Knowing how to adjust the bridge saddles on an electric guitar will solve a few playability issues that come along with playing guitar. Adjusting the bridge saddles on your guitar will affect two major functions; the guitars tune, and the string height. Guitar bridges with built-in saddles consolidate two separate functions into one piece.
To adjust the bridge saddles, you will need:
- An electric guitar (With a combined bridge and saddle)
- A screwdriver or Allan wrench
- An electric guitar tuner
- A guitar cable with 1/4" jacks
- Adjust the screws on the top of each of the bridge saddles. Each of the bridge saddles should have two screws on either side of where the string passes through. Use your screwdriver, or Allan wrench, to adjust the screw. Turning it clockwise with raise the saddle, which will raise the string. Loosening the screw will lower the saddle, which will lower the string. Adjust both screws on the saddle so the saddle sits level.
- Adjust each saddle. Repeat step one until all of the strings are at a comfortable level. Adjusting the string's height is also referred to as the guitars action.
- Test the string height. Try each string, at each fret, to make sure you won't have any fret buzz. Buzzing frets mean the string needs to be raised. Lower strings that seem too high for comfort.
- Locate the screws on the back of the bridge. Each of the bridge saddles is connected to the bridge by a screw with a spring on it. These screws control how far the saddle sits from the bridge, but more importantly, it controls how far the saddle sits from the guitars nut. The distance from the guitars saddle to nut controls the strings intonation. (Intonation refers to the guitar remaining in tune over various octaves)
- Plug in the electric tuner. Plug the guitar into the electric tuner via the 1/4" outlet. Do not use the tuners built-in microphone if it has one.
- Test the strings intonation. Pluck an open string, and then pluck the same string at the twelfth fret. According to your tuner, the notes should be the same. If the notes are not exactly the same, the string needs to be adjusted.
- Adjust the string using the screw on the back of the bridge. If the note is sharp, or higher than the desired note when plucked at the twelfth fret, then the saddle needs to be further from the nut, lengthening the string. Turn the screw clockwise the lengthen the string, lowering the pitch. If the string is flat, turn the screw counterclockwise. The shortened string will raise the pitch of the fretted string.
- Test again. Use your tuner to check the difference between the open string, and the string when fretted at the twelfth fret. Intonating is an exact science, it will probably take a few attempts to adjust the string to its proper length.
- Repeat for all strings. Adjust each string to the proper pitch. Once all strings are at the correct length, all octaves of the guitar should match perfectly.
The notes will now flow from your guitars perfectly intonated bridge as smoothly as your hands will flow along your guitars neck; comfortable and buzz-free.