Regarding measuring for bridge/saddle placement:

In kits, Martin recommends adding 1/10" to the scale length and placing the near (sound hole-side) High-E end, edge of the saddle slot at that measurement.

Stewmac, on the other hand, recommends adding 7/64" (about the same amount) to the scale length, but they say to place the middle of the saddle slot between the D-G strings at that measurement.

Clearly, they agree on the basic amount to add, but the difference in measurement point throws that agreement all out the window.

Martin's edge-of saddle procedure puts the bridge farther from the sound hole, increasing compensation, while Stewmac's center-of-saddle-slot procedure puts the bridge closer, decreasing compensation.

I'm curious -- why the difference? Is it, as Paul Hostetter said on his site (  a problem with Martin using an outdated system? Or is Stewmac way off?

I'm genuinely wanting to find out if either of these is closer to "correct," all other things being equal on the guitar.

Thanks in advance --Hoping for clarification


Tags: Martin, bridge, compensation, saddle

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the placement of the bridge would change by what strings you use medium or light or extra light strings.

TI am told a guitar is never correct.  That is one reason you check the intonation AT THE 12 TH FRET.

Im told that at one time some one cut 1/8 inch of the stick used to place the bridge ao all the D were wronge untaill Martin found the probulm and corrected it.

My old martin was played by Merle Haggard and he said just like all Martins it dose not fret correctly And A hr earlier Redd Volkeart played and he said it frets perfectly! Go figure.

I had a customer in with a 70s d28 that was wrong and I showed him what was wrong but he would not let me fix it and later s found that he had it fixed.


Hey Ron -- I've heard that same story. Could be! I've heard Martins with a reworked action that sounded great, and some with the factory action that just couldn't be tuned.

On one of mine, I copied Taylor's action setup and used Stewmac's compensation, and its intonation sounds good. At a show one time, Wayne Henderson played it for awhile. When he got done, I told him it was built from a kit and he said, "That's a kit? It's a good guitar!" I had a chance to play one of his beauties and, you guessed it, they weren't even in the same universe. He is just a real gentleman. But mine played in tune like his did, so I felt okay about it.

Thanks --


If you really want the intonation to be as good as possible, read this old thread of mine.

Doing practical measurements using a stoboscope tuner is better than using tables or rule of thumb. One problem you never can get away from though is the strings. There will be small differences between the intonation of two strings sets even coming from the same maker.

Roger, I have just read through that old thread to which you refer ... interesting stuff, and predictably controversial, but I just wanted to take you to task on your use of the term "mensur" at a couple of points in that thread.

"Mensur" is a term which is really applicable only to bowed instruments, referring as it does to the ratio between the neck length to the bridge placement. Although it does end up being the same thing as the vibrating length of the open string (on a member of the violin family) , it is not strictly correct to transpose the term into guitar terminology.

On a guitar the correct term for what you called the "mensur" would be "scale length", which in turn is defined as twice the distance between the nut and the center of the twelfth fret (assuming the nut location has not been adjusted for intonation compensation purposes).  

Interestingly, the term "mensur" would in fact be a correct and useful addition to guitar terminology, if it were adopted as meaning the actual vibrating length of the string after saddle compensation ... obviously there would be six different  "mensurs" on a steel string guitar. 

Huh? I have always used the word "mensur". Meaning the theoretical total length of the open strings that is then used to place the frets on the fretboard. In practice the different strings needs compensation (in both ends!) to intonate as good as possible. To me "mensur" and "scale length" is different names on the same thing.

Checking the Swedish Wikipedia, it tells me in translation "On a guitar the mensur is often called scale length".

I once had a Gibson guitar of a customer that he could not tune This was many years and I knew not much so I called in a piano tuner and guitar player and he made it tune corect .

He tuned it as good as possible than checked the 12th fret and it was wrong so he took some sandpaper and wrapped around the string, wound string of course and from the 12th fret to the saddle gave it a couple strokes and it ether went more out or correct the strings this was 50 years ago so the strings are made more presice I think.

If the string is not wound correct the weight of the string could be different at each end and by sanding one end it can correct the string.

I read about Willy Nelson had to try several sets of classical strings to make a good set.

I remember the first guitar I made, I had no guitar to copy and to  embarrassed to ask so I made the body shape by guess and placed the bridge on and took it too music store to show what a good job I had done, he tried to tune it and came back to me and said you have glued the bridge on the  wrong place! I said what do you mean it looks good to me!  I had only made violins at this time so what did I know! We all have a learning experience in our life. I was around 20 years old then and I am now 82 and far from knowing every thing. it took another 25 years to learn to set up guitars correctly and I am still learning!


Great post :-)


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