Adjustable nuts, bridge saddles, stri... Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive through June 18, 2005 » Adjustable nuts, bridge saddles, string gauges « Previous Next »

Author Message
Username: mchristie

Post Number: 1
Registered: 6-2005
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 6:47 pm:   Edit Post

Hello, I am considering buying a 4 string Europa bass and would like to know if anyone has ever had to buy a new adjustable nut and bridge saddles if they changed string gauges from say a regular 100,80,60,40 set to a 105,80,65,45 set. (or vice versa)

I am asking this because I know that with most non-Alembic basses you can change string gauges and the nuts and bridges dont really need to be replaced or modified. I am under the impression that with Alembic basses tolerances and standards are more exacting, and if a player switches from one gauge of string to another, a new nut and new corresponding bridge saddles will be needed if the player wants his/her bass to be in perfect playing condition.

Any solid feedback regarding this matter would be appreciated.

Cheers from Toronto!
Advanced Member
Username: richbass939

Post Number: 295
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 8:16 pm:   Edit Post

Michael, I'll let the experts address your concern. Just wanted to welcome you to the club.
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1924
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 6:13 am:   Edit Post

Hi Michael; I've never changed the saddles or nut on any of my basses. There have been a few members of this group who reported a buzz that was determined to be related to the saddle, and I think there have been a few who ordered a new nut as well. But the impression I have is that of the many members of this group, most have changed string gauges but few have reported having to order new saddles and nuts. That said though, I believe you are correct in that the better fit of the string in the saddle or nut, the less incidence there will be of buzz. If you are moving to a larger gauge string, rather than purchasing new saddles or a nut, it could be that filing the existing groove with a needle file will suffice.
Username: mchristie

Post Number: 2
Registered: 6-2005
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 9:51 am:   Edit Post

Hi Rich, and thanks Dave for your input.
Here are a few supplementary questions in the same vein as the original thread.

I know that Alembic hand cuts each brass nut to fit each bass individually, but what about bridge saddles? Does Alembic make different bridge saddles for different gauge strings?

I guess the bottom line question here is this:
If someone wanted to order a nut and a set of bridge saddles to fit a particular set of string gauges could this be done?

It may seem ridiculous to be asking all these questions, but after 20 years of playing a variety of basses, like many of you guys I've learned that the nut and bridge are important.

Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1930
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 10:20 am:   Edit Post

I can't recall, but I think the answer is yes, you could probably order a new nut and saddles cut to your specifications. If neither Mica nor Val sees this thread, you might want to call the shop if you are seriously considering such an order.
Intermediate Member
Username: tom_z

Post Number: 147
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 1:14 pm:   Edit Post

I have recently explored this very same issue with Alembic. I have been wanting to use heavier gauge strings on my Skylark, but the nut will not accommodate the E and A strings. Valentino suggested that I could file the nut myself or bring the guitar back to Alembic, or have a local luthier do the work. He also mentioned that the bridge saddles would probably need modification.

If I ever wanted to use lighter gauge strings again, though, I might experience some shifting and buzzing. I asked if I could buy another nut and saddles for the heavier strings. Val said if I brought the guitar in they would fit the new hardware to the heavier strings or I could purchase "blank" uncut saddles and nut and have a local luthier fit them.

In any case, Michael, it is my understanding that you can order another nut and saddles for different gauge strings.


(Message edited by tom_z on June 17, 2005)
Username: mica

Post Number: 2540
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 1:36 pm:   Edit Post

Since you're considering a new Europa bass, Michael, you might want us to cut you an extra nut or two fit to the taper of the peghead. The edges of the nut are not parallel with eachother, and they need to be hand carved to fit that flare, so remote fitting is not an option. We can slot it for the 40's and maybe also get you a blank fitted one that you could have slotted locally if you find you need to change the strings again. We also sell a "nut blank" which is the part before any fitting is done. A skilled repairperson or luthier can do this job, and we do provide instructions (caution: the first part of the instruction sheet says, "Guess what? This is not an easy job).

The bridge saddles are not custom fit except the slot, and you can purchase extra uncut saddles anytime.

If you want any bass or guitar to play better, then certainly slotting to the correct size will improve it. Individual height adjustments do not solve all of this, there is nothing like a premium setup.

One other thing to consider - when you change the size of the strings, the tension is usually different. Especially if you play with very low action, this will be followed by a truss rod adjustment, and reintonation to be especially nice.

The U-shaped channel the string rests in is slightly larger than the string, otherwise you really couldn't get it in place. Going 5 thousands smaller should actually be okay for most players, but some will find the extra detail of a great fit necessary.

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration