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  1. #1

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    The saddle on my Loar LH650 is leaning back rather noticeably on the treble side, seemingly because the thumbscrew rides askew on the metal post. I haven't had to do much about the action on the treble side so I can't affirm nor infirm that the screw or threading is broken.
    The effect is much less on the bass side.
    I suppose the much steeper break angle on the tailpiece side could have something to do with this.

    Should I be worried about this? I doubt it'll affect the sound much...(?)
    Attached Images Attached Images Leaning height-adjustable saddle - should I be worried?-lh650-saddle-jpg 


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  3. #2

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    If it intonates properly and stays in tune, why worry?

    But, over time, it looks to me that you might get some unwanted play in the bridge which will make it harder to stay in tune.

    And, it also looks like it would affect intonation because the saddle has moved further from the nut.

    If you raise the tailpiece to reduce the breakover angle, the posts might return to the vertical, but maybe with more variability than is desirable.

  4. #3

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    Heh, I'd prefer not to have to worry, but it's the 1st time I have a guitar with a bridge like this. Better safe than sorry, I doubt it'd be easy to find the part should it decide to break (but if someone knows where to order it I'm all ears!)

    FWIW, when the saddle in my jumbo started leaning forward that *was* a reason for worry and having it corrected. Here too there must be torques at play that aren't exactly as they're supposed to be.

    Intonation: I've corrected the compensation myself. Without the leaning the bridge would probably be less askew w.r.t. the guitar centre line, if at all, but I've seen archtops where the bridge is even more askew..

    Which reminds me: the bridge was at least 1cm to far backwards when I got the guitar. Intonation was ... interesting; I think the 12th fret was maybe 3 semitones flat. This must have increased the break angle towards the tail piece even more. That said, the saddle is even closer to the "tailpiece" on a flattop ... and on my jumbo the saddle was leaning towards the headstock, so with that hindsight I'm no longer so certain that a backwards lean is "natural". I've never seen it on a violin or cello either; their bridges tend to lean towards the scroll, and are even designed with the front side leaning backwards.

  5. #4

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    If the holes in the saddle are a bit larger than the threaded shaft of the base, there can be some play. I can't tell from the angle of your photo, but if there's play, you can manually adjust it and right it a smidge. That's what I'd do. But it's preferable, and even proper for there to be some tailwise lean. I set the bridges on my builds so they bisect the angle of the breakover; that means a little bit of a back lean.
    More important than that though, is making sure your intonation is correct. For that, make sure the strings are NEW and I'll tell you right now, the chances your intonation is perfect for all strings is slim. I set for the best 12th fret perfect octave on the top E and B (averaging) and the lower E and A.
    Adjust the angle the way it feels solid. Then move the base foreward or backwards for the best intonation.

    By the way, I don't know why more luthiers do so this, but I take a bridge blank with a radiused arc and a flat 1/4" top and use a portion of a plain string under the tensioned string (at right angles with the string) and move the piece of string til I get perfect intonation, mark that spot with a sharp tool. Do that with each string so each string has the correct intonation like a TOM and remove the saddle wood until the top ridge of the saddle "peaks" at the correct spot for every string. Determine the best spacing and groove the saddle.
    That's how a luthier can get a wooden bridge with perfect intonation. Change your string gauges though, you'll need to do this over.
    Luther Al Carruth, with whom I studied, would cut a saddle wide enough to set a bone inlay in. Then he'd do what I just described. For each string set a player used, he could provide them with a bone saddle inlay that was interchangable.

    That's a little more information that the OP asked, but I'm just tired of people telling me a wood bridge can't have the fine tone accuracy of a TOM. You just have to know how to do it.

  6. #5

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    It can work fine this way but me personally I want to bridge to be at a right angle to the top. I would get it at that angle and then intonate. It is not a worry just my sense of how the guitar should be set up.

  7. #6

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    My first guess would be that the hole in the base has been enlarged by pressure over time. It happens. One way to counteract it without actually fixing it is to get another set of adjustment wheels, and put one set down against the base, and tighten it to some degree. Just don't overdo it, because you could theoretically pull the post out of the hole, destroying the threads in the base. Just finger tight, enough to keep the post erect. The second set of wheels work as usual, holding the saddle at the correct height. You can also use something like UV resin to repair the hole in the base if it is enlarged, which will also keep the post erect. But I suggest using the second set of wheels anyway, just as insurance. I have a couple of guitars with that fix, because the saddle needs to be rather high because of the geometry of the neck and top. I don't trust standard posts to withstand a lot of lateral force while screwed into wood. Something is likely to give, and I believe that the second set of wheels helps.

