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Filing Badass grooves

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Rick Martin, Feb 16, 2001.

  1. Any advice on filing the necessary string grooves into a new BadassII bridge?
  2. I used a set of needle files from Radio Shack. Kind of slant/round-over the grooves back towards the tailpiece for no harsh stress on the string. Mine works fine and I did them myself.

  3. Sampoerna

    Sampoerna Guest

    Oct 9, 2000
    W. KY, USA
    I was too scared to file on my saddles. :) After I installed the BAII bridge, I put the old strings back on for reference for slotting. My Squier's original bridge wasn't mounted straight and it's not worth the trouble to fill the old holes and redrill. Instead, I opted to have the saddles filed to compensate.

    The tech that filed mine first used a small, triangular file to start the groove. Then he worked his way up through the needle file sizes until the slot was wide/deep enough. After that, he sanded the paths with 600 grit sandpaper to smooth 'em out and prevent string damage.

    A few more tips he gave me as he went along:
    • The string shouldn't be entirely in the slot (top-to-bottom-wise). Less than half of each string's thickness rests in mine. Also, keep in mind what gauge strings you might use in the future.
    • Take your time. You can't put back what you've filed off. ;)
    • To get the slots as shiny as the rest of the bridge, you can follow up with an even-finer grade sandpaper.
    Have fun!
  4. Sounds easy enough. I see that Mars sells the BAII for $40 but they only have chrome. I would rather have black, but I don't know if anyone else has it for only $40.
  5. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    You can get a nice set of needle files from Home Depot for about $7-8 (I think there are five in the package; Sears has a set for $16, better quality and a couple more, but the Home Depot ones are just fine.

    I'd also suggest you grab up a medium hacksaw blade to start the slots, to minimize jump - you don't need a frame, just the blade by itself is easy to work with; wrap it with duct tape on one end for a handle if you feel the need.

    Also, IME, either set of files can be too wide for the G string, as I painfully learned when cutting the nut for an Upright Bass (buzzzzzzz). As a result, I always use a hacksaw blade as a starter and stay on the narrow side, just gradually widening the slot until it's just right, since strings rattling in their slots is not a welcome sound. I use the same techniques on URB bridges.

    my .02
  6. Take it to a reputable local tech and have it done.

  7. There are no guitar techs in my small town, so this Badass project is going to be a do it myself deal. It looks like the Mars Music web site has the chrome version for $40 and that looks to be a great price. I spoke with a guitar tech in another town and he told me that he doesn't file any string grooves when he installs a Badass bridge. He said the strings are fine sitting on top of the saddle and they will make their own groove in time anyway. Interesting.
  8. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    Yup, a good idea, too. I had (still have it in my parts box) a BadAss original on my Gibson Ripper for several years and never filed the grooves -- wasn't really necessary. The saddles are so broad it isn't like they could possibly slide off, and unless your string tension is REALLY slack, it should be ok. I never remember having a problem.

    And if you do, you can always notch them. It really ain't brain surgery.
  9. bigsammy


    Jan 29, 2001
    Moline, IL
    that seemed like a good way for me to go. when i put my badass II in, i didnt file any string slots, and its workin out just fine! the badassII is really worth the money

  10. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    I haven't filed my Badass Bridge either. I've had it installed for about a month. It would only seem necessary if you played hard and aggressively. If your not sure what your doing or not familiar with the tools taking it to a tech is good advice
  11. My Badass ll came today. A serious hunk of metal. Easy to install. The holes lined up perfect. I put a little soap on the screw threads just for fun. I'm not going to mess with filing any grooves just yet. I'm going to see what kind of path the strings take on thier own. My MIM Jazz never sounded better.
  12. And yet there is more to this story. I played my MIM JAzz with it's new Badass attitude till my fingers went funky and then because I had nothing better to do, I called the phone number on the Badass package to ask about filing the grooves. Glen Quan answered the phone and I asked him about filing the grooves. He got pretty worked up telling me that the grooves were absolutely essential and they had to be filed by a pro luthier. I told him that I live in a remote part of the world and there were no guitar techs within a days drive, so I was on my own with this. He was coming at me like he was talking me down from a bad acid trip or something. He was pretty darn definite that the Badass had to be installed by a professional luthier and those string grooves were nothing to fool with unless the proper training and technical expertise were at hand. Bob G's earlier post made reference to grooves cut too wide and strings rattleing. I say, "What the hey?!". The grooves on all of the different bridges I've seen are all the same size for each string. The G string has the same size saddle groove as the E. I says to Mr. Quan, "Look here brother, who you jiving with that cosmic debris?". Hey, bass dudes, what gives on the bridge groove tip???
  13. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    WOW! What's left to say after that conversation.

