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How much angle over the saddles is too much?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by GeorgiaHonk, Oct 29, 2004.

  1. How do I know when the angle of the strings breaking over the saddle is too sharp?

    I broke a low-E string on my Precision a while back, and so decided to replace all four strings (which had come installed on the bass when I bought it) with D'Addario mediums. Apparently the new strings were quite a bit higher tension than the old ones, because I had to adjust the truss rod quite a bit in order to remove a substantial bow in the neck relief. Once I got the neck adjusted the way I wanted, I raised the saddles a bit to remove some fret buzz around the 16th - 18th frets. This past week at practice I noticed that my intonation was a little off, so last night I began adjusting the intonation.

    In order to get proper intonation, it seemed like I had to move the saddles fairly far back towards the back of the bridge, creating a rather extreme angle for the strings to break over the saddle. I've never been worried about extreme string break angles with 6-string guitars, but I am concerned that this sharp angle may lead to more broken strings than I'm accustomed to.

    So, other than waiting for a string to break at an inopportune time (is there EVER a good time?) how should I know when the angle of the strings breaking over the saddle is too sharp?
  2. I wouldn't worry too much. All of the evidence that you won't have a problem is right there on the bass as you see it. For instance, is the break angle greater than say the angle you bend the end of the string to put it into the tuner? Probably not, and you can bend and rebend that several times before it gets weak. The thing that causes broken strings in most cases is sharply angled supporting surfaces under the witness point on the saddle. That tends to "cut" the string by placing all of the downforce on a much smaller contact area, effectively increasing that downforce several fold. As long as the saddle surface doesn't have a pronounced corner on it, you should be fine.

    My Kawai has a bridge with saddles that allow the string to pass down through the saddle and through the body. Currently all of my intonation points are adjusted to where the strings are making, essentially, right angle turns down into the body. That's about as much as you can have. I use D'Addario strings and have never had a problem here.
  4. You might want to inspect that notch and those ridges to make sure they don't have any burrs on them. I like to do that with new equipment and parts. You would really be surprised how much gets missed in QC that might have an affect down the line. I call this "blueprinting" - borrowed from the hot rod industry. In this case, it means to totally debur, re-size holes, re-tap holes, and other processes to make sure that all of the mechanical stuff works absolutely smoothly. There might not be anything to do at all but checking will tell for sure.

    Whereabouts are you in GA? I'm here in Snellville.