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Better tone with un-notched saddles?

RocknRollShakeUp

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Jul 7, 2006
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768
Found a cool interview with JD Simo where he briefly mentions that he prefers unslotted saddles because they make the guitar sound much better. He changes the saddles to new ones when they start to wear in, apparently.

Any thoughts, agree, disagree?
 
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charliechitlins

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He probably has ears like a bat.
I don't.
I do find, however that a string rings more true if it's just supported on the bottom and not buried in a slot.
I always cut nuts so half of the string is sitting proud of the slot.
There is much more down pressure on the saddles, so just the tiniest slot is needed.
I have a small 3-corner diamond file that I use to just put a small nick in the saddle.
This is enough to keep the string from shifting during picking and bending.
The slots also get you your string spacing when you change strings.
Not having slots sounds more like a quirk than a solid practice, to me.
But, hey...JD Simo...
Dude clearly knows his stuff.
 

RocknRollShakeUp

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He probably has ears like a bat.
I don't.
I do find, however that a string rings more true if it's just supported on the bottom and not buried in a slot.
I always cut nuts so half of the string is sitting proud of the slot.
There is much more down pressure on the saddles, so just the tiniest slot is needed.
I have a small 3-corner diamond file that I use to just put a small nick in the saddle.
This is enough to keep the string from shifting during picking and bending.
The slots also get you your string spacing when you change strings.
Not having slots sounds more like a quirk than a solid practice, to me.
But, hey...JD Simo...
Dude clearly knows his stuff.
Many thanks for your thoughts.
I am contemplating trying a new bridge, and that’ll give me a chance to see for myself. I won’t top wrap so I’ll see if the strings stay put also.
 

MrNubs

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post the interview please

you would think on stage doing a show and really digging in that those thinner strings during bending would start to move
 

zacknorton

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so he likes it when his strings slide around laterally on the saddles???

I mean, I can understand not wanting your strings buried in deep notches. But, all you need is enough to keep the strings from moving on the saddle, which will create rough uneven divots over time and lead to string breaking, and buzzing.

I'll stick with notched saddles.
 
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toneville

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Apr 3, 2019
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I don't know that saddle notches themselves create a tone issue but when there are notches there is a potential for an issue that is not present when there are no notches. Worn notches can weaken the sound under certain pick attack styles. I am experiencing this right now on one of my high "E" bridges and have been too preoccupied (lazy) to fix it right now.
 

charliechitlins

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Just to muddy the waters...Les Paul guys seem to like sustain.
The guitar I have that has more sustain than any guitar I've ever played has a trapeze tailpiece and a wood saddle that is quite wide where the strings rest on it.
 

RocknRollShakeUp

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post the interview please

you would think on stage doing a show and really digging in that those thinner strings during bending would start to move

Here you go. Start at the 5:20 mark for the specific saddle commentary. It happens quick, he just makes one comment about it, and unfortunately the interviewer fails to interrogate him more on it. But he clearly says that he prefers the strings "just sitting on top," and not in a groove, and then he quickly gives the reasons why.

 
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zacknorton

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that depends on the neck angle and how far you can drop that tailpiece before it bottoms out on the back edge of the bridge.

strings are always gonna move and slop around on a tune o matic without some sort of notch or groove. Unless you're in standard tuning with 12's. At least That's been my experience.

More important... is the fact that that string pressure will make it's own marks/grooves/notches on those saddles... and those are going to be zones instead of precise channels.

Even if all you do is hammer notch the string into the saddle that's way better than nothing.
 

sozo

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May 20, 2022
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Wouldn't an un-notched string saddle create a sharper surface for the string than a well notched saddle, and increase the chance of string breakage? Of course if you have a guitar tech change your strings after every gig this may not be a factor, they only have to last one night.
 

lub

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sorry to revive the thread, but there aren't many on this topic and there's a lot of false information here. I have been using unnotched saddles for a long time, with no issues whatsoever. to make it work, you need a decent string angle behind the bridge (of course strings will slide around with top-wrap, heck they'll fly out of their slots too if you hit hard). that's about it. unless you literally hit the guitar like a gorilla, nothing will move, regardless of your string gauge. ironically, if you pay attention to the footage, you will notice that when they show JD's ABR-1, the saddles are notched, and the notches are very deep.

so he likes it when his strings slide around laterally on the saddles???

I mean, I can understand not wanting your strings buried in deep notches. But, all you need is enough to keep the strings from moving on the saddle, which will create rough uneven divots over time and lead to string breaking, and buzzing.

I'll stick with notched saddles.

