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My Tuners | The Sound Post | Regraduation


Years 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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