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  #1  
Old 09-13-2012, 01:27 PM
ZekeM ZekeM is offline
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Default Acoustic Tune O Matic

Ok so I'm planning my second guitar build and the focus is on comfort and ease of use. I would like to give a big thank you to AGF members Charles tauber and arie for the excellent information they have given me pertaining to truss rods. They have helped me redesign the way I am going to do the neck and make the truss rod easier to adjust.

That said I HATE the traditional saddle set up on acoustic guitars. It's such a pain to intonate and set the action. Take the strings off, file here, put it back in, put the strings back on, tune it up, check everything, repeat until desired results are accomplished. It's such a pain. So I was thinking how easily I intonate and adjust the action with the tune o matic bridge on my electric guitars and it hit me. Make the traditional acoustic bridge but fit a tune o matic into it! I know I can't be the first to think of this. It seems like such a great alternative that it made me wonder why you don't see it. Is there some reason to not do this? Does it kill the sound? I would really appreciate anyone's thoughts on the idea and especially love to hear from those who have tried or seen this done before. Thanx everyone.
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  #2  
Old 09-13-2012, 01:33 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Zeke,

I have no experience with this approach of using a Tune O Matic on an acoustic guitar, though I do have a couple of electric guitars which use these. It seems to me that some of the older Gibson acoustics were made with this type of bridge. And my memory may be faulty on this, but I seem to remember that some AGF members replaced those Tune O Matic type bridges with more traditional glued-on wooden bridges and subsequencly felt that the guitar's tune improved markedly.

Hopefully someone who has actual experience on this issue will chime in.

Regards, Glenn
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  #3  
Old 09-13-2012, 01:53 PM
pitner pitner is offline
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US Patent #5,208,410 but I suspect it will kill the tone in a big way. A well made guitar with a properly cut and intonated saddle is going to be the best way to go IMHO.
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:58 PM
drive-south drive-south is offline
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Gibson build some J200's with "tune-o-matic" bridges set into the mustache bridge:

http://www.tfoa.eu/the_store/index.p...oduct_id=33917

If I read correctly, they only did this in 1961/62. I'll let you speculate as to why they abandoned this method.

In their quest to be innovative (and avoid rework and warranty repairs) Gibson also built some acoustics with adjustable bridges. Any model with ADJ on the label originally had this bridge with a ceramic saddle that could be raised or lowered. They don't use this anymore either.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Gibs...w=1024&bih=683

Many people have converted these instruments to fixed bridge and in most cases, it didn't reduce the value of the guitar at all.
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Old 09-13-2012, 02:07 PM
dane dane is offline
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Iíve seen this type of bridge used on arch top guitars, but never a flat top. I would imagine that due to the fact that it is not a solid connection to the sound board you would lose volume, sustain, as well as tone. I could be wrong, but this could explain why you donít see them used on flat tops.
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  #6  
Old 09-13-2012, 02:08 PM
gitreader gitreader is offline
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Those types of saddles are known as tone-killers. They were tried in various guitars back in the day.

Instead of looking at the bridge, you might consider the neck angle itself, as Babicz does (for example). Also see Kent Chasson's site, for example.
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  #7  
Old 09-13-2012, 02:09 PM
ZekeM ZekeM is offline
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Default Acoustic Tune O Matic

Well I looked up that patent very similar to what I was thinking but mine isn't gonna just sit in the saddle slot. I'm thinking that if I anchor it to the soundboard securely and snugly it would be just as solid as the traditional set up. The only thing that I see may dampen the sound would be the weight?? Hmmmmm
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  #8  
Old 09-13-2012, 02:22 PM
pitner pitner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZekeM View Post
Well I looked up that patent very similar to what I was thinking but mine isn't gonna just sit in the saddle slot. I'm thinking that if I anchor it to the soundboard securely and snugly it would be just as solid as the traditional set up. The only thing that I see may dampen the sound would be the weight?? Hmmmmm
I have several acoustic guitars and intonation isn't a problem with a properly compensated saddle. It's risky to add that mass there to me. I want my acoustic to ring like bells. I recently installed titanium brdge pins in two of my acoustics with good results so I am not a purest in my thinking.
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  #9  
Old 09-13-2012, 02:31 PM
ZekeM ZekeM is offline
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I see what you mean pitner. Man i wish i knew someone that had one of those old gibsons so i could see. Im hoping someone who has had one will chime in. I know that once you get intonation set its usually not an issue but it sure can be a pain to get it set. I just hate all the work that goes into it when to me there is such an easy alternative that would make it so simple for anyone to adjust. But if its gonna kill the sound i dont want to do it. Maybe i need to take a trip to the flea market this weekend and get a good subject to become my frankenstien monster.
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  #10  
Old 09-13-2012, 04:19 PM
PTCBernie PTCBernie is offline
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Default Tunable bridge

