How to Shim Up a Low Saddle on an Acoustic Guitar

Tools

Sanding Block
Ruler
Pencil
Pliers
Nippers
Shim Material
Razor Blade (for Cutting out Shim)

In general, raising a saddle is a fairly simple operation. You’ll want to do it when your action is too low at the 12th fret. You’ll need to remove your saddle, create a shim, place the shim material in the bridge slot and then replace the saddle [on top of the shim]. In this tutorial we’ll explain how to carry out this adjustment.

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 your fingers or nippers (if its to tight) to pull the saddle up and then out of its slot in the bridge.

Making a Shim

There are many different possible materials which can be used to make a shim. In Fret MD: Acoustic Guitar Setup and Maintenance, Al Markasky uses 1/64 in. ebony for the job. The thickness of your shim is a matter of the difference between your desired and actual string height at the 12th fret of your instrument.

Procedure

1. Measure the width and length of your bridge slot.

2. Use a ruler and a razor blade to cut a long strip from your shim material which is the width of bridge slot.

ebonyshim

3. Use nippers or a razor blade to cut the shim to the length of your bridge slot.

4. Place the shim inside the bridge slot.

shiminbrdg

Replace the saddle

1. Slide the saddle back into the bridge.

2. If you removed your strings, you’ll want to restring your guitar and tune it back to pitch.

Congratulations! You’re done, with your setup!

Chances are, if this is the first time you’ve had your guitar set up, you’ll be amazed by just how much better it sounds and feels. If you’d like to actually see how a setup is done from start to finish, we recommend Fret MD: Acoustic Guitar Setup and Maintenance. Some things are better on video. In our DVDs you’ll learn tips and tricks which, for the sake of conciseness and clarity, we have omitted from our setup tutorials.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to post them either on our forum or in the comments sections of tutorials and articles.

Happy playing!