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Better tone with un-notched saddles?

lub

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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[img]

I have experimented with 'vintage-width' saddles (some vintage saddles are pretty wide, others are very narrow and pointy at the top. so take that with a grain of salt), and the tonal difference was not that big to my ears. I guess you're implying that with slotted saddles you have a bit more surface area where the string is sitting? not really, unless the slots are very deep, which is not desirable. i have also tried soft-brass saddles. there was a small difference in tone, but honestly it sounded duller to me. it depends on the overall sound of the instrument - if it is very bright, go for soft brass, if it is super dark, maybe regular 'modern' brass or steel. most ABR-1 saddles are wide enough imo. there are some after-market ones that are literally knife's edge thin, I don't use those. i think stock Gibson ABR-1's give the best tone. I have a Pigtail ABR-1 that sounds good too.
 

Wilko

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I was just pointing out that setup==slotted or not, width, materials--can all make differences. Wider saddle will reduce energy lost to the tailpiece side of the string. Whether that's preferred or not is subjective.
 

lub

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I was just pointing out that setup==slotted or not, width, materials--can all make differences. Wider saddle will reduce energy lost to the tailpiece side of the string. Whether that's preferred or not is subjective.

that's true. every single piece of the instrument affects tone, contrary to the anti-tonewood pseudo-scientists. yes, the differences are minute. yes, you probably won't notice them when gigging or playing professionally. a lot of us play quietly at home - there, the differences can stand out.
 

Wally

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Just as at the nut, the slot needs to be worked so that there is air under the string to the tailpiece side.
This provides a proper witness point. One problem with not cutting slots the saddles is that one has to live
With whatever radius one finds there. I also do not want the strings moving around. That is unacceptable to me. I prepare bridges with radii that match the fretboards’ radii at the end of the board. The slots are smooth, have a small witness point, and ‘relieved on the tailpiece side. This allows stability, proper feel due to a correct radius, and maxim7m sustain/string vibration…..and the proper witness point maximizes harmonic content….just as it does at the nut.
 
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Wilko

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I play out quite a bit. I also fully understand how most parts efffect tone and even have a preference in the wood/resonance.

My preferred Les pauls are light and resonant. Light vintage Kluson tuners. sharp-ish saddles minimal or no "notches". I love the responsiveness and tons of overtones.
 
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lub

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Just as at the nut, the slot needs to be worked so that there is air under the string to the tailpiece side.
This provides a proper witness point. One problem with not cutting slots the saddles is that one has to live
With whatever radius one finds there. I also do not want the strings moving around. That is unacceptable to me. I prepare bridges with radii that match the fretboards’ radii at the end of the board. The slots are smooth, have a small witness point, and ‘relieved on the tailpiece side. This allows stability, proper feel due to a correct radius, and maxim7m sustain/string vibration…..and the proper witness point maximizes harmonic content….just as it does at the nut.

I haven't seen a single Gibson factory or luthier setup where the bridge radius of the strings truly matches the board, although I agree that it would be optimal. Perfectly straight (zero 'collapse') bridges have a significantly flatter radius than the board, which would require very deep slots at the low and high E to match the other saddles perfectly. it would be better to shave down those saddles and then slot. again, i have been experimenting and obsessing with this for a long time, and for me unslotted saddles work great. they're not really unslotted, as the strings leave tiny notches from tension and pressure on the bridge. i find it much easier to get a good bridge radius on a stratocaster, for the obvious individual saddle adjustment reason.
 

Wally

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I haven't seen a single Gibson factory or luthier setup where the bridge radius of the strings truly matches the board, although I agree that it would be optimal. Perfectly straight (zero 'collapse') bridges have a significantly flatter radius than the board, which would require very deep slots at the low and high E to match the other saddles perfectly. it would be better to shave down those saddles and then slot. again, i have been experimenting and obsessing with this for a long time, and for me unslotted saddles work great. they're not really unslotted, as the strings leave tiny notches from tension and pressure on the bridge. i find it much easier to get a good bridge radius on a stratocaster, for the obvious individual saddle adjustment reason.

I have never seen any guitar that is properly set up at the factory. I prefer this since there is a range of ‘correctness’ at either end of the scale…nut and bridge/saddles. Every guitar I set up will have a properly radiused bridge….just as a properly regulated nut will reflect the radius at the other end of the board. This yields an 8nstrument that feels the same up and down the neck as well as across the strings.
Life is too short NOT to have a guitar that feels and intonates properly, imho.
 

lub

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I have never seen any guitar that is properly set up at the factory. I prefer this since there is a range of ‘correctness’ at either end of the scale…nut and bridge/saddles. Every guitar I set up will have a properly radiused bridge….just as a properly regulated nut will reflect the radius at the other end of the board. This yields an 8nstrument that feels the same up and down the neck as well as across the strings.
Life is too short NOT to have a guitar that feels and intonates properly, imho.

I agree.
 

Any Name You Wish

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Just as at the nut, the slot needs to be worked so that there is air under the string to the tailpiece side.
This provides a proper witness point. One problem with not cutting slots the saddles is that one has to live
With whatever radius one finds there. I also do not want the strings moving around. That is unacceptable to me. I prepare bridges with radii that match the fretboards’ radii at the end of the board. The slots are smooth, have a small witness point, and ‘relieved on the tailpiece side. This allows stability, proper feel due to a correct radius, and maxim7m sustain/string vibration…..and the proper witness point maximizes harmonic content….just as it does at the nut.
I have been experimenting a lot lately with saddles and I agree with Wally. It seems best to have the string lay in a small, shallow, smooth slot right up to the front edge of the saddle, and some relief at the back edge toward the tail piece if needed. I find the best way to achieve this is with a careful flat, light tap on the G, B and high E strings on a brand new saddle, and a careful slot with a slot file on the other strings. It took me a few tries to get it exactly right. When it is not right I found some swirling high frequency overtones on the G-B-E strings, fretted and open, and the result of a slot too deep and too long.

