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Notching saddles

posted Apr 26, 2014 18:37:48 by kaarel804
Hi guys!

I've been keeping my eye on bridges lately, especially on Philly's store and noticed that they don't sell pre-notched saddles. I'll probably need three bridges in total (two for double neck and one for my Epi LP) of which one is for a 12 sting. I'm thinking that I should buy the saddles and then let a luthier notch the 12 string one at least. I think I could manage the 6 sting ones :)

I was wondering about how you notch the saddles. Do you use some household items or do you need a nut file or sth like that to do that?
I've seen stewmac's video on youtube and I learned that saddles for unwound strings can be notched just with a hammer and they say that for wound strings I'll need a nut file.
Also, about the 12 string saddles and the string spacing on there. The latter is the reason why I'm leaning towards letting a luthier. Maybe some of you guys have some tricks how to notch the saddles?

Also, what's the difference between a wired and a non-wired ABR-1 bridge? Do they function differently or last a different amount of time. My experience stays with my Epi LP which has a horribly rattling bridge and it gets annoying already :)
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12 replies
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MichaelWamback said Apr 26, 2014 19:20:34
If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. So a nut file is the best way to notch the saddles. A luthier/tech would probably charge you $25 or $30 to notch a bridge, since it isn't a huge job.

You can get some good bridges pre-notched for a 6-string neck. Gotoh/Tonepros come notched and un-notched. You would definitely need to notch a 12-string saddle yourself.

The StewMac video is pretty much the standard way to do this.

As for wire vs non-wire, the wire Gibson bridges are the "ABR-1" and the non-wire bridges are the "Nashville" bridges. The post sizes are just a hair different in each. The Nashville design is, I feel, the better of the two - but you would find plenty of people who would think the opposite. One of the benefits to the Nashville bridges is that there is a bit more room for the saddles to move when setting up the bridge for intonation. This means you usually don't have to flip the saddles around the way you do on an ABR-1 to get a perfect intonation. I also tend to find them to be more solid and a bit less rattly in general.

The wire ABR-1 bridges would be more historically correct on a guitar from before the mid 1980's. Gibson moved their plant to Nashville in 1984, and the bridges started being produced there shortly after that (hence the "Nashville" name.)

Tonepros makes an AVR-II bridge, which is a Nashville bridge that has the wire added for purely decorative reasons. It gives you the advantages of the Nashville design, but retains the look of the ABR-1 bridges.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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kaarel804 said Apr 26, 2014 19:56:48
Thanks for your informative post!

Another question is about conversion posts sold by Philly's store. If I want to put Nashville bridges on my import or Epi, do these (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Import-Conversion-Posts-Install-ABR-1-on-Epiphone-other-import-guitars-Nickel-/111300017547) do the job?
If not, then is the only way to install a Nashville bridge on an import guitar by changing the bushings and redrilling the holes?

BTW I've also noticed that Philly's sell a non-wired ABR-1 as well as a Nashville bridge. They must have some difference?
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stanton.kramer said Apr 26, 2014 20:52:04
Have you considered a Wilkinson roller bridge on your Epi LP? I put one on my Chibson and it is quite comfortable. No sharp edges to dig into your right hand. Nothing to bind the string as it stretches and returns. Possibly a little more sustain. Not too expensive.... and nothing to notch.
[Last edited Apr 26, 2014 20:52:34]
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sjcrowe6 said Apr 26, 2014 21:47:11
I luv my Wilkinson roller bridge!
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MichaelWamback said Apr 26, 2014 22:36:43
Here's a link that will give you all the different bridge measurements.

Bridge Measurements
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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vambostrausser said Apr 27, 2014 06:43:17
These are Gotoh Metric specs for ABR-1 and Nashville with 4mm post holes.Great prices to be had on these,and you know you will have a very well made Bridge.

104 is the ABR-1
103 is the Nashville

[Last edited Apr 27, 2014 06:48:20]
THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT,THE GIRL IS MUCH TOO YOUNG TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
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kaarel804 said Apr 27, 2014 08:31:47
So, in conclusion, can the posts for ABR-1 also carry the Nashville style bridge?
The only difference between the ABR-1 and Nashville seems to be the size. I could get a perfect intonation with ABR for sure, but for Nashville, I'd most likely have to flip the saddles, right?
I think that I'll be going for the ABR-1 for the double neck and try the Wilkinson for my Epi LP

Thanks guys!
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MichaelWamback said Apr 27, 2014 15:24:51
You've got it the wrong way around. The "Nashville" bridge is slightly larger, so you won't usually have to flip saddles around for intonation. With the ABR-1, you often have to do that.

Flipping the saddles isn't a big deal. You just pull off the little retaining wire. The screw and saddle will then fall out. You just unscrew the screw from the saddle, flip it around and screw it back together. You then put it back and replace the retaining wire.

Doing that will give you a bit of extra movement if you need it. And it doesn't matter which way the saddle faces on a factory notched saddle. (Some people use an un-notched saddle if they are doing an unusual string spacing, and will notch the saddles off center for that purpose - in which case you can't flip the saddle. This shouldn't apply to you.)
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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kaarel804 said Apr 27, 2014 16:23:59
Okay, thanks!

I think that I'll be going for the NON-WIRED ABR-1 for the double neck bridges and the Wilkinson for LP, but I have a question about the posts for the Wilkinson: Do I have to replace the bushings or are the import ones fine?
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MichaelWamback said Apr 27, 2014 17:49:42
Usually bridges that are designed for Asian posts will say something like "large pots" or "metric". You can usually tell by the look of them. Google some images of Asian bridges and Gibson bridges. The Asian bridges have the flat screw slot in the top of the post. You can easily see the difference in how big the hole in the bridge is. I'm guessing Wilkinson may make both USA and Asian spec, so better to check first. I've not used them, as I usually go with Gotoh or Tonepros - but a few others on here have used them a lot, and I'm sure they will be able to answer your question for you.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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GsxJones said Apr 28, 2014 21:34:52
Ive just notched a new bridge earlier. I fitted it,restrung the guitar with new strings,and then took a hammer to the bridge. lol. I just hit the strings over the bridge. Somebody told me that Gibson did this in the past. Job pretty much done as far as I can see.
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MichaelWamback said Apr 28, 2014 22:56:12
It doesn't necessarily work as well with the wound strings, but the plain steel strings will definitely leave an impression on the bridge. Just use a light hammer and don't go crazy.

I've always though that a great way to do this would be to order a bunch of .009 strings from C.B. Gitty or any other place that does bulk strings (about $3.50 a dozen.) Just string the entire guitar with the .009 stings and hammer away. You would have really nice small notches on every saddle. Then just use your nut files to make the slots on the different saddles the width you desire. I could see this being really helpful when doing the saddles on a 12-string neck. You could use the .009 string to get a good string placement on the saddles. and it would be easy to hammer them since they would be the same diameter.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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