That is not true. Under a normal angle behind the tailpiece, the strings stay in place. yes, they immediately create tiny notches under tension, and you can always use those as reference when restringing to get the right alignment. no uneven divots are created, and there's no buzzing or breakage. it sounds clear and full. if something does pop up, you can always clean it up with a Mitchell's cord - and usually this happens on slotted saddles too. it's the nature of wear (even steel saddles wear over time on Fenders and need some cleaning up).

that depends on the neck angle and how far you can drop that tailpiece before it bottoms out on the back edge of the bridge.

strings are always gonna move and slop around on a tune o matic without some sort of notch or groove. Unless you're in standard tuning with 12's. At least That's been my experience.

More important... is the fact that that string pressure will make it's own marks/grooves/notches on those saddles... and those are going to be zones instead of precise channels.

Even if all you do is hammer notch the string into the saddle that's way better than nothing.

Again, not true. The strings do not slop around under tension. It is important to rest the strings on their tiny notches when you restring. If you just leave them anywhere on the saddle every time you restring, of course it is going to create a messy surface. leaving saddles unnotched is similar to hammering, except the notch created by the tension is smaller and you don't end up bending your saddle screws.

Wouldn't an un-notched string saddle create a sharper surface for the string than a well notched saddle, and increase the chance of string breakage? Of course if you have a guitar tech change your strings after every gig this may not be a factor, they only have to last one night.

No. String breakage on a brass saddle is pretty much impossible in my opinion and experience. Usually strings break due to burrs in the tailpiece, or because the strings were faulty to begin with. Brass is too soft to create any wear on the string. It can only affect the tone negatively if there are any burrs or poorly cut slots.
 

Minibucker

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I always figured if the strings stay in place on a Tele with three plain brass saddles, then they have a pretty good chance of staying put on an ABR-1 with enough downward angle to the tailpiece behind. But as also mentioned, for me it's about getting consistent string spacing/positioning each change. Yeah I've had to replace the high E saddle a few times to redo the slot correctly to stop that weird tinny buzz, not only depth and profile but with an angle to it matching the slant of the bridge...i.e. not perpendicular.
 
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lub

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I always figured if the strings stay in place on a Tele with three plain brass saddles, then they have a pretty good chance of staying put on an ABR-1 with enough downward angle to the tailpiece behind. But as also mentioned, for me it's about getting consistent string spacing/positioning each change. Yeah I've had two replace the high E saddle a few times to redo the slot correctly to stop that weird tinny buzz, not only depth and profile but with an angle to it matching the slant of the bridge...i.e. not perpendicular.
yeah it's tough to get the perfect notch for the small E and B strings. usually a hammered notch sounds better than a filed one, to me. getting the right spacing is necessary the first time, after that the strings click into the tiny marks that they create under tension. same goes for tele saddles, or vintage strats (there you can move the saddles sideways too). to get good string alignment, i use Stewmac's string alignment ruler for nuts and bridges.
 

Minibucker

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For Gibsons with Nashville bridges, I've replaced the bridge with this Gotoh unit, which is essentially a 'mini-Nashville' the size of an ABR....


GE101B_C_mi.jpg



...and as you can see it has small notches already in the saddles. Never had any issues with the string moving out of them under playing (even the lower strings), and they would all ring true. Really like using this bridge actually. Only thing obviously is that the string spacing/alignment is set in the middle of each saddle but most times it would be close enough unless things were already well off center to begin with.
 
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lub

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Mar 14, 2023
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yeah, the notches on these are enough, and usually the strings are not too off even with center notches. not optimal, but gibson is not exactly known for good string alignment even on their custom shop instruments (my R8 atm is pretty close, but still imperfect).
 

zacknorton

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Lub... you do you. I've never had a non notched abr1-tune o matic style setup work without notched saddles. The strings always slide on me. always.

and they never hit the same spot on a re-string. So you go ahead and use non-notched saddles. I'll continue to notch mine. 👍 👍
 
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lub

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Lub... you do you. I've never had a non notched abr1-tune o matic style setup work without notched saddles. The strings always slide on me. always.

and they never hit the same spot on a re-string. So you go ahead and use non-notched saddles. I'll continue to notch mine. 👍 👍

i guess i'm just a light picker
 

Wilko

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"better" is subjective.

With that said I do believe the saddles are very important in the tone and feel therefore, see this illustration for major points that make a difference:

index.php


Look at this pic that shows the what they're really comparing. I think this is the single biggest change to make:

bridge_saddles_compare.png


bridge_saddles_compare.png[img]
 
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