I have a B&J Serenader guitar on my bench that is in the process of having a new bridge made and new saddle slot routed.

The distance from the nut to the 12th fret is 12 1/8", giving us a 24 1/4" scale length.

The saddle slot on the guitar has broken and the wood has deteriorated enough that a new bridge is our best option.

Before the saddle slot broke open we were able to play the guitar and the intonation was good.  Our client also had no issues with the intonation.

Now, my question is, the old saddle slot( centre) was 12 1/4"( not the 12 1/8" you would expect) at the treble side  of the saddle away from the 12th fret.

the old saddle slot was 12 3/8" at the bass side away from the 12th fret.


Even when allowing for string compensation, it doesnt make sense to me why the saddle would be that far back. Why was the intonation very good over the fingerboard?

If I double the distance from the nut to the 12th fret, and allow for steel string thickness(compensation), the proper saddle slot placement "should" be 12 1/8" away from the 12th fret on the treble side, and slightly more on the bass side.


Does it have something to do with the nature of this size guitar with the joint under the 12 fret?


I'm not sure if I'm missing anything, and want to be bang on before I route the saddle slot


Any thoughts would be very much appreciated.


Thank you,


Tags: placement, saddle

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The first string needs to be compensated 1/32 to 1/16 depending on action height, string gauge... Higher action and larger gauge strings need more compensation than thin strings or low action. You are compensating for the increase in pitch that occurs from "bending" the string down to the fret.

A few things to consider

- the stewmac fret calculator is useful, it has a saddle position calculator

- there may be some nut compensation, check the first fret position against the calculator.

- shorter scales do require a little more compensation than standard

-if the action is high that will have increased the need for compensation

-the saddle break point may have been at the front of the saddle.

-the human ear and brain is more tolerant of a note being slightly flat than too sharp

Good points Jeff, I will consider these points when checking again.  Thank you very much


Jeff, great insight and tips.  I would do just as Jeff has mentioned.  Also, I would generally still consider having the saddle at the first string be starting at 12 3/16" (as measured unstrung).  This will allow for string tension to decrease this "measurement", and you can always shape to saddle for the compensation you want... that way, if the 12 1/4" was working before, the 12 3/16" may work better, but you should still have room to shape and compensate the saddle in a way to closely mimic the original, if needed.  Good luck!

Okay, so here's how it worked out.

I'm aware of having to move the saddle back based on string spacing, however the nut was slighly closer to the fret than it would be "normally" so that changed the specs ever so slightly. It is a slighly shorter scale, but only approx 1/2" from Gibson scale, so its not too drastic of a difference.

I eventually just hooked up a generic movable saddle to confirm the best slot position.

Ultimately I routed the saddle slot on the treble side, 12 5/16 from the 12th fret rather than the 12 1/8 ( based on scale) plus the small amount for string width.

I routed the saddle slot on the bass side, 12 3/8 from the 12th fret.

It still seems like a lot of compensation (1/4" on the bass side), however the tones read true.

I'm assuming that many of the factors that jeff had mentioned are at play here, but its still somewhat of a brain scratcher.

Ive routed many saddle slots and this one seems to defy what Ive learnt from experience.

Regardless, it worked out and as first time caller to this forum, I appreciate the feedback.  Happy Luthiering.


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