A saddle that’s too high usually causes intonation problems and can make a guitar harder to play by making the action to high. In general, sanding down an acoustic guitar saddle is pretty easy. It’s something you’ll want to do when your action is too high. In this tutorial you’ll learn how to sand an acoustic guitar saddle down to the right height.
Nippers or Pliers
Remove the Saddle
You’ll want to either remove your strings or loosen them enough to remove the saddle to do this.
1. Remove or sufficiently loosen your strings.
2. Use nippers, pliers, or your fingers to pull the saddle up and then out of its slot in the bridge.
Draw a Line
Now you’ll want to determine how much to take off the bottom of your saddle by using the formula below:
(Actual Height – Desired Height) x 2 = amount saddle should be lowered.
Once you know how how much to remove from your saddle, use a pencil to draw a line that far above the bottom of the saddle. For example, if you used the formula above and found that your saddle should be 2/64 lower you’ll want to draw a line 2/64in. above the bottom of the saddle. (This will serve as a reference when you begin sanding.) If the amount the saddle should be raised is negative, then you’ll want to place a shim underneath it or replace the saddle completely. If you don’t know how to determine your desired saddle height, click here.
Your E6 is at 7/64″ and your E1 is 6/64″ you’ll want it to be at 6/64″ and 5/64″.
Desired String Height = 6/64″ and 5/64″ at the high E
Actual String Height = 7/64″ and 6/64″.
So . . .
7/64 in. – 6/64 in = 1/64 in.
You’re not quite done yet. Now multiply the difference by two to find out how much to lower your saddle.
1/64″. x 2 = 2/64″.
So you’ll want to draw a line across the bottom of the saddle, 2/64″ above the bottom of the saddle.
Now it’s time to sand down the bottom of the saddle. Using the example above, this means you’d be sanding 2/64 in. off the bottom of your saddle.
1. Attach adhesive sand paper to a sturdy, flat, hard surface.
2. Holding the saddle with the bottom facing down, make gentle passes, checking often to see how much saddle material you’ve removed.
You don’t want to remove too much!
3. Once you’ve removed enough material, the line you drew, should be the bottom of your saddle.
Check the Arc at the Top of the Saddle
The neck of any halfway decent acoustic steel strung guitar will have a natural radius ( There are many stringed instrument that have no radius: classical guitars, banjos, mandolins,etc) across the fingerboard. The radius can be anywhere from 9 to 16 feet (2.74m – 4.88m). The images below, illustrate this concept, using the example of a saddle and neck with a 12 foot arc.
Replace the saddle
1. Slide the saddle back in to the bridge.
2. If you removed your strings, you’ll want to restring your guitar and tune it back to pitch.
Voila! You’re done, with your setup!
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