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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, so I got my Tusq saddle insert and bridge pins today. The problem? I can't get the damned original saddle out, there's just not enough of it left to get a grip on. :lol:

Any suggestions?

BTW, I'm thinking that considering the thing can only come down maybe 3/4 of an additional millimeter before the strings are resting directly on the bridge, and that the online reading I did gooling for suggestions on how to remove a bridge saddle suggests that this IS done in certain situations, it seems like it might make sense to hold off on shaving down the saddle, and have the wooden part of the bridge itself sanded down. I gather it's a little unusual to have to do this for a fairly young guitar, but it's not unheard of...

I mean, eyeballing it, action at the 12th fret is probably just shy of 5mm, and if we optimistically assume that I can take off another mm before I run out of saddle, that would suggest that the lowest I can possibly get my action is about 4 and a half millimeters. It's not like I'm looking for uber-low crazy shred action, exactly, just nice medium action, maybe 3mm.
 

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try drilling a small hole in one end of the saddle and gluing in an old chunk of string or wire and pulling on it after the glue dries
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
...also, this has GOT to be placebo effect because I can't think of a single rational reason why this would happen, but my acoustic seems to sound a hair better with the tusq bridge pins than with whatever the stock ones were (Martin MC16GTe from '02 based on the serial). It's a little more bell-like and defined - all I can think is maybe the pins are a little more substantial or something and are seating better, and it's helping transfer more of the energy into the top, but that makes about 0.026% sense to me.

Still, I like placebo effect. :D
 

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I am Groot
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I had to yank the one out of my Martin with a pair of vice grips. Now I cannot get the new one it, because it is too wide.

Take the guitar to Mike, tell me what he does, we'll go half on the bottle of Scotch for him. :lol:
 

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Drew, I missed part 1 of your tale so forgive me If I mention things already said and I have no idea of the full extent of your issues.

Can you update me quickly or point me to the original thread? What guitar is it? What specific concerns are? As a rule the saddle should come out fairly easily if it doesn't you need to be aware of a few things. If it's too tight in the slot you need to get it out because it may cause the bridge to split in extreme cases. It's not common but I have seen it happen. It may just be that you can get enough purchase on it. Is there enough of it proud to get a pair of long nose pliers on it? That's all it normally takes. If not then a careful attempt with a sharp bradle to prize it out often does the trick. Put some masking tape on the bridge and take extra care you don't slip. If it's absolutely stuck fast and I rarely find one that is, its down to one of three reasons. Some numbnut has glued it in in the past, not likely in your case but worth mentioning. The saddle is too long and wedged in not likely if it's the original. Third and most likely. The saddle is being gripped by the sides of the slot and that would normally be caused by either a bad slot in the first place or possibly the bridge swelling due to a little too much moisture in the bridge. If I suspected that I'd put it on the bench and point an angle poise bulb at it to try and gently warm the area of the bridge. Careful though that's also the first step in removing a bridge as too much heat will soften the glue. You don't need that much. If you do attempt that shield the rest of the body with rags or similar to keep the heat localised and don't over do it. You need very little heat and for just as long as it takes. If all that fails I seriously recomend you get it to a decent tech for some advice.

As to the problem of there being less than a mm exposed above the bridge that ain't right. As a rule of thumb you want approximately two thirds sunk in the bridge with a third exposed. To lower the action from what sounds like a high action you need to consider a few things as well. To lower the action as it stands your going to have to shave the bridge itself. Something I don't recommend if you like the sound as it is and also not always the correct solution. There is the possibility that the geometry of the neck and bridge is out for some reason. This is common on many older and some newer martins and why us guys often do neck resets on them. The other cause is that the bridge pulls forward over time dropping the soundboard in front of the bridge and bellying up behind the bridge. This is common to all acoustics to some degree and expected. That would not really cause the problem you describe except in extreme cases. If you action is that high and you don't have that much saddle exposed I seriously advise you to get a qualified opinion before going to far with any remedial action.

Once again apologies if this has been covered already. A pic would be handy if you can sort one.

As to saddle fitting in general and bridge pins. The bridge and it's setup is one of the most critical parts of an acoustic and an area where great improvements can be had just by getting it right. The saddle should be snug but not tight with no wobble. The bottom should make full contact with the bottom of the slot, essential if you have an undersaddle pickup. As mentioned I always look to the two thirds one third rule when setting them. The bridge pins need to fit perfectly as well and on really good guitars the holes are individually reamed so the pin fits right and the ball end of the string is held tight to the bridge plate. The mass and stiffness of the bridge is a crucial factor in dictating the sound of an acoustic. Any changes to that and there is a high probability that the sound will change along with it probably why adding new bridge pins may have sharpened up the sound for you. You have changed both the fit and the mass of the bridge. Which has changed the sound is a bit of a crapshoot.

