How to tame sharp strat bridge screws?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by jbever, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. jbever

    jbever Member

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    I've got a strat that when I properly adjust the saddles the adjustment screws on the low strings stick up pretty far and dig into my hand. I was wondering if anyone had a good method for cutting these down and taking the sharp edges off? It's a vintage bridge. Thanks
     
  2. UMT

    UMT Member

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    Keep the 'vintage' screws in a baggie and take one to a real good hardware store and see if they have shorter ones. Should be easy enough to do if you have a decent hardware store around.
     
  3. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    you can just buy 1/4" tall screws for the 2 E strings and 5/16" tall screws for the middle 4 strings. (you probably have 4 of the 5/16" screws now, just in the E saddles, where they're too tall.)

    if it's a metric bridge, then there are 6mm and 8mm screws that do the same thing.
     
  4. jbever

    jbever Member

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    Thanks, will do.
     
  5. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    Bill Callaham has the right lengths in the right quality of screw.

    I've got a pretty decent hardware within walking distance here, and he has a lot of cool stuff but not these.

    www.smallparts.com has some interesting lengths in both english and metric.
     
  6. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    Grinding the screws can be done, but you need small needle-nosed vise grips to hold the screw (without mangling the threads) and you need to grind from the bottom in order to leave the recess at the top, then you need to spend some time chasing them across the room when they fly out of the pliers and the grinding wheel sends them into the sawdust. So, right, yeah, of course, I knew that all along - go to the hardware store and get shorter screws. Only way to go.
     
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  7. jbever

    jbever Member

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    Bob V: Ha ... that's why I asked! I tried a dremel tool to grind off the top of one! Everyone together now ... "Well that was stupid!" I know I know.

    I went to the store and found shorter ones, installed them and everything is good with the world.

    I guess this goes on the "what the hell was I thinking" list.
     
  8. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    if you do have to grind them down, there's an easier way. take one of the saddles off the guitar, and use it as your screw holder. that way, you can hold the saddle with one hand and use the height adjustment wrench to slowly turn the screw as you grind down the other end. (you want the bottom of the screw to be rounded so it sits on the plate right.)

    keep a little cup with an ice cube in it to cool the thing down between passes on the grinder.
     
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  9. Frenster

    Frenster Put your Rock Face on!

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    Many decent hardware stores will have what you want.
     
  10. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Member

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    Make sure to get stainless steel ones. You could order them from Fasteners Inc.
     
  11. Strat God

    Strat God Member

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    I've shortened them on a belt sander for every one of my strats -you need to shorten from the bottom obviously.
     
  12. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    Anyone know the thread # & diameter of these for online ordering?
     
  13. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    You could shim the neck and then raise the saddles, which would make them less protruding. The saddles usually do stick out on a regular old strat bridge but I've never found it to be painful or anyting, even with tight palm muting techniques. It actually is nice because your hand will find the perfect spot to sit right in there. But if the neck sits real low in the pocket and consequently the saddles sit abnormally high, that would bug me.
     
  14. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    the problem with that is that you'll change the geometry of the trem, making the guitar stiffer, both when string bending and using the bar; the proof is in the fact that after you've raised up the saddles, you're forced to tighten the claw screws and possibly even throw another spring in to make up for the strings' now-increased leverage over the bridge. plus, now you've shimmed the neck when you didn't have to.
     
  15. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    I've done it on some strats and it made no such difference. Sure sometimes increasing the break angle at the bridge can add some stiffness, but that can be a good thing and give some snap to the tone. But I didn't have to adjust the trem claw or add a spring.

    Anyhow, that's what's fun about them, easily moddable in many ways.
     
  16. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    Words of wisdom, I appreciate them.

    Thanks.


    Bubbanov
     
  17. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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  18. Alpha Jack

    Alpha Jack Member

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    Yes, that is ideal, but this works too. I have used this for over 30 years. First, smooth out any sharp burrs. Next, Cut a 1 x 3/16 inch strip of vinyl electrical tape. Position the tape so that it starts at the front-bottom of the saddle, goes up to the top of the saddle, covers the top-and-sides of the screw, then to the back and then down. It will last for years under harsh conditions... and it may be a bit ugly.

    * * *

    I came back with another way. It has been tested in heavy use for about 10 hours... and it worked. First, adjust your saddle height to your favorite position. Place "heat shrink tubing" over the tip of each height adjustment screw (I did all 6). Trim the "heat shrink tubing" so that it is 1/8 inch longer than the exposed screw. Apply low heat and it will create a vinyl seal over the exposed screw. You can still get a hex key into the tubing to make small adjustments, or just cut off the "heat shrink tubing", if needed.

    For the "heat", I used a VERY low power soldering iron, with a tiny tip, wrapped in aluminum foil. Made the aluminum foil gently kiss the sides of the "heat shrink tubing".
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  19. galibier_un

    galibier_un Supporting Member

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    Shortening from the bottom - you need to have really good technique to maintain the taper. Just get new screws.

    I'm guessing you don't want to shim the neck and change the break angle (which will work), but perhaps this is an idea you've been toying with?

    BTW, if you're inclined to buy in quantity (once you know the English/metric size & length), McMaster Carr has 'em

    ... Thom
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
  20. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    I've found the best answer is to grind them down on the bottom. I have many extras but they seem to never be quite right. It's a PITA grinding them as they are so small, but it works. If they are way too long I clip off some with heavy dykes or lineman pliars. Then file the end flat, then lightly file the starting threads on a 45 degree bevel (actually I use the dremel drum for this usually if poosible.)
     

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