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Thread: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

  1. #1

    Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    Hello. I’m fairly new to the forum, lurked more than I’ve posted. I’m 67 and have been learning how to do my own setups as opposed to paying a shop anymore. Please bear with me. I am mostly a Les Paul player, but I have recently acquired a 2005 American Deluxe Strat. It has a bone nut from the factory I’m told. My preferred strings are D’Addario 09-46. Neck relief is .010 (thereabouts). Trem is floating 1/8th” at the back and level with the body using 3 springs. From here I’ve encountered 2 problems that stopped my progress. I have a target string height of 3/64ths 1st string and 4/64ths 6th string. The 1st thru 5th strings I have managed to get close to spec. No buzz but upper frets beyond 12th don’t have that chime like the lower frets. They sound a bit dull.

    Biggest issue is I can’t get the low E any lower than 7/64ths. The saddle is sitting flush on the bridge and the grub screws sticking way out, which in turn gouge my palm. Actually most all the screws are sticking out. See pic.
    https://imgur.com/a/tq1XB5A

    I’ve read about various solutions, anywhere from grinding the screws down, finding shorter versions, to even using the micro-tilt to correct or compensate for some of these issues. Don’t quite know how to proceed from here because the only other setups I’ve done have been on my Les Pauls, which were far easier and less complicated to me. I’m sure this is nothing new to the veterans here but before I throw in the towel and gobble some Xanax what else can (or should have) been done?

  2. #2
    Forum Member blackonblack's Avatar
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    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    Well first off, shorter screws will not get your saddle closer to the bridge plate. That’s not you solution. I know you said the grub screws are sticking out too far, but the fact the saddle is on the bridge plate as you described is the limiting factor.

    It’s a geometry issue. First option set you bridge plate lower. I run mine about a credit card thickness (I have the actual dimension doced, but am away from it) 1/8 seems a smidgen high. aFAIK mine is at 6/64.

    ( I say that I measure in 64ths). If you can gain a 64th there, you’re at your mark.
    Mark

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    Forum Member Michael Smith's Avatar
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    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    Is your neck twisted? With that much height difference between the low E and A strings, that's a possibility. You may have to experiment with different shims in the neck pocket.
    "When You're Riding Down the Highway at Night, And You're Feeling that Wild Turkey's Bite" ZZ Top

  4. #4

    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    Quote Originally Posted by blackonblack View Post
    It’s a geometry issue. First option set you bridge plate lower. I run mine about a credit card thickness (I have the actual dimension doced, but am away from it) 1/8 seems a smidgen high. aFAIK mine is at 6/64.

    ( I say that I measure in 64ths). If you can gain a 64th there, you’re at your mark.
    I remember reading that 1/8th was to spec, but I'll get the bridge plate lower and see if it helps. One thing I've noticed on this Strat more that anything else, is when an adjustment is made it affects other settings. Can I assume the the trem claw will need adjusting as well?

  5. #5

    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Smith View Post
    Is your neck twisted? With that much height difference between the low E and A strings, that's a possibility. You may have to experiment with different shims in the neck pocket.
    No, the neck is good. This Strat has the micro tilt hole in the neck plate so no need for conventional shims. But how far would I need to 'shim'it?

  6. #6
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    2005 American Deluxe should have a two point trem, correct? 1/8 is pretty high, I'd start there lowering it, assuming the spring claw is properly adjusted and the bridge is sitting flat. If that won't get the job done you'll need to shim the neck.

    But all that said, 7/64's probably ain't gonna happen on any Strat. That's a lot less than an 1/8 of an inch just over a hundred thousandths!

    For two point I suggest:

    1) Adjust claw to level bridge
    2) Adjust bridge height
    3) Adjust truss rod
    4) Set saddle height
    5) Adjust neck angle if required
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

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    Forum Member phantomman's Avatar
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    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    I should think a minor tweak of the neck's tilt adjustment should rectify the issue......
    "When injustice becomes law then rebellion becomes duty."

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    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    phantomman, I agree with you the neck angle is likely off. YMMV but I've never had good results with a micro-tilt. It pushes the neck heel out of the pocket and maybe it's my abusive guitar wrangling, but the neck eventually comes loose as the screw and/or wood wears.

    I find it oodles easier just to purchase the tapered shims from Stew Mac. I usually can math out what I need but really, just buy a few different thicknesses and have what you need. They're cheap.

    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  9. #9
    Forum Member phantomman's Avatar
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    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    Not having ever owned a Strat with a micro-tilt neck adjustment, I'm inclined to agree.

    Such features are often gimmicks of limited use.
    "When injustice becomes law then rebellion becomes duty."

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    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    https://cumberlandguitars.com/produc...guitar-or-bass

    These are the real deal.

    Stew Mac sells them pre-drilled for Stratocasters.
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  11. #11
    Forum Member phantomman's Avatar
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    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    At that price they're certainly worth a try.
    "When injustice becomes law then rebellion becomes duty."

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    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    Here's the ones I use for Strats:

    StewMac Neck Shims for Guitar - StewMac

    Road tested.
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  13. #13
    Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: Problem with saddle height screws or is it something else?

    1/8" is a lot of up-pull on the bridge. Does Fender set two-point vibratos raised and level, or just raised in the rear? I'd set it much lower, unless you're really into raising notes with the vibrato. I like to set mine so I can add shimmer without the bridge clunking on the body (but they're 6-point and only raised in the rear).

    Also, as others have stated, along with lowering the bridge, that neck may need to be shimmed. You can calculate the angle needed after taking a few measurements- make a little sketch if it helps to visualize it. In the meantime, I'd use the mico-tilt adjustment to get things where you want them.

    If the screws still poke your hand, you can either grind them shorter or buy shorter screws.

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