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Thread: Compensated bridge question

  1. #1

    Default Compensated bridge question

    I just got a new mandola, strung as a tenor 4-string guitar. It came with a guitar-style bridge and a flat (1/8") non-compensated saddle.

    I would love to get a compensated one, I am not finding simple blanks I can cut string slots in (that level of work I can do myself), so wondering what my options are if anyone knows about this.

    The fretboard is flat (non-radiused), and the bottom three strings are wound, only the top is plain steel, requiring a special saddle to play in tune up the neck.

    Kinda wondering what my options are here, not finding any blank saddles at stewmac that I could work with (starting with a 1/4 blank exceeds my skills).

    A simple flat (non-radiused) 1/8" blank would allow me to get pretty far just by cutting the slots differently, but I can't even find one of those.

    Thanks.
    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his 18" mandola design), TC octave mandolin.
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  2. #2
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Compensated bridge question

    I had no idea 1/4" saddles even existed - that takes over-sized to the extreme!

    Check the ebay sellers - 1/8" thickness is a standard size so you should find blanks fairly easily.

    BTW it doesn't hurt at all to buy them slightly over-sized as saddle slots do vary, and it's good to sand them to fit - just tape some 80 grit onto a flat surface and move the saddle rather than moving the grit and they sand down pretty fast - just watch your fingers as you go, and sand in a rowing motion (forward and back) not side to side as the latter is a rather unnatural motion that can give you a bad case of the DOMS - don't ask how I know!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Compensated bridge question

    Does a 1/8", guitar style, saddle need to be slotted?(!)

  4. #4
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Compensated bridge question

    Quote Originally Posted by kurth83 View Post
    ...It came with a guitar-style bridge and a flat (1/8") non-compensated saddle...
    I assume you mean flat top guitar-style pin bridge and not archtop guitar-style bridge with a tailpiece.
    If so, there are no slots in the saddle (until they are worn there by the strings). You can start with a slightly-too-tall saddle and file the top so that the strings are more-or-less in tune. (More-or-less in tune is the best we can hope for, BTW.)
    To do that, I usually bevel the saddle slightly back toward the tail block so that all strings sit at the front edge, then file the string positions back one by one until the intonation is good at the 12th fret. After that, adjust the string until all strings are even by lowering any high strings, then adjust the over all height by removing material from the bottom of the saddle.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Compensated bridge question

    I think this one will work, is TUSQ ok? Or should I try to find one in bone?

    My understanding is Tusq is generally a brighter sound, which is what I want, would hate to lose sustain though.

    https://www.amazon.com/Graph-Tech-Ov.../dp/B000P5LWWU

    Yes, slotted with tailpiece, see pic below

    I think I can bevel the nut so the G string hits one side of the saddle, and the others the other side, that should get it closer to in-tune. I want to raise the G string a bit too.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by kurth83; Nov-20-2020 at 4:50pm.
    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his 18" mandola design), TC octave mandolin.
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Compensated bridge question

    I just did a quick search on Google for 'bridge saddle 1/8" bone" and had a few results from eBay and other places, just in case you were thinking of expanding your search beyond StewMac.

    There's more than one tenor guitar tuning. What are the note names in your tuning? And, which courses are wound or unwound?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Compensated bridge question

    GDAE - WWWP (wound, plain steel) so a fully compensated bridge might look something like:

    E
    D
    A
    G

    I think I can get close by shaping it appropriately.

    I found some bone blanks too from your google search:
    https://guitarpartsandmore.com/Produ...nch-Length-801

    Just have to wait for them to come in.
    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his 18" mandola design), TC octave mandolin.
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Compensated bridge question

    It's late for a lot of typing, but lower down on this page...

    https://www.lmii.com/blog/2017/10/07...for-beginners/

    ...is how I determine and set intonation on a bridge saddle. I use an inexpensive strobe tuner to determine pitch at the open string and fretted at the twelfth fret, instead of the more inaccurate human ear, but the wire sections atop the saddle ultimately save time over doing multiple attempts.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Compensated bridge question

    Here is my method.

    If I understand correctly you use a good tuner make the 12th fret match the open pitch on each string, preferably after action height is adjusted to taste.

    Here is what I did on the TC OM to measure compensation, I just needed to find a bridge blank I could work with for the new one:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his 18" mandola design), TC octave mandolin.
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Compensated bridge question

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    I assume you mean flat top guitar-style pin bridge and not archtop guitar-style bridge with a tailpiece.
    If so, there are no slots in the saddle (until they are worn there by the strings). You can start with a slightly-too-tall saddle and file the top so that the strings are more-or-less in tune. (More-or-less in tune is the best we can hope for, BTW.)
    To do that, I usually bevel the saddle slightly back toward the tail block so that all strings sit at the front edge, then file the string positions back one by one until the intonation is good at the 12th fret. After that, adjust the string until all strings are even by lowering any high strings, then adjust the over all height by removing material from the bottom of the saddle.
    Thanks, this is exactly what I hope to do.
    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his 18" mandola design), TC octave mandolin.
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

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