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Gibson J45 Historical Collection Saddle Question


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The J45 Historic Collection 1942 Banner J45 has these wide saddle seats that go out into the sloped area on the saddle. The saddle is angled downwards to the point and it's designed to be somewhat flush with that edge. What do you guys, or your trained professionals, do when the saddle needs to be lowered.

  1. Take it off the top?
  2. Sand it on the bottom and let some of the saddle seat show?
  3. Get a new saddle, get the height & thickness right and then shape the edges accordingly?

While we're all here and chatting all friendly like, a hypothetical query. Say you should get one of these things on July 6th, just after dinner, and it has a first 5 serial number of 21571xxx  .  Is there something one should or should not be going given the freshness of the finish? I mean, it all sounds so specific, but I assure you, it's a hypothe..... Oh, I can't pull it off. I always bust out laughing when I try to fib. The question does remain, though. My Dove, D41(guessing) and HB were over a year old. My SJ-200 was 5 months, but it didn't seem this new. I'm afraid to use one of those headstock straps, and she's too young to screw the strap button into. (not a great sentence to mistype and put a period in the middle of)

One other thing. Is 3lb, 13oz considered light? I had been playing D41 and my 10lb LP all day long. I about yanked this thing out of the case and into the ceiling. Battleaxe remarked in kind when she held it (briefly under guarded supervision and compliments to her lovely smile and all).

I found a pic online. Would have been easier just to take one... It's over an inch longer, too. Gonna be a bear to shape the shoulders. See how sanding the bottom down will reduce width, too.

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Edited by BoSoxBiker
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My understanding is that conventional wisdom is to lower the saddle by sanding from the bottom of the saddle.    This is what I generally do.  However, I’ve also carefully sanded some off the top of the saddle to get the shape of the saddle to my liking, especially on a rounded fretboard like on Gibsons/Epiphones.  As well as if needed to make a good break angle on the saddle for a string to rest on.  Or, for cosmetic reasons.  I’ve also superglued a very thin sliver shim of wood onto the bottom of a saddle if it is just slightly too low.

That’s my experience.

QM aka “ Jazzman” Jeff

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Agree with the above.  While you do have to deal with the radius of the saddle the general way to lower height is take it off from underneath.

As to weight.  I would consider a 16" jumbo weighing in at under four pounds to be light although not what I would call scary light.  My 1942 J50 clocks in at between 4  and 5  ounces less than your guitar.  I recently, however, ran across a 2017 Custom Shop J45 Banner up for grabs at I think it was CME which was claimed to weigh 3 pounds 3 ounces.  If is true  that would be about the same as a late-1930s L-00 and would have to be some kind of record for a  guitar with a  16" lower bout.  

Edited by zombywoof
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I do consider 3 pound 13 oz light .

Sunday June 6th  2021  is it`s birthday ..

How about ,play the guitar ,enjoy the guitar ,let it acclimate to its surroundings .....then find the best Luthier  around for a good set up and strap pin install.

How does it sound and play ?

Congratulations !

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As your #2 indicates, sanding the bottom could expose the ends of the bridge slot.  All of the cut-thru saddles I've encountered have been glued in, other wise they could slide in the bridge slot.  Given these circumstances, the best solution is sanding the top of the saddle, not a job for the uninitiated.  Delicate work to keep the sandpaper off the bridge and to maintain the radius.  Be careful.

And yes, 3-13 is light........very nice.

 

Edited by Buc McMaster
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For the record, I agree with above, too. I hope I didn't make that out to be a standard how to build or adjust a standard issue saddle question. I've made enough. I guess it was phrased that way, though. I won't touch the stock saddle. I am not looking forward to shaping a new saddle to match that shoulder thing they have going on with this design. 

It sounds nice right out of the box after tuning it. I can't play it for long. I've got 10 minutes on it. Arthritis and old school guitar store wall set up heights. The neck relief is surprisingly low at .005" or .006" depending on straight edge or notched. 1st fret height at .032" to .022" and 7/64 - 5/64 at the 12th. CS didn't bother to return my email. It's a warranty replacement for a different guitar, which was a large thing for them to do in my book. That earned them two more brand spanking new Gibson electric sales already. Sweet ones, too. $6,400 combined kind of sweet, and that's just 2 months after I got my Love Dove. But I swear, the transparency..... and time it takes to .....- bah! Makes me feel like I'm a troublesome of a nuisance as there is. 100, 99, 98, 97......

