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BA II bridge saddles: Cut string grooves? Or not?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Mystic Michael, Nov 12, 2005.


  1. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    There's a local luthier who comes highly recommended. I've used him recently for a combination hardware installation & set-up for two new Carvin four-strings I own. He's done fine work thus far, but there's one thing I find peculiar:

    When I got the instruments home and played them, they sounded kind of thuddy and non-resonant. When I examined the bridges, I noticed that the strings were resting right on the top of the saddles - he hadn't cut any grooves for the strings!

    When I asked him about this, he told me that it's actually preferable to do a set-up that way, that the strings will eventually wear their own grooves in the saddles that will fit better than any grooves you could cut. It just takes some playing time...

    Has anyone ever heard of this? I have a 1992 Carvin four-string, also with a BadAss II bridge. But this one had string grooves cut during set-up, and the improvement in attack, resonance & sustain (over the stock Wilkinson bridge) was immediate and significant...

    So any similar experiences? Any professional opinions from other luthiers here?

    Thanks,

    MM
     
  2. zesi

    zesi

    Jan 30, 2005
    Switzerland
    well I have a badass II bridge on my bass which was installed without filing grooves for the strings. It's true that after some time the strings will wear their own grooves in the saddles.

    The problem is: you'll have to make sure the strings are perfectly aligned over the pickups, so the grooves will eventually be in the right place.

    I'd recommend filing the grooves yourself so your strings will be in place. Otherwise, if it happens that one of your strings moves because you pluck too hard, then you'll end up having to replace the bridge because the grooves are in the wrong place.
    That's what I have to do now anyways. So basically I've ruined my bridge with that. :(
     
  3. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    That may be your guy's way of saying he was too dumb to file saddles :p

    Last time I paid someone to install a Badass, they charged me $60 to remove five screws, swap bridges, five new screws and intonate without notches. I wouldn't pay until he notched them, so he took the bass in back, and came back two minutes later after properly notching them.
     
  4. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    This has been discussed in setup a few times in the past.
    Someone at one time posted that the people who make them recommend that they be filed. He had contacted the factory with the question.

    I've never heard of anyone having a prob by not filing them.

    I do know that filing them moves the witness point from it's position when it's left unfiled.

    I sort of did a doubletake when Tplyon said that the guy was back out and done in a matter of minutes. I can 100% guarantee that the bass wasn't intonated properly either before or after they were filed.

    A very shallow groove makes a surprisingly wide flat place. The playing length of the string will change by 1/2 the width of the groove toward the nut.

    I suppose the groove could be cut in a manner that the witness point didn't change by not letting the groove extend past the top center of the roller but I've never heard that mentioned.

    My guess is that it wouldn't make a great deal of difference but I'd still expect grooving to be the best way to go. If only because it shows some attention to detail.
     
    frederic b. hodshon likes this.
  5. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    That's kind of ironic - since my luthier was making the argument that if the saddles really required manual grooving, Leo Quan would sell the bridges with printed instructions to that effect. Personally, I wasn't persuaded that you could conclude anything from a lack of instructions (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence)...

    He did offer to do the job, however. I think I will probably take him up on that offer, next time I come to visit...

    MM
     
  6. bazzanderson

    bazzanderson

    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I had a BA2 on my old rickenbacker without the saddles filed. It was just fine. I currently have a BA for 5 string on my MIA Jazz bass deluxe V. I installed this bridge myself and didn't file the notches....it's just fine. I don't play super hard so that's probably why I don't have any problems. I would imagine a player that has a hard touch might experience some intonation problems while playing.
    -Bazz-
     
  7. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    "I had a BA2 on my old rickenbacker without the saddles filed. It was just fine. I currently have a BA for 5 string on my MIA Jazz bass deluxe V. I installed this bridge myself and didn't file the notches....it's just fine. I don't play super hard so that's probably why I don't have any problems. I would imagine a player that has a hard touch might experience some intonation problems while playing.
    -Bazz-"

    That's about what I got from the posts from the past. Maybe the style of playing that one does should be the deciding factor. Maybe one size doesn't fit all.


    Michael:

    "There's a local luthier who comes highly recommended. I've used him recently for a combination hardware installation & set-up for two new Carvin four-strings I own. He's done fine work thus far, but there's one thing I find peculiar:
    When I got the instruments home and played them, they sounded kind of thuddy and non-resonant. When I examined the bridges, I noticed that the strings were resting right on the top of the saddles - he hadn't cut any grooves for the strings!

    When I asked him about this, he told me that it's actually preferable to do a set-up that way, that the strings will eventually wear their own grooves in the saddles that will fit better than any grooves you could cut. It just takes some playing time...

    Has anyone ever heard of this? I have a 1992 Carvin four-string, also with a BadAss II bridge. But this one had string grooves cut during set-up, and the improvement in attack, resonance & sustain (over the stock Wilkinson bridge) was immediate and significant...

    So any similar experiences? Any professional opinions from other luthiers here?

    Thanks,"


    I don't believe that I'd let a difference of opinion on such a minor detail would make me lose confidence in your luthier.

    I think that it's pretty much agreed that it will "usually" work just fine either way. Finding a good luthier is kind of like finding a good doctor.

    If it plays good to you, it"s a good setup. :)
     
  8. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Thanks for the feedback, guys. But there's no intonation problems here - it's still an issue of insufficient attack, resonance & sustain. I don't play with a heavy hand either. Quite the contrary, I'm reknowned for keeping the action low, turning up the volume and playing with a very light touch...

    pkr2, there's no loss of confidence in Mr. Luthier. The guy's done many hundreds of set-ups and clearly knows what he's doing. It's just that I'm still getting used to his methods & philosophy; he's still getting used to my preferences & expectations...

