1956 LG1 saddle material?

csweldon

Member
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900
Hey TGP!
As some of you might recall, a few years back a friend of mine gifted me his sweet little 1956 LG1. It’s after the honeymoon period, but I’m still in love with this Gibby.

One thing I do wish, though, was that it projected a bit more. The guitar is CRAZY light, and when you tap it you can feel the whole thing vibrate, so I feel like I could get MORE from it, even if it is “just” a little ol’ ladder braced beater.

This got me thinking about an old Washburn I had; I swapped the saddle to bone on a whim and it’s volume increased and tone improved. Of course, that was a Washburn and this is a Gibson, albeit a student model; it could well have come with a bone saddle in the first place!

Info on these things is kinda hard to come by, so I figured I’d ask around here; does anyone know what kinda material Gibson would have used on an LG1 in the 50s?

Any info anyone has would be helpful. Thanks, everyone!
 

smiert spionam

Silver Supporting Member
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10,036
The original saddle was probably a dense nylon -- but it should be easy to drop in a bone replacement. Bob Colosi (www.guitarsaddles.com) makes nice ones, and if you check in with him, he should be able to get you something that is a drop in fit. The only thing you might need to do is lower the height, which is easy to do with sandpaper on a flat surface. You take the height off the bottom, and just have to be careful to not take too much at a time before testing.
 

csweldon

Member
Messages
900
The original saddle was probably a dense nylon -- but it should be easy to drop in a bone replacement. Bob Colosi (www.guitarsaddles.com) makes nice ones, and if you check in with him, he should be able to get you something that is a drop in fit. The only thing you might need to do is lower the height, which is easy to do with sandpaper on a flat surface. You take the height off the bottom, and just have to be careful to not take too much at a time before testing.
Thanks for the help! I’ve been meaning to contact Bob about making one, but didn’t want to take the plunge if it were already bone.

As far as fit is concerned, I’m planning to send him my nut to have him get the size as close as possible (less for me to mess up haha). I don’t want to be without the guitar, but I do think moving to bone will make the sacrifice worthwhile.

Thanks again!
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
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40,255
One thing I do wish, though, was that it projected a bit more. The guitar is CRAZY light, and when you tap it you can feel the whole thing vibrate, so I feel like I could get MORE from it, even if it is “just” a little ol’ ladder braced beater.
cool guitar, but i kinda doubt you're going to get much of a change here. it's got a simple white saddle in a slot, right? no weird height adjustment screws or anything?

if so, unlike with the adjustable saddle guitars (or especially later horrors like the hollow plastic bridges of the '60s) there's not a big tone loss that can be corrected with a better bridge arrangement, it kind of already is what it is. if the saddle is made of that weird phenolic layered material that gibson used to use maybe actual bone is slightly brighter, but probably not all that much different otherwise.
 

csweldon

Member
Messages
900
cool guitar, but i kinda doubt you're going to get much of a change here. it's got a simple white saddle in a slot, right? no weird height adjustment screws or anything?

if so, unlike with the adjustable saddle guitars (or especially later horrors like the hollow plastic bridges of the '60s) there's not a big tone loss that can be corrected with a better bridge arrangement, it kind of already is what it is. if the saddle is made of that weird phenolic layered material that gibson used to use maybe actual bone is slightly brighter, but probably not all that much different otherwise.
I hear that, and I definitely appreciate you reminding me to temper my expectations. I’m not looking for miracles, but I do think it deserves the upgrade; poor thing spent almost 60 years in an attic, and the rest of the plastic pretty much disintegrated (granted, the saddle’s plastic is entirely different and it’s still doing the job admirably now!)

If anything improves, I’ll be happy. If not I’ll still love it for that beefy, comfortable neck and that Baby Dreadnought feel. Plus, it sounds very sweet even if it is a bit quiet.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll hate the bone and put the plastic one back in anyway!
 

smiert spionam

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,036
I hear that, and I definitely appreciate you reminding me to temper my expectations. I’m not looking for miracles, but I do think it deserves the upgrade; poor thing spent almost 60 years in an attic, and the rest of the plastic pretty much disintegrated (granted, the saddle’s plastic is entirely different and it’s still doing the job admirably now!)