Glued in? Oh, man, That is a whole other layer of nope. 

Since when did they start hammering in the bottom strap pin at the factory?

Anyhow, sure, it sounds nice enough and has a nifty old school vibe to it. I dunno. Put it this way. I could not take my eyes off the finish on last year's CS HC SJ-200 Prewar. This one? Total opposite. It's in the case, tucked away in my acoustic cabinet. I'll take it out tomorrow to loosen the strings to check the Saddle. If it's glued in, it might very well be the last time I take it out of it's case.

I think I wanted this whole strand of the journey to be resolved.  I know they're busy and I certainly love Gibson guitars. Some sleep, perhaps.

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I have two guitars with this type of saddle, a 94 Centennial Jumbo and an AJ.  I have used both methods to lower the saddle.  To me it depends on how much you need to remove.  On the 94 i just removed a small amount so i took it from the bottom.  Easy to do.  The AJ needed a little more so i took a compass and ran the metal edge along the top of the bridge and traced the radius just blow as a guide,  Took my time and it went great,  Neither of these were glued in and i have never had any issues.

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As others have pointed out, this is a "through saddle." Adjust it by sanding the top. Always.

We vintage players (the guitars and me!) have long dealt with this situation. 1) the saddle is likely glued in and 2) sanding from the bottom will result in the "wings" of the saddle not matching the shape of the "wings" of the bridge.

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10 hours ago, Buc McMaster said:

As your #2 indicates, sanding the bottom could expose the ends of the bridge slot.  All of the cut-thru saddles I've encountered have been glued in, other wise they could slide in the bridge slot.  Given these circumstances, the best solution is sanding the top of the saddle, not a job for the uninitiated.  Delicate work to keep the sandpaper off the bridge and to maintain the radius.  Be careful.

And yes, 3-13 is light........very nice.

 

I have four Gibson flat-tops with slot-through saddles. This was standard on most up until around 1953 or so.

None of these saddles is glued in.

These really are not hard to keep in position when you change strings. You just keep them lined up with the wings of the bridge, then gradually tune. If the saddle slides you back off on string tension a bit to be able to move the saddle into position.

Yes, if you sand off the bottom of the saddle, the taper at the ends of of the saddle won't line up perfectly with the taper in the wings of the bridge, but the proper position of the saddle is still easy to judge. If the top of the saddle is properly radiused and intonated, is a lot easier to lower action by sanding the bottom, with the caveat of keep the bottom of the saddle square to the sides.

When you look at a vintage Gibson,  you can sometimes tell how much a saddle has been taken down over time by looking at how the taper  of the ends saddle lines up with the taper of the "wings" of the bridge, unless the saddle has been replaced.

This is generally a non-issue. You want to have  bridge/saddle alignment challenges, try an archtop with a floating bridge. That can be challenging until you figure out that you either change one string at a time, or mark the top of the guitar with low-tack tape to indicate the proper position.

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I feel a little bit better this morning. Thanks for all the info again, guys. I really do appreciate it.

So I loosened the strings and thank goodness, it is indeed unglued. If I keep it, I'll send the saddle to Mr Colosi to have him make me a couple of close ones, and go into my normal nut slot filing protocol.

BTW, some might recall my displeasure over the period correct case that came with the HC SJ-200 Pre War purchase last year. This one is MUCH better. This one is the same overall model, but the guitar fits, all of the latches line up well and that locking button thing actually functions. A buckle on the very bottom seems silly, but whatever.

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OK Bo - you owe us a lot more than a picture off the internet of a saddle.  I seem to recall you got a guitar that was not suitable and after some back and forth Gibson decided to replace the entire guitar.  You finally get it, and all we get is a  photo of a saddle?  C'mon we need pictures of the whole thing.  It seems you are not overwhelmed by this one either with the comments about it possibly never coming out of the case again - but sounds like the usual new guitar set-up is required.  What gives?

