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Question about contact point at bridge

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by prokfrog, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. prokfrog


    Mar 16, 2007
    new jersey
    I've read that the string should exit the saddle at a clean break, almost as if sitting on a razor edge. However I see countless bridge systems with a "roller", or "barrel" type saddle where the string exits off a radius.

    What's the consensus? How does the strings' exit path affect sound and/or performance?

    Now on to my issue...

    My bridge is one of those lock down saddle types where the saddle "block" rests in a "slider" that locks down with set screws to keep it together. Certain notes on the A and E strings, especially when plucked hard, have a bit of rattle or "twang" right at the wittness point. Almost as if the string is vibrating within the saddle. I notice this on many basses, but never really looked into root causes.

    So the question is..

    Is this normal?
    Is it the break angle?
    Is it how the saddle is cut?
    All of the above?

  2. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    Hi prokfrog,

    I'd really have to see the bass in person to know exactly what was causing the buzz at the "witness point." Buzzes at the saddles can be caused by all kinds of things. But, here are a couple of things to think about:

    The string should sit on a "razor's edge" at both the nut and the saddles (not so thin that it compromises the integrity of the string of course) or at least, contact as little of the saddle/nut slots as possible. A string exiting off a radius still only touches a tiny bit of the saddle. A string can buzz of it contacts a larger portion of the saddle or nut.

    I don't know if it's "normal" but it happens on a lot of basses, though on most you can't hear the buzz through the amp, only when listening to the bridge closely and unplugged.

    The buzz may also be from saddle slots that are too wide for the string.

    You might be able to eliminate the buzz by getting higher tension strings, especially if the angle from the saddles to the string anchors is not very steep.

    Also, make sure that there aren't any loose parts on the bridge.

    If you can't hear the buzz when you're plugged in, I wouldn't worry about the issue. If you can hear the buzz through the amp, then I'd look into getting the problem fixed up.
  3. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    "All of the above"....that's how I passed the boards back in '79.

    Sounds like you've got your bridge figured out. I'll assume you have the string height / intonation locked in where you want it. Make sure all the set screws are snugged down. Each string should be sitting cleanly in its saddle notch. I like to press the string down firmly at the saddle to create a "witness point". On occasion, I've found that the buzz actually originates somewhere also along the string length but falsely appears to be emanating from the bridge.

  4. prokfrog


    Mar 16, 2007
    new jersey

    I'd say its mostly prevalent when played acoustic. I noticed it a bit through headphones during a recording the other day, but never really at gig volume. I'm going to take a closer look on how the string contacts the saddle. I believe when I look closely undeneath, there is a slight gap whereas the string may be sitting on a high point further back in the saddle. I may try an experiment to flip a saddle over and start with a fresh edge. I also don't set each adjustment screw at the same height for a given saddle, kind of to match the radius of the neck. Is that incorrect?

    thanks again for the input
  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I do not tilt the saddles to match the radius, especially not with a locking channel-type bridge.


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