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  1. #1

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    Hi Everyone,

    I have an Epiphone Emperor Regent. About a year ago, I had the radius on the bridge reset so it fits the next profile while I had the frets dressed. I noticed the slots are deeper and it looks like they were cut with a nut file: This shop rarely deals with archtop guitars. Would sanding off the top of the bridge to remove material to where the slots won’t be so deep be a good idea? The slots themselves are already cut properly radius wise. Will I need a radius block to do this?

    my bridge is similar to this

    WD Musique Ebony Archtop Bridge | Fruugo FR

    I’m hésitant to have a guitar tech to get this done. Most guitar techs in the area are insistant on a full set up to do even the most basic work and prices in Seattle are high for work. Whenever I get someone else to set up my guitar up I end up changing it once I get home to my tastes.
    Last edited by jjang1993; 05-22-2020 at 12:29 AM.

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  3. #2

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    I would be inclined to do as you suggest and sand it down (gently/slowly)
    position your strings and push down to mark the right placement.

  4. #3

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    As long as the guitar intonates properly and performs well with no binding/tuning issues, the depth of the saddle notches does not matter at all. No need to worry.

  5. #4

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    It's not really a serious issue. You can certainly sand the saddle down if you want, and no jig is necessary. Just sand to the approximate radius, or use a fine rasp or file. But the depth of the slots doesn't really matter, as long as there is no binding of the strings. At least that's my opinion. I tend to leave them very shallow when I install one, but often the radius is too flat, and the outer slots have to be cut deeper to get all the strings the same distance above the fretboard. Sometimes I resand the entire saddle, sometimes I don't. It depends on how it looks and how much time I have on my hands.

  6. #5

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    i'll add this...you have a better chance of strings binding or buzzing/sitaring with a too deep saddle slot!...really not ideal...and so easy to gingerly sand the top of the saddle, to lessen the slots depth...just go slowly and keep the radius of the saddle intact...not difficult

    luck

    cheers
    Last edited by neatomic; 05-22-2020 at 05:40 PM. Reason: add-

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    i'll add this...you have a better chance of strings binding or buzzing/sitaring with a too deep saddle slot!...really not ideal...and so easy to gingerly sand the top of the saddle, to lessen the slots depth...just go slowly and keep the radius of the saddle intact...not difficult

    luck

    cheers
    How would reducing the amount of wood above the string (without changing the string's height above the frets) solve a string buzz problem?


    John

  8. #7

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    was careful to write ^, it's all about potential...preventing problems down the line...the possibility of the string moving within the too deep slot...with a lightly traced slot on an ebony saddle , the string just sits atop...no possible hinderance...as long as deep enough so string spacing is maintained

    no need for deep slots..does nothing for setup or tone!

    the difference between walking on hard soil vs mud

    cheers

  9. #8

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    Sometimes it is necessary to make some slots deeper than others, because the saddle radius doesn't always match the fretboard radius. The simplest way to fix that imbalance is to deepen the slots that keep the strings higher than others. IME the bridge radius is more often flat than too curved, so it's usually the outer strings that need to have deeper slots. Slow and careful work will yield a saddle that has all the strings at the same height above the fretboard. Whether or not the saddle now needs the top reworked to take it down to an even height above the slots is a matter of judjement. It depends on how deep the slots have to be cut, how much work is involved, the time available, and one's anality score. As I said before, for me that varies, because like everything else, multiple compromises are necessary. Yes, it's better to take the saddle top down, but that can sometimes involve a considerable depth, and to make it look right requires taking down the entire saddle top, which may be more work than it's worth. At least to me. Everything about an archtop guitar is a compromise of some sort, and everything affects everything else. Just removing 1/8" of material from the top of a saddle can change the tone, both acoustic and amplified. Whether that's a risk worth taking has to be considered.

  10. #9

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    I havee used a Radius block to sand down the top of the bridge so it matches the fret radius. I did it to move the strings over a little and didnt want to take the chance of them moving back to the other slots which where to deep after 16 yrs of use.

  11. #10
    Thanks for the input guys. When I had the slots cut to fit the radius I didn’t know he’d cut them so deep. I did notice a change in tone on the open strings. I wish more guitar techs knew about the intricacies of setting an Archtop up. There’s a luthier who builds Archtop guitars in town, but he doesn’t do too many repairs.

  12. #11

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    It's possible that the change in tone is because the strings are slightly too low over the first fret. That can be caused by the nut slots being too low, or by not quite enough relief in the neck. The easiest fix in the short run is to raise the bridge saddle just a smidgen. I would start by raising the adjustment wheels maybe half a turn, or even less, and seeing if the sound changes. You can continue until it sounds better or you're convinced it won't. This will raise the action, but not my much. If you can live with what you get, fine. If not, you can check the relief by fretting at the first fret and the (probably) 14th fret simultaneously, and seeing if there is any gap between the string and fret at the mid point. This is easier with a capo at the first fret, but possible without it. Most people want to see just a slight gap, some more, some less. I like a perfectly straight neck for electrics, but I leave some relief for acoustics that I plan to play hard. If there is no relief, or not enough, you can loosen the truss rod just a little. I seldom turn it more than the amount that moves the wrench from one string to another, less than an eighth of a turn, at a time. Then let it settle for a few hours. If you're afraid of doing this, that's fine, raising the bridge may be enough for you. If you don't like the action that results, you can just turn the thumbwheels back down to where they were.

  13. #12
    Ah ok. I have the neck pretty straight and the action is very very low how I like it. I’ll see if I can find that sweet spot with the neck and saddle to see if I even have to sand the top of the saddle.

  14. #13

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    A lot of good advice in the previous comments. I would just very carefully sand it down to where you want it checking the sound of the guitar as you go just to be sure all is going as you want it to. If it all turns bad it is not that big a deal to drop in a new nut . This is something you can do yourself. You wont need a tech to do that and you can set it up to exactly where you want it to be. A $10 string gauge will get you set to the correct heights on the fretboard. I too like low actions.

    cheers Glenn