Leaning saddles are…tilting towards TROUBLE!!!!

Recently, a former colleague landed up at my place with not one, not two but three guitars for me to have a look at!

So, the next three guitars that you are going to read about in this blog, all belong to him.

The first one that I took a look at was this one.

It came with a complaint that the pick-up installed in it was not working. I pulled out all the wiring but there was no break anywhere that I expected to see. Of course, that just left the battery compartment connection with the rest of the pick-up as the possible culprit.

And since the battery compartment would not seat completely, I could not check it at all.

I tried finding a replacement but it was not available locally. I have since ordered it online and going by the shipping times these days, God alone knows when it is going to arrive.

And as usual, my eyes went to the saddle and nut. Plastic…and leaning further than the tower of Pisa! But wait. What was that?

Yes! It was a crack. Under string tension, the leaning saddle had managed to crack the bridge. So, the first order of service was to take off the strings and saddle and repair the bridge.

Nothing that a little rosewood dust, some cynoacrylate glue and five grits of sandpaper – #800, # 1200, #1500, #1800 and #2000 – won’t solve. 

Now, see and tell me where the crack is.

Jokes aside, it was in the very nick of time that this instrument came to me. A couple of weeks more of string tension and maybe, it would have come to me in two pieces – still stuck to the top. Then, I would have had to scrape them off the top and glue in a new bridge.

NOTE TO READERS: Whenever you buy a guitar – new or used – one other thing to check is how well the saddle sits in its slot. If it leans, check for a crack along the length of the saddle slot. Ideally, you want to see the saddle sit absolutely perpendicular to the bridge, for it perform the best in transferring sound.

There were other issues too that required attention, but nothing as dramatic as the bridge going Splitsville!

Of course, the saddle and nut would have to go: the saddle because it had served its time and looked as if it would crumble in my hands as I took it out of the slot, and the nut because it too was ‘broke’!

In fact, my friend had been most ingenious in slipping in a piece of string, between the actual string and the nut to keep the string from buzzing.

Then there were minor dings that were more cosmetic than anything

the fretwires needed attention and the fretboard was a little dry…

But there was a little problem that will most likely become a very big problem 12 to 18 months down the line.

The bridge was indeed lifting. The pencil lines on the pieces of paper show you just how deep an ordinary piece of paper managed to slip underneath the bridge. 

I informed my friend about it but decided not to do anything about it. There was nothing I could do except the actual procedure of taking the whole bridge off the guitar, cleaning the mating surfaces and then gluing the bridge back on. I decided that my friend needn’t spend all that money right away.

So, I replaced the nut and the saddle with solid bone. The nut sat perfectly but I had to cut down the saddle quite a bit for the guitar to have the same action that it had with the old saddle and nut.

The dings were touched up and while they disappeared at most places, at other places, a shade or two of lightness remained.

Maybe next time! For now, it looks like this!

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: guitarguyhelp@gmail.com

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