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Bridge placement on scale

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Yonatan, Apr 15, 2021.

  1. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    I know that many of you use string, fishing line, etc., to confirm fretboard clearance, but what about saddle position? Do you rely entirely on measurements (e.g. from the nut or frets), or your template perhaps, or do you check intonation with actual guitar strings before nailing down the bridge location?

    This is the third time I'm locating a bridge in a case where neither the bridge not the neck are installed, and each time so far I wanted to see some tuner readings before nailing down the location, to make sure that both e string saddles will have some room for adjustment.

    Overkill? Less reliable than using measurements e.g. some factors here might be different than actual setup when everything is installed and adjusted (so this method might be inaccurate)? Or, more reliable than using measurements, because it's with the actual neck?

    bridgeplacement_edited.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
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  2. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    When I'm making a body from scratch, I get the neck pocket/neck mounted with screws, then through measurement of previous bodies using the same bridge, I get the bridge centered with soft string first, pin the bridge with two pickguard screws on the outer holes.. get some old strings and tune it up and check rough intonation/saddle positions fore/aft and E-e line..

    If I'm happy I'll drill for larger screws.... or adjust the position... then rout the pickup position to fit...

    bridge alignment1.jpg
     
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  3. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    I used a similar method to Trev but instead of using the final bridge mounting holes I used the pickup mounting holes. That way if you do screw up on your first attempt the screw holes made are going to just get hogged out for a pickup anyway.

    IMG_20200616_131506145.jpg
     
  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It makes more sense to mount your neck and then locate the bridge. I use the two straightedge -along -the neck measurements after that, with a protractor and accurate measuring rulers to find the centerline from the neck.

    The alternatives would be to accurate make your body and use the measurements on the Tdowns drawing to put the holes in. That's what happens if I cnc a body. I use the cnc to locate the holes from the measurements on the tdowns drawing. I move the saddles about 85-90% forward and put the top dead center on the scale length measurement. That gives me a bit of wiggle room for any minute drilling error.

    tape and protractor for pickguard squareness.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
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  5. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Holic

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  6. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    I measure the nut to 12th fret distance and double it to establish the saddle line. I then use string for the first and sixth strings to locate the bridge laterally. Intonation screws at the center of their adjustment. Square it up, done.

    Can anybody tell me why it needs to be more complicated than that?
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
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  7. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I am curious how to tune a guitar without the bridge being screwed down, and how to adjust it's position while under tuned tension. This is an unnecessary complication, and will likely end up with unwanted marks in the finish, or worse, dented wood from clamp pressure.
    Final saddle position is determined when you intonate the guitar, not when installing the tailpiece.
     
  8. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

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    I made an adjustable tune o matic style bridge on a trapeze tailpiece. I'd screw the tailpiece into the strap button hole and adjust it so the first string saddle was close to the scale length. I would tune the low and high E strings and intonate them with this bridge and transfer the location to the body. I had tape all over the body for writing and marking.
     
  9. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    Agree with your concerns about denting etc., but I've done it carefully with no ill effect on three different bodies so far. I've found different ways (depending on bridge type) of anchoring the strings, in order to be able to tune them to pitch, you can see one example in my photo.

    Also, I forgot to mention it, but aside from checking intonation, I also like to check fretboard clearance not only from a visual perspective, but also from actually playing on the two e strings and making sure that they aren't slipping off the fretboard at all under the conditions of my actual playing technique.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
  10. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    Very clever, won't help me for this bridge, but I'm making a mental note of this for my next Tele build!
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
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  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I install the neck. All thru the build I've been checking neck geometry so I know its right, so its time to glue it down, screw it down, whatever.

    With one or two long straight edges on the sides of the neck establish the true center line on the top at the scale. Mark a perpendicular line to the center at the scale.

    Now the fun part - there are at least three ways to locate the saddles relative to the scale - I actually use all of them. I know that I will want about 1/16 compensation on the high E string and maybe 3/16 on the low - those are the rules of thumb for an acoustic bridge and its a good starting point. Secondly, Stewart McDonald's fret calculator gives locating information for all of their bridges - its usually a measurement to a mounting screw or something. I mark that location. Lastly, I run the intonation wizard at RM Motolla's web site for the string set I plan to use - it gives the compensation to thousands of an inch and is remarkably accurate.

    I know that I will never have "negative compensation" so I confirm that I can adjust the saddles to the scale mark at their extreme forward travel. I check to make sure I can adjust as far as needed by the three measuremets.

    With luck those three measurements will agree - mark the bridge and drill the holes.
     
  12. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    I just took a look, very cool! I'll compare this to the location I established.
     
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  13. ctmullins

    ctmullins Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    Goodness, you guys go to a lot of trouble.

    It’s simple:
    1. Don’t place the bridge until the neck is in its final position
    2. With the neck in position, mark the scale length at the high E string
    3. Extend the saddles as far out (towards the nut) as they will go
    4. Place the high E saddle at the scale length mark
    5. Screw down the bridge
    Done. Fine-tuning the intonation will involve moving the saddles away from the nut, and is done after final assembly.
     
  14. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Preach it brother amen! :lol:
     
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  15. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    Well, basically, yeah, but just to get really technical, your method assumes that the bridge (or more precisely the saddle screws provided with it) have a sufficient range of adjustment to account for difference in compensation between the two e strings. Now, this is surely a fair assumption when working with standard parts. Especially for a standard Tele bridge which has a boatload of adjustment. However, the bridge in my picture (or at least the saddle screws that were provided with it) seems to have only about half the amount of adjustment as a standard Tele bridge. Plus no compensated saddles. So I might want to get longer saddle screws, to allow for still setting the high e saddle (fully extended) at the scale length while at the same time bringing the whole bridge backwards slightly to give more room for adjustment on the low e string. Hopefully this will be unnecessary, but the intonation readings I'm seeing, plus the expected compensation I'm seeing on the website that @Freeman Keller mentioned make me slightly hesitant about this bridge.

    But I think it should be fine even if I set the placement with the current screws. They seem to have about a 10 mm range of adjustment, and using that calculator, the compensation on the low e string for the heaviest gauge I'd ever possibly imagine using comes out to 8 mm.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
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  16. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    I just trust the mathematics on the length to the bridge (scale length plus compensation) :).

    For side to side on the bridge, I use a center-line and then confirm placement with two tight lines from the E - E nut to E-E bridge.

    That allows me to check both the bridge placement and the neck alignment, and it also lets me visually confirm that my E and E strings are right where I want them along the neck.



    For line, I use what we call "jet line" in the trades - it's just a light weight synthetic line that can be pulled real tight without breaking.

    Something like a braided synthetic fishing line will work real well too; 30 - 40 lb. test is plenty good ;).



    Most of the time I don't have the nut cut at this point, so I use a "mock-up nut" that I keep handy along with the "jet line".

    It's just a scrap of plastic that I can stick in the nut slot with two slots cut at the locations for the E and E strings ;).


    .
     
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