Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Making Bone Saddle for Martin D-12-28 Acoustic

I'm amazing, I tell you.  I am so close to getting this project done I can hear it.  I'm already thinking of what I will play on it at first.*

Since the guitar was in pieces when I got it, I don't have any reference with regard to the height of the saddle and nut.  So this process will be a bit of trial and error.  (Hopefully not too much of the latter).

Before I move forward, I need to clean up all the little bits of spruce, rosewood, ebony, dust, etc., that have gathered in the guitar.  My trusty Eureka takes care of that.

In the electric guitar world there is this reference to 'tone suck' with regards to effects pedals.  Just saying.

I strung the guitar up with a pretty high 'dummy' saddle in place.  The old nut did come with it, so I put that in place too.

That gives us a starting point to measure the action.

A couple of good things right off the bat:  it came up to pitch with no issues at all.  The new bridge plate and bridge stayed in place!  And the neck stayed attached.  No disasters.

The downside is the action is super low and buzzy.  I measured the bass side at the 12th fret at about 2/64 of an inch - almost laying on the fretboard.  But now there's a starting point for saddle height.  I'm aiming for about 5/64 on the bass side.  That's about 3/64 higher (I know I can reduce that to 32nds, but I think in 64ths for this work).  Double that - 6/64, plus a few 64ths to allow for the current height, and I estimate I need to make a new saddle that's about 9/64 (3/32) above the top of bridge.  That may be a little too high still, but I can file down to what I need. 

Isn't Imperial measurement wonderful?  Not.  I am trying to do some work in metric, but the old system is so ingrained in my brain that I can't yet think fully in millimeters.  Especially less than 1 mm.

Here's the new saddle roughly fitted.  Super tall, huh?

The ends are shaped, and the top is radiused (20").

I strung it up this way, and the action was, of course too high.  I also discovered tons of buzzing at the nut- the slots are too low.  I'm planning a new nut too, so again I have something to work from.

After some filing, testing, filing, sanding, and polishing, here's the finished saddle.

After seeing some saddles and nuts on Collings guitars, I've been inspired to raise the quality on my work.  Theirs are just incredible - flawless (no file marks) and super polished.  This one came out fairly well.  Still not perfect, but better.

(You can see where I marked one end 'Bass' on the bottom - that's not a nick).

Now, on to the nut.

* 'Maps and Legends' by R.E.M.  That raking Em to D chord change should sound great on a 12-string.

The Complete Martin Guitar Restoration Saga
Restoration begins
Repairing heel break
DIY chisel for bridge plate removal
DIY bridge plate removal iron, Pt.1
DIY bridge plate removal iron, Pt.2
Steam removal of bridge plate
Bridge plate removed
Tongue brace removal
Crack repair and brace scallop
New bridge plate Pt. 1
New bridge plate Pt. 2
Patching hole in top
Final fitting of top patch
Installing carbon fiber rod
Fret removal
Fingerboard crack repair, Pt. 1
Fingerboard crack repair, Pt. 2
DIY fret bender tool
Refretting Pt. 1
Refretting Pt. 2
Tuner shaft repair
Neck reset - dovetail fitting
Measuring neck set with DIY jig
Gluing the neck with hide glue
Tortoloid Pickguard
Fitting bridge pins
Brace reglue
Making bone saddle (This page)
Making a buffalo horn nut
Restoration completed


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