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7 minutes ago, Twang Gang said:

OK Bo - you owe us a lot more than a picture off the internet of a saddle.  I seem to recall you got a guitar that was not suitable and after some back and forth Gibson decided to replace the entire guitar.  You finally get it, and all we get is a  photo of a saddle?  C'mon we need pictures of the whole thing.  It seems you are not overwhelmed by this one either with the comments about it possibly never coming out of the case again - but sounds like the usual new guitar set-up is required.  What gives?

Fair enough. Call me heartbroken over my SJ-200 Std. That's the one that I got replaced. That was the one I was head over heals about, but fought it every step of the way as it was a moving target. They came to their conclusion while I was one the phone to replace it. 

I open up my Hummingbird, SJ-200 Std(sigh), D41, SJ-200(RW), Dove, Vela HB, ES-335, LP WW-Spec Std and soon "Micawbre" will come in. They've all wowed me. I fell for each of them. Been a helluva 3-4 year stretch, guitar-wise. I've carefully and tediously got every one to play like a dream and they let me play for hours despite arthritis. The more recent ones needed almost nothing.

I change the saddles out on my acoustics when the big seasons change. People say "wow, you did this yourself?". Even the ones I sold to pay for the newer electrics (10 gone, 2 to go) all said the same thing. Things like "Wow, this plays great!" and I've even had some 'best ever' types of comments.

I had to send the Dove back for a nut. I was not overly bothered by that, though I thought it should have been caught. I heard it on the video and I asked them specifically to check it and it still got to me in the manner that the g-string was .009" at the first fret. It was taken care of and all is well. I was even was glad then they left it a little high so that I could go into my get it just right mode.

Point is, I've been happy as a clam on every one of them, including the one that had an issue enough to be replaced.

So two days ago, I open this one and my reaction was, "Oh, this is it?" I was excited to get it, too. The end of several months coming to an end. That was even before the action issues were realized. I guess not being able to play it right away got to me after that, what with waiting a few months to get is resolved. It might have been a better start if it was as good as the worst of the others. (gotta go back to the Hummingbird, maybe, and that was still good for out of the box, off the rack or whatever.)  I think not even being close to the inspection sheet could have been that final straw? I dunno. I really don't.

So there it all is. Couch time over. Wake me up, charge me $50 and on to the next. Ridicule at will. 🙂

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Folks, all apologies for the missives. Leonard McCoy's comment reminded me that my head injury thing does the same thing. One of the side effects - you guessed it. Long winded written explanations that take hours to write and re-write. Add a tropical weather system to the mix.... still, this catches me surprise every year. Anyhow, please pardon the even longer than normal explanations.

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12 hours ago, j45nick said:

I have four Gibson flat-tops with slot-through saddles. This was standard on most up until around 1953 or so.

None of these saddles is glued in.

I am saddened to learn this. Gibson (and Martin) glued these saddles because with the saddle slots running the length of the bridge, they presented a possibility of splitting the bridge should the saddle pivot in its slot.

More importantly, the glue--hide glue, which provides an astonishingly hard bond, but which also is easily softened with the application of a bit of heat--provides a wonderful bond between bridge and saddle. Google folks like Folkway Music's Mark Stutman, who testify to the sonic benefit of the glued-in, through saddle.

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23 hours ago, jt said:

I am saddened to learn this. Gibson (and Martin) glued these saddles because with the saddle slots running the length of the bridge, they presented a possibility of splitting the bridge should the saddle pivot in its slot.

More importantly, the glue--hide glue, which provides an astonishingly hard bond, but which also is easily softened with the application of a bit of heat--provides a wonderful bond between bridge and saddle. Google folks like Folkway Music's Mark Stutman, who testify to the sonic benefit of the glued-in, through saddle.

 

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Update

Folks, I'm not doing myself any favors here by not detailing my CS interactions. All's you're seeing is the drama-queen frustration that's built up over this. I've seen many stories of great CS dealings, and many stories of unfathomably bad CS dealings. I never liked seeing the latter, but I now have a MUCH better understand their frustration and desperation. I decided to take a little different trail from here. 

