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Murph

Removing The UST ?

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I'm considering removing the ust from my J-15 as an experiment.

I'm only mic'ing for now, and am considering getting an ETL ( my Yamaha has phantom power). I am currently using an SM57 for the instruments and an SM58 for vocals into the S1 and lining out to the L1C (when needed) most of the time.

Do you think this would make a NOTICABLE difference in tone and or volume, or is it not that big a deal?

I guess I'd need a taller saddle? Do I need to measure and sand, or is there a drop in that'll get me to original spec?

This is going to turn into work, isn't it ?

 

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Yes. The instrument will sound better to your ears.

Change also the tusk nut and saddle with bone ones.

Edited by MR GIBS

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It just feels better getting that junk out of there,  the wiring, the large-ish Baggs end pin guts, and especially the UST coming between the saddle and the bottom of the saddle slot. You can most likely measure, or dig up the height of the UST, but if memory serves, it's ~.030". You could get a taller saddle (I don't care about choir-of-angels tone- and Tusq = good enough ), and I've also not gone to a taller saddle before, and it was fine.

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I hated the sound of the under-saddle pickup on my 2008 J-50 and was sure I'd never use it. So I had my luthier remove it when he did the first setup. Seemed to improve the sound, but not a big difference.I agree... it just felt better getting that junk out of there! 🙂

Edited by Boyd

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Some time ago, I had the UST removed from two of my Gibsons and replaced with the K&K Pure Mini pickup.  What an improvement!  This evening I'll take delivery of a '65 J-50 and you can bet that it will eventually have a K&K in it, too.

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Removing the factory UST is the first thing I do when arriving home with a new instrument.  Can't recall ever having an action problem after the process.  Step two is always replacing those big honkin' Rotomatics with appropriate, lighter machine heads.  No worrys..........go for it, Murph.

 

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Get a drop-in replacement bone saddle from Bob Colosi Custom Guitar Saddles. You might have to give the bottom some sanding to get it down to your previous string height. Before you remove your current saddle, take a regular pencil and sand down the sharpened tip on a 30 to 40 degree angle and trace a line on the saddle with the flat sanded part of the pencil on the top of the bridge. This will scribe a very accurate line of your current setup on the saddle face. Then transfer that same distance from the top of the saddle to the line on to your new bone saddle. All you have to do is sand the bottom of the bone saddle. Double side tape a piece of sandpaper on to a marble cutting board and keep it flat as you move it lengthwise. Keep dropping it into the saddle slot to check until you get it down to the right height.

You'll be happy with the result.

Here is a great resource page on lowering action at the saddle...

Frank Ford on Saddle Action

Edited by drathbun

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Go for it! Every acoustic I've removed the UST from has sounded and felt a great deal better after the operation. The right hand response is quicker and more satisfying, volume is increased and everything is just a bit more... there. My Maple AJ and J180 in particular really shine now I've de-UST'd them both. You won't regret it!!

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Removed the UST on two J45's and very happy I did.  I also dropped in bone saddles.  The biggest difference I noticed was more volume.  I think the tone was more clear but not a significant difference there.  As others have said,. It just feels right now.

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Murph, with the level of interest to the change, you should do it as a general courtesy to the forum 🙂   When you do it though,  you need to document the change - and to do that I believe you need the ETL mic...  so really, in the name of science you should get the mic, record it, then take the UST out and record it again.  While you're at it though, I'd put in a K&K.

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I don't notice much quack with the Bose units. Back when we would plug straight into a p.a. system with 15's and horns it was a noticeable thing.

The Bose units sound pretty darned good with the Gibsons going straight into them actually, guess they were designed to do that. 

My question is more about the UNPLUGGED tone changing, and if it's worth losing the ability from time to time to simply plug in. 

How does it wire under the saddle? Is it a simple reversible "unplug / replug" if you change your mind, or do you have to cut wires? I couldn't find a youtube video searching "how to remove a ust".

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Lots of good info in this article.  I especially like the idea of using a dowel and a nail to slightly bend the ball end of a new string so it snugs up to the pin and the bridge plate.

But - the main point of the article is how to get  the saddle to sit tight, flat and perpendicular in the slot and on top of the transducer:  4 degree list to aft !  Whodathunk? 

 

https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Learn_About_Guitar_Pickups_and_Electronics_and_Wiring/Acoustic_guitar_pickups_installation_problems_to_avoid.html

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3 hours ago, Murph said:

I don't notice much quack with the Bose units. Back when we would plug straight into a p.a. system with 15's and horns it was a noticeable thing.

The Bose units sound pretty darned good with the Gibsons going straight into them actually, guess they were designed to do that. 

