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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Symptom's of worn bridge saddles?

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Jcpstrat

Central Ky, USA

Twang Your Thang
Nov 14th, 2017 11:48 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've got an 1983 Elite Strat that I've started getting buzzing from the strings at the bridge saddles.

About 4 months ago I changed from using Fender Pure Nickel 150R to ClearTone 10 strings.

Never having had ClearTones, I don't know if this is related to them or maybe just the saddles wearing out. Saddles are 34 years old!

Anyone have experience with something like this or other thoughts on the my problem?

Peegoo
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Nov 14th, 2017 12:07 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Saddles don't wear out.

Something is loose or not in firm contact with...whatever it should be in contact with. If all the bridge pieces are properly adjusted, my guess is it's something else besides the bridge.

Many noise issues appear to come from the bridge area even though the noise originates elsewhere on the guitar.

A change in string brand or gauge and new noise issues are a good indication the noise is due to the string change.

Check all setup dimensions (.012" relief at the 8th fret, .018" to .020" nut action, .060" to .080" string height at the 12th fret, etc.) to make sure the neck has not flexed backward, causing fret buzz.

Check all hardware--especially the string trees and tuners--for tightness. If the tuners have a barrel hex nut and washer on the face of the headstock, make sure the nut is snug.


Pinetree
Moderator Emeritus
(with many stars)

NW Pennsylvania

Nov 14th, 2017 12:08 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

A photo would be helpful, but I've never seen a saddle wear out.



ejm

usa

Nov 14th, 2017 03:57 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Peegoo listed several things to check first, including those new strings. Make sure everything is making good contact. But, as for "saddles don't wear out", I respectfully disagree.

If a saddle is "worn out" there can be a groove where the string is. If it's just right it can cause ringing or weird noises. Sometimes they will only occur when you bend a note. And sometimes if you bend it far enough it will go away.

I have seen it happen twice. Once was with a brand new el cheapo guitar where the saddles were not worn out, but rather they were designed wrong in the first place. I tried another guitar of the same type and it did it too, so I wasn't imagining things. I replaced the saddles with some from GFS that were a different design/shape, and presto problemo gone-o. The other time was on a vintage 50+ year old stock Strat.

If the other things suggested have been checked, check to make sure that there isn't an excessive groove where the string contacts the saddle. Or, make sure that the string isn't also contacting the saddle behind where it breaks over the top, possibly causing the problem only when you bend a string.

IMO the string should break over and contact only the top of the saddle. Similar to an unworn nice and round fret, or a needle. If there is a groove or similar you can polish/sand/file/whatever until the saddle is smooth again.

As part of troubleshooting the problem you can swap the saddle with another to see if the problem goes away. If it does you probably have your answer.


Jcpstrat

Central Ky, USA

Twang Your Thang
Nov 14th, 2017 04:10 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks everyone ... I'm going to start checking everything to the specs, didn't see anything obvious with the eye but after checking and correcting anything that's out, if it's still acting up I'll take those strings that are acting up off and see if I can get a pic of the saddles to supply.

Peegoo
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Nov 14th, 2017 04:37 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The Elite's Freeflyte bridge has a very short span between the string ball and the break-over point of the saddle. There's not enough friction created by vibrato use to wear a groove in the saddle.

On a guitar with a Bigsby and a standard Tune-o-Matic or Tele-style bridge that doesn't rock or roll, saddles can wear over time. But not on an Elite bridge.

Here's a pic: no inertia block...the ball end hooks into the little cutout.

(This message was last edited by Peegoo at 06:40 PM, Nov 14th, 2017)

Hammond101
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So. Cal. USA

Nov 14th, 2017 04:56 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Although you can't really see it, that string is always moving at the saddle. Enough so that in time the "break" point of contact will move back toward the string ball. I've fixed many bridges like this with a competent file to move the break point back to the edge of the saddle.

Jcpstrat

Central Ky, USA

Twang Your Thang
Nov 14th, 2017 05:59 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

If you look at the pic Peegoo supplied, I can see what looks like grooves at the end of the saddle (end with height adjustments). Is that groove normal or are those saddles worn?

Specs checked out on my Strat. Then I looked at the saddle on my "D" string as it has the worse rattle and it looks just like Peegoo's pic. Then I checked my other strings and they all have a groove like Peegoo's pic.

ejm

usa

Nov 15th, 2017 08:29 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Those Elite saddles look real similar to the saddles on the new el cheapo guitar that was giving me problems. Specifically the area around and behind the break point. Most noticeably on the high E, as I would bend a string this weird ringing clanking sound would appear. If I kept bending it farther it would go away.

Loosen an offending string. Take a small diameter pin or needle and place it under the string in question in front of or just behind the height adjustment screws. Tune it back up. This will give the string a clean sharp break point over the "saddle" (a.k.a. the pin) and the string will no longer be contacting the saddle. (Yes, I know that the string height will change slightly, etc etc etc).

