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Lapyang
03-24-2018, 01:17 AM
It seems like the standard way to raise the height of the saddle (if the action is too low) is by shimming it with strip of paper card. I also read that players are particular about the material of the saddle (bone vs plastic). So wouldn't using paper to shim the height defeat the purpose of a good bone saddle? Will it affect the sound quality? After all, does it really matter what material is the saddle?
I am currently using my old cut up health insurance card to shim the height, it is thicker and fells more plastic like. Is it better than plain old business card?

Jerryc41
03-24-2018, 01:21 AM
To a non-expert, yes, it would seem that the card would provide some insulation.

Jarmo_S
03-24-2018, 02:15 AM
Anyways making a new saddle is rewarding. Keep the old too low one as a reference.
I would not say it is such a brief job with sandpaper only at available, first to make it thin enough to fit and then taking care of sanding the bottom :)

Graham Greenbag
03-24-2018, 02:22 AM
Saddles are cheap and readily available so my advice would be to buy a new one. If you’re in a ‘fix’ for some reason and want a temporary solution then I believe that an old plastic credit type card can be cut into a strip (to suit the bridge slot) and shim the old saddle up. Paper and cardboard act as insulators, not a good thing to go under a saddle unless all you want to do is correct the height.

Jim Hanks
03-24-2018, 02:43 AM
I had to raise a bone saddle on my first custom as it was buzzing like crazy with 2mm action. I glued a thin shim of ebony wood to the bottom and sanded to taste. I could not tell a difference in tone or response but took care of the buzz with action closer to 2.5.

stevepetergal
03-24-2018, 03:01 AM
I've heard of people being satisfied shimming the saddle with card stock. I too thought the contact between saddle and soundboard was rather too vital for this kind of solution. So, I asked my luthiers about this. In order to raise the saddle, they either fabricate a new one or, as Jim says, glue a hardwood shim to the under-side. They seem to think these are comparable solutions.
I suppose, if I wanted to raise the saddle height on a 50 dollar uke, I'd use some kind of card stock, but would follow a more professional path with a high quality instrument.

kissing
03-24-2018, 03:18 AM
I do my own setups to get it just right.
Been doing it for a while now.

It's a far more elegant solution to do a new saddle.
They're cheap to buy on ebay or some music stores.
I quite like synthetic saddles like Tusq or Nubone.
I don't know if I'm sold on them improving tone per se, but they sand down a lot quicker and easily than bone.

Bone is tougher and wears less with wound strings.
But if you don't use any wound strings, bone doesn't really provide any practical advantage in my opinion

UkerDanno
03-24-2018, 04:19 AM
As almost everybody above said, don't use card stock! That will deaden the sound for sure. Use a strip of a plastic credit card or similar material, a hard plastic would be best. If you have a plastic saddle, probably won't make a lot of difference. I had a luthier make me a compensated bone saddle for my C1K one time, $35, very professional job.

Uke Don
03-24-2018, 04:33 AM
Step one: Shim the saddle with something to see if it solves your particular problem.

Step two: Install, or have installed, a new saddle of proper height.

besley
03-24-2018, 05:09 AM
Step one: Shim the saddle with something to see if it solves your particular problem.

Step two: Install, or have installed, a new saddle of proper height.

I was about to make this same comment. If you like where the action is, but have some buzzing, my first step would often be to try a shim just to see if it fixes things. If it does, you now have a starting point for the height of a new saddle.

bazmaz
03-24-2018, 05:23 AM
I've shimmed with card, with hard wood and put whole new saddles in. If there is a difference with card it must be SO slight that I didn't notice it. Certainly not as much difference as an ageing set of strings would have. I think it may be one of those things that you could drive yourself mad 'trying' to notice, but ultimately is so slight - why lose sleep?

Lapyang
03-24-2018, 06:25 AM
Thanks for all the responses. This will be a nice little weekend project for me to try to shape a new saddle, and if I got that right, I have one more skill in my bag, otherwise, I probably would be happy with a strip of credit card shim.

besley
03-24-2018, 08:13 AM
I've shimmed with card, with hard wood and put whole new saddles in. If there is a difference with card it must be SO slight that I didn't notice it. Certainly not as much difference as an ageing set of strings would have. I think it may be one of those things that you could drive yourself mad 'trying' to notice, but ultimately is so slight - why lose sleep?

