Why are my barrels so far back on the bridge?

timeconsumer

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The saddles do indeed look odd. Sometimes funky angles happen, but those angles combine with the notched saddles to make the string spacing seriously off, to the point that I would consider the guitar unplayable.

If that were my guitar, I would start over from scratch. First I'd try to get the saddles more parallel, even to the point of having no radius to speak of, and push them as close together as possible. Then I'd set the height of the high and low E strings with the saddles flat/parallel to the bridge plate. Then I'd raise the D/G saddle much too high in order to get it out of the way, and use an under-string radius gauge to set the height of the A and B strings. Then drop the D/G saddle down, preferably as close to parallel to the plate as you can get it without completely disregarding what the radius gauge is telling you. See where the intonation needs to be from there; you may be surprised. (Alternate method: start by setting the heights of the D and G strings, compromising slightly by trying to keep the saddle parallel to the bridge plate)

The fact that you have consistent string height now is irrelevant when the string spacing is that wrong. It needs to be fixed.

The way that those saddles are constructed suggests that the string spacing might be better with a flatter radius. Sometimes a saddle radius flatter than the radius of the board works; it's worth a try. (That's a hotly debated issue, btw!)
Thanks for the detailed write-up! I don’t really consider this a huge issue since the guitar actually plays wonderfully, but I’m a tinkerer and this sounds like a fun challenge. Have you tried this approach before, and would you say that this technique helped?
 

kuch

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The action is actually as low as I could get it: around 2mm.

Sorry, didn’t mean to ignore your post. This is the exact guide I’ve been following when adjusting my Telecaster. (And the bass equivalent for my Blue Flower Precision bass.) However, I definitely missed the section on measuring the string length to rough out the saddle location. Is the “first” saddle the BE strings? If so, it’s currently set to 25.9 inches when it seems it should be 25.5.

Hey, yes the 1st saddle would be a BE strings. I wouldn't skip the 1st step and measure from the nut to the center of the 12th fret according to the pdf:
INTONATION (ROUGHING IT OUT) You can preset the basic intonation of your guitar by taking a tape measure and measuring from the inside of the nut to the center of the 12th fret (the fret wire itself; not the fingerboard). Double that measurement to find the scale length of your guitar

Again, i hope this helps
 

Sea Devil

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I've definitely used a similar approach to what I described when dealing with notched saddles. I've also occasionally set up guitars with the saddle radius flatter than the neck, but not often. (Most recently, I put a 12-inch radius on a wooden bridge for a Heritage Super Eagle, which has a neck radius of 9.5 inches. It works for some reason.) With plain barrels, you can just move the strings into position. I pick a lot within chords, so string spacing is crucial to me.
 
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timeconsumer

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Thanks for the advice everyone! I've decided that I'm gonna order a couple of wooden shims from StewMac and see if that helps. I'm not really doing it for the Rolling Bender anymore, but if it allows me to lower the action a smidge then it will be worth it. Appreciate all the feedback!
 

maxvintage

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They seem too far back to me. I’d try moving them closer to the nut, enough to lower the pitch 1/2 step. Then retune to standard. I bet that’d work
 

yegbert

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They seem too far back to me. I’d try moving them closer to the nut, enough to lower the pitch 1/2 step. Then retune to standard. I bet that’d work
Maybe I’m confused, but wouldn’t moving a saddle closer to the nut raise the pitch? And shouldn’t adjusting a saddle only be done to set intonation correctly, rather than to make more room for a longer saddle structure (the one including the new, bend-enabling part)?
 

tomasz

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To be frank, I have no experience working on or installing benders, but the bridge & saddle placement of your tele looks consistent to other japanese paisleys. If you look online, you will find, the saddles closer to the mid of travel on the adjustment screws, than on American/Mexican models.

Now, if this is too little for that specific bender, it still is fine with the specs of the guitar, as those bridges have the long screws exactly for that reason of being able to take adjustment. I've seen guitars with half the play you have left, where it gets more tricky to get it right.

While measurements can help when setting intonation, rather trust your tuner and ears. If you've done it before, you probably know it's the last thing you set after:
- changing strings to a new set (very important!)
- stretching strings
- setting back bow & desired action
- checking saddle arch follows board radius (check with the radius gauge under the strings at the bridge rather, than over the strings. You can also use the ruler and go string by string say, at the last fret of the board. Or eyeball it)
- tune your guitar - in playing position
- start setting intonation - in playing position

What I like to do is set intonation not on an open string and 12th fret, but say on the 3rd and 15th or 5th and 17th. This eliminates the nut, which is an error factor. Also, correct intonation matters up the neck more, than on lower frets. Stick to the playing position, otherwise the intonation will change with the sag/weight of the strings.

Looking at the pics, I'm not sure you need any shims. If the high E is where you want it, a .5 shim may leave you with a bottomed out saddle with no play at all, at best.
You seem to have a very raised B and some interesting height difference between A and D. If that is not your personal preference as a player, maybe rechecking the arch is a good thing.

Anyway, good luck and again. Looks like a perfectly fine japanese paisley bridge location and an otherwise great guitar. Enjoy, even if your plans crashed with the specific bender!
 

timeconsumer

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To be frank, I have no experience working on or installing benders, but the bridge & saddle placement of your tele looks consistent to other japanese paisleys. If you look online, you will find, the saddles closer to the mid of travel on the adjustment screws, than on American/Mexican models.

Now, if this is too little for that specific bender, it still is fine with the specs of the guitar, as those bridges have the long screws exactly for that reason of being able to take adjustment. I've seen guitars with half the play you have left, where it gets more tricky to get it right.

