Why put compensated saddles on a Tele; THE LONG EXPLANATION.

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Kmaxbrady, Jun 7, 2020.

  1. Kmaxbrady

    Kmaxbrady Tele-Meister Vendor Member

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    I posted this little essay on Facebook tonight. Thought I’d share it here as well.

    ——

    Why put compensated saddles on a Tele; THE LONG EXPLANATION.

    You need compensated saddles because vintage style 3 barrel saddles can’t give you proper intonation. Proper intonation means every note on every string up and down the fret board is in tune (or close enough that you can’t hear the difference).

    Many factors contribute to a guitars intonation. For example; the quality of the nut slots, the placement and roundness of the frets, the grip of the player, the age of the strings, the height of the strings off the fretboard (action), and my main topic today, bridge/saddle compensation.

    View the bridge on almost any guitar; the saddles aren’t arranged in a straight line perpendicular to the strings. Instead they’re slanted with the Low E saddle furthest from the fretboard, and the high E saddle closest. The position of the saddle determines the vibrating length (from nut to saddle) of each string. This length is critical, and it’s different for every string, here’s why:

    A longer string creates a lower note than a shorter string of the same thickness and tightness. With your guitar in tune you can pluck your open 6th string and it will make an E. Then if you pluck it again but hold the string down at the 8th fret it will make a C. It makes a higher note because you shortened the vibrating length of the string the correct amount to produce that C.

    But what if the saddle is moved back 1/2 an inch? You’ve now increased the vibrating length and 8th fret won’t give you a C anymore. Because it’s the vibrating length (fret to saddle) of the string, not the fret itself, that produces the note.

    Now, when your string lengths are only slightly off your notes might sound just fine in the first or second position, but as you play further up the neck your notes (and especially your chords) will start to sound off.

    Setting intonation means making sure the total vibrating length (nut to saddle) of each string is correct so all of your frets can shorten the string by the right amount, and produce notes that are in tune.

    So what about a vintage style telecaster?

    Once you understand everything I’ve explained above, take a look at a vintage style telecaster bridge. Instead of 6 individual saddles, or a slanted 1 piece saddle like an acoustic, it has 3 straight cylinder shaped “barrel” saddles with 2 strings on each barrel, the EA, DG, and BE.

    See the problem here? Each string needs its own specific length, but on these 3 barrel saddles the two strings on each saddle will always be exactly the same length. So if you adjust the first saddle so it’s just right for the E string, the A string will be off, and if you fix the A string the E will be off.

    At best, with a vintage style 3 saddle bridge you can sort of compromise with each saddle and go for a somewhat in between position, so both strings are slightly out of tune...
    No thank you.

    This is where compensated saddles come in. They have the same look and feel of traditional vintage saddles, but the contact points are shifted to compensate for the intonation problem.

    For your EA saddle the E contact point is shifted back slightly, and the A contact point is shifted slightly forward. Same for the BE saddle. The DG is reversed due to the shift from the wound D to the unwound G.

    With compensated saddles and a good setup you can achieve “perfect” intonation (by perfect I mean close enough that your ears wont hear the problem anymore) and still have a guitar that looks, sounds, and feels like a vintage telecaster.

    I own a tiny company called Bensonite Products and I make and sell compensated telecaster “fat saddles”. I developed the idea as I was trying to file in compensation points to the stock saddles on my first telecaster. My first attempt was pretty rough and I thoroughly destroyed the saddles. I run a small machine shop so I figured I’d make my own replacements. This led to experimenting with a larger diameter, and different materials, and adding string slots and shorter set screws. After a number of prototypes and over a couple of years I perfected my design. Anyway, blah blah blah I think they are the best thing on the market but I’m obviously biased. Please click the link below if you want to check them out for yourself or see some reviews from my happy customers.

    https://reverb.com/shop/kendalls-gear-garage-16

    Whether you buy from me, or any of the other great hardware manufacturers, realize that until you get compensated saddles you’re missing out on how good your guitar can sound.

    Wow did you read this entire thing?!? Thanks for your time, have a nice day
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
  2. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    While you call it "long", others may appreciate the full explanation.
    I liked how it confirmed what I thought I knew.
    Not too long - I'd still call it "concise".
    Peace - Deeve
     
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  3. Ess Eff

    Ess Eff Tele-Holic

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    I still think a Tele that is properly intonated.... just sounds wrong!
    .
     
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  4. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    And the short answer is:

    Because I make them.
     
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  5. dlew919

    dlew919 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Great explanation.

    Pedant’s corner. Isn’t the 10th fret a D?

    But that aside spot on.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  6. Kmaxbrady

    Kmaxbrady Tele-Meister Vendor Member

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    Yep. Oops. :)
     
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  7. Kmaxbrady

    Kmaxbrady Tele-Meister Vendor Member

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    I wrote it because I make them, but everything I explained is still true.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
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  8. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    I never said it wasn't true. Whether you need them or not is just an opinion.
     
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  9. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

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    Never heard of intonation until the internet .Odd really we all played in bands ,clubs ,groups in the 60's and no -one ever bothered or even knew as far as I could tell .We just played .
     
  10. Kmaxbrady

    Kmaxbrady Tele-Meister Vendor Member

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    Ah. I misunderstood you. Peace and love brother.
     
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  11. Colo Springs E

    Colo Springs E Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I like vintage, non-compensated just fine.
     
  12. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    Guitars were certainly much simpler before the internet. :D
     
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  13. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Tele-Holic

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    That's odd, because proper intonation has been a consideration for electric guitars since the earliest Fenders in the late 40's, early 50's, at least...
     
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  14. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

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    You guys I’m sure know you can bend standard Tele saddles into compensation. Just a little brute force into a compensation shape, just like the old guys did in the 50s and 60s.
     
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  15. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    By anybody who even knew what it was. Strings sometimes got replaced when they broke.
     
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  16. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Tele-Holic

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    Well, obviously Leo and the boys did, since they provided for intonation adjustment on their earliest prototypes, but they didn't invent it, either...which means it was known about by players of the day, since Leo himself wasn't a player...
     
  17. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    Were you around guitars and players in 1960s England? If you were, you would probably understand where @musicalmartin is coming from, if not you never will.
     
  18. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    A guitar is a tempered instrument. If you tested every note on every fret with a tuner you'd find notes up and down the board flat or sharp.

    You'd need frets like these for true perfect compensation.
    images (40).jpeg

    Compensated saddles by themselves won't cut it.

    And then - even if every fret position was correct it would likely sound 'wrong'.
     
  19. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    And seasickness pills.
     
  20. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Bull dinky's! I'll take 6 block saddles any day! Thank you very much. :cool:
     
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