I had a J45 with the ceramic bridge and it sounded great, but only after I pulled the adjustable section out from under the saddle and shimmed it so there was good contact between the saddle And e bottom of the slot in the bridge.

I'm going to put on my "unqualified expert" hat and say that you don't want the extra mass of the Tune o matic set up on the soundboard. The top may not vibrate the way you want, and the metal wouldn't transmit vibrations to the bridge/sundboard very well.

Keep in mind that electric guitars, by design, are intended to take sound and add effects to it. The clear tones that we associate with an acoustic guitar are irrelevant in the electric world.

Just my $0.02 worth.

Bernie
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Old 09-13-2012, 04:42 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Bernie,

Welcome to the AGF! Great post! Hope you hang around here.

- Glenn
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  #12  
Old 09-13-2012, 05:04 PM
drunkinminer drunkinminer is offline
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Maybe I'm missing something but the traditional bridge and saddle have worked for years for lots of players. I'm not seeing the problem here.
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  #13  
Old 09-13-2012, 05:09 PM
ZekeM ZekeM is offline
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Default Acoustic Tune O Matic

The way I look at everything in life is just because it has been done that way for a long time doesn't mean it's the best way. I question everything. If I see something I can make easier I strive to do so. This was just one of those ideas.
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  #14  
Old 09-13-2012, 08:00 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Zeke, as it happened, yesterday in a music store in Anchorage I played a restored 1963 Gibson Dove acoustic guitar with an original metal Tune O Matic bridge on it. The guitar looked great, but it sounded like a box of silverware being kicked down six flights of stairs.

Here's a similar 1963 Gibson Dove:



Here's a closer look:



There are two major (and probably insurmountable) problems with using an adjustable metal bridge saddle inset into a wooden bridge on the top of a flattop guitar: the first and probably most important is weight. That much mass definitely impedes the free vibration of the top.

Since the only way you get any sound out of an acoustic guitar is by the mechanical vibration of the top, you've started off on the wrong foot from the very beginning by putting that chunk of metal there to press down on the top.

The second probably insurmountable problem is that the saddle is the only way those string vibrations GET transmitted to the top, and the Tune O Matic is designed for a passive role on an electric guitar, not for the active role required by the job of a saddle on an acoustic guitar.

When I use the terms "active" and "passive" here I don't mean one gets a battery in it and the other doesn't, I mean that on a solidbody electric guitar the primary transmission route of the string vibrations is through the pickups, not through the bridge saddle.

But on an acoustic guitar being played acoustically, the bridge saddle is all you've got to transmit the music that you're playing.

So the Tune O Matic bridge that works so marvelously well on an electric guitar is very close to a total tone-killer on an acoustic guitar.

Yes, it transmits some vibrations, and, yes, the convenience of being able to dial in the intonation so precisely and so easily sure is nice. But from a musical tone standpoint it's really not a good choice for using on an acoustic guitar.

One thing you can do with that idea, though, is possibly have a removable Tune O Matic bridge saddle that you could use to quickly determine where the intonation is best, then you could use that as a practical, three dimensional template for a bone saddle that you would then carve and put in place on the guitar. That might be the best of both worlds.

But using a Tune O Matic bridge full time on an acoustic guitar you actually want to play? No, you'd lose far more tone, volume and acoustic projection than the convenience could ever possibly make up for. The trade-off is really not worth it.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller

Last edited by Wade Hampton; 09-13-2012 at 08:06 PM.
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  #15  
Old 09-13-2012, 09:35 PM
Jeff Scott Jeff Scott is offline
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IIRC, Fender made some acoustic guitars with adjustable saddles back in the mid '60s.
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