While measurements can help when setting intonation, rather trust your tuner and ears. If you've done it before, you probably know it's the last thing you set after:
- changing strings to a new set (very important!)
- stretching strings
- setting back bow & desired action
- checking saddle arch follows board radius (check with the radius gauge under the strings at the bridge rather, than over the strings. You can also use the ruler and go string by string say, at the last fret of the board. Or eyeball it)
- tune your guitar - in playing position
- start setting intonation - in playing position

What I like to do is set intonation not on an open string and 12th fret, but say on the 3rd and 15th or 5th and 17th. This eliminates the nut, which is an error factor. Also, correct intonation matters up the neck more, than on lower frets. Stick to the playing position, otherwise the intonation will change with the sag/weight of the strings.

Looking at the pics, I'm not sure you need any shims. If the high E is where you want it, a .5 shim may leave you with a bottomed out saddle with no play at all, at best.
You seem to have a very raised B and some interesting height difference between A and D. If that is not your personal preference as a player, maybe rechecking the arch is a good thing.

Anyway, good luck and again. Looks like a perfectly fine japanese paisley bridge location and an otherwise great guitar. Enjoy, even if your plans crashed with the specific bender!
Lots of good info here, thanks! I've paused the Rolling Bender for now. I might still order one later, but at this moment I just want to investigate this further.

I set the strings as low as they would go without fret buzz, hence the difference in string height. They feel consistent when playing, but I agree it looks funny. This is another reason why I want to try a shim.

Not sure what you mean about bottoming out the saddle with a .5 shim, wouldn't a shim move the saddles closer towards the bridge pickup and also allow for lower action?
 

tomasz

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I set the strings as low as they would go without fret buzz, hence the difference in string height. They feel consistent when playing, but I agree it looks funny. This is another reason why I want to try a shim.

If it feels right, it might me right.. Hard to tell without measuring really. It just looks uneven and as if it was a very tight radius, tighter than 7.25, if you know what I mean. Maybe it just looks funny in the pics (optical illusion). Anyway, if you measure a consistent, slightly raising action from high E to low E, you are probably setup right.

Now, if you are getting any strange spot-buzzing with such a setup, that means, your frets will be uneven and you should inspect frets for wear, raised frets, etc. In any case, do not raise single strings :)

Not sure what you mean about bottoming out the saddle with a .5 shim, wouldn't a shim move the saddles closer towards the bridge pickup and also allow for lower action?
Forgive me, my flow of thoughts must have blinded me... and I somehow assumed, you want to use the neck pocket shim reversed, to lower the action, hence, to bring those pokey adjustment screws more away from the palm of your picking hand.

But in any scenario, a neck pocket shim will actually not help you out. Unless you planned to shim the end of the heel, but I doubt more than .5 or 1mm veneer would fit in there, if you are lucky. A tele neck pocket is not square, it tapers, so you cannot move the neck more away from the bridge (if that is your plan), unless you have huge side gaps. Shims usually solve a problem of too high action, that cannot be brought lower, because - geometry, or the opposite - too little brake angle, like on a Jaguar, because - again geometry :)

Hope this helps somehow, good luck figuring out the setup :)
 

timeconsumer

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Appreciate the extra info @tomasz !
Forgive me, my flow of thoughts must have blinded me... and I somehow assumed, you want to use the neck pocket shim reversed, to lower the action, hence, to bring those pokey adjustment screws more away from the palm of your picking hand.

I think I'm getting a bit confused, haha. My understanding was that if I install a shim with the thick part facing the body, this would raise the action slightly, but also elongate the string scale (at least with the current position of the saddles). This would allow me to move the saddles a bit closer towards the bridge pickup and also raise them a bit to avoid those wonky angles. Do you mean that a shim would require the saddles to be moved even further back?

(I'm new to this btw, I found this article where they adjust a guitar with a bridge showing similar issues and thought I could do the same.)
 

jvin248

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.

Change your strings to a lighter gauge... if you have 10s now then go to 9s. Do a new setup including intonation. The saddles will be closer to the neck. Find what works.

.
 

Dostradamas

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Have you tried starting with the 25-1/2 scale length on the D & G saddle then intonating from there?

I am still puzzled why 25.9" is ok when the scale length the guitar is designed for is .4" shorter (saddles would be .4" closer to the nut )

Until you get there your stabbing in the dark
 

57joonya

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I’m not familiar with the rolling bender , but if u need more room for that, than I would consider pushing the bridge plate back3/8” then re-setting it there . U might get nicer action with less of a severe break angle on the strings too . U could redrill the holes on the bridge pate , or u could simply drill some holes in the back of the plate and use it as a top loader , as someone else mentioned earlier.
 

yegbert

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I’m not familiar with the rolling bender , but if u need more room for that, than I would consider pushing the bridge plate back3/8” then re-setting it there . U might get nicer action with less of a severe break angle on the strings too . U could redrill the holes on the bridge pate , or u could simply drill some holes in the back of the plate and use it as a top loader , as someone else mentioned earlier.
But before you do that, check to see if there is enough free space in the bridge pickup rout to allow that changed bridgeplate position!
 

fretfile

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If the string height at the nut is on the high side it will cause the saddles to be further back to account for strings pulling sharp when you fret notes. I suggest adjusting the neck to @ .010” relief. Then check the string height over the first fret. If it is much higher than .020 on the high E and .025 on the low E you are likely going to have to move the saddles pretty far back to get intonation correct at the 12th fret. A combination of too much relief and high string height at the nut can really push the saddles back quite a bit. The lower the action and straighter the neck the less compensation you need at the saddle.
 




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