File the saddle, or shim? (no truss rod, graphite neck)

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by eukatheude, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. Today I've acquired a Bogart blackstone fretless. Haven't tried on the big amp yet, but through the audio interface it sure kills.
    The previous owner had no idea about setup and regularly brought it to a luthier even for string changes.
    Now, the action on this is quite high and it starts mostly at the higher frets. The neck has some relief but not enough to be the problem.
    The saddles are already bottomed out; I've had this problem with similar bridges before, mainly due to the string grooves on the saddles not being large enough.

    So the only options I can think of are either filing down the saddles, or shimming the neck. I'd rather do the first one, since even if I file too much I can still compensate using the adjustements on the bridge, and I'd like not to take the neck off at all.

    The input jack crackles a bit also; it seems this thing is going to need more repairs than anticipated. But who cares, for what I've paid for it it's still a steal. :)

    Attached Files:

  2. Dug2


    Sep 24, 2011
    shim, no need for butchery. you can always remove a shim, the filing.....not so much
    Lo-E likes this.
  3. rodlages


    Sep 4, 2013
    +1 on shim, easy to do and to remove.
  4. Apparently there was already a shim, I'd say factory installed since it's kind of a trading card about helicopters and it's in German.
    Folded it again and playability improved. Still not where I want it to however. I'd use a credit card but the screw holes need to go through it. Will pick up some poker cards and try with those.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
  5. By the way, does anybody know a decent way to keep those string ends from puncturing stuff? Seems like they used superglue on the old strings. Tried dabbing some but it doesn't seem to have the same effect, any recommendations?
  6. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Set your witness points. It appears you've got a lazy loop as the string passes over the steel bridge insert / saddle. I have the same saddle assembly on my Schack 5...maybe it's a German thing. I vote for the shim based sole on reversibility. If I understand correctly, if you do decide to re-cut the saddle slots, aim for a "V" shape...I don't recall the rationale.

  7. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    i have no idea what you mean by this.

    if you mean the ends opposite the ball ends, they should be cut to length and stuffed down into the holes in the middle of the tuner posts.
  8. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I kinda suspect it's either headless (...I see bridge-mounted micrometer tuners) or has the faux headstock clamping thingy. IIRC, you stick the string end thru a clamping channel, tighten down with what appears to be a tuner but isn't, then trim the string.

  9. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009

    yep, i see that now.
  10. Yes it's that clamping thing. Hard to cut them short enough.

    A major issue has arisen though. The D string keeps on slipping on the clampy headstock! Did I do something wrong?
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I harbor a sincere dislike for any headless system that relies almost solely on a clamp for string retention. For the most part, it's a great workable idea but engineered poorly with regards to string structure....there are exceptions. The clamp has the potential, as you've already witnessed, to deform the outer wrap which, in turn, causes it to separate from the core wire resulting in failure of the entire string assembly. As I understand it, a hex core string may be slightly more forgiving as the angular structure provides greater "bite" or purchase for the surrounding wraps. Here are my favorites:

    *Zon Vinny (can't recall the hardware manufacturer at the moment): string retainer involves the strings bent at right angles, retaining hex screws, and a primary set of clamping bars. Very secure with virtually no string compromise.

    *Kubicki Ex Factor: Angled string retainer slots (w/ brass inserts) drilled directly into the headstock face. Hey, fair is fair...Kubicki used conventional strings installed backwards. Not a practical approach as you're working with a composite neck and restricted by the fixed length of available double ball-end sets.

    *David King: Interesting approach as he learned early on that the fault prevailed. He sells brass cauls of varying gauges / diameters which can be inserted between the clamping screws and string body itself. This more evenly distributes the downward force on the string instead of focusing on a narrow vulnerable footprint.

  12. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    i had a similar problem and opted for a shim AND filing the saddles. like you said,.. if you file a little too much, simply adjust the set screws. just make sure to keep the slot tight or the string will wiggle and buzz. gl.

    NOTE: the last time i suggested to someone to file the bottom or slot of the saddle, i got gang-banged by TB's finest. the funny thing is after the mob died down i received several PM's asking how to do it! i used a Dremel and a very steady hand.
  13. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Or, you can file the bottom of the saddle, and leave the slot alone, then adjust as needed.
    pacojas likes this.
  14. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    ...or re-set the witness points and he may not have to do a d&*% thing.

    JustForSport likes this.
  15. The idea is to file the bottom of the saddle. Though the B string is definitely too large for the slot, it may require some needle-file work.
    pacojas likes this.