Using this temporary set up, does the problem go away?

It did on mine. I took a small file and/or some fine sandpaper and/or some emory cloth and "polished" the saddle until the problem went away.

(This message was last edited by ejm at 10:33 AM, Nov 15th, 2017)

Jcpstrat

Central Ky, USA

Twang Your Thang
Nov 15th, 2017 09:02 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks for the tip ejm ... I can do that.

Actually before I try that, I put the strings back into saddles and tuned it up and now the problems are worse than before ... maybe because of me disturbing how the strings were sitting into the saddle groves. I don't know but I'll give your technique a try.


Hammond101
Contributing Member
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So. Cal. USA

Nov 15th, 2017 09:29 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I use nut slot files for this job and angle back toward (lower) the tailpiece. A couple of very light strokes it all it takes. All you are doing is making, restoring actually, a ramp that terminates at the neck end of the saddle.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Nov 15th, 2017 11:36 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The saddles in Peeg's pic must be very soft, because if you blow it up with the magnifier icon, you can clearly see the imprint of the string windings on the E, A and especially D string saddles right at the break point.

Maybe not a tuning issue because of the extremely short length between the ball end and the break point, but I'd still file those areas smooth and lube them.

Peegoo
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Nov 15th, 2017 11:46 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yeah, the wound strings do leave a 'fingerprint' in the metal.

Jcpstrat

Central Ky, USA

Twang Your Thang
Nov 15th, 2017 01:14 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks for filing tips.

I couldn't get a great pic with my phone but mine also have the string winding imprints on the E & A strings just like Peegoo's pic. Thanks for the great pic Peegoo.

I don't have a set of those nut slot files but they look like something that worth getting. Going to try ejm's tip next.

Jcpstrat

Central Ky, USA

Twang Your Thang
Nov 15th, 2017 10:11 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

No such luck ejm, with your techinque! I don't know how you did it but I couldn't get the strings to stay on the pin, it would roll off either side.

As mentioned I didn't have the nut slot files but I do have a dremel tool and was able to carefully grind out the string grooves on the saddles for the strings that were giving me the biggest issues. High E, B and D strings. I also remade the ramps but no noticeable improvement at all.

I'm going to put a new set of strings on and if that doesn't solve it I think I'll just order the Graph Tech saddles. They don't look like the originals but are supposed to be replacements for the Elite Strat and look like they should work.

uncle stack-knob
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united kingdom

Nov 16th, 2017 03:00 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Try this stuff in the link maybe..Also consider whether you have changed string guage.I know it's basic but also check the height adjust screws in the saddles to ensure they are fully contacted with the bridge plate,and not vibrating and making that noise.

Saddles do wear out. The plating on the surface eventually goes for a ball of chalk and the base material,often mazac or brass is exposed and wears further at an accelerated rate.Happens to loads of guitars.
Ask any Les Paul owner.

Good luck with the fix.

Stack-knob.

Good stuff.

(This message was last edited by uncle stack-knob at 05:05 AM, Nov 16th, 2017)

Jcpstrat

Central Ky, USA

Twang Your Thang
Nov 16th, 2017 08:48 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Problem is gone! Yeah, especially since I need to play this weekend.

I changed my strings back to the Fender pure nickel 150R's that this axe came with. Initially there still was just a little buzz but I worked the tremolo arm about 10 deep bends and it's back to being like it's sweet sounding self. No buzz and no rattle.

This is really puzzling to me. The ClearTone's were the same gauge. Initially I thought a little too bright but quickly settled into being really nice up until last week when I started noticing the buzz/rattle and then things really started to degrade fast, especially after loosening the strings to inspect and work on saddles, which are definitely worn.

I think I'll go ahead and order those Graph Tech saddle's cause I imagine since I've ground some metal off the originals they will probably wear even quicker now.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions & taking the time to try and help me ... I've learn some things and experienced things that I never did before. Thanks uncle stack-knob for the link ... that does look like Good Stuff.

Hammond101
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So. Cal. USA

Nov 16th, 2017 09:55 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Wow, that is puzzling. I'm glad the buzz is gone however the cause has me empty for ideas.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Nov 16th, 2017 10:41 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

If new strings fixed it, loose windings on the old wound strings may have been a possibility.

(This message was last edited by Te 52 at 05:20 PM, Nov 16th, 2017)

Jcpstrat

Central Ky, USA

Twang Your Thang
Nov 16th, 2017 01:56 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It's got me puzzled too. About a month ago I also took this Strat into a Fender Authorized dealer because the "D" string had worn down the Nut slot at the top of the neck and they fixed that and said everything else looked fine but things sure went south quick once they started to go. :) It is 34 years old and the only other problem I ever had with it was that darn FreeFlyte Tremolo. It was horrible from the factory but same shop fixed that and it's been fine ever since.

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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Symptom's of worn bridge saddles?




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