acoustic guitar saddles

Are Acoustic Guitar Saddles Universal? (Saddle Replacement Guide)

Are you planning on replacing your acoustic guitar bridge saddles.  Not sure if any saddle will fit?

Are acoustic guitar saddles universal?

No.  All saddles are not universal size.  The dimensions of the saddle’s width is what differentiates them from one another depending on your specific guitar.  Most saddles are either 3/32″ or 1/8″ wide.

What Is An Acoustic Guitar Saddle?

Acoustic guitar saddles sit at the top of your acoustic guitar bridge as part of the design and construction of an acoustic guitar.  The saddle’s job is to transfer your guitar’s strings sound vibration to the bridge.  The sound vibration is then transferred to the guitar’s body.

Do I Need To Replace My Saddle?

There are a number of things to look at to determine whether or not your guitar saddle needs to be replaced:

  • Broken – it’s rare but it can happen where a saddle breaks in half.
  • String grooves – the top of the saddle should be smooth with no grooves or slots.  If there are grooves, it means that over time the vibration of the strings has worn into the saddle material.  these grooves are most likely going to cause intonation issues.
  • Adjusting the action on your guitar – maybe your action is too low and causing buzzing.  In this case, you may want to install a new saddle to resolve this issue.
  • Upgrading the material – sometimes guitars come with inferior plastic saddles.  A quick upgrade to bone or brass can improve your guitar’s tone.

Acoustic Guitar Saddle Height

Buying a new acoustic guitar saddle?  You might want to know how to raise or lower the height of your current saddle instead of buying a new one.

Acoustic guitar saddle height is measured from the top of your acoustic guitar bridge to the top of the saddle.

The easiest way to adjust the saddle height down is by sanding the bottom down to the desired height.  To increase height, you may need to add a shim or two under the bridge of your guitar.

Acoustic Guitar Saddle Replacement Cost

It’s fairly inexpensive.  Less than $10 usually for a new bone saddle.  Take a look at these on Amazon if you are looking for a recommendation on which to choose.

Or you can get a brass saddle (my favorite) for around $15.  Here is my recommendation on Amazon for this.

Acoustic Guitar Saddle Direction – Which Way Does It Go?

This is very easy to tell because saddles have a section where there is a notch where the B string would be.  Just place it on the bridge where that notch is lined up with your B string.

Acoustic Guitar Saddle Material Types

Saddles are made from a variety of materials including: plastic, bone, brass and wood.  You can read more about these different material types here:

  • Plastic – these are probably the least desirable and something that I would replace because they can sometimes cause less clarity in your guitar tone.
  • Bone – many higher end acoustics have these.  Bone will last far longer than plastic, but still might need replacing over time if the material grooves are worn in.  They also transfer the vibrations more efficiently making the tone better.  The only real con to this material is that sometimes it is not consistent.
  • Tusq – this material is known for providing more clarity and brightness to your tone.
  • Brass – this is my favorite and what I would consider the best.  It transfers the vibration very well, it is hard enough to not get grooves from the strings but still softer than the strings.

How To Replace An Acoustic Guitar Saddle

It is a relatively simple process:

  1. Remove the acoustic guitar strings.
  2. Pull the saddle out of the bridge.  You may need a pair of needle nose pliers to do this.  It should pop right out.
  3. Adjust the height of the saddle using sandpaper on the bottom of the saddle.  How much you sad will depend on the action of your guitar.  But, if your current action with the old saddle is good, you may be able to get away with just sanding down to the same height as the old saddle.
  4. Push the new saddle firmly into the bridge.
  5. Restring and tune the guitar.

For visuals, check out this video that shows replacing a saddle in detail.

Conclusion

You do not need to go out and buy a new acoustic guitar saddle right away.  Take a look at your current saddle and see if it needs to be replaced if so. But otherwise, no need to search for “universal acoustic guitar saddles” – all saddles are not universal, so check the dimension of your specific guitar.

 

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