    My theory about why it may sound better with the string grooves is that there is more of the string surface making contact with the saddle - thus transferring more vibrational energy into the body, which in turn reinforces the vibration of the string itself - thus creating more resonance & sustain. I'm no physicist, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it... ;)

    MM
     
  9. If anything...grooves would muffle the attack more...although I think the effect is probably negligable...

    did you put on new strings? are they a different type than before? my guess is the extra "thuddiness" is a string issue...

    I disagree with your theory of vibration...just as much vibration will be transmitted to the bass, because exactly the same net pressure will be on the saddle, just not in the exact same spot (now distributed)...

    I never cut grooves in my P-bass with a BAII, and I don't think I ever will....Gibson doesn't put grooves in any of their tun-o-matic bridges for guitars or bass...

    why?...because they're not necessary...
     
  10. fender_mod

    fender_mod

    Jun 23, 2005
    i left my saddles as they came, without grooves they are workign themselves in fine. love the baddass II.
     
  11. Whoa, Whoa, whoa... you guys, especially tplyons and pkr2, have really surprised me with your responses. It was me that informed the forum of Quan's specific intentions regarding their own saddles. That was pretty specific and clear in it's wording and since it came directly from the manufacturer, it also seemed clear to me that notching was precisely the way Quan intended it to be done. I don't understand why the move back to the backyard second guessing... :scowl:

    If you take a look at the saddle of a stock LQ, you'll notice that the top has a small facet and a ramp leading up to it. If the top surface isn't notched, the rear edge of the facet becomes the witness point because the strings aren't flexible enough (given their diameter) to sharply bend across this edge and lay flat so the FRONT edge becomes the witness point. By using round files and cutting an angled notch that slopes away from the leading edge and cuts through the back edge, you will create a sharp, precise witness point while still creating a notch that retains the string in it's lateral position.
     
  12. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    I must be missing something, Hambone. What part of my post are you talking about? In the final line of my post it seems that we are in agreement.

    Had I stated That they absolutely must be cut, the posters who stated that they didn't cut them and they worked just fine would justifiably argue that they were doing it. There's really not much argument with success. :)

    I didn't credit you with the info that the factory recomedation called for cutting them because I didn't really remember who posted it.

    I was mistakenly thinking of the saddles as being round but that doesn'y change the gist of my post.
     
  13. I stand corrected, Hambone...

    I just grabbed this from the www.leoquan.com

    For years, we have informed builders and players that each of our string saddles must be file cut with round files equal to the diameter of each string. Sometimes the installers or resellers do not inform the players, and the result is a less than optimum sound.

    Unlike Round saddles of most other bridges, we've maintained the need to custom fit every string to every instring. This results in the very best of tone transfer from string to body, and provides a precise "Speaking Point" ( a phrase we coined ) which is far more accurate than a prenotched rounded saddle. As they say, if you are a serious artist, you will use serious tools; so please take the time to have the work done properly by an experienced professional guitar repair person - you wouldn't believe how many saddles we sell to people who thought they could file the notches and save a few dollars and time :-( So, do it right the first time. Thank you.


    Quan isn't specific how this is to be done...but, I can see from your description, Allan, how this would create a more precise witness point...

    when I get my P-bass back into my hands (within the next couple of months if all goes well), I'll consider attending to the bridge saddles...

    although, I still maintain that I haven't really seen any issues with it as it is...
     
  14. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Thank you, Hammy. That was very helpful. Apparently my instincts were correct. I'm definitely gonna get this taken care of...

    MM
     
  15. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    For a BA II to work properly the saddle must be notched. Period. The exact shape of the notch is going to depend on the shape of the actual string being used. The notch itself is sort of a triangle within a semi circle where the base of the trianle is the 'bottom or the semi-circle and is perpendicular to the nut. Getting it correct can be tricky which is why I use a luthier for the job.

    THere's lot's of good to great luthiers out there. Choose the guy that you communicate best with. This job is childs play to a moderately good guy so opt for the guy you get the best rapport with...
     
  16. aquateen

    aquateen

    Apr 14, 2005
    maryland
    Gibson doesn't put grooves in any of their tun-o-matic bridges for guitars or bass...

    that's funny, all my Gibson bass saddles are notched.
     
  17. Larzon

    Larzon

    Jan 15, 2005
    That sounds resonable.

    BUT, how deep should the notched be? Half of the strings diameter?
     
  18. bannedwit

    bannedwit

    May 9, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    I did the install of the BA 2 myself...

    It took longer to measure my original saddles and try to mimic the same properties of that such as string spacing and where the strings should sit in each of their saddles.

    From there, I began to file a little at a time and had old strings as a reference to put on the saddle and check how far they are inset.

    I did it so the strings were a little less than half way in the grooves. Make sure you file them so the notches are level and straight.

    and file them a little at a time.

    It was hard for me to find very tiny round files so I used some with a little or an edge to them. Worked out in the long run but I kinda jimmy-rigged it.

    Some people did install the BA 2 without grooves and said they like it. I dont know.
     
  19. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    X-Acto sells an assortment of small files (five, I believe) that I got at the local ACE hardware store for about $15. With these files, I've made 3 bone nuts and notched the BAII. I would imagine they are also available at hobby stores.
     
  20. bannedwit

    bannedwit

    May 9, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    My local stores didnt have them.. There is a big local chain called Value Home Centers (just in NY???) and then i went to a mom and pop hardware store.

    I get lost at the home depot so didnt give that a shot.

    I think ebay would have them, may have to pick them up...