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Classical Guitar Saddle Profile Front to Back (adjusting string action series)


The saddle has more than one function

  • it sets the height of the strings above the fingerboard (string action)
  • It sets the scale / vibrating length of the strings, and
  • it transmits the acoustic vibration of the strings via the bridge down into the soundboard

To achieve the second of these functions – setting the scale/vibrating length of the strings – it needs to have a relatively sharp front edge and apex. (This cannot be too sharp else it is going to cut the strings).

But to achieve the third of these functions it helps if it has maximum possible contact with the string. If there was only a sharp apex then the contact would be minimal. To get the most contact it is useful to set the slope of the side of the saddle facing the base of the guitar so that as much of it as possible is in contact with the string as it makes its way to the securing holes through the bridge. There is a slight complication : the saddle tends to slope from bass down to treble side whereas the securing holes in the bridge are in line. This means that what you ideally need is a slope from front to back of the saddle which is set to make for the maximum possible contact for EACH string and that means that the angle of the slope will tend to go from relatively shallow at the treble end to relatively steep at the bass end.

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Classical and Flamenco Guitar String Stretching

Nylon or other similar organic fibres are generally the basis of classical and flamenco guitar strings.

Most treble strings are solid, while most bass strings are nylon or similar threads wound together and then wrapped in wire – usually copper wire with a silver plating.

For the guitarist, one of the most significant physical properties of nylon is that it stretches and that it continues to stretch over its useful lifetime.

This means that when you tune a string – tighten it to bring it up to pitch – it only stays at the starting tension, and therefore at the desired pitch, for a relatively short period of time. Quite soon it has stretched resulting in a lowered tension and a resulting lowered pitch.

That is why nylon string guitar players are always having to tune and retune.

Players coming from a steel string background to a nylon guitar often think there is a problem with slipping machine heads as they are used to steel which once brought to tension a few times settles down and hardly stretches (or looses pitch) from then on.

Over time the nylon stretches less and less but, by this time, it is usually the case that the windings on the bass strings will have worn out and the strings will have lost much of their tone and will need replacing!