Noodle in answer to the saddle being too wide for the slot. That is normal. Saddle blanks are often supplied over width to allow them to be shaved down to fit snug. I do it with a few sanding blocks and finish with a cabinet scraper. You can attach it to a flat piece of wood with double sided tape to make handling easier. Go slow you don't want to end up with it too loose.

Enough rambling I'm off to do some work. Good luck
 

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...also, this has GOT to be placebo effect because I can't think of a single rational reason why this would happen, but my acoustic seems to sound a hair better with the tusq bridge pins than with whatever the stock ones were (Martin MC16GTe from '02 based on the serial). It's a little more bell-like and defined - all I can think is maybe the pins are a little more substantial or something and are seating better, and it's helping transfer more of the energy into the top, but that makes about 0.026% sense to me.

Still, I like placebo effect. :D
No it makes 100% sense to me. As I mentioned above the bridge and saddle setup is crucial. You wouldn't believe how much time some builders spend getting that bit just right and us archtop makers fixate over it as do the violin guys.:D
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Mutt!

This is where it is now:



...and this is what the action looks like:



The saddle's definitely not glued in, as I had it out shaving it down a week or two ago. It's a snug fit, but it's also not wedged in, per se - there's just not quite enough of it left to get a grip with needle-nosed pliers. The problem is it's a bit rounded, so I just can't get a clean grip, and I'm afraid every time I try it'll just round a bit more.

The guitar in question is a Martin MC16-GTE, from '02 based on the serial number. I bought it used, but this was in about '04 so I'm probably the second owner. The neck is almost perfectly straight - a hair straighter than I'd prefer, actually, but I'm hesitant to add any more bow given how high the action already is. It's strung up with Elixir Phosphor Bronze light strings, 12's.

As it stands now, it's certainly playable - I'm used to 10-68's on my UV, so the jump up to 12's really isn't THAT huge, and I've been playing it a ton anyway since I dig the shit out of how this thing sounds (especially now that I've dialed out the slight backbow it had when I bought it that I just lived with for the first couple years). Action's probably in the 4-5mm range, which is a little high but not prohibitively so, I'd just be way happier if it was around 3mm at the 12th fret.

So, shaving the bridge itself is an option, but it could negatively impact the tone of the guitar? In that case, would having the neck re-set be the better option here? Or should I just stop being such a whiny little bitch and live with it? :lol:
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Dear Chris,

I won't. It actually already sounds tons better than the last time you played it. Kisses,

-Drew
 

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try drilling a small hole in one end of the saddle and gluing in an old chunk of string or wire and pulling on it after the glue dries
I like this idea, or something similar. If you can put a small hole through the saddle, you should be able to put something through it to get a grip on. Either that, or go buy yourself a pair of vice grips.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I think the bigger fundamental problem though is that even if I did swap out the bridge insert, it doesn't change the fact that the action would still be higher than desireable.
 

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Thanks Mutt!

This is where it is now:

...and this is what the action looks like:

The saddle's definitely not glued in, as I had it out shaving it down a week or two ago. It's a snug fit, but it's also not wedged in, per se - there's just not quite enough of it left to get a grip with needle-nosed pliers. The problem is it's a bit rounded, so I just can't get a clean grip, and I'm afraid every time I try it'll just round a bit more.

The guitar in question is a Martin MC16-GTE, from '02 based on the serial number. I bought it used, but this was in about '04 so I'm probably the second owner. The neck is almost perfectly straight - a hair straighter than I'd prefer, actually, but I'm hesitant to add any more bow given how high the action already is. It's strung up with Elixir Phosphor Bronze light strings, 12's.

As it stands now, it's certainly playable - I'm used to 10-68's on my UV, so the jump up to 12's really isn't THAT huge, and I've been playing it a ton anyway since I dig the shit out of how this thing sounds (especially now that I've dialed out the slight backbow it had when I bought it that I just lived with for the first couple years). Action's probably in the 4-5mm range, which is a little high but not prohibitively so, I'd just be way happier if it was around 3mm at the 12th fret.

So, shaving the bridge itself is an option, but it could negatively impact the tone of the guitar? In that case, would having the neck re-set be the better option here? Or should I just stop being such a whiny little bitch and live with it? :lol:
Ok if you've had it out to tinker with recently you should be able to get it out easy enough now. I'd say you have enough to get hold of it with a pair of long nose pliers or option two tease it out with the point of a sharp blade or bradle.