    So what are you going to do? Is the groove to be filed to the string diameter ? Is there a luthier in the house?
  14. I happen to have the perfect little set of files for this job and I threw caution to the wind and went at it. My homemade string grooves sure do look groovey. I can't say that I can detect a difference in performance with or without grooves, but the E groove got the string a tad lower for the nice low action I crave. Before I filed the grooves I played hard and really plucked and popped the strings and they did not move around on the saddles. Are the grooves really necessary? I don't know, but Mr. Quan was most definite that the grooves are crucial.
  15. I'm an amateur luthier so if there isn't a pro in the house I guess I'll have to do.

    IMO grooves are an important part of the BA setup. without them, the string can, and does, move each time it's plucked. This movement is small and the string tension re-centers the string on the saddle after the initial pull. The way BA saddles are made is with an angled transition from the back of the saddle to the top. The peak of this transition can hang the windings of a roundwound string because the nut end of the string angles down rather sharply to the where the strings are held captive. What can happen is that, as the string is tuned, it gets hung up on the break and doesn't stretch throughout it's entire length. It will eventualy break at the saddle where all of the tension wound up terminating.

    About the groove itself. The simplest and best working type of groove is a simple "V". The V groove will work with any diameter string provided the V is deep enough to have contact with the string between the 4 and 5 o'clock and 7 and 8 o'clock positions. A shallow V should be used for the narrower gauges with the V getting progressively deeper for the larger ones. It is important to understand that keeping the angle of the V consistent is important in allowing all of the strings to seat at relatively the same height on the saddles in relation to each other. Then the adjustments on the individual saddles can be utilized to fine tune the action in relation to the fretboard. When carving the V, you should also round over groove to make the transition smooth from back of the saddle to the front. This will allow the string to be pulled over the saddle easily during tuning and the life of the string.

    I must disagree with Bob's suggestion of a hacksaw blade to start the grooves. Even fine hacksaw blades proove difficult to start cutting since they rely on rather large (relatively) teeth to be dragged over the saddle before a cut is made. Additionally, hacksaw blades have teeth that have a "set" , better described as an offset, that help to clear the cut as the blade is dragged through the material. This set makes the width of the cut to large IMO to be of use in this case. The very fine triangular file you'll find in most of the sets described is a perfect tool to start the groove. If you are unsure of where to start your groove try this idea: String the bass and get the strings as evenly spaced on the fretboard as you can. Bring them all up to tension so they will stay in place. Then use a sharp pencil to make a mark on both sides of the string. Loosen the strings and begin filing your groove precisely in the middle of the two marks you made on the saddle. Check your work frequently and use the corresponding string to check if your V is deep enough to hold fast.

    Now, as for Mr. Quan's rant, if you are careful, thoughtful, and understand your tools, there isn't any reason why you can't install a BA yourself. Understand that I make this comment as a generalization and that each case should be considered on it's own merits. If you don't have a skilled technician in your town, you should consider it. If you aren't confident with your tools seek out a skilled woodworker. After he see's the setup, reads the enclosed info sheet, and looks at your guitar, he will be able to do the job with little trouble. I don't understand the style of thinking that says because the parts are on a guitar that they are something magical and that no one without experience can do the installation.

    Hope this helps
  16. Thank you, Dr. Bone.
    Very interesting. My BA is filed nice and working great. I see your point about the string hanging up on the back top edge of the saddle, so I rounded the edge over. I have little round files and made round grooves for the E and A but had to make V shaped grooves for the D and G. I played a few days before filing the grooves and the strings showed me their preferred path. My E string is very close to the intonation screw and if I were to file the groove much deeper, I would be in danger of breaking through to the hole in the saddle that the screw rides in. My E string is only about a quarter of it's girth into my groove, but again because of how close it is to the intonation screw, that's as deep as she'll go. My BA did not have an info sheet and that's why I called the phone number.
  17. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    Thanks Hambone for the thesis. Somebody should save that for later posts. Not to beat a dead horse but I still have one question.

    If Mr. Quan was so insistent on the grooves why do the Marcus Miller and Geddy Lee custom Fenders come with BA II without the grooves filed?
  18. I found on my Badass 2 that I got a stange sitar-like buzz from the G and D since there wasn't a good contact between the leading edge of the saddle and the string (steep break angle with medium-high action and strung through the body) - which is a result of what Hambone says about the angled edge -
    so I filed grooves in them with small round files concentrating on the rear edge of the saddles so there was a clean contact with the front of the saddle, and the strings won't move sideways. I did this for all 4 saddles.
    there's an even sound from all the strings, and I haven't broken a string yet, so all seems fine.

    ps. Jeff Berlin endorses the Badass2, so it would interesting to see what he says on the matter.
  19. I've got a huge cabinet filled with badass grooves. What works for me is just putting them in folders, organized alphabeticly, and whenever I come up with a new badass groove, I add it to my collection where it belongs. This makes it really convenient later when I'm trying to think ("what was that one badass groove I played that one time?") and I can always go back and find one. :D :p :cool:
  20. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    Bill, you must have the Smartass II bridge on your bass.

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