How much saddles can change Tele sound?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Inglese, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. Inglese

    Inglese Tele-Meister

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    Buongiorno!

    I need your deep experience to answer one question...
    how much changing saddles (design, material, brand,...) can change your Tele sound?
    Please share your direct experience.

    I'm working on a cheap tele and trying to improve it with minor expences.

    Thanks
     
  2. bluzkat

    bluzkat Tele-Holic

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    The harder the saddle the brighter the sound. I prefer a mix of brass with aluminum (on the E and A strings). I found steel and titanium to be too bright for my taste.
     
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  3. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    it will depend on your hearing .. if it's acute enough to detect the changes... the overall composition of the guitar... some resolve the subtitles better than others... and finally what are ya using it for.. if you're noodling in the evening in a quite room you might notice it, but if you're on stage at 110 db, playing AC/DC.. nah... never even gonna notice it...

    rk
     
  4. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    @Inglese - the problem with getting advice on a topic like this is that no one ever tests blind. They make a change, expecting a certain result, and their brain tells them it's there. Then the say on the internet that it is fact, and it is repeated by 10 more people, at which point it is a fundamental law of nature.

    As an aside, even with myself, I've learned to somewhat trust my own observations only when they CONTRADICT my expectation. But I digress.

    I think that unless your saddles are defective, you will get a lot farther by optimizing pickup height and balance, than by swapping saddles. Pickups can be a rabbit hole, but if you have really cheap, bad pickups, especially ones with non-vintage construction (for instance, if they have ceramic magnets) you would get a lot more bang for you buck by finding a used pair of vintage style Seymour Duncan pickups, and then optimizing their height and balance.
     
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  5. Owenmoney

    Owenmoney Tele-Afflicted

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    Depending on the type of playing country music may play better with western saddles, fast playing may work with a racing saddle and if you just want to jump all over the place English saddles may do the trick.
    This answer was provided just for amusement purposes !
     
  6. Inglese

    Inglese Tele-Meister

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    Wise man, this is the point!
    I used to work as a electronic designer in HiFi for some year and quite long blind tests were common practice.
    My question was directed to someone who knows the answer by experience.
     
  7. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    As a HiFi designer I'm sure you're aware of the influence of how the equipment" looks... these massively huge, beautiful speakers routinely get all the kudos in the esoteric audio press, but in blind tests, where no one can see what they're listening to, often something like the humble Maggies will knock over some $50,000.00 pair of mega speakers...

    same thing with the visuals in something like saddles.. it's why the boutique parts are "pretty" and the bargain basement are more "pedestrian" looking, when in a blind test.. few ever consistently get it right.
    rk
     
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  8. bblumentritt

    bblumentritt Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

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    "how much changing saddles (design, material, brand,...) can change your Tele sound?"

    Not as much as you might think.

    I had a Squier thinline. I replaced the saddles with black tusq. It seemed a bit less bright.

    I replace my six saddle Nashville Tele bridge with a Wilkinson with brass compensated saddles. I think it sounds better with more sustain, but I've made a lot of other changes, too - pickups, controls, etc.

    Replacing saddles is easy, but you could spend way too much on what amounts to a small cylinder of metal.
     
  9. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    Saddles make a little difference. Changing the bridge much more. I change from the trad Clam bridges to the modern flat heavy plate. Improves bass.
     
  10. KC

    KC Friend of Leo's

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    I swapped out the saddles on a Nashville I had years ago from steel 6-saddle to brass 3-saddle, swapped out the bridge plate at the same time, and it made an audible improvement. Actually made a difference in sound and feel. But that factory 6-saddle was an abomination.
     
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  11. Bob M

    Bob M Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    I've got steel saddles on one tele and just picked up a new one with brass. I'm astounded by the fact that there is little apparent difference in tone between the 2 guitars. Maybe dogs can hear it but I can't.
     
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  12. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I've experimented with tons of saddles, of different kinds of steel, different kinds of brass and of aluminum, of bronze, and in different saddle diameters and weights.

    I think the saddle should be seen as the Icing on the Cake, or maybe whether you choose 1% or 2% milk to drink with the iced cake.

    Some kinds of saddle designs result in rattles and other trashy sounds, and some are great for eliminating that sort of thing, but the better approach is getting the right plate, and getting the string path really well sorted out, and only then would one even think about which saddle composition you chose. When I install a certain saddle I am trying to ascertain if the string path is optimal and if the string is gonna slide out of position and whether I can get my fingers under the strings to really play (fingerstyle) without something getting in my way.
     
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  13. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Afflicted

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    [​IMG]
     
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  14. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've found I prefer the sound of brass over steel. Although steel on the E/A saddle can work.

    Your results may vary, but it should be easy to experiment... And fun too!
     
  15. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

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    I agree w/ boris, but would add that even a slight difference is audible. Like many here, I've done loads of saddle-swapping, not so much for tonal reasons, but sometimes to get a different break angle, or to replace a "grooved" saddle, or as part of a bridge swap, you name it. All those elements influence tone, probably as much as the saddle material does, and whenever I change saddles and string up (usually with the old strings, until everything's dialed in) I hear a significant difference. But really... though I play mostly clean, the differences I encounter rarely call for anything but a knob tweak on the amp, or even just the guitar itself. For those who play through effects, the slight differences may be truly inconsequential. What I really do look for in saddles (and bridge) are stability, fit, and an excellent contact area.
     
  16. gobi_grey

    gobi_grey Tele-Afflicted

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    My old 52 RI has the spare 6 steel saddle bridge. My AV 58 (non stock pickups) with 3 steel saddles is brighter and has more upper harmonics. I wouldn't say it's harsh but maybe a little bit fatiguing after a while depending on the amp. My six steel saddle bridge is just a butt hair brighter than brass but doesn't seem to have those high ringy harmonics, BUT, that tele has slightly hotter pickups which maybe don't capture that super high ringy stuff.
    I was just thinking that MAYBE saddle size has an impact on how much of a difference there is.
     
  17. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think similar blind tests usually put the cheap Chinese violin before the strad .I always use Wilkingson brass saddles.I can help with the matter of bridges ,stop tails tuners .etc .I once took an Epi Dot and replaced all the metal stuff and wiring and test bit by bit .i took the stop tail off and put on a Gotoh ,heavier and much better made .I put new strings on with it as I had to and then bit by bit swapped out pickups first by cut and slash .then a Gotoh bridge,then Grover deluxe tuners .All the while keeping the same strings on .The pickups,Tonerider Rocksongs made a huge difference ,the hardware greatly improved the depth of feel ,more sturdy less rattle .The guitar wasnt so clunky ,more defined bass and depth of tone when I installed the hardware .I then did a fret level all with the same strings .This improved it all greatly .The last thing I did was to rewire with new pots mainly because the switch failed.No sound difference .I suspect that a decent bridge and saddles on a tele may well improve it a bit but pickups will do the most to improve your guitar if a stock cheaper design is used on your guitar .My Epi being a semi needed better hardware to play like the Gibson 335 I played and couldnt afford when I bought the Dot .
     
  18. bendercaster

    bendercaster Tele-Holic

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    Changing the saddle material will make a difference, but so will changing picks or strings. At stage volume, I doubt the difference is more discernable than a slight adjustment to your volume or tone knob.
     
  19. Ex-riverman

    Ex-riverman Tele-Holic

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    I think there is a difference between the brass compensated and the threaded steel that came on my Tele. The brass seem a lot tamer and mellower. I do like them both. It’s not radical. I want to mix them and see what I get.
     
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