I love Barry's response here, because I have felt that much of what guitarists say about tone woods and bone nuts and such is just way overblown. Not saying that there aren't ever any differences, but I sure can't hear most of them. I recently replaced the nut on my Gibson CS-356 with a (gasp!) synthetic Black Tusq XL nut that was self lubricating, and I like the result. But a couple of friends say that only bone will do. Oh well......

kypfer
03-24-2018, 08:44 AM
I love Barry's response here, because I have felt that much of what guitarists say about tone woods and bone nuts and such is just way overblown. Not saying that there aren't ever any differences, but I sure can't hear most of them. I recently replaced the nut on my Gibson CS-356 with a (gasp!) synthetic Black Tusq XL nut that was self lubricating, and I like the result. But a couple of friends say that only bone will do. Oh well......

Absolutely right! Once the strings are up to tension, any "insulation" in the card shim will have been compressed out. Personally, I use strips of food packaging material ie. yoghurt pot etc. It comes in varying thicknesses and is readily and cheaply available and as easily cut with a pair of scissors ;)

70sSanO
03-26-2018, 05:52 AM
This does bring up the question of a piezo, under saddle, pickup and any impact to tone when played acoustically.

Has anyone heard a change in tone, non-amplified, after a piezo was installed?

John

kkimura
03-26-2018, 05:59 AM
Using a piezo under saddle pickup to shim a low saddle is an elegant solution.

Swamp Yankee
06-22-2018, 02:12 AM
Using a piezo under saddle pickup to shim a low saddle is an elegant solution.

..though perhaps not as elegant as my solution: making shims from my stock of vintage bits of piano key ivory ;)

mmn
06-22-2018, 05:23 AM
Needs to be tone wood. Not plastic, not paper. I use thin veneer strips. Then when I get a round tuit, I make a new saddle out of bone, Tusq, or Corian.

etudes
06-22-2018, 09:42 AM
A few years ago I changed out the original Tusq saddle on my Taylor 812 (concert sized) guitar. Having had this instrument since 1994 I knew well how it sounded. I was astounded at the difference a bone saddle made- it was crazy! More bass response, added clarity, and sort an intangible presence. I'm a big believer in bone as a saddle material.

kkimura
06-23-2018, 01:28 AM
Hmmm, would a bone or piano key ivory shim help the sound of a tusk saddle?

Jarmo_S
06-23-2018, 02:29 AM
I will be saving my gift card after reading this thread for this purpose. It actually is with 54 mm just about the saddle length and if the saddle action is too low, adding about 0.8 mm might be just right. Might be too much, but anyways no buzzes then.

Saves a lots of time instead sand a new saddle to right width and then carefully down to a proper height.

Lapyang
06-23-2018, 03:55 AM
I have used paper business cards, credit cards and have glued strips of bone veneer then sanded it to shape. The thick paper business cards did not sound as good, but I really could tell the difference between plastic credit and bone shims. Maybe my hearing is going downhill...

Dansimpson
06-23-2018, 04:51 AM
Barnes and Mullins use a wood shim same wood as the bridge, my Ovation guitar came with 3 different thickness mica shims.
Paper I would think will compress a bit, card? mmm not so sure. I did know a luthier that would shim the neck on acoustic guitars with glass or sandpaper if he needed to alter the angle on screw on necks..

mmn
06-23-2018, 07:55 AM
Hmmm, would a bone or piano key ivory shim help the sound of a tusk saddle?

Shimming can not improve sound over a properly sized and fitted saddle, but it can make it worse or, ideally, not impact it at all.

bratsche
06-23-2018, 02:44 PM
..though perhaps not as elegant as my solution: making shims from my stock of vintage bits of piano key ivory ;)

What a great idea! I'll have to remember that if the need should ever arise, as I possess a similar stock.

bratsche

mmn
06-24-2018, 03:22 AM
That's a great question John, I’d also be very interested in what other members have experienced with the under saddle pickup :D

I put one on my Martin HD28. Didn't notice any difference. I have also used hardwood shims on several acoustics with no noticable difference, except maybe loudness. There's an optimal string height for getting maximum transference of string vibration. It's sometimes a trade-off between string height and loudness. Since it's usually only slight, I tend to favor playability.

