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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Bridge saddle slots

    Hey there. I'm looking to get a new ABR-1 bridge. There are definitely more options with uncut saddles. My question is: how much should I expect to pay a tech to slot the bridge for me? I don't have the files for this job, I believe. I was able to slot the bone nut with a set of torch-tip cleaning files, but I don't know if they'd be much good on metal saddles. Open to recommendations. Thanks!

  2. #2
    All Access/Backstage Pass Wilko's Avatar
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    they don't need slots. Put strings on and MAYBE smack them with a soft mallet (that's how it's done at the factory)

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Yeah? They're that soft, huh? OK. Cool. Thanks.

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Use your old strings to gently whack the bridge pieces so you don't waste a new set. I've only done this once; I set up the new bridge on the guitar, marked the bridge pieces with felt pen each side of each string then removed the bridge and did the whacking on a bench.

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member corpse's Avatar
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    As opposed to the factory that does them in situ. On $5k+ guitars. Bent one of the screws on mine.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member Strings Jr.'s Avatar
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilko View Post
    they don't need slots. Put strings on and MAYBE smack them with a soft mallet (that's how it's done at the factory)
    Oh my... wait til Big Al sees this!

  7. #7
    All Access/Backstage Pass Wilko's Avatar
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Quote Originally Posted by Strings Jr. View Post
    Oh my... wait til Big Al sees this!
    We've talked. Slots are barely necessary--specially with the right breakover angle.

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member marshall1987's Avatar
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    I am going to go against the grain here and NOT suggest using a mallet to notch the saddles on an ABR-1 bridge.

    Sure... the Gibson factory may utilize a rubber mallet and hit the strings with enough force to create a small notch in the saddles. Gibson is a high volume production facility and they have determined it takes way too much time to notch the saddles on every guitar coming down the line with the proper files.

    However, I can't tell you how many guitars I've seen with bent saddle screws caused by whacking the strings/saddles with a mallet. An ABR-1 with bent saddle screws will result in the saddle screw head lifting out of the front groove cast into the bridge. When this occurs the saddle will also rise up and loose positive contact with the saddle guides. This is not something I want occurring on my Gibsons.

    On nearly every Gibson Custom Shop guitar I have purchased in the past 20 years or so, I have had to replace one or more bent saddle screws on the ABR-1 bridges.

    The proper way to notch the ABR-1 saddles is with the appropriate files. This is a skilled job best left to an experienced guitar tech with the proper files.
    Last edited by marshall1987; 10-18-19 at 04:07 PM.
    "Scan not a friend under a microscopic glass; you know his faults so let his foibles pass".

    Sir Frank Crisp
    Friar Park
    London, England

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    OK. Fair enough. So that brings up the other part of my question - how much should I expect to pay a tech to notch them with the proper files?

  10. #10
    Les Paul Forum Member marshall1987's Avatar
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Quote Originally Posted by gmohrs View Post
    OK. Fair enough. So that brings up the other part of my question - how much should I expect to pay a tech to notch them with the proper files?
    I'm not a guitar repairman, however, I would estimate the job requiring anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour to complete. Labor rates vary throughout the country, but an average shop rate might be around $75.00 to $100.00 per hour.
    "Scan not a friend under a microscopic glass; you know his faults so let his foibles pass".

    Sir Frank Crisp
    Friar Park
    London, England

  11. #11
    All Access/Backstage Pass Wilko's Avatar
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    While bridge screws bend on Gibsonís I call bullshit that it a tap with a mallet that did it.

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member marshall1987's Avatar
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilko View Post
    While bridge screws bend on Gibsonís I call bullshit that it a tap with a mallet that did it.
    Explain away .............I'm listening. So maybe the saddle screws bend all by themselves? Yeah that sounds logical.
    "Scan not a friend under a microscopic glass; you know his faults so let his foibles pass".

    Sir Frank Crisp
    Friar Park
    London, England

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member renderit's Avatar
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilko View Post
    While bridge screws bend on Gibsonís I call bullshit that it a tap with a mallet that did it.
    Hokay. I'm betting on a 3 pound hand held dead-head.

    Far to many bent posts to be a tiny mallet.


  14. #14
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Quote Originally Posted by marshall1987 View Post
    I am going to go against the grain here and NOT suggest using a mallet to notch the saddles on an ABR-1 bridge.

    Sure... the Gibson factory may utilize a rubber mallet and hit the strings with enough force to create a small notch in the saddles. Gibson is a high volume production facility and they have determined it takes way too much time to notch the saddles on every guitar coming down the line with the proper files.