From that pic it looks like you have a very flat radius across that saddle? From memory that model has a 16" radius and it doesn't look like that saddle is even close to that. I would suggest it needs to be. The radius of the saddle should pretty closely reflect the radius of the f/b. That way you'd have more play in the centre of the saddle to drop the action at the extremes without having to mess with the bridge itself. Is that just the pic though?

How much visible bellying up do you have behind the bridge? Down around the soundhole? I'd expect there to be some. That would help make a decision on the neck angle/set thing as well. From what I can tell from those pics I think you can get a reasonable action with a properly shaped and seated saddle. Give me a figure for the action at the 12th fret bottom of string to top of fret for the high and low E and the D or G. We'll go from there.

Your not being a whiner, a 5mm action on a set of 12-53's is way to high. Martins ship with an action in the 2.5mm - 4.5mm range depending on model and which string your looking at.

The symptoms your looking at are pointing towards a neck reset at some point down the road but you can try a new saddle and setup first. The pressure of the strings will eventually pull the belly up to such an extent that you can't drop the saddle anymore and a reset is your fix. Hopefully not yet.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The belly is pretty flat - flat enough, at least, that I can't tell if there's any visible rise.

It could just be the pic, but while there's slightly less radius in the nut than the bridge itself, it doesn't seem THAT pronounced in real life (the shot was taken in Macro mode on my camera, which is part of it). I think the replacement nut has a little more arc to it, however. The problem though is the thing's a bit rounded, so there's no where I can get a clean grip on it with pliers.

I'm thinking of just supergluing a toothpick onto the thing and using that for a little more leverage, but the risk of fucking something up that way is exponentially higher. :lol:

Anyway, aside from a 12th fret action measurement, is there anything else you'd want to see here?
 

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Nobody Has Seen Me Lately
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Drew, hit the local hardware store and pick up one of these. I use this to remove saddles. Lightly grip the saddle, and with a slight rocking motion, they come right out. About $5 at Ace and they are good to have around for clipping strings as well.
 
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Drew, you really can get a hold of that saddle with a decent pair of long nose pliers or end nippers as Mike suggests. The only cheap ones we can get here would need the outer jaws grinding flush but they'd do it just fine. Don't get any glue on it just yet if it wicks into the slot your f***d.;)
 

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The belly is pretty flat - flat enough, at least, that I can't tell if there's any visible rise.

It could just be the pic, but while there's slightly less radius in the nut than the bridge itself, it doesn't seem THAT pronounced in real life (the shot was taken in Macro mode on my camera, which is part of it). I think the replacement nut has a little more arc to it, however. The problem though is the thing's a bit rounded, so there's no where I can get a clean grip on it with pliers.

I'm thinking of just supergluing a toothpick onto the thing and using that for a little more leverage, but the risk of fucking something up that way is exponentially higher. :lol:

Anyway, aside from a 12th fret action measurement, is there anything else you'd want to see here?
I assume you mean saddle not nut? The saddle will/should have a slightly different radius to the f/b that one just looks pretty flat. If it's the pic so be it. It just looks from the bridge radius that it's off a bit. The crown of the bridge is also around the same radius as the f/b.

Lets get the old saddle out first and we'll take it from there.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Don't get any glue on it just yet if it wicks into the slot your f***d.;)
That's why I'm terrified to try. :lol:

I tried a set of needle-nosed pliars last night, which I couldn't get a grip on, but those look a little more workable; they come to more of a point so all the force is going to be isolated in a single line, giving me more focus but more surface area. The needle nosed pliars really need a flat section to push on, and on top of that hit a much narrower area.

I'll give it a shot tonight. :yesway:

EDIT - I'll give it a shot within an hour, as since we're the only division in the office ATM, we just got the go-ahead for an early release. :D
 

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That's why I'm terrified to try. :lol:

I tried a set of needle-nosed pliars last night, which I couldn't get a grip on, but those look a little more workable; they come to more of a point so all the force is going to be isolated in a single line, giving me more focus but more surface area. The needle nosed pliars really need a flat section to push on, and on top of that hit a much narrower area.

I'll give it a shot tonight. :yesway:

EDIT - I'll give it a shot within an hour, as since we're the only division in the office ATM, we just got the go-ahead for an early release. :D
Long nose are sturdier than needle nose. Go with the end nippers if you have them to hand. Either way it will come out of there you just need to get a hold.
 
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