What kind of file do I use for filing slots on a bridge?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by 6789, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. 6789

    6789 Member

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    What kind of file do I use for filing slots on a bridge?
    I just bought a Pigtail Aluminum Wraparound Bridge. It doesn't have any grooves filed in. Should I use it without grooves? Are grooves really needed? What kind of file should I use? Or is something other than a file the right tool?

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  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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  3. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Hey Ted -

    If the strings don't move while bending when you've installed your new bridge, and they follow the curve of the fretboard, you may not have to slot the bridge saddles at all.

    If you do have to slot 'em, Jack's (of course) right - nut files are best. That's 'cuz they cut a "U" shaped bottom so the strings rest better in the slots than they do with a "V" cut.

    You'll only need to file the bridge if:
    1) The strings won't stay put while bending without slots, and / or
    2) The strings don't match the radius of the fretboard so you can't get the action right.

    If you have to do it as a one time deal, and you don't want to take it to someone who DOES have nut files, you can use a triangle file to mak a small slot, then clean it up by wrapping emery cloth over the file to finish each slot.

    It'll turn out better if you're mechanically inclined - if you're not, do yourself a favor and take it to someone who is - a good tech. Sincerely, you don't want to make a mistake on a Pigtail bridge - that's a great piece of gear!

    Good Luck, Dana O
     
  4. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    After placing the strings at the appropriate spacing (by eye if you're experienced, otherwise there's a good proportional spacing ruler from Stewart MacDonald) the people at the Gibson factory start the grooves by whacking the string with a plastic-faced hammer. There's also the question of whether the fretboard radius is a perfect cylindrical 12" or if it's compound, in which case you may need to adjust the height of the saddle grooves and that should be done with nut slot files. These files are especially gauged to match the string size and make a round-bottomed groove. It's very very easy to screw up a really nice bridge like that if you have at it with a triangular chainsaw-sharpening file (ask me how I know that).
     
  5. 6789

    6789 Member

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    O.K. I'll return the file I just bought and take it to my guitar tech to get it done better. Thanks!
     
  6. paintguy

    paintguy Long Hair Hippy Freak Silver Supporting Member

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    That's exactly what I would do:rotflmao
     
  7. fumbler

    fumbler Member

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    I love the mallet idea. If you're happy with the string height then that little dent might be all you need.

    If the string slides around on a smooth saddle then you'll break strings all the time. I have a Wilkinson VS100 bridge on a parts-strat with very wide U-shaped slots. The high-E string would slide around in the slot enough that it was constantly breaking. I just took a length of (wound) D-string and ran it back and forth in the saddle to cut a tiny groove. No more problems.
     

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