One of the first things you’ve learned about your favorite instrument is how to spot the saddle. We’ll take a guess and say that such a task wasn’t a hard one for ya. The saddle is, like, one of two points where your strings and your guitar come into direct contact. The other point is, of course, your guitar nut (speaking of which, here’s an article about whether you can put a locking nut on a Strat). Anyway, we’ll take another guess and say that you’re well aware of the importance a guitar saddle has!
If you haven’t found that last sentence so relatable, don’t worry. In the text that you’re about to read, we’ll cover almost all basic info concerning guitar saddles, besides, of course, answering the main question this article has proposed: how do I remove a glued guitar saddle? Stay tuned for some useful info!
Keep in mind that sometimes you can’t know if the saddle has been glued onto the bridge. It might be simply stuck in the slot. That’s why you’ll gently want to pull it out using a piece of cloth put over the saddle and a pair of pliers. If it moves left and right, try to gently lift it.
You can’t remove a glued guitar saddle by solely reading the preview. Therefore, read the whole text!
Table of Contents
What is a guitar saddle?
Before we dig our hands deeper into the mesh that’s today’s main topic (how do you remove a glued guitar saddle), it might be a good idea to go through some of the basics. In other words: let’s consider the terminology first. That being said, let’s see what is a guitar saddle!
Guitar saddles you’ll find on acoustic guitars differ from those you’ll find on their electric counterparts:
- The saddle on an acoustic guitar is that little strip of material you’ll find on the wooden bridge. As we’ve mentioned in the intro section, it comes into direct contact with your trusty strings, and will greatly influence action, intonation, tone, etc.
- On the other side, electric guitar saddles are mostly an integral part of the metal bridge. Also, they come with dedicated (per guitar string) height/length adjustment controls.
What is the difference between a saddle and a bridge on a guitar?
When we’re talking about acoustic guitar models, a bridge is that wooden piece that has six holes for the strings a big, pretty thin one for the saddle. If you’ve read the previous sentence with care, you’ve probably noticed the main reason why we can’t put the equation sign between the two: a saddle is mounted on an acoustic guitar bridge. More precisely, a saddle is that lengthy, thin piece of plastic or bone that your instrument’s strings rest on.
Speaking of strings, here’s a piece on whether colored guitar strings sound different.
What are guitar saddles made of?
Here’s a fun fact: the material your guitar saddle is made from is probably the most criminally overlooked factor when folks talk about various guitar parts affecting the sound of their favorite instrument. Of course, different nut materials (click here to see why some guitar nuts are made from bone) might affect your tone differently, but not nearly as much as your guitar saddle materials. Keep in mind that once you hold a certain string tightly against the fret, a guitar nut won’t have any influence on the sound, while the saddle will still rest on the other end of the strings, affecting the sound your instrument makes.
Usually, you’ll stumble upon these materials when browsing guitar saddles:
- Bone. Probably the best material for a guitar saddle out there. You’ll typically find it to be something of a standard in high-end guitars. Also, it’s a bit hard and dense, and it carries the sounds of your strings to the soundboard quire efficiently. Lastly, a bone saddle is well-recognized for its bright sound.
- Plastic. Most guitar saddles are made from this material. We can thank its cheapness for that fact. The most popular types of plastic that saddles are made from are TUSQ, the so-called nubone, and micarta.
- Fossilized ivory. Keep in mind that we’re talking about fossilized ivory. That means the unfortunate animal died naturally millions of years ago. Anyway, these are the most expensive of the bunch and we guess there’s no need to explain why. Also, you’ll want to know that they produce a more mellow tone than bone saddles.
Okay, guess that’s about it when it comes to the guitar-saddle basics. It’s about time we tackle our main subject for today: how do I remove a glued guitar saddle?
How do I remove a glued guitar saddle?
We know you’re quite tired of the good ol’ “before we answer our main blah blah blah…”, but there are some things we’d like to consider first. A question such as the following one has to be proposed: should saddle be glued to bridge?
Should saddle be glued to bridge?
Well, an answer to this one ain’t that easy to find since many people are still debating about it. Also, it seems as though both sides of the discussion offer some fine arguments about whether the saddle should be glued to the bridge. Let’s elaborate further on that!
Those in favor of gluing the saddle to the bridge say the following: such an action will keep your saddle stabilized, allowing a better connection between the saddle and bridge. Those against gluing the saddle to the bridge say that this isn’t necessary since most saddles will fit quite well into the thin slot on the bridge so there’s no need to glue the two pieces together. In other words: a well-fitting saddle doesn’t have to be glued in place.
So, eventually, how do you remove a glued guitar saddle?
Okay, so keep this in mind: unless the previous owner did something (if your instrument has a previous owner at all), it’s pretty unlikely that your guitar has been glued into place. It might just be that the saddle is somehow jammed in there. You’ll want to know that it’s such an uncommon issue.
With the above info being said, you’ll absolutely want to steer clear of the heating solution for this. That’s because you can’t know what type of glue has been used to stick the saddle onto the bridge. Therefore, how can you that it will soften when heated? And if the saddle piece’s only stuck in there, there’s a good chance you’ll do some damage to your trusty instrument. Anyway, here’s our suggestion:
- You’ll want to take a pair of pliers and obtain a piece of some thin cloth, for instance, or leather. Next up, you’ll need to pinch the guitar saddle using the pliers and make sure you’ve gotten a firm grip on it. Before you do this, utilize the cloth (or leather) to avoid getting your saddle scratched or damaged in this way or another by the jaws of the pliers. Once everything’s in its place, rock the saddle back & forth with some care, be very gentle, and see if it will loosen. If the saddle begins to move a bit, try to lift it in the gentlest of manners.
If the suggestion above doesn’t prove to be sufficient, don’t try to pull the saddle out using a great deal of force. Simply take your instrument to a guitar repairman and see if they’re able to take care of the issue. That’s because it ain’t so hard to ruin a good guitar.
Bonus round: Guitar saddle types
As you’re quite accustomed to, here at Music Gear Heads, we’ll reward your patience with a bonus set of information. This time, we’ll introduce you to the five types of guitar saddles available on the market:
- Drop-in guitar saddle. You’ll mostly find this type on acoustic guitars. These saddles sit in a routed slot on the guitar bridge. Usually, they’re not glued into place, so you’ll be able to adjust their height.
- Long (set) guitar saddle. They’re pretty similar to the saddle type above. However, they’re glued into place and sometimes have extensions that go into the wings of the bridge for extra immovability.
- Straight (uncompensated) guitar saddle. You’ve probably seen this type on classical guitars. Also, many steel-string guitars possess them too (click here to if stainless steel frets actually sound different). Anyway, an uncompensated guitar saddle is totally straight and doesn’t have any grooves, it’s completely flat across the crown.
- Compensated guitar saddle. You can easily mistake this type with the one we’ve described above. That’s because it offers a tiny bit of elevation for the high E and B strings, which helps normalize the effective string length. That way, your instrument will sound in tune when you’re playing the notes higher up your fretboard.
- Adjustable guitar saddle. The type of saddle that can’t be disassociated from most electric guitars. You’re able to adjust the height of the saddle for each individual string. However, you’ll find that some models, like a Fender Telecaster, have three saddles, one for every two strings.
The bottom line
Alright, dear guitar-loving folks, that’s about all there’s to say about the how-do-you-remove-a-glued-guitar-saddle issue. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this one as much as the last (if the last one was enjoyable, that is). For more tips on playing and maintaining your favorite (string) instrument, click right here.