Gibson J45 Saddle Replacement
Andy Hedges is a talented cowboy poet – singer – songwriter from Lubbock, Texas. Those of you who know anything about Lubbock, know that it has a very rich musical heritage, and Andy is in great company, being a Lubbock native. Andy found a very nice sounding Gibson J45 made back in the 60’s. It sounded great even though when it was new, it came with a heavy ceramic saddle, which was held in place with a lot of brass and steel hardware.
At some point in the last 40 or 50 years, someone had removed the ceramic bridge and some of the hardware. They had also fitted the guitar with a new corian saddle which was well intonated. However, the heavy brass threaded inserts had been left in the top, and the new saddle just sat on the spruce top, and was in no way coupled with the bridge.
I felt a lot of sound was being lost by this arrangement of a saddle just floating in a hole in the bridge. Therefore, after removing the brass inserts, a piece of Indian rosewood was fitted precisely into the hole in the bridge, and glued in very solidly.
After the rosewood is sanded down smooth with the rest of the bridge, and polished, it becomes almost invisible.
Next the saddle routing jig is set up and the saddle slot is routed for the new vintage bone one-eighth inch wide saddle.
Even though the saddle slot is routed smoothly, and the bone is shaped as accurately as possible, the bone is a natural product, and the fit is never perfect. The next step is to fill the saddle slot with epoxy, wax up the surface of the saddle, and force the saddle down into the slot. Talk about a perfect fit – 24 hours later when the saddle is removed from the slot, things could not fit more perfectly. The saddle will now maximize energy transfer to the top and bridge. Also, when a pickup is installed, there is a perfect fit between the bottom of the saddle, the bottom of the bridge slot, and the undersaddle pickup.
Here is the finished product. This J45 not only looks like a real acoustic guitar now, it sounds fantastic. An added bonus of the new saddle is that we were able to create super intonation on this guitar.
This Gibson was fitted with a B Band A 2.2pickup at the time of the saddle replacement. It was very balanced, and like all B Band pickups, it sounded very natural.