REMOVING MARTIN LONG GUITAR SADDLES
By Steve Carmody
Removing current production Martin guitar vintage style "long saddles" can be a technical
challenge for the luthier. At the factory, they are glued in with super-glue, which makes
future removal, for either replacement or under-saddle pickup installation, more difficult
than removing the more common drop-in style of saddle.
The only sure method of cleanly removing them is by first routing most of the material and
then extracting the rest. Actually, the first step is to reduce most of the height of the
saddle down to the ebony bridge by either sanding or filing until it has a low flat profile.
As an apprentice I was instructed to cut away most excess material and sand only to refine
these larger definitions. Indeed, I still believe that as a general rule, for efficiency
when sizing parts, it is best to remove the biggest amount of material with the biggest
practical tool, before executing detail work. So in this case a coarse rasp efficiently
brings the saddle down to a low flat profile.
Then, using a routing jig manufactured by the Stewart Macdonald company, a rotary router
made by Crafstman tools and Dremel Engraving cutter #106 ( a 1/16" diameter cutting bit,
1/31" narrower than the 3/32" Martin saddle). I make repeated passes through the saddle,
taking just a small amount with each pass. By making these incrementally small cuts I help
assure the accuracy of my work.
Finally there is just a thin wafer of ivory remaining and I can use a razor blade to
separate the rest of the saddle from the otherwise unmarred saddle slot. I find that
a small amount of solvent alcohol brushed into the slot seems to help in this process.
The new long saddle can then be fitted and installed. If you like you can use just a
small amount of glue at the ends of the new saddle, but I prefer not use super glue
so that future removal of the saddle will not be such a dramatic affair.
Steve Carmody is an independant guitar repairman and luthier with a shop in Silver Spring, Md.
He has been doing guitar repair and restoration full-time since 1990.
He reserves all rights to the contents of this article. Republishing of this material without
attribution is not nice.
Questions about this article or anything else related to guitar repair?
Send e-mail to - GuitarRepairShop@aol.com