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uneven strings volume on a Breedlove with L.R. Baggs piezo pick-up and preamp

Hello

Please help me, I ran out of ideas on this.

A friend of mine has a Breedlove guitar, model Solo CS350 with this problem.

When I received the guitar, it had a wood spacer, UST and the saddle, in this order.
The wood spacer looks factory made.
I made a new bone saddle but the problem is still there. I didn't put the spacer, the bone saddle is taller than the factory one.

The worst is the high e, lowest volume.

I visually checked the bottom of the saddle slot - looks flat
I checked the bottom of the saddle - is flat.
I reversed the UST with the end on the bass side (the bridge has holes on the both ends of the saddle slot) - no change.
I replaced the UST with another - still no change.

I've got a little improvement after placing the wood spacer first, then the UST and the original saddle with a little piece of paper on the high e side.
I will sand the bone saddle to lower the height to compensate the addition of the spacer.
Is possible that the bottom of the saddle slot to be not level anymore?
He said that the problem occurred after a string change.

I don't know what to do anymore to have even volume on all strings.

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I suggest that you

1 Grind a new snap-off style razor blade to just under the length of the saddle slot.

2 Mark the bottom of the saddle slot with a pencil.

3 Lever back and forward with the razor to scrape the bottom of the slot until all the pencil mark dissappears; if done evenly with a reliable razor then you can be super sure that it's flat.

If the bottom of the saddle is flat and all that doesn't work I would say try installing masking tape on the bottom of the saddle under the strings with low output.

 

I would also say ditch the floating spacer and superglue bone or maple to the bottom of the saddle... (I prefer maple veneer)

 

I hope that helps

I have seen this problem many times with under saddle pups and believe it related to 3 things.  1, the high e string has the smallest mass of the 6 strings and produces a smaller vibration for the pup to magnify, therefore its output is smaller than the other strings. 2, both e strings are on the end of the transducer where piezo material is minimal. The middle 4 strings have piezo material under and on either side which increases output.  The low e is less affected than the high e since it has a larger vibration.  3, under-the-saddle quack sticks are less than ideal.


I prefer to have nothing interrupting the transmission of vibrations from the strings to the soundboard.  In your case, the guitar has a solid top & therefore potential to be good sounding acoustically.  I would get rid of the quack stick, make a tight fitting bone saddle with no shims, and install a K&K Pure Mini.

Hi Eugen.

Quite commonly, I fight the same problems with outer E strings.  Recently, I've been having a lot of success by making sure the WIDTH of the saddle and it's slot are uniform. A bit of "even-ing" of the width of the saddle itself usually works. I'm talking about .001" adjustments.  If the saddle width is uniform, check the saddle slot for width variations, especially near the bottom of the slot.  Use lots of light & magnification for your inspection. Even a minute splinter can throw your UST into fits. It's a tedious trial & error process so have patience.

I hope this suggestion works for you as well.

Best of luck(;

In dificult cases  if you cut the saddle into 3 pieces so that each is only carrying two strings, that can make a huge difference.

One other potential cause of low output from a UST on certain strings is not enough downward pressure from the string. A potential fix for this being to cut an angled groove from the bridge pin hole to increase the 'break angle' / downward pressure.

Thank you for all the answers.

Replacing the system is out of the question.

I can't tweak the break angle, the bridge is string-trough Ovation style.

I will try to true the bottom of the saddle slot with my Proxxon.

I have also fought this with frustration. Once suggestion Rick Turner gave me was to use copper tape. I have found this works very well. The copper tape can be bought at Hobby Lobby or similar. It is used in the making of stained glass artworks. The tape comes in a roll and is about 1/8th inch or so wide. Just cut a section about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch long and stick it to the bottom of the saddle under when the E string is. Re-install and check. Add another strip if it still won't work. The copper tape is very thin. I might mention that this has resolved the problem for me every time. YMMV.

.... And right you are Glen H. I cannot thank you enough for posting this. It works especially well for L R Baggs LB6 string balance issues since the pickup is bonded to the bottom of the saddle. I had been fighting string balance issues for about a year with LB6's when I ran across your post yesterday. I have a 2" wide copper tape I use for shielding customers guitars and cut small pieces off of some scraps I had in the box. Applying layers to the bottom of the pickup until I got the proper balance was the ticket. Thank you again...

Third to that, a quick fix is aluminium shielding tape along the area that's weak.  Other than that it's a standard repeat:

UST are fine if the bottom of the slot is flat when the strings and top are under tension: if not they do not work as well as they should.  Piezo (quack sticks are what the old guys call them) are getting less common as new UST materials are adopted which have a better tolerance to some irregularity in the slot or stiff bone saddles.   An undersaddle wooden shim between the saddle and the guitar can sometimes help iron out local bumps in the saddle bottom or provide a easily shaped and disposable surface (if glued to the bottom of the bone) to be tuned up to fix inbalance. 

Also, a Graphtec saddle or similar with a bit of give may help getting things to conform (depending on saddle depth) - a thick wooden shim and a thinner synthetic saddle may help here.

But, if you wish to work with UST's at length and at a professional level either build or buy a saddle slot leveling jig to machine the bottom of the slot flat (simulating top belly if required by jacking the top up before machining).    - They are expensive at face value but when you add up the hours spent dicking around trying to get UST's to work in older instruments they are money well spent.   There is lots more to this subject but given the proliferation and acceptance of UST's in the industry simply ignoring them is not an option.  

Rusty. 

All good thoughts.  I'll add that I've had good luck leveling the bottom of the slot (carefully) with micro chisels but I'll throw in two more potential areas to look at. 

1. I recently worked on a under-saddle transducer that - due to a roughly shaped saddle - had damaged two of the elements in the UST.  Even with a new saddle, properly cut and fit to the slot - the B and G string output (with the on board preamp bypassed) were literally half of the other strings. 

2. I've seen issues with the pre-amp controls that led to diminished response at the high and low strings.  Simply put - slider based controls on top of the guitar gather sweat and other contamination.  Periodic cleaning is required and, if the sliding potentiometer is fouled - it may not work as expected. Recently used Deoxit B5 to clean out a preamp with good results (requires preamp removal from guitar to protect finish).

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