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Interesting take on 3-saddle bridge intonation

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by AnArmyOfJuan, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. AnArmyOfJuan

    AnArmyOfJuan Tele-Meister

    Mar 14, 2007
    Long Beach, CA
    From someone who appears to be a physicist!

    Boiled down to the essentials, his theory is that once you've adjusted the bass string from each pair for height and length, use saddle height (tension) to adjust the intonation on the treble string from each pair.

    What say you guys? My initial impression is that it would cause everything to feel wonky, but maybe the amount of saddle height required isn't as much as I'd think?

  2. Bud Veazey

    Bud Veazey Tele-Holic

    Aug 3, 2010
    Lawrenceville, GA
    Saddle height contributes to the intonation equation, but the discernible effect of raising or lowering a saddle a mm or two is almost nil. Anyone who could hear the difference between scientifically exact intonation (if it exists) and the "close enough" that most of us use would probably be ready for the nut house if he played any stringed instrument for any length of time.

    My favorite bridge is the Joe Barden compensated vintage. I have found that after intonating one string on a saddle, the other string is usually either intonated spot on or within a couple of cents. Some on this forum have suggested adjusting the saddle to split the difference between the two strings. Frankly, I've never found enough difference with a compensated three-saddle bridge to justify the effort.

  3. tfsails

    tfsails Friend of Leo's

    Oct 11, 2010
    Richmond VA
    Sounds like a testament for a six-saddle bridge to me!

  4. DeepDrummer

    DeepDrummer Former Member

    Dec 30, 2011
    String heights isn't the way in my opinion. I went 6 saddles and forgot about it. I prefer my strings at a proper height rather than wrack my brain to try to intonate a 3 saddle bridge. I could care less about looks.

  5. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member


  6. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Dec 29, 2010
    So, proper intonation means having every string at a different height? Doesn't seem rational.

  7. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    On the first point I disagree; when intonating a guitar with a 7.25 inch board radius, that extra slant in the 2 outboard saddles is enough to sweeten those 2 up real nicely; whereas by contrast you have issues on such as a 16" board radius.

    Speaking of the Joe Barden, I think it works decent on Hi-Lo string sets, and on the thinnest guages (not 10.5s, 11s, 12s) especially coupled to compound radius and modern or nearer to flat board radii. With 11-49s and a 7.25 board radius, the Joe Bardens are dreadfully over-compensated the way most guitars tend to be set up. Too much slant, requiring one to leave the outboard saddles abnormally flat for my tastes. (Wish I had figured this out before I bought 20 of them).

    The slant of the outboard saddles WAS the original "compensation" tool, even before people started bending saddle screws. As I see it.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012

  8. Steely_Ken

    Steely_Ken Tele-Meister

    May 28, 2010
    Austin Texas
    Old School is just bend the screw.

  9. bo

    bo Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    This! You'll need a fine point grease pen (or other similar marker), tuner, large blade regular (i.e.
    non Phillips Head) screw driver, and a hammer (scared yet?). Do the following for each saddle. Using the tuner find the exact intonation point for each string on the saddle. Mark the spot on the string exactly where it last has contact with the saddle before it goes towards the nut. Assuming the saddle is already straight adjust the saddle so that the last place both strings have contact with the saddle is exactly in the middle of the marks on each string. With tension on both strings (it doesn't necessarily have to be to pitch, but similar tension should be applied) place the screw driver blade against the back of whichever side of the saddle has to move forward so that it's under the mark on the string (again, exactly where the string leaves the saddle) GENTLY tap it forward using the hammer. The saddle will pivot on the screw (bending it) and will line up with the mark on the other string. Both of these strings are now intonated.

  10. gtrguru

    gtrguru Friend of Leo's

    Apr 29, 2011
    Detroit Metro
    Who let this guy in? Can't the moderators block the 6 saddle junkies? LOL

  11. telex76

    telex76 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jun 24, 2006
    Fort Worth,Tx.
    Giving the saddle height adjustment screw an eighth, quarter or even half a turn isn't going to change your string height enough to notice. Thats usually all it takes to get the intonation pretty dang close.

