sloppy saddle slot

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sloppy saddle slot

Postby Ron Daves » Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:07 pm

I have a Takamine EG363SC. A short time after I purchased it, I discovered a buzz. I took the guitar back to the seller and his technician shimmed the saddle. He didn't inform me that this was probably a warranty item. The shim didn’t solve all the problems, so, later, I took the guitar to a Takamine authorized warranty luthier. He worked on the instrument and sent me away.

This instrument has a metal channel for a sound pickup in the bridge's saddle slot. The saddle fits into this channel and the saddle slot, because it must accommodate this metal pickup with the saddle inside of it is sloppy.

Now the sloppy fit of this slot has allowed the shimmed saddle to tilt. How does this get fixed? Shim the sides of the saddle with something really thin? Replace the saddle with a taller one? Where would I get a taller saddle like the one Takamine put in this guitar? The saddle has high and low spots where the strings break over, apparently to handle intonation. I've built two guitars and a uke, so know how to make a saddle, however, Takamine's saddle, as I said, varies where the strings break over. If I were to make another saddle, I'm not sure whether to just build a vanilla saddle or to reproduce the saddle that Takamine made.

By the way, I've had the saddle out and there were four shims underneath the pickup. One was the end off a wire tie, two were brown colored and looked like they could have been put there by the factory, another was an ultra thin clear shim. I wonder if this clear shim should not have been along side the saddle. If there was a shim like this on either side, that might fix this tilting problem.

Input, please
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Michael Lewis » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:40 am

So far it sounds like some quick and dirty set up work was done. The guitar will be right when you make it right, and that will be to make a saddle that is tall enough and doesn't have a bunch of shims under it. Remember the saddle must be able to move up and down reasonably freely or the pickup will not work as well as it should. You also know the saddle shouldn't tilt, so it may need a shim to prevent that but if you can take care of the problem just with the saddle you will be far ahead.

From what you have told us you understand the problem and the solution, so, make it so.

The unevenness on the top of the saddle is for intonation compensation. If your hearing is sensitive to pitch you may do well to replicate this shape in your new saddle, or if your hearing is not so sensitive you can just make it straight across. Remember to arch the top of the saddle to match the radius of your fingerboard.
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Steve Senseney » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:49 am

I agree with Michael about making a new saddle.

I would not copy the prior intonation however. You need to compensate for this instrument with the strings you will be using.

The original saddle may have been a "standard" production model which could be improved.
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Rodger Knox » Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:58 pm

+1 to what's already been said about making a new saddle. You could go a step futher with the improvements if you got the soldering skills, and remove the metal channel from the pickup.
I suspect it to be similiar to the Artec pickups, and I've removed the channel from a couple of those, following a tutorial by Mark Swanson. It's probably in the library.
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Ron Daves » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:42 pm

I've purchased an L R Baggs LB6 saddle which, so they say, will fit right into the Takamine saddle slot. We'll see. It is a saddle/pickup combination. I'll report back when I've got it installed.
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Ron Daves » Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:21 pm

First item: The L R Baggs saddle has arrived. I took the Takamine saddle out and inserted the Baggs. The Takamine saddle slot is routed at a slight angle and the Baggs as it now sits in my guitar is at a slight angle away from the sound hole. Any input?

Second:
The old and new pickups are wired with an insulated center wire, a middle jacket of woven wire and outside insulation. I can solder the middle wire without a problem, but would like input on how to solder the woven middle conductor. Do I just unravel it and solder the two together? or is there something else I need to do in order to have a clean solder joint? I believe it will be necessary to put some heat shrink tubing over the middle wire to keep it from shorting out on the woven wire. And I'll have to put some insulation over the woven wire jacket also. After this is all done, there'll be a lump on the new installation that wasn't there on t he old one. Input, please.
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Mark Swanson » Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:55 pm

The angled back slot will help. I make all of mine that way. It allows the saddle itself to push down harder in the slot and lessens the chance it will tip forward. As long- and this is important- the bottom of the slot is dead flat and angled back just like the rest of the slot (in other words the bottom is at right angles to the slot) then your saddle will have good firm contact with the pickup.
The wire you have there is called "shielded wire". you un-ravel the outer shield, and twist it all together. That will give you one wire for the inner conductor, that is the "hot" wire, and one for the outer wire which is the "ground" wire. After that, a careful solder job and you're done. I don't know what you mean about a glob anywhere, what are you soldering to?
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Ron Daves » Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:39 pm

When I solder the "hot" wire, there'll be a bit of a bulge at this joint. That, I'll insulate with shrink wrap. Not much of a bulge, but a little. Then, when I twist the outer shield and solder it, that will add to the bulge. I think I am over-worrying this, as the soldered connection will be inside the guitar. Just bouncing this off you guys to make sure I don't foul it up.
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Mark Swanson » Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:56 pm

So, you are joining a wire to another wire? It's best to avoid that, if the wire from the pickup is long enough it should be soldered directly to the circuit board or the jack. If you must do it that way, just take the best care.
Undersaddle pickups require a lot of gain. Just a small bit of unshielded wire can cause a big hum. So, after you solder things up and before you put the last bit of shrink tubing over the connection, wrap the joint with copper tape, or some sort of electrical foil.
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Ron Daves » Sun Nov 18, 2012 4:18 am

Okay, thanx.
I haven't done any soldering yet. The shielded wire coming from the L R Baggs LB6 is long enough it may reach to circuit board. I'll take a look.
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Ron Daves » Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:04 am

Just checked inside the guitar. The old pickup's shielded wire is attached to the side of the preamp. It's soldered in - no plug. This wire is about 8-10' long. The L R Baggs pickup wire is also about the same length.
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Mark Swanson » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:55 am

I bet that you would find the wire is not soldered, but there is a thin plug after all. Give it a good tug, it'll come out. It has a small plug attached, and the whole thing will pass through a hole in the saddle slot. If you can get the whole thing out you MIGHT be able to solder it onto the Baggs pickup out of the guitar, but unless you are good at soldering and can keep it thin enough to pass through that slot in the bridge it'll be hard.
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Ron Daves » Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:43 pm

Just as you advised, I was able to pull the plug for the old pickup out of the preamp. Looks like I'll have to unsolder the plug from the old pickup and then solder it to the new. I really appreciate your help. Thank you.
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Re: sloppy saddle slot

Postby Mark Swanson » Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:46 pm

You're welcome Ron and good luck! You can do it if you're careful.
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