Guitar repair – Hoping JnR has a long life!

After the travel-sized adventure with the LAG, came another travel-sized guitar: JnR.

Though newish, it was in for general maintenance, some strings, but primarily for action correction.

The problem with cheaper guitars is their construction quality becomes evident very soon in their lives.

Right off the bat, I noticed that the (plastic) saddle was not the right length for the slot cut for it.

Why is this so wrong? Because the longer the saddle, better is the transfer of energy from saddle to bridge to top, improving sound quality and sustain.

Earlier Martin guitars used to sport what we refer to as a ‘through saddle’.

They were excellent creations but had to be done away with in time due to the amount of work that went into creating that perfect blend of bone/ivory merging into the wood of the bridge.

Anyway, evolutionary casualties of guitar construction aside, a saddle that does not fit its slot perfectly is bad for the instrument, both by way of sustain as well as intonation (if the saddle is thin and slot larger, making it tilt under string tension).

The owner understood the logic that I gave him and agreed to my suggestion that a proper-sized bone saddle and nut replace the plastic elements on the instrument.

However, as I began to work on the instrument and tried to take the bridgepins out, the one holding the ‘E’ string refused to budge. After much fighting, it came out but that is not the way it should be. So, I decided to ream the holes so that the bridgepins would fit just right and not be a problem.

And as I discovered, except for the ‘e’ string, all pins were tight for their holes.

Thereafter, measurements were taken and transferred to the new bone saddle and nut. Still working with old strings, I found that though the neck was straight, the action needed to come down a lot. 

Again strings were loosened, the saddle was pulled out and shaved, and the process repeated till I had the action where it should be. However, in the process, the saddle lost most of its height and much of the break angle.

I explained to the owner that this was the very extreme that one could take the saddle to, and if now, if he ever needed to bring down the saddle, we would have to cut string ramps in the bridge to give some semblance of a break angle to the strings.

Again the strings were taken off and the fretboard and bridge were shown some TLC. Here’s what the fretboard looked like after all the attention. The view of the bridge you already have above.

That done, just before fresh, new strings were put on, the hardware on the headstock was checked and tuning machine buttons were either loosened or tightened to turn easily.

With the strings, this baby looked like this- and played just fine.




Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

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