Photo 5—Individual intonation points have now been filed into this 6th-course saddle. Photo by Andy Ellis.

Next we removed the new saddle, put it in a small vise, and filed away each side so the point of string contact matched the marks we’d made previously (Photo 5). Any minor intonation adjustments can be made after the saddle is on the guitar and we’re doing the final setup.


Photo 6—Now installed in the bridge, the new 6th-course saddle is ready for final slotting and shaping. Photo by Andy Ellis.

Photo 6 shows the new 6th-string saddle installed on the bridge.


Photo 7—Using a digital caliper to measure the gap between strings in each pair. Photo by Andy Ellis.

String spacing at the bridge. With the replacement saddles installed, we could now correct the string spacing at this end of the guitar. After positioning the two outside strings to leave sufficient playing clearance along the edge of the fretboard, we set the inside unison 1st string, and then placed the other four main strings using the hybrid formula described earlier. Once the main strings were in place, we positioned the paired strings. This process is similar to spacing the strings at the nut, except at the bridge, the separation within each pair is slightly wider—typically about .080" (Photo 7).

On this Ric, some strings were not spaced correctly from the start, so we had to “migrate” a few slots on the old saddles that we kept. You do this by first filing slightly deeper slots in the correct position and then removing material from the top of the affected saddles to eliminate the old marks. This requires patience and a steady hand. Remember, you can raise the bridge slightly to compensate for filing off a small amount of the saddle.

As you position the string pairs on the saddles, take time to visually confirm that they stay perpendicular to the frets as they travel along the neck to their nut slots.


Photo 8—With a radius gauge, you can check if the saddles match the curve of the fretboard and determine how deep
to file each saddle slot. Photo by Andy Ellis.

To determine the depth of the final saddle slots, we first measured the fretboard with a radius gauge at the 1st, 12th, and 19th frets. This Ric had a 10" radius at all three locations, so we put a 10" radius in the bridge saddles too. Many of the strings were not in this curve (Photo 8), so using the same files as on the nut, we deepened slots where needed and achieved our target radius, using the radius gauge to check our work.