As for the radius I just go with what is already built-in to the ABR-1 bridge. It may not match the fretboard radius exactly, but I am not sure what I will gain tone-wise from this small difference. Perhaps just a better feel.

New saddles are fairly inexpensive even from Stew Mac, and the work is certainly easy but exacting. If you are getting some unwanted high frequency overtones on the high E, B and G strings then I highly recommend having a go at it. Worse case you can always put your old saddles back in and take it to a tech.
 

Wilko

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Fretboard radius and bridge radius are not right on any guitar since the string spacing changes from nut to bridge. Proper radius would increase up the neck, but fret boards have the same radius all the way up.
Bridge radius should be a function of string height at frets being where the setup dictates.
 

Wally

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Imho, slotting for strings should be done with files….not hammers. (;^)
When the bridge radius is properly matched to the radius of the fretboard at the end of the board and the nut is properly radiused/regulated to the first fret, then the strings will relate properly to the fretboard along the entire length of the board…even if the board has a compound radius. After one plays a guitar that is well-set up, there is no going back to accepting what is given to us by factories….or boutique builders, ime. I set up high dollar guitars from various boutique builders, and those guitar’s are no better set up than a mass-produced guitar.
 

lub

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Imho, slotting for strings should be done with files….not hammers. (;^)
When the bridge radius is properly matched to the radius of the fretboard at the end of the board and the nut is properly radiused/regulated to the first fret, then the strings will relate properly to the fretboard along the entire length of the board…even if the board has a compound radius. After one plays a guitar that is well-set up, there is no going back to accepting what is given to us by factories….or boutique builders, ime. I set up high dollar guitars from various boutique builders, and those guitar’s are no better set up than a mass-produced guitar.

i don't know, when it comes to the thinner strings (B and especially e), it is very difficult to get a good filed slot. a light tap on the string usually gives you the slot you need there. again, this is based on my obsession with minute mostly irrelevant details. all high e's sitar to some extent, but it stands out much more on gibsons than fender-type guitars.
 

Minibucker

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I have .010 and .013 StewMac nut files that I use for the high E and B after starting with a tapped indentation. The rest I start the notch with the .013 after an initial indentation, and then I have several extra sets of cut strings that I use the appropriate wound strings to file back and forth and smooth the rest of the slot. Bridge in a vise.
 

Any Name You Wish

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i don't know, when it comes to the thinner strings (B and especially e), it is very difficult to get a good filed slot. a light tap on the string usually gives you the slot you need there. again, this is based on my obsession with minute mostly irrelevant details. all high e's sitar to some extent, but it stands out much more on gibsons than fender-type guitars.
Naa, it doesn't take much of a tap with a small brass rod that will contact flatly. The saddles dent very easily. For the E-B-G strings this method gives the best results - a perfect slight indentation that matches the gage of string being used. El-perfecto.
 

Wally

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i don't know, when it comes to the thinner strings (B and especially e), it is very difficult to get a good filed slot. a light tap on the string usually gives you the slot you need there. again, this is based on my obsession with minute mostly irrelevant details. all high e's sitar to some extent, but it stands out much more on gibsons than fender-type guitars.

I have a full set of files that fit any string that comes along. I trained in the Dan Erlewine methods 32 years ago. I am beyond obsessive, and I never allow a Gibson saddle yield a ‘sitar’ type of sound because a properly defined witness point and the break over angle prevent any such effect.
 

lub

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I have a full set of files that fit any string that comes along. I trained in the Dan Erlewine methods 32 years ago. I am beyond obsessive, and I never allow a Gibson saddle yield a ‘sitar’ type of sound because a properly defined witness point and the break over angle prevent any such effect.
i have the stewac files too. high E's always sitar to my ear, even when they're properly slotted and no one else hears anything wrong. that's more of my problem i guess.
 

Any Name You Wish

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i have the stewac files too. high E's always sitar to my ear, even when they're properly slotted and no one else hears anything wrong. that's more of my problem i guess.
The high E string is more likely to sitar, no doubt about it. It can take some time careful attention to eliminate it. Tricky little devil it is, and you are right that a lot of people can't even hear it.
 
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Minibucker

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Another thing that causes the buzz/sitar sometimes is the saddles screw which can rattle a bit when the saddle is pressed firmly down. I.e. the slight tolerance in the saddle screw hole leaves it kind of floating, sod a small bit of clear nail polish can help.
But it can also be the edge of the slot making just enough contact with the vibrating string, which is why I try to bevel out those edges a but in addition to getting the angle of the slots/notches right.

What a fragile, inconsistent and finicky design this ABR1 business is!
 

charliechitlins

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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.
I would not trust that pre-notched saddles would work for a particular guitar any more than I would trust a pre-notched nut.
Heck...I always use a Stew-Mac notching rule, then eyeball the final spacing because I find it to be innacurate.
Honestly, I probably couldn't feel the difference of a couple thou' in either direction, but if my eye perceives it as off, it'll drive me nuts.
 
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