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  #1  
Old 06-29-2009, 05:58 PM
exhaust_49 exhaust_49 is offline
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Default Ways to improve the tone of an acoustic...

The saddle on my guitar leans forward due to having a shim under it. Next string change I plan to put one or two pieces of paper between where the saddle sits in the slot in the bridge and the side of the bridge. Enough to make the saddle tight in the slot and reduce the leaning. I am hoping this will give me a bit better coupling and a bit better tone. What are some other (relativity cheep) improvements I could do to my acoustic to improve the tone?
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Old 06-29-2009, 06:02 PM
MattM MattM is offline
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uh...PRACTICE is free! (Sorry, just wanted to be the first). Actually, the first thing I would probably look to do is upgrade to a saddle that fits right with no shimming and paper ($20 or so). Then I would try some different high quality strings to see which bring the best out of your guitar. This side of a new setup, that would cover the largest two bases.
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Old 06-29-2009, 06:12 PM
exhaust_49 exhaust_49 is offline
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I was hoping to replace the saddle with a higher one, only thing is it's a new saddle that I simply sanded a bit too low. Other than replacing the saddle, nut, new strings...is there anything I can do to improve the sound of my guitar?
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Old 06-29-2009, 06:24 PM
a.wright a.wright is offline
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Different picks or bridge pins?

I switched to Wegen Bluegrass 1 mm picks and they did affect my guitar's tone noticeably.

http://www.wegenpicks.com/
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Old 06-29-2009, 06:27 PM
mmmaak mmmaak is offline
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How bad is it leaning currently? If it's just slightly loose, a quick and effective fix is to smear a thin layer of superglue (cyanoacrylate) on one side of the saddle, sprinkle with baking soda and then sand down to the correct thickness. Not pretty, but it works.

What is it about the tone of your guitar that you aren't happy with? As Matt said, practice is free and probably the single most effective method of "improving" your guitar's sound. Another is to experiment with nails for fingerstyle and different picks for strumming. Those make a really big difference as well.

Having said that, whenever I see something like this: "is there anything I can do to improve the sound of my guitar?" it is often the case that the owner isn't really satisfied with their present instrument, and the only solution is a new guitar
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Old 06-29-2009, 06:29 PM
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If it's leaning, and the bottom is flat, don't see how you could be getting full contact between bridge and saddle. Until you address that, any other changes are just tail-chasing.
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Old 06-29-2009, 06:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exhaust_49 View Post
...Next string change I plan to put one or two pieces of paper between where the saddle sits in the slot in the bridge and the side of the bridge. Enough to make the saddle tight in the slot and reduce the leaning.
Hi Exh...
Why not just level the bottom of the existing saddle, glue some wooden shim to the bottom of the saddle and then sand it back to the correct height and angle?

It's a sound repair and will transfer all your sound as it should.

Then, if you saddle is still so loose fitting that it can wiggle front to back, order a Colosi saddle which is slightly too thick (all his are) and sand it to fit in all directions and keep the old one as a backup...
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Old 06-29-2009, 06:33 PM
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Old 06-29-2009, 06:35 PM
exhaust_49 exhaust_49 is offline
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I started playing with a thicker pick (.88 Tortex, the green one) and that has improved the tone quite a bit. I have also experimented with bridge pins and I have found that lighter pins make the most difference. I plan to buy a set of ebony bridge pins that are half the weight of my current bridge pins. I also plan to try something that I read in an article interviewing Neil Young's guitar tech. I will be using ebony pins on the 3 bass strings because lighter ebony improves the bass response and black water buffalo horn on the 3 treble strings to improve the treble response.
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Old 06-29-2009, 07:00 PM
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The first thing you need to do to improve tone it fix the saddle. I know you said you just got it, and don't want to replace it. That's cool, but instead of shimming it make it one piece. Get on of the little wooden coffee stirring sticks. Superglue it to the bottom of the saddle. Trim it to the length and width of the saddle, then sand it down to the correct height.
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Old 06-29-2009, 07:08 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Okay, first of all, getting rid of any and all shims and replacing the existing saddle with a properly fitting bone replacement should be your biggest priority. Any slop or empty space in that slot will detract from the potential of the guitar.

