I'm replacing the saddle on a 12 string guitar.  Should it be slotted to accurately space the strings or left smooth like a 6 string?

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 Jack, do you have the information that you need?

HaHa  Oh yes, plenty. ... and I thought it was an easy question to answer.


If only Norman Blake had had a tech on hand to advise him that his technique was the problem ...who can tell to what heights he might have risen ...

 Technique can make a big difference. I've had to learn to make adjustments in how I play and even adapt my technique from one guitar to another. It's just part of playing. Unfortunately, there are a lot of players that don't understand this and I've helped many other players see that a technique they were using caused problems for them. Those problems include buzzing or muted strings and/or damage to their instruments as they "dig in" or "play louder".  

 As for Norman Bake,  I sincerely doubt that he didn't understand the importance of technique adjustment and it's effects on the sound produced by his instruments. I don't know if you play or not but if you don't you wouldn't be the first luthier  that didn't.  I guess my point is that your  gut wrenching abhorrence of the idea of advising a player on technique seems misplaced to me, a player. If it solves the problem... well that's what I'm looking for, isn't it.

Ned, I owe you an apology ...I had assumed that my somewhat cryptic reference to Norman Blake (in the context of a thread discussing notching of saddles) would be immediately picked up and commented on, particularly in this forum with the " thousands of other guitar technicians who are practicing (sic) professional musicians".

T'would seem that such is not the case,  and I apologize for my presumptuousness iin assuming that such would indeed be the case.

Frank knows what I am on about,  but for anybody who doesn't, then just Google "Norman Blake saddle notching" 


You're getting TOO personal with your insults.

I wish Frank would ban you. I think I shall ask him to do just that.  This site had a very amiable feel to it until you returned. Please go the freak away.

To the rest of us, stop feeding the troll.

Where's Big Billy-Goat Gruff when you need him?

No apologize needed for me, Murray.  I didn't understand the notched bridge/ Norman Blake reference but I have a bridge in my "used" collection that was removed from a '50 gibson that has 1/4 inch deep "V" notches in it. People often do things that work even if it isn't the best way to do it. In this case, the action was better but the owner had a problem with breaking strings. ( not to mention that it was/is just plain ugly.  I should point out that the "fix for for string height, not for string spacing.  Personally, I don't like notched bridges much and the only reason I have to use one is on instruments with tail pieces. Even then I'm not too crazy about them since I've found that they can be prone to slip out of the notch or even shear away a portion of the top of the bridge if it digs into the grain of the wood.   

I once had a discussion with a very good mandolin playing mechanical engineer about the benefit of a narrow tail piece on a weak topped mandolin. He pointed out that the angle of the string shifts a portion of the down force to a less direct angle thus reducing the amount of pressure on the top... at least on paper. Never tested it myself.


 I honestly have no idea what you are on about, and if I have insulted anybody ...well,   I cannot see where ... do feel free to elucidate...and if Frank bans me be it ...but I would hope that he would explain the reasons, because I certainly cannot fathom what the reasons might  be...  

All I have done is put forward a viewpoint that notching a saddle to accommodate a player's wish to have an altered string spacing at the bridge   is not necessarily something that merits  the full onslaught of the Spanish Inquisition.

It's a saddle ...that's all it is ... it's not like it's altering the entire value of the guitar remove  the original make a new one..when you come to sell it you put the old one back in...

Why get so worked up about such a minor issue ? 

Murray, you started off in this discussion saying that you have NEVER seen a 12 string that was playable without a notched saddle. Were you actually serious, or just using hyperbole? The hyperbole seems to not be translating well in the read, because I found your comments to be rather braggart-like. It might be in the reading, not the intention.

I'd be glad to send you pictures of my very playable 12 string with an unnotched saddle if you like.

Murray, I must say I'm with Mark and friends on this one. You're thread is inconsistent, as you did begin by saying notching was essential, when we all know it is not. That's not to say it is never used remedially, usually to delay needed repairs/corrections to a subject instrument, but it is not considered a "correct" repair/setup method. Take a deep breath and think through your comments, you just might see where everyone else is coming from.

Apologies all round for what was originally a well-intentioned but ill-written post. I should have realised that the term "notched saddle" would  inevitably be construed  as filing notches in the top of the saddle, creating grooves for the strings to sit in, and that wasn't what I meant at all. ...( and my reference to Norman Blake,  who did in fact do just that) was intended as a bit of   banter .

Thing is, getting 12 strings to play well and play in tune is one of my passions and I take a perverse delight in spending time intonating a 12 string saddle (and , when necessary, the nut as well)  to free the instrument from its perceived role as a jingle-jangle  strummer  whose intonation is inevitably compromised.

This process almost always requires a wider nut than that supplied by the maker, and this I take care of not by routing a wider slot, but by machining a new saddle  with the same base width as the saddle but a wider top. The original saddle  is preserved, and the original saddle width is likewise preserved.

How far the top extends past the base in either direction is determined by doing an initial intonation check with my Peterson ...invariably the nut requires to extend further towards the bridgepins , occasionally towards the soundhole. I think I uploaded pics of how I do this this on one of the forums some time ago ...

The point I am working round to is that widening the nut like this also enable me to adjust the string spacing  to my choice, so ... to cut to the chase, I believe that equidistant string spacing between each pair is the optimum set up at the saddle, and to accomplish this, I invariably find it beneficial to file shallow notches in the "back shoulder" of the saddle to ensure this spacing (which requires some fiddly work with a digital caliper) b .

Unless,  of course, the bridgepin holes provide this ideal spacing ...but IME they never do . Once again, the  notches are not on the string bearing points on top of the saddle. This was the basis of my earlier (badly phrased ) comment that I had never seen a 12 string which didn't need a notched saddle

I am not for one minute suggesting that this is the way 12 strings should be set up ...many people prefer the slight dissonance of a non-fully compensated saddle , and believe that to be the essential character of a 12 string, and who am I to gainsay them ?

As most of you will have gathered, I could be described as a bit of a maverick ...I think outside the box ...I have always challenged commonly perceived and accepted notions ( as a 12 year old in shop class in  school I reduced my teacher to spluttering incomprehensibility  by quietly,  logically, and successfully  challenging his contention that a handplane should always be laid down on its side on a bench). My iconoclastic proclivities persist to this day ... 

So all in all,  I think it is appropriate that I save Frank the trouble of  banning me by stating that I will henceforth voluntarily refrain  from any further contribution to the forum guys have a wonderful community here, and the last thing I want is to create disharmony in a happy family ... 

My very best wishes to you all ...

Some of us take great joy in mavericks (at least one of Please re-think your decision.


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