    However, I can't tell you how many guitars I've seen with bent saddle screws caused by whacking the strings/saddles with a mallet. An ABR-1 with bent saddle screws will result in the saddle screw head lifting out of the front groove cast into the bridge. When this occurs the saddle will also rise up and loose positive contact with the saddle guides. This is not something I want occurring on my Gibsons.

    On nearly every Gibson Custom Shop guitar I have purchased in the past 20 years or so, I have had to replace one or more bent saddle screws on the ABR-1 bridges.

    The proper way to notch the ABR-1 saddles is with the appropriate files. This is a skilled job best left to an experienced guitar tech with the proper files.
    + 1 , You summed it up perfectly with having a skilled tech perform this duty . The ABR-1 Bridge performs a very important function in the intonation of a Les Paul and thusly has to be done correctly .

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Member Strings Jr.'s Avatar
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Quote Originally Posted by marshall1987 View Post
    I'm not a guitar repairman, however, I would estimate the job requiring anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour to complete. Labor rates vary throughout the country, but an average shop rate might be around $75.00 to $100.00 per hour.
    Well, I am a guitar repairman. Not a Guitar Center wannabe repairman, nor a self proclaimed, internet wannabe repairman. But a Gibson factory trained expert with years of experience.
    I can't speak to how things have been done in the last 20 years, but I don't imagine the basics have changed. As for the bridge saddles, yes they do need slots. Try playing hard, power chords or doing heavy bends without slots and see how much the string alignment moves. Plus, the flat surface of an un-notched saddle will almost always cause string rattle.
    "Just smack the strings with a big hammer, that's how it's done at the factory". Not when I was there. Yes, a very small plastic mallet was used to very lightly tap the string. Barely hard enough to leave a mark on the saddle plating. Then, the correct files were used to notch every saddle at the proper angle. No smack, no whack, no extreme force that would be hard enough to bend a saddle screw. That much force would break the string long before it would bend the screw. In all my years of assembly, repair, and inspection, I never saw a bent saddle screw due to being hit with a hammer. Again, can't speak to the last 20 years. "30 minutes to an hour to complete this task". Heck, I could take a guitar straight off the buffing wheel and have it ready to go in the case in 30 minutes. It's not rocket science. To the OP, find yourself a reputable repair tech to do this for you. It's not like you're just replacing knobs, etc. This is a vital part of the sound and function of your guitar.


    Sorry for the rant. Not trying to step on any toes. Just trying to maintain a respectable, factual, forum.

  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Thank you

  17. #17
    Les Paul Forum Member renderit's Avatar
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Quote Originally Posted by Strings Jr. View Post
    Well, I am a guitar repairman. Not a Guitar Center wannabe repairman, nor a self proclaimed, internet wannabe repairman. But a Gibson factory trained expert with years of experience.
    I can't speak to how things have been done in the last 20 years, but I don't imagine the basics have changed. As for the bridge saddles, yes they do need slots. Try playing hard, power chords or doing heavy bends without slots and see how much the string alignment moves. Plus, the flat surface of an un-notched saddle will almost always cause string rattle.
    "Just smack the strings with a big hammer, that's how it's done at the factory". Not when I was there. Yes, a very small plastic mallet was used to very lightly tap the string. Barely hard enough to leave a mark on the saddle plating. Then, the correct files were used to notch every saddle at the proper angle. No smack, no whack, no extreme force that would be hard enough to bend a saddle screw. That much force would break the string long before it would bend the screw. In all my years of assembly, repair, and inspection, I never saw a bent saddle screw due to being hit with a hammer. Again, can't speak to the last 20 years. "30 minutes to an hour to complete this task". Heck, I could take a guitar straight off the buffing wheel and have it ready to go in the case in 30 minutes. It's not rocket science. To the OP, find yourself a reputable repair tech to do this for you. It's not like you're just replacing knobs, etc. This is a vital part of the sound and function of your guitar.


    Sorry for the rant. Not trying to step on any toes. Just trying to maintain a respectable, factual, forum.
    Bless you for that.

    Bent bridges that we hear about here must be that 3 pound deadhead used by others then.

    I have NEVER had on on any of mine from the factory.


  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Just out of curiosity what would a collapsed bridge look like ?

  19. #19
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Bridge saddle slots

    Thanks for help, guys. I used a combination of the advice given, and it worked out pretty good, I think. I do have a lightweight, aluminum tack hammer with an acrylic head, so I started with the "tap" method. 3-4 light taps did mark the saddles well enough, and caused no damage to the bridge. Then I used my torch tip cleaners (poor man's nut files), to make the slots. It works great. I suppose if you whack it hard enough, that might be all you need, but IMHO, the filing is recommended. Thanks again, forum.

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