It's also important that you have full contact over the bottom of the saddle with the shim or pickup, i.e. no gaps, ridges.

Dansimpson
06-27-2018, 04:27 AM
There's an optimal string height for getting maximum transference of string vibration. It's sometimes a trade-off between string height and loudness. Since it's usually only slight, I tend to favor playability.
The chap that used to do all my guitar setups refered to the angle of the string over the saddle, he would adjust the strings for playability, then if necessary shave the bridge down so as to re set the sharp angle, which on all of the guitars he did for me I could hear a vast difference in volume. On a Barnes and Mullins soprano I have I changed the saddle for same material, slightly lower, about 1mm, and it died, so I changed it back.

mmn
06-27-2018, 06:44 AM
Yes, break angle is important. Not enough and the string can move around or vibrate in unwanted ways or even be damped. Correct angle = maximum vibration transfer from string to bridge - a wonderful thing...!

Dansimpson
06-27-2018, 07:15 AM
Yes, break angle is important. Not enough and the string can move around or vibrate in unwanted ways or even be damped. Correct angle = maximum vibration transfer from string to bridge - a wonderful thing...!

Michael is there a generic optimum angle, or does each instrument differ? Or is it trial and error? Break Angle, I thought he'd used a term for it and thats the one :-)

mmn
06-27-2018, 01:34 PM
Michael is there a generic optimum angle, or does each instrument differ? Or is it trial and error? Break Angle, I thought he'd used a term for it and thats the one :-)

Don't think there's an optimum angle that's universal. It's just important that you minimize the string contact with the saddle. So the sharper the angle the more likely you'll turn the thing into a sort of knife edge as you have to shave more off the back of the saddle. Depends on the saddle material, type of strings, distance from the saddle to the string anchor point, etc. Same thing on the nut. You want the string to break over the front of the nut, but not ride the nut all the way down on the backside.

Uke Don
06-27-2018, 05:17 PM
It's just important that you minimize the string contact with the saddle. So the sharper the angle the more likely you'll turn the thing into a sort of knife edge as you have to shave more off the back of the saddle. Depends on the saddle material, type of strings, distance from the saddle to the string anchor point, etc. Same thing on the nut. You want the string to break over the front of the nut, but not ride the nut all the way down on the backside.

Why would you want to minimize contact? You want the slots and angles to allow smooth movement and not hang up or buzz. But there is no advantage, and likely a disadvantage, to minimizing contact. You want the maximum vibration transfer between the strings and the body. I don't think minimizing contact is going to further this goal.

mmn
06-28-2018, 01:57 AM
Why would you want to minimize contact? You want the slots and angles to allow smooth movement and not hang up or buzz. But there is no advantage, and likely a disadvantage, to minimizing contact. You want the maximum vibration transfer between the strings and the body. I don't think minimizing contact is going to further this goal.

To minimize damping, buzzing potential.

Swamp Yankee
06-28-2018, 02:27 AM
I'm no expert but it seems to me that the less contact a string has with the saddle, the more likely the string is to buzz on that saddle.

70sSanO
06-28-2018, 05:57 PM
More than 10 years ago I bought a ukulele that was intonation challenged because the bridge had been placed incorrectly. So I made a saddle that extended beyond the normal saddle slot. It has worked quite well over these years without any apparent decrease in sound or tone.

There is no way that strings under tension are going to buzz because of the width of the saddle. Strings will buzz if the saddle does not have a distinct edge, that is higher than the rest of the saddle, but doesn't have to be a point per se. At any rate I have played this ukulele more than any other. The fretboard can attest to that... lol.

John

Swamp Yankee
06-29-2018, 02:29 PM
I love the way you've resolved the intonation issue by fashioning a unique saddle, very nice work John :D

seriously! a cantilevered saddle! whodathunkit?

Lapyang
06-30-2018, 12:44 AM
More than 10 years ago I bought a ukulele that was intonation challenged because the bridge had been placed incorrectly. So I made a saddle that extended beyond the normal saddle slot. It has worked quite well over these years without any apparent decrease in sound or tone.

There is no way that strings under tension are going to buzz because of the width of the saddle. Strings will buzz if the saddle does not have a distinct edge, that is higher than the rest of the saddle, but doesn't have to be a point per se. At any rate I have played this ukulele more than any other. The fretboard can attest to that... lol.

John

Ingenious solution!