Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Finger Lakes Guitar Repair Newsletter


Show List of All Posts

Pick up and
Drop off Hours

Mon-Sat 9-5: By Appointment

Making a Through Saddle


This article was featured in the Finger Lakes Guitar Repair Newsletter. Sign-up for the free newsletter today! Just type in your email and press Go in the left hand sidebar.

Original Nylon Through Saddle Removing a Through Saddle from Guitar Bridge
1. This Old Guild is in the shop for an overhaul.  The last step in restoring this guitar is making a new saddle.  The original saddle is fairly worn and the action is too low because I reset the guitar’s neck angle.  Most through saddles are glued in place so a little finesse is necessary for removing them from the bridge. 2. Removing the Saddle with large flush-ground end-nippers.  With a gentle pull the saddle is lifting out.  If a through saddle won’t easily lift out, I will mask the guitar top and heat up the saddle and bridge with a heat lamp to soften the glue.
sanding face of bone saddle blank flat Sanding bottom of bone through saddle flat
3. Milling the Bone Blank.  I’m sanding one face of the bone saddle blank flat with 80 grit sandpaper on a granite-slab.  If the blank is bowed, I sand the concave face flat on a disc sander prior to hand sanding on the granite. 4. Squaring the Bottom of the bone blank with the help of a square block of steel as a fence.
Thickness sanding bone saddle blank with luthier's friend sanding station and ridgid oscillating spindle sander Trace contour of bridge wings onto bone saddle blank
5. Thickness-Sanding the Blank with the Luthier’s Friend Sanding Station on the oscillating spindle sander.  I set the distance between the fence and the sanding drum by placing the original saddle and a .003” feeler gauge between the two, then butting the fence up to the feeler gauge before locking it in place. 6. Tracing the Bridge Profile into the end of the saddle will give me the layout lines to which I will need to sand.  I sharpen the mechanical pencil lead by sanding a bevel  into the lead on some 2000 grit sandpaper.
sand bridge profile into end of saddle layout radius for top of bone through saddle
7. Shaping the End of the Saddle with the oscillating spindle sander. 8. Layout is Key to accurately shaping the top of the saddle.  I traced the top of the old saddle onto the new saddle at the location of both e-strings.  I then measured up twice the distance which I want the action raised at the 12th fret.  I am aligning the radius gauge with the latter two marks on the saddle.
shape top of bone through saddle with disc sander ramp bone through guitar saddle with 80 grit stirring stick
9. Shaping the Top of the Saddle with the disc-sander will give the saddle the same radius as the fretboard. 10. Ramping the Top of the Saddle on the bridge pin side of the saddle will give the strings a nice break-angle behind the saddle for tuning stability.  I am using 80 grit self-adhesive sandpaper attached to a paint stirring stick to do the sanding.
sand top of saddle with 180 and 2000 grit sandpaper polish bone through guitar saddle
11. More Sanding with 180 grit, then 2,000 grit sandpaper will prepare the top of the saddle for polishing. 12. Polishing the Saddle with the small buffing wheels gives the bone a nice luster.
 new bone through saddle vintage guild
13. A New Bone Through Saddle completes the restoration of this old Guild.