I brought my J45 in to the only local and respected small independent guitar shop in the area. It's the kind of place that Gibson should want as a dealer. Maybe they even did at one point. It will get a professional new/used guitar inspection and examination to make sure all is well. I think it's OK, but just want to make sure that the neck is not over-set or the top and bridge is not off and out of "specs". I think the math and angles will workout correctly after the new saddle. Oh, and a few spots to verify are only cosmetic.

Assuming all is well, the will make me a new saddle, nut slots filed down, new strings and complete whatever is left of an acoustic setup. Basically get this guitar to where it should have been out of the case. Then I will have version 2 of my NGD, This time, assuming all goes well, it will at least not be dusty and dull, perhaps it actually look a new guitar. I'm even dreaming of having that little VOS sheen that my other Historic Collection guitar had on it, but I'll take clean, nice playing and nice sounding.

Kind of what I imagined an aunt of mine felt like who was known for opening her Christmas prizes weeks early, and then re-wrapping so that she could enjoy Christmas morning.

Two weeks till NGDv2!!!

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On 7/11/2021 at 7:06 AM, BoSoxBiker said:

Did you mean to elaborate, or is this an "I agree thing?" Still trying to learn the ways of this new world. 🙂

Sorry. I was going to answer, and decided not to.

If the saddle fits well in the slot, I see no particular reason it needs to be glued in. If you want to change or modify a glued-in saddle, it can be tricky to get it out. If it is not a good fit, what JT says is absolutely correct.

The break angle over the saddle will determine how much leverage is being put on the saddle, trying to split the bridge. Very high saddles pose more risk than lower saddles. I have one extremely tall saddle, which happens to be in a tapered bridge.  I keep an eye on that one, but the saddle is also a very tight fit.

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5 hours ago, j45nick said:

Sorry. I was going to answer, and decided not to.

If the saddle fits well in the slot, I see no particular reason it needs to be glued in. If you want to change or modify a glued-in saddle, it can be tricky to get it out. If it is not a good fit, what JT says is absolutely correct.

The break angle over the saddle will determine how much leverage is being put on the saddle, trying to split the bridge. Very high saddles pose more risk than lower saddles. I have one extremely tall saddle, which happens to be in a tapered bridge.  I keep an eye on that one, but the saddle is also a very tight fit.

My reference is to through saddles, which, of necessity, have shallower saddle slots than do bridges with drop in saddles.

A little bit of hide glue is easily loosened with a bit of heat and, again citing Mark Stutman, improves tone.

But, if your guitar sounds good, it sounds good!

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23 hours ago, jt said:

My reference is to through saddles, which, of necessity, have shallower saddle slots than do bridges with drop in saddles.

A little bit of hide glue is easily loosened with a bit of heat and, again citing Mark Stutman, improves tone.

But, if your guitar sounds good, it sounds good!

 

If a little bit of heat will loosen the hide glue holding in the saddle, I would be concerned that same heat might loosen the hide glue holding on my bridges.  (all my Gibsons are hide glue guitars.)

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4 hours ago, j45nick said:

 

If a little bit of heat will loosen the hide glue holding in the saddle, I would be concerned that same heat might loosen the hide glue holding on my bridges.  (all my Gibsons are hide glue guitars.)

Nah. All of my guitars have hide glue throughout. Targeted heating works. Well, only in the hands of a skilled luthier. 🙂 But, as you know, I have a couple of dozen vintage guitars that on occasion need work. Neither I nor my luthier (Mamie Minch, the only luthier I let touch my guitars) have had problems with removing glued-in saddles.

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1 hour ago, jt said:

Nah. All of my guitars have hide glue throughout. Targeted heating works. Well, only in the hands of a skilled luthier. 🙂 But, as you know, I have a couple of dozen vintage guitars that on occasion need work. Neither I nor my luthier (Mamie Minch, the only luthier I let touch my guitars) have had problems with removing glued-in saddles.

Mamie is good.

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11 hours ago, j45nick said:

Mamie is good.

Indeed! She's joining me for my Kalamazoo Gals extravaganza at September's AmericanaFest in Nashville in September. Details soon!

Here Mamie and I are on NBC in NYC a few years ago:

 

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