Dan Erlewines Mod Squad(3)

June 22, 2006

(1) As you can see, all the screws protrude above the saddle tops. I decided to grind off enough metal from the bottom of each screw so that the tops will be slightly below the saddles when the bridge-saddle radius is perfectly adjusted.

(2) The look I wanted is shown by these replacement saddles. Fender offers saddle screws in four lengths—14", d", t", and 2"—and the guitar’s neck angle, bridge-saddle height, and neck-pocket depth determines which height-adjusting screws will work best. Most often, a Strat needs 1" screws for both E-string saddles, d" screws for the A- and B-string saddles, and t" screws for the D and G saddles (although, quite often, the D and G saddles use the same size as the A and B strings).

(3) I threaded each screw into a Graph Tech saddle, and adjusted them with a modified Allen wrench (the short “L” was clipped off so I could insert the straight part into a dowel to allow easier turning) to expose just the amount of screw I wanted to remove with my fine-cut mill file (inset).

(4) I used my Dremel tool to bevel each screw slightly to ensure solid contact with the Strat vibrato’s metal base plate. (A flat-bottomed screw usually teeters on a single edge.) I affixed the Dremel’s router base to a piece of scrap wood (inset), and turned the screws clockwise and counter-clockwise against the spinning grindstone. The Graph Tech saddle—held by my modded Allen wrench—made a perfect holding device for this operation.

(5) I maintained the correct action by adjusting the screws until all the strings just touched the underside of my radius gauge. Voila! No sharp ends.

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