My question is more about the UNPLUGGED tone changing, and if it's worth losing the ability from time to time to simply plug in. 

How does it wire under the saddle? Is it a simple reversible "unplug / replug" if you change your mind, or do you have to cut wires? I couldn't find a youtube video searching "how to remove a ust".

I got the USP removed from the j45 when it got a setup as it was hideous , was the old Fishman USP from before they went all LRbaggs

Absolute change in tone for the better I feel , not change,  just more response , same noise only quicker and a little more volume...

I do tend to put this down to a saddle made to EXACTLY fit the slot as much as the little strip of metal not being there anymore 

 

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2 hours ago, fortyearspickn said:

Lots of good info in this article.  I especially like the idea of using a dowel and a nail to slightly bend the ball end of a new string so it snugs up to the pin and the bridge plate.

But - the main point of the article is how to get  the saddle to sit tight, flat and perpendicular in the slot and on top of the transducer:  4 degree list to aft !  Whodathunk? 

 

https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Learn_About_Guitar_Pickups_and_Electronics_and_Wiring/Acoustic_guitar_pickups_installation_problems_to_avoid.html

I learn something new every time I watch one of his videos. The biggest thing I learned this time is I need to become one of his close friends and let him take care of my guitars.  I have a straight edge I use but I think I'm going to add an indicator to the end of it.

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Two questions only you can answer: 1) how often you're going out & plugging in, vs the vids you put up here on the board where you're playing into a condenser mic, and 2) if having all of that shtuff out of there means anything to you. 

You could always keep a nice soundhole pickup stored in the case pocket. Isn't it ironic- paying extra for the True Vintage/Vintage series so that the electronics don't come on the guitar.

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The advantage of having the option to plug in outweighs the disadvantage of not having the option to plug in.

Edited by Leonard McCoy

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It’s not as much work as you think, and yes it most likely will create a noticeable difference. What will also determine how much of a difference you’ll hear is what material you decide on for the new saddle. if you stick with the stock Tusq material or go with bone, etc. You could also just use a hardwood shim. Bob Colosi sells a shim kit that has rosewood shims, but honestly, shimming the bottom of the stock Tusq saddle is almost as much work as just buying a pre-shaped saddle and fine tuning with some sandpaper. It’s a pretty simple job that might take an hour or two. Benefit of getting a new saddle is you can keep the stock saddle and return the guitar it to its original condition later on if you decide to ever sell the guitar or if you want to put the stock UST back in, etc.  

I’ve replaced the stock Tusq saddle on a couple J45 Standards and have always preferred the sound of removing the UST, regardless of if I used bone or Tusq for the new saddle, sans UST. Both yielded a noticeable improvement to my ears with the UST removed. 

My J45 Standard I have now has the UST removed, installed a K&K pure mini pickup and a bone saddle, bone nut and Kluson 3-on-a-plate tuners and have no regrets.  I’ve also owned a J45 True Vintage and newer Vintage model and still prefer my modified J45 Standard. 

Edited by sbpark

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I removed the UST this past weekend on my SJ-200. My strings were making a racket afterwards. 

Then I remembered a different and the now somewhat controversial school of thought a while back on neck relief measurement being to fret 15th, capo 1st and  measure 7th or 8th to .012". Being quite fond of the tried an proven technique of capo-1, fret 15th and measure to .006", I was skeptical to say the least. I decided to try it, nonetheless, and am glad I did. With the height of the saddle greatly reduced and relief set to .012", my string height was almost where I started. Instead of 4/64th and 6/64th, I am sitting at 3.5/64th and almost 6/64th. Both ever-so-slightly less than I was before the UST removal and subsequent 1/4-ish truss rod loosening. 

The important result is that the guitar plays and sounds better than ever. The notes ring out better when using a capo. I feel like the strings are also less "squeazy", though I am unsure how this could be in open chord playing when the saddle to bridge string angle is what changed - not the angle close to where I was playing. I guess it all matters.

Another common topic at this time is weather change. Time will tell if a weather induced shift of  .001" - .002" neck relief will effect things as much at .012" relief as it did at .006" with the higher saddle. 

(notes on above - I do have .003" to take out of my low-E string nut slot. Also, I will sand a new saddle to match this one, minus UST thickness, to allow the same setup to work with the UST in place. ) 

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On 5/25/2019 at 11:02 AM, Buc McMaster said:

Removing the factory UST is the first thing I do when arriving home with a new instrument.  Can't recall ever having an action problem after the process.  Step two is always replacing those big honkin' Rotomatics with appropriate, lighter machine heads.  No worrys..........go for it, Murph.

 

carefull when you slag grovers...I got 14 pages of **** for doing that and still ...

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