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Thread: Bridge Saddle Sag?

  1. #1
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Is a bit of saddle sag normal?

    I got this brand new a few weeks back for my F4 - quality, expensive USA made, reputable maker.

    It's been strung up for about a week. Thought it looked a bit off so put a straight edge on it.

    If it's normal, I'll shut up. If not I'll contact the maker. Just didn't want to seem a fool if I complained and it was perfectly normal!

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    From your photo, the bottom of the saddle looks flat. If it is, isn’t it more likely that the top hasn’t been cut straight?

  3. #3
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    They all sag to some degree; some break eventually. Your's may have sagged more than normal. I'd most of file the G-strings considerably lower, also the D and E-strings just a bit. Leave the A-strings as they are.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Excuse me if I'm not understanding saddles correctly but the one on my mandolin actually curves the other way. The D and A strings are definitely higher than the G and E (to match the radius of the fretboard). I think other mandolins I've owned in the past also had the middle courses slightly higher.

    Is it actually playable currently? Seems like either the action would be super high on the G and E or extremely low on the D and A strings.

    It just looks messed up to me but again, apologies if I'm misunderstanding how these things work.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Hutto View Post
    Excuse me if I'm not understanding saddles correctly but the one on my mandolin actually curves the other way. The D and A strings are definitely higher than the G and E (to match the radius of the fretboard). I think other mandolins I've owned in the past also had the middle courses slightly higher.

    Is it actually playable currently? Seems like either the action would be super high on the G and E or extremely low on the D and A strings.

    It just looks messed up to me but again, apologies if I'm misunderstanding how these things work.
    What you are describing would have been a saddle made for a radiused fretboard. This one should be flat.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  7. #6
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    That's a little more sag than I like to see on a brand new saddle.
    Inspect it with a light and a magnifying glass to make sure there are no cracks.
    It wouldn't hurt to email your picture to the manufacturer and see if they will send you a new saddle.
    If they don't want to do that, the top can be recontoured to compensate for the sag.

  8. #7
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Question Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Brekke 'traditional' bridge is not actually traditional .. because ..

    there is a spine connecting the 2 threaded posts inside the wood to prevent sagging ..

    a 1922 A has an aluminum upper bridge piece , no problems ..

    & I got another upper made for it's A4 cousin, out off semi fossilized Arctic Walrus tusk "ivory" ..

    they're all good ..


    Maybe level the top of yours and re notch it?

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  9. #8

    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Very good way to photograph it. Backlight with screen should be good for looking at action height, low frets, etc.

    I think your new bridge is just weak. Wood is variable.. You probably can’t see the grain direction on the ends of the saddle too well, but it matters if the bridge is a little skinnier (for purported acoustic virtues) than average. I doubt it will stop bending further if you just redo the top, and if it is cracked, it’s gone. Rather than waste time fussing, and possibly not succeeding, I’d certainly send it back.

  10. #9
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Thanks everyone - I'll contact the manufacturer for advice.

  11. #10
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    That's not good, get back with the maker.
    Billy Packard
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  12. #11
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Adjusting the top could be tricky, as it is sagging under tension....

  13. #12
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    Brekke 'traditional' bridge is not actually traditional .. because ..

    there is a spine connecting the 2 threaded posts inside the wood to prevent sagging ..

    a 1922 A has an aluminum upper bridge piece , no problems ..

    & I got another upper made for it's A4 cousin, out off semi fossilized Arctic Walrus tusk "ivory" ..

    they're all good ..


    Maybe level the top of yours and re notch it?

    I've ordered a couple of bone blanks that are big enough to carve a saddle out of - two incase I mess it up. Would be interested to give it a try.

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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bazz Jass View Post
    I've ordered a couple of bone blanks that are big enough to carve a saddle out of - two incase I mess it up. Would be interested to give it a try.
    Bone is some nasty smelling stuff to work with............and it sticks to you. Ish. Never again.

  15. #14
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Quote Originally Posted by ajh View Post
    Bone is some nasty smelling stuff to work with............and it sticks to you. Ish. Never again.
    Spent years working on guitar nuts and saddles for shop setup work. Know the pitfalls

  16. #15
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    No word back yet from the manufacturer. I've took a basic Stew Mac saddle off a cheap bridge I have here and swapped it out.

    It's straight, but no where near as classy as the sagging one. At least I've got a quality base on there.

    I'm in New Zealand so even if they say send it back, it won't be economical to do so. My only hope would them be just posting out a replacement saddle in an envelope - it's small enough that that would work.

    All good for now - we're pickin' again!

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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Well, if you can carve your own saddles, I'll bet you can find someone in NZ who can spare a few chunks of good ebony.

    I've made saddles out of aluminum [a la Gibson's brief 1921 experiment], Sambar stag horn, and inlaid bone tops on ebony saddles.
    It's one way to stay out of trouble.
    I haven't cut a complete adjustable mandolin saddle out of bone. Maybe I'll try it some time, maybe not.

    BTW, Axiom Inc. sells replacement ebony saddles for about $26 US. I'm pretty sure they are made by Cumberland Acoustics. Next time I order from them, I'm going to get 2 or 3. You never know when a saddle is going to split, and it's nice to have a spare or two on hand.

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  19. #17
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Well, if you can carve your own saddles, I'll bet you can find someone in NZ who can spare a few chunks of good ebony.

    I've made saddles out of aluminum [a la Gibson's brief 1921 experiment], Sambar stag horn, and inlaid bone tops on ebony saddles.
    It's one way to stay out of trouble.
    I haven't cut a complete adjustable mandolin saddle out of bone. Maybe I'll try it some time, maybe not.

    BTW, Axiom Inc. sells replacement ebony saddles for about $26 US. I'm pretty sure they are made by Cumberland Acoustics. Next time I order from them, I'm going to get 2 or 3. You never know when a saddle is going to split, and it's nice to have a spare or two on hand.
    I'm keen to give it a go. As you say - it keeps one out of trouble!

    It figures a wooden saddle would bend under the pressure, particularly this one being a short fit one - 10mm in the centre and 6mm at the ends.

    The one I replaced it with has more height - 12 at the centre, 8 at the ends. Guess the extra mm add some stiffness, and that's all it is!

  20. #18
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    No reply from Cumberland on this, so I guess I'm wearing it. Not the end of the world.

    Unlucky I guess - these are universally regarded the best bridges out there. Have to say - more clarity and sustain and superbly crafted.

    I played it safe and went for a version called "low boy" as the standard model was a tiny bit taller than I needed. On the low boy the saddle is very short, and I figure just doesn't have enough upward stiffness to not bend under the pressure of the strings. Seems to be the case for mine anyway. I took it off and the top is straight as an arrow.

  21. #19
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Exclamation Re: Bridge Saddle Sag?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bazz Jass View Post
    I've ordered a couple of bone blanks that are big enough to carve a saddle out of - two incase I mess it up. Would be interested to give it a try.
    FWIW if you did not know Fossilization is a slow process where organic materials are slowly replaced by minerals,
    and after some time (thousands of years perhaps) the piece is more stone than wood . an example is the Petrified Forest : https://www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm
    writing about music
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