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Martin: New Drop-In Bone Saddle

1/12/2011 – This article was featured in a previous FLGR Newsletter. If you would like to sign up for the free e-newsletter type in your email and press Go in the sidebar to the left.

1.0 martin compensated bone saddle original micarta saddle.JPG 1.1 martin compensated bone saddle flatten blank.JPG
1. A Micarta Saddle came stock with this Martin from the factory. This guitar’s action is too low for the customer’s liking, so I’ll make a new, taller saddle from bone to raise the action a bit. 2. Flattening the Bone Blank with 80 grit sandpaper on a flat slab of granite. I only need to flatten one side at this time.
1.2 martin compensated bone saddle square blank.JPG 1.3 martin compensated bone saddle thickness blank.JPG
3. Squaring the Bottom of the saddle to the side I just flattened. This square block of steel helps me keep the bone blank square as I sand the bottom flat. I’ll repeat this step with 1000 grit sandpaper. 4. Thickness Sandinging the Blank with the luthier’s friend sanding station on the shop’s drill press is quick and accurate. Next, I’ll sneak up on a snug fit between the saddle and the slot in the bridge by carefully sanding the face of the saddle on the granite slab with 80 grit.
1.4 martin compensated bone saddle rounding end.jpg 1.5 martin compensated bone saddle rounded end.jpg
5. Rounding the Saddle End is pretty straight-forward with the help of the steel block and the disc-sander. 6. Final Fitting the Saddle to the saddle slot in the bridge is done in 3 steps. I’ll start by sawing the saddle to rough length. Then I’ll disc-sand the second end to its final length and give it a rounded profile.
1.6 martin compensated bone saddle layout.jpg 1.8 martin compensated bone saddle radius.JPG
7. Top Profile Lay-Out is key to a quick and flawless process. I fit the saddle into the bridge and marked the E-strings at the exact point of protrusion above the bridge. The original saddle protruded 3/32″ above the bridge at both the 1st and 6th strings. To raise the action to my target action as measured at the 12th fret by 1/64″ at the first string and 3/64″ at the sixth string I’ll have to double those numbers and add them to the protrusion of the original saddle. I am marking the new saddle at the E-strings accordingly. 8. Top Profile Layout Cont. I’m marking the top of the saddle at my layout lines 3/16″ above the point of protrusion above the bridge at the 6th string and 1/8″ at the 1st string. I’m connecting these layout lines with a 16″ radius gauge. This way, the bottoms of the strings will match the 16″ radius of this guitar’s fretboard.
1.9 martin compensated bone saddle shape saddle.JPG 2.0 martin compensated bone saddle file to compensate.JPG
9. Disc-Sanding the Profile into the top of the saddle. The disc- sander’s bed is set to 90 degrees. The corrugation in the bed has been filled with epoxy and leveled. This allows me to accurately shape small parts. 10. Compensation is filed into the saddle at this time. I’m doing this with a swiss-needle file. I chalked the top of the saddle with graphite prior to filing so I could be sure to copy Martin’s current saddle compensation pattern.
2.1 martin compensated bone saddle sand saddle.JPG 2.2 martin compensated bone saddle polish bone saddle.JPG
11. Sanding out the file marks with 220 then 1000 and 2000 grit sandpaper prepares the saddle for polishing. 12. Buffing the Saddle brings the bone to a glassy polish.
2.3 martin replacement compensated drop in bone saddle.JPG
13. A New Bone Saddle.