If anything improves, I’ll be happy. If not I’ll still love it for that beefy, comfortable neck and that Baby Dreadnought feel. Plus, it sounds very sweet even if it is a bit quiet.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll hate the bone and put the plastic one back in anyway!

One other thing:

My experience of Gibson acoustics in this period is more with LG2s and J-45s, but they can be especially prone to loose braces -- especially if stored in a rough climate (like an attic with swings in temp and humidity). By all means try the saddle -- but it might also be worth getting a competent luthier to check out the braces. It's not generally an expensive or complicated repair, but it can sometimes really open up a guitar's voice.
 

csweldon

Member
Messages
900
One other thing:

My experience of Gibson acoustics in this period is more with LG2s and J-45s, but they can be especially prone to loose braces -- especially if stored in a rough climate (like an attic with swings in temp and humidity). By all means try the saddle -- but it might also be worth getting a competent luthier to check out the braces. It's not generally an expensive or complicated repair, but it can sometimes really open up a guitar's voice.
I took it to a good luthier pretty much as soon as I got it; I’m used to tinkering with my guitars, but it was immediately clear this was beyond the scope of my skills. The braces were fixed, a crack was repaired along the treble side (from the dreaded pickguard shrinkage, which also had a finish applied beneath the pickguard before it was reinstalled), the tuners were oiled and the knobs replaced. He also cleaned all the grime off. Wasn’t too costly at all, and the guitar plays beautifully!
 

smiert spionam

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,036
I took it to a good luthier pretty much as soon as I got it; I’m used to tinkering with my guitars, but it was immediately clear this was beyond the scope of my skills. The braces were fixed, a crack was repaired along the treble side (from the dreaded pickguard shrinkage, which also had a finish applied beneath the pickguard before it was reinstalled), the tuners were oiled and the knobs replaced. He also cleaned all the grime off. Wasn’t too costly at all, and the guitar plays beautifully!

Ah, great — sounds like you’re well on track. ;)
 

csweldon

Member
Messages
900
Update: I copped out on going straight to bone because I couldn’t bring myself to be without the guitar while I waited haha.

I ordered a Tusq saddle at the same time I ordered a new sound hole pickup to test the idea out.

I installed the saddle today and I think it’s a good change! The volume is there, and it’s dynamic range is greatly improved; With the stock saddle, gentle playing was met with a pleasant midrange-forward sound with excellent note separation, but digging in I’d quickly reach the ceiling and it would kinda choke out and almost mush together. With the tusq I can hit it hard and it just gets louder, the note separation maintained. It’s not a life-altering change, but it does get me closer to what I want and will better suit the way I play live.

If I have one complaint about the change, it’s that it isn’t as warm as it used to be. It’s still got that ladder-braced fundamental that differentiates it from my other guitars, but it sounds a little hi-if, if you get what I’m saying.

I’m gonna schedule an appointment with my luthier to get a proper bone nut and saddle installed. I’m still gonna hold onto my OG Saddle, though; while the change is better in certain circumstances, I still like what the plastic does in my home environment and I wouldn’t mind the option being there should I want it when my gig days are done.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
40,255
I ordered a Tusq saddle at the same time I ordered a new sound hole pickup to test the idea out.

I installed the saddle today and I think it’s a good change! The volume is there, and it’s dynamic range is greatly improved
interesting!

is the new saddle the exact same height as the old one? i'd almost suspect the new one to be taller and that to be the main source of the tonal change
 

csweldon

Member
Messages
900
interesting!

is the new saddle the exact same height as the old one? i'd almost suspect the new one to be taller and that to be the main source of the tonal change
I’m still dialing in the height, but you aren’t wrong; new saddle is *slightly* taller at the moment, which would definitely account for some of the difference. The stock saddle was also loose and easy to remove, whereas the new one is a much tighter fit, could that be a part of it too?

Like you said before, it still is what it is, it just sounds like a little more of it (aside from a bit more high end now, and it not mushing together when I dig in.)

If that’s just from the saddle height, I’m gonna leave it and call it a success haha

Thanks again for all your help! I’ve been primarily acoustic for a while now, but my setup knowledge is still mostly based on the dark ages where I only obsessed over my next Tele...
 




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