  8. #7

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    Thanks for all this!

    If I look at the post I see it leaning backwards less than the saddle itself, it's the wheel that isn't perpendicular to it. Hopefully that's just a question of wear in the wheel's threading. I have an appointment with a good luthier at the end of the month, if there's no reason to worry NOW I'll let him look into this. There's a good chance he'll be taking the strings (or all tension) off anyway.

    BTW, how much tension should one take off the strings before adjusting the action at the saddle with those wheels?

    I've read a comparable description of how to intonate/compensate a saddle, *probably* coming from Allan too; if memory serves me right this involved using a paperclip (something more rigid than a piece of string, but I can be mistaken).

    BTW, Stewmac have an archtop bridge with a bone inlay in the saddle in their catalog which I have already ogled because I'm pretty certain I'm getting some saddle slot buzz in some strings. I don't know how long an ebony saddle is supposed to hold up to the wear and tear from steel strings, but I'm pretty certain bone will last longer. Its posts are closer together though, the base might thus be narrower too, and I don't know how that will affect the overall sound (which is probably going to get a bit brighter already; I don't want to lose bass register...)

  9. #8

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    A bone inlaid saddle will be brighter than a wooden one. The sound from a different base is unpredictable IME. An ebony saddle should last as long as the guitar. The slots may wear a bit, but that's what the wheels are for. It's very possible that the wheel doesn't fit the post. I have several bridges lying around, and they have various post sizes and threads, as well as different post spacing. It's a jungle out there, and it's almost always better to buy posts and wheels together. They aren't expensive.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    A bone inlaid saddle will be brighter than a wooden one. .
    Depends on how it's built, the dimensions of the saddle and how thick the bone is. And your ear too, I guess. I've worked with inlays that were only maybe 3mm deep set into a saddle that was a pretty standard depth. Nice clean sound on the attack because it allowed me to intonate to a peak point not possible with ebony IMHO, and there was not a detrimental difference I could notice. Most of that saddle was still ebony, but the bone allowed me to get a sharp peak where the string was seated, something that really aided in getting an exact intonation, and the vibrations for the most part passed through the mass of an otherwise solid ebony bridge.
    While we're considering the effects of a composite material bridge, why do you feel that a thin strip of bone material would have a more detrimental effect than say, all of the vibrations of the saddle being transferred into 2 metallic posts and sitting upon flat metal roller wheels? Those vibrations are certainly not the same thing as a solid piece of ebony, yet it's accepted that those metallic conduits are acoustically and physically invisible.
    I do wonder about these questions, a lot. But I do know that in the search for TOM accuracy intonation on a carved wooden bridge, that synthesis of a thin carved bone saddle set into ebony gave me quite a pleasing result. But that was just my individual experience.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    I've worked with inlays that were only maybe 3mm deep set into a saddle that was a pretty standard depth.
    I've seen saddles like that on old German archtops sold via German Vintage Guitar.

    While we're considering the effects of a composite material bridge, why do you feel that a thin strip of bone material would have a more detrimental effect than say, all of the vibrations of the saddle being transferred into 2 metallic posts and sitting upon flat metal roller wheels?
    Let's assume that these metal posts are a lot more rigid & stiffer than wood and bone and thus transfer all vibrations with much less filtering than those other materials. Thus, changing anything upstream from the posts *will* have an effect on sound if the transmission function changes. It remains to be seen if the effect would be detrimental, but one thing I like about archtops is that they tend to have much sweeter/rounder sounding trebles (acoustically) than the nasal sound flattops tend to give. It would be a pity spending a lot of money on a new bridge & saddle and discovering you don't like the new sound...

  12. #11

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    I didn't say detrimental. Better or worse is entirely subjective. But IME a harder material under the strings gives a somewhat brighter tone. The difference is not dramatic, but I think hearable in some cases. It's certainly not the overriding factor, of course. I don't think the metal posts and wheels are accepted as inaudible, it's more that the convenience of being adjustable is more important than the slight difference in sound. Ken Parker has a better mouse trap, but it isn't taking over the world.

    Spending money on a new bridge and saddle and discovering that I don't like the new sound is something I've done more than once. That may be why I have several bridges and saddles sitting on a shelf. But the cost isn't much more than a new set of strings, and I've bought a lot of those and quickly threw them away. Guitars are money pits.

  13. #12

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    Prices for archtop adjustable bridge+saddle kits I've seen are about twice what I pay for a set of strings and if I have to order from the US there's a hefty import fee on top of that since a few months (I paid about 50% duties on the DeOro support I bought recently!) :-/ But above all, you'd need to get the bridge matched to your top. I've got no idea how you do such a thing and am probably not equipped for it, so that would be an additional 50 or 60€ (once I get an appointment).

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    It can work fine this way but me personally I want to bridge to be at a right angle to the top. I would get it at that angle and then intonate. It is not a worry just my sense of how the guitar should be set up.
    +1 for me. If you leave the bridge as it is, you'll be fine, but if you ever decide to adjust it, you'll probably have problems - the adjuster wheel will bind on the screw, and if you crank on it too hard, the screw will strip. Also, there is the remote possibililty, that the screw could fail, but that's probably way down the road fatigue-wise.

  15. #14

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    To match the base to the top, you attach sandpaper to the top, in the area where the bridge sits, using double-sided tape, then sand the base into the proper shape by running it over the sandpaper. It's not rocket science, but it does take some time and patience. Many of the bridges feature separate feet instead of a solid base, and these theoretically assume the proper orientation when under string pressure. IME these can work fine, or not. I've never figured out how to accurately predict the change in tone. In some cases it was improved, in some it was worse. These need no work, you just put them in place. Even if the cost is the equivalent of two sets of strings, it's not excessive, IMO. The cheaper and easier option, of course, is to buy just a set of wheels and posts, and put them into the existing base. If the new posts are smaller in diameter than the existing ones, you may need to use UV resin or epoxy to get a tight fit. This is still easier than fitting a new solid base, however. It all depends on your level of competence and willingness to do the work. If the existing wheel is indeed cocked on the post, I suspect that failure may be a strong possibility sometime in the future, and it certainly isn't helping the tone. I would fix it somehow. But I'm not you.

  16. #15

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    Thanks. So it's about like how I thought one would do this.

    As I said before, my goal here was mostly to assess if there's a reason to address the issue *now*. As it is, I understand it can wait a week or two more, for an expert, hands-on opinion.

    Did I miss an answer to the question if one needs to take the tension off before adjusting the wheels (normally, with my treble-side wheel I think it'll be best to do so)?

  17. #16

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    How much do the posts extend up into the saddle?

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    How much do the posts extend up into the saddle?
    On the treble (affected) side the top of the post is about flush with the top of the saddle.

  19. #18

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    It's a pain to detune every string to adjust the saddle, then retune every string, and do it again several times until the perfect height is found. I usually do it by just turning a wheel, but sometimes they're very hard to turn, so I use my home-made jack to raise the saddle enough to allow easy turning. In your case, with a wheel that doesn't seem to fit correctly, I would either use a jack or detune the strings. I wouldn't forcefully try to turn a crossthreaded wheel. Rather than the saddle, I would be curious about how much of the post goes into the base. It doesn't require a skilled luthier to loosen the strings enough to remove the bridge and check that the post is sufficiently deep into the base to hold it, and to add thumbwheels that fit. If there is any doubt about the fit of the post in the base, I would put a wheel against the base to keep the post solid and another holding the saddle at the correct height.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    I use my home-made jack to raise the saddle enough to allow easy turning.
    Nifty! I do something similar when I adjust the compensation on my resonator - which is as simple as sliding a (wooden) pencil between the strings and the coverplate and moving it towards the saddle until the strings are lifted off enough. Turn and move the biscuit/cone assembly as seems appropriate, remove the pencil, check intonation and repeat as long as necessary.

    I wonder if one of those "inflateable pillow jacks" exists that's small and powerful enough to be of use here. Probably lifting the strings which won't fall over when lifted by a non-rigid surface.