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Thread: Solid Steel Saddles for a Cutlass?

  1. #1

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    Solid Steel Saddles for a Cutlass?

    I have this issue with my Cutlass where there is this slight zingy kind of buzz on the D and G strings, primarily on the lower frets. I had the guitar professionally set up and pleked and hoped that would fix the issue but it did not. The action isn't too high at 4/64 at the 12th fret. Raising the action or adding relief to the neck does not fix the issue. Nor does lowering the pickups. I did try putting a piece of paper under the saddle of the G string tonight and that seemed to help some so it makes me wonder if the saddles are where the problem is. Also, I use the same strings (D'Addario XT 9-42) on my Valentine and it does not have this issue.

    So...I'm wondering if moving away from the bent steel style saddles to the solid steel style might help. EBMM sells these but I'm not positive they are compatible. Do you happen to know if they are? Do you think this could fix the issue?

    Edit: I said above that raising the action doesn’t fix the issue but it actually does if I go up to about 5/64.
    Last edited by Clyde; 07-20-2020 at 06:45 AM.

  2. #2

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    So someone has done it with a Sterling by Music Man model, but I don't remember anyone doing it to the Music Man model, have you contact customer service to see what they think, or if it will even work? I prefer the solid saddles myself. Be interested to hear what comes of this.

    Glenn |N)
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  3. #3

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    Saddles will change the tone (you'll get less "zing" with solid saddles), but I don't see how they'd cure any buzzing issues ... the vintage ones shouldn't buzz. You really need to figure out what's buzzing with your ears.

    Even with Pleking, you could still have fret buzz. When you say it buzzes on the lower frets, that makes me think more relief. But if you've tried that, there are plenty of other potential culprits- low saddle, saddle screws uneven, burr on the saddle itself (happened to me plenty of times- if you move the string to a new resting position on the saddle, you'd find out), or a sympathetic vibration somewhere (also have it on one guitar).

    I'd suggest spending more time working out where the buzzing is coming from before just jumping to new saddles.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by beej View Post
    Saddles will change the tone (you'll get less "zing" with solid saddles), but I don't see how they'd cure any buzzing issues ... the vintage ones shouldn't buzz. You really need to figure out what's buzzing with your ears.

    Even with Pleking, you could still have fret buzz. When you say it buzzes on the lower frets, that makes me think more relief. But if you've tried that, there are