  12. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Yeah. You may have to fudge the string height a little, and accept less than dead perfect intonation but then again there never IS such a thing as a totally in tune board, all over the place and all 6 strings. We sometimes discover in our quest for better intonation that we can get the guitar MORE playable while fussing with it as well, and that's a double reward

    I just want to encourage people to be the test pilot and keep on trying. Don't give so quickly; keep fighting, you have not crashed yet. I really don't like putting people down who just got discouraged and just appear to give up. Nick was just mentioning that the big Gotoh brass bridges are half a POUND of weight. That's, that's not acceptable on many guitars, all that added weight. And I like the Quote about that vintage 6 saddle bridge being a Rattlesnake. I might use that for my signature. :D

  13. brians356

    brians356 Tele-Meister

    Apr 4, 2011
    Reno, NV
    For my Highway One I bought some compensated brass saddles. They got it close, but not close enough for me (I'm a fanatic about intonation.) I found I still needed to make fine adjustments, but not enough to require bending the adjustment screws. It occurred to me the screw is not an extremely tight fit through the saddle, and there is a little bit of wiggle available. In addition, one can gain a little bit of length change by moving the entire saddle sideways (closer or farther from it's neighbors) without messing up the string spacing enough to worry about. So here's how I do it:

    Get one of the sides of a saddle dead on. Then determine which way the out-of-tune side needs to move. Take a 6-inch wooden dowel and place one end against either the front or rear of that end of the saddle, and nudge ("drift") it the direction it needs to go with gentle taps on the other end of the dowel with a small hammer. With compensated saddles, you usually only need to move it 1/16" or less. The strings are still at full tension, so the end of the saddle you are not drifting will want to stay in place under its string while the other end moves. You are asking the saddle to angle slightly off 90-degrees relative to its adjustment shaft, and also making the shaft angle sideways slightly (which is why it can change the string spacing a bit) but it all works out ok. Again, the string tension will hold the saddle in its new position once you get it to jump slightly with the wooden drift. Of course, after moving a saddle this way, you will need to recheck both strings on the saddle for intonation, and if the "good" side has moved a bit, usually adjusting the intonation screw a bit will bring both strings real close to where you need them. It is a bit of trial and error I admit, but surprisingly it doesn't take a lot of retries to get it spot on (close enough for rock-n-roll anyway!) And it doesn't require permanently bending the adjusters screws.

    Having done all this, and gotten the intonation to my liking, I have obtained a Fender 6-saddle bridge (from a Forum member) I intend to put on there some day, as I am more concerned with exact and easy intonation than any (highly questionable) difference in tone.


  14. Joe Baggadonitz

    Joe Baggadonitz Friend of Leo's

    Apr 8, 2003
    this side of hell
    The 3-barrel style bridge will never intonate properly and "close" is not good enough for me.

  15. Steely_Ken

    Steely_Ken Tele-Meister

    May 28, 2010
    Austin Texas
    OR...I like the Glendale saddles with cut sides

    Attached Files:

  16. brians356

    brians356 Tele-Meister

    Apr 4, 2011
    Reno, NV
    As long as they intonate to your satisfaction, great.

    As Arlo Guthrie once said, once you take LSD you realize there's no such thing as "in tune." (Or words to that effect, I wouldn't know.)


  17. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    Yes, I discovered this myself, long before the interweb, but it is no big secret.
    The saddle height adjustment does go some way towards compensating the intonation on a tele barrel saddle. Problem is it messes with the action.

    But you'd be surprised how much a quarter turn of the height screw makes to the difference in intonation between the pair. Lowering the string means less pulling sharp, so you set one string spot-on and with the other a little sharp, then lower that one. With luck this can also be used to radius the strings correctly over the fretboard. You do have to use a Peterson strobe, on chromatic, not sweetened, and not just at 12th fret.

  18. brians356

    brians356 Tele-Meister

    Apr 4, 2011
    Reno, NV
    I rely on my ears, but do cross check with a good old StroboConn.

    Yeah, string height changes are a way to fine tune saddle intonation, but too much luck is involved if each string's height is also critical. The ideal situation is when the string's desired height change also produces the desired tuning change, but that's a crap shoot ain't it?

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