ago, when steel strings were first introduced it was decided that the
tension would be too great on the top and the concept of the raised saddle
came about. This would change the angle of the strings as they passed
over the bridge which was supposed to lessen the tension. The first raised
saddles were plate metal that was screwed into the ribs over the end block.
This led to controversy over the issue of putting screw holes into the
ribs. Understandable, but the solution was worse and no one seems to be
paying any attention to it. First, let me speak about general saddle problems.
Often, when someone makes an instrument they make the saddle so it fits
exactly in its slot. Unfortunately, the saddle is ebony running 90 degrees
to the grain of the top table. When the top contracts [and it will] it
cracks due to the inability of the saddle to contract. How many basses
have you seen that are cracked in this locale? All of em'. Well, almost.
Back to that solution. It was decided to make a saddle that fits in the
regular slot but extends up and over onto the top, thereby giving it a
footprint such that it can be given height without toppling over. The
problem is that it clamps down on the top table - quite strenuously in
fact. This constricts the top in the same locale leading to the same aforementioned
cracks. It also dents the top severely. It's astounding how many basses
I've seen over the years were damaged in this way. I haven't come up with
a good solution until most recently. For a while I was just extending
the footprint a little into the top to get more height. I have stopped
doing this because I came up with the ultimate solution by chance. I make
my own tailpieces for my new basses and I had just put one on - but I
didn't yet recess the under part that hides the tailwire. Looking at it
sideways I realized that it raised the tailpiece and it hit me like "wow-I
coulda had a V-8!" ALL THESE YEARS PEOPLE WERE TRYING DIFFERENT WAYS TO
RAISE THE SADDLE WHEN IN FACT ALL THEY WERE REALLY TRYING TO DO WAS RAISE
THE TAILPIECE! THEY JUST DIDN'T KNOW IT. Now if I were an enterprising
sort you wouldn't be reading this - I'd be out back perfecting a gizmo
and patenting it. But I don't care about that - I just want to influence
better bass lutherie. There are many ways this tailpiece raising could
be accomplished - a higher fret or wedges under the exiting tailwire.
I'm just gonna throw it out there, so if anyone wants to run with it go
ahead - just give me a nod.
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