Making a New Bridge Saddle for Your Guitar

Okay, this isnít a banjo item, but a lot of banjo players also play guitar and this is a good solution to a very common problem.

Sometimes, when the action is too high or too low, an adjustment to the bridge saddle can solve the problem. Some people prefer to sand or shim whatever saddle theyíre currently using, but I prefer to make a whole new one.

The first step is loosen the strings enough so you can remove the bridge pins. After the strings have been loosened, hold them in place with a capo.

Sometimes you can remove the saddle with your fingers, but if itís stuck youíll need to use nippers.

This shows the bridge with the saddle and pins removed. Sometimes the saddle will almost fall out, and other times you have to carefully pull it out. Nippers or diagonal side cutters work pretty well.

You can buy saddle blanks from Stewart MacDonald. Iíll be making my own blank from a scrap of Corian . I cut it to approximate size on the band saw, and Iím sanding it to thickness on my Performax. Because itís so small, Iíve attached it to a scrap of MDF with Super Glue.

I like the MDF because I can place the two saddles side-by-side and check the thickness so I know when to stop sanding.

Iíve traced around the old saddle to give myself a starting point. The large B on the old saddle shows the bass side. I always mark that so I donít get mixed up.

The saddle is cut to approximate shape on the band saw...

Then itís sanded to final shape on a spindle sander. You could also use a file or a sanding block for this step. I always finish up by hand sanding it smooth.

The rest is easy. Just put the saddle in place, replace the strings and bridge pins, and tune it up. I usually have the saddle in and out a couple of times to get the exact height I like.

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This page last updated 10/05/04
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