Experimenting with string gauge and alloy should be your next priority. Seagulls have a short scale length, meaning that the distance between the nut and the bridge is a bit shorter on those guitars than it is on a few other brands. A shorter scale length, in turn, translates to less tension on the strings, which in practical terms means that you can use a heavier string gauge than you might guess.

So experiment with medium gauge strings as well as light gauge. Most of us who use mediums feel that they deliver a lot more tone than lights, particularly on a short scale instrument like yours.

Here's a simple test for you to try: play a first position E chord in a loud and forceful way. Then, while the chord is still ringing, lift your forearm off the top of the guitar.

If you can hear a difference in the tone from when you played the chord with your arm down and when you lifted your arm off, then your guitar will benefit from the addition of a John Pearse armrest.



What the Pearse armrest does is keep your forearm from damping the top, thus permitting the guitar to produce its fullest possible tone.

Of all the aftermarket gadgets designed to improve the tone of an acoustic guitar, the Pearse armrest is the most dramatic and most effective. I have them on all my flattop guitars.

They cost about thirty bucks and are available from outfits like Elderly Instruments and First Quality Musical Supply.

Hope this helps.


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Old 06-29-2009, 08:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ljguitar View Post
Hi Exh...
Why not just level the bottom of the existing saddle, glue some wooden shim to the bottom of the saddle and then sand it back to the correct height and angle?

It's a sound repair and will transfer all your sound as it should.

Then, if you saddle is still so loose fitting that it can wiggle front to back, order a Colosi saddle which is slightly too thick (all his are) and sand it to fit in all directions and keep the old one as a backup...
Ditto. I can attest to this repair as well. Paper is a good way for emergengy fixs or to diagnose and analyize potential solutions, but it isn't the best longterm fix. I make my own rosewood or walnut shims but I suppose oak would work fine as well.
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  #13  
Old 06-30-2009, 05:15 AM
mmapags mmapags is offline
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+1 on what LJ said. An ebony shim from Bob Colosi sanded to the proper height and angle (see Frets.com) will work fine and is very inexpensive. A new bone saddle is not a whole lot more and is really the "A" play Paper shims will only baffle the transfer of vibration from the strings to the top.
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Old 06-30-2009, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmapags View Post
+1 on what LJ said. An ebony shim from Bob Colosi sanded to the proper height and angle (see Frets.com) will work fine and is very inexpensive. A new bone saddle is not a whole lot more and is really the "A" play Paper shims will only baffle the transfer of vibration from the strings to the top.
Hi mm...
The coffee stir sticks mentioned, some maple edge binding material, ebony shims rom Bob C (he sells a shim 'kit') or other thinly cut & uniform wood pieces - they all make great shim material.

I never worry if it's wider than the saddle, because I'm going to sand it back to the proper dimensions anyway. Once it's superglued onto the bottom of the saddle and sanded to proper height and angle, the result is undetectable from the original to my ears.

It probably improved some of the sonic qualities of the plastic ones I've shimmed with it...
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  #15  
Old 06-30-2009, 10:32 AM
Me&MyGuitar Me&MyGuitar is offline
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No way, you have to change the saddle, it must be in closest contact with the bridge; moreover a saddle leaning forward may cause the breakage of the bridge. I did new saddles two days ago on my two guitars, one 35 yrs old had a plastic saddle, the other a fine Daion aged 25 yrs had a brass saddle. I made a new Tusq saddle for the first guitar and a bone one for the Daion. Well you can't imagine the improvement i experienced in tone, volume, dynamic and intonation stability on both the guitars. Then I also changed strings gauge on the Daion going from 0.11-0.52 to 0.12-0.54 P/B; wow! the "old lady" now sings like never before...Try to believe!
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