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Opinions on individual saddles please

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Nelson Guitars, Feb 26, 2008.


  1. Nelson Guitars

    Nelson Guitars

    Aug 14, 2006
    Novato California
    Custom builder
    As I develop my next project (fan fret) I am confronted with exactly what type of saddle to use. I have a machine shop buddy who could do a custom number for me, or use one of the "stock" single saddle systems. What sort of experiences have you guys had? Good and bad.

    Greg N
     
  2. Phil Mailloux

    Phil Mailloux

    Mar 25, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Builder: Mailloux Basses
    They're a pain in the ass to install * perfectly* straight. Get your machine shop buddy to make you a good drilling template:)
     
  3. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    They are easier to install straight if you measure and drill the first set of holes, screw the bridges down, and then use a spacer in between them to "straighten them out".
    I find that a thin piece of wood thicknessed to the right dimension makes a good spacer.

    Sometimes I start with the center strings and work my way out, and sometimes I mount the outside ones first. As the mounting screws are centered on the saddles, your pilot holes should be right in line with where you marked for string spacing
     
  4. Dirk Diggler

    Dirk Diggler Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Anytown USA
    Hey Greg,
    I've used several and the last project I tried the Hipshot ones. The only thing I didn't love with it was the extra routing they require for the through body clamp. Also flush mounting the string ferrule end was a pain too, I ending up doing a rout for all the strings not the individuals, ah improvising on the spot. :) And yeah getting them straight is a pain.
    I'm sure if I had a better drill press or a real machining tool it could have been better.
    But that is what makes this fun, live and learn, change and adapt, and then learn to let it go. :)
    Good Luck,
    Dirk
     
  5. Arx

    Arx

    Jan 22, 2008
    I bought a set of the hipshot ones for the fanned fret I'm building right now.

    I'm sure they'll work fine, but I was actually a little disappointed when I first saw them.

    It just seems a little cheesy moving the saddle around loose and then snugging it with a setscrew, rather than moving it with a screw.

    Also, the through body stringing looks pretty lame. If I were machining my own (and I may, when I find an excuse to build another) I would have it go further into the body so the threaded ferule could be shorter, and cut a smooth curve for the string to follow, instead of the sharp edge it would ride on now. I'll certainly not be threading these through the body.

    -Nick
     
  6. Nelson Guitars

    Nelson Guitars

    Aug 14, 2006
    Novato California
    Custom builder
    Great, I was waiting for an opinion on a brand.

    So we have consensus that these are all a PITA? Are there any other brands that are not? Just different? Better or worse in some way?

    Greg N
     
  7. Phil Mailloux

    Phil Mailloux

    Mar 25, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Builder: Mailloux Basses
    I used the generic ones you find on Ebay, Dirk used the Hipshots. After trying mine I know for sure the Hipshots will be a much bigger pain to install because of the thrgough hole.

    I think what we whinge about is more the fact that it's very hard to make them line up to look like it wasn't handmade. I would suppose it's not as bad if you're doing a fanned fret build but if you're just doing a regular scale where the bridges are all neatly next to each other, it's very hard to make them perfect since the human eye will easily see a difference of .01mm.

    That's when I'd just love to have a mill at my disposal or at least someone that can machine all the holes on a template for me to drill with.
     
  8. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    +1 for the inexpensive eBay ones, they work just fine... I'm guessing that they are probably made by Sam Woo (a large quantity of asian guitar/bass parts are...), and they are aluminum with zinc saddles (at least, that's the spec on the Sam Ash website).

    I've never used the Hipshot ones, but the eBay ones are obviously "based on" the Hipshot ones, using less expensive materials, and without the through-body option. Also, you can get a complete 4-string set for the list price of an individual Hipshot bridge.
     
  9. noam

    noam

    Nov 29, 2007
    ... anyone know how wide they are -- i.e., how close you can get the string spacing?
     
  10. Jonsbasses

    Jonsbasses

    Oct 21, 2006
    Fort Worth, TX
    Builder: Jon's Basses
    You can get the string spacing down to 15mm using the individual saddles.
     
  11. Phil Mailloux

    Phil Mailloux

    Mar 25, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Builder: Mailloux Basses

    The asians are based (read: copy) on the ones ABM used to offer. Hipshot only recently came out with their version.
     
  12. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I guess they are all a pain to get set perfectly. I don't like them because of that. I have used the cheap pot metal e-bay ones, be careful you can screw the screws right through the bridge into the bass the metal is so cheap, and the ETS ones more solid for sure.
     
  13. Ughh, just waiting for a set of hipshot ones to arrive here from the States. Ordered them last week - wish i'd read this thread first :(
     
  14. Jonsbasses

    Jonsbasses

    Oct 21, 2006
    Fort Worth, TX
    Builder: Jon's Basses
    Don't ever be afraid to ask questions, Al. :D
     
  15. Arx

    Arx

    Jan 22, 2008
    I wouldn't worry too much. They look decent asthetically, and I'm sure they'll work well.
     
  16. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    I'm pretty sure that all of the ones I got off of eBay were aluminum... didn't appear to be pot metal, they just appeared to be cast aluminum. I've used them for years, and never had any issues with them. I've certainly never screwed clear through the metal. I've twisted the heads off of their cheap screws, but that's another story. ;)
     
  17. Jonsbasses

    Jonsbasses

    Oct 21, 2006
    Fort Worth, TX
    Builder: Jon's Basses
    I no longer use screws that ship with anything because of this reason. On my first project, I have twisted the head off 3 screws which was a major pita to clean up and fix. Now I just use brass screws.
     
  18. DSB1

    DSB1

    Mar 8, 2006
    The hipshot triple lock downs are a little bit of a pain IMO. Allow me paint a picture...

    Route a recess for each saddle, plus another deeper recess for the bump that sticks out on the bottom, use a chisel to square up the front of the routes to make the bridge fit, drill your holes for the strings, countersink the back of the body for the string ferrules...X however many strings you plan on having. You get the point.

    Also, if you plan on using the shim method your first saddle must be dead on since this is what the others will be based on.

    A lot of extra work, but a classy look when you're done.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Arx

    Arx

    Jan 22, 2008
    Yeah, that does look pretty nice.
    When you say a recess for each saddle, how deep are you cutting them. To me it looks like they're intended to just screw on top, after routing a hole for said bump. I'm assuming you just route it to the thickness of the bottom plate? I wondered about that. I figured it would probably look better than having them on top.
     
  20. DSB1

    DSB1

    Mar 8, 2006

    I believe it was recessed to match the bottom plate like you said. I always recess my bridges because I like my necks close(r) to the body; some bridges won't adjust low enough so that recessing is often the only answer. Plus it's just a nice detail and (besides with the triple lock downs) is not hard to do.

    FYI...The fingerboard is usually 1/8" above the body but this depends on what the customer likes.
     

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