By knowing how to adjust the saddles on a guitar bridge, you can rid your jam sessions of the unwanted fret-buzz that unadjusted saddles can cause, or lower strings that seem to tower high above your guitars neck. A well-adjusted bridge will make a world of difference to your guitars sound and will also relieve some of the stress on your hands as you play.
To adjust the saddles on a guitar bridge, you will need:
- A guitar
- A screwdriver or Allan wrench (depending on the guitar)
- Loosen the strings tension. Use the tuning pegs on the guitars headstock to de-tune the string before you decide how high to adjust the saddles. The saddle will move more freely with less tension.
- Adjust the pegs on the saddle. Each saddle has two pegs, accessible at the top of the saddle. Tightening each individual peg will raise one side of the saddle. Loosen the peg to lower the saddle, and the string. Adjust both pegs of each saddle so that the saddle sits level.
- Loosen, and then adjust each remaining string. Repeat steps one and two for each string.
- Tune the guitar. Tune the guitar to the tuning that you play most frequently in, this is your playing position. The tension will give you a better gauge of if the string will buzz or not while in play.
- Test the saddle heights. Play each string individually, testing each fret for buzzing. Try playing a few chords in different positions. There shouldn't be any buzzing from any of the frets. Buzzing from the frets means the you need to adjust the saddles higher.
- Re-adjust the saddle heights while in the playing position. While keeping the guitar in it's playing position, recheck and adjust the saddles. Adjusting without tension moves the saddle into the targeted height, but adjusting in the playing position will give you precise control over the playability of your guitar's fretboard.
Setting strings lower to the fretboard will allow for more graceful transitions between frets. If you adjust the saddles high, this may allow for more precise fingering; some bass players set their guitar's action high for easier slapping and pull-off's. Players have their own styles and techniques. Experiment with different saddle heights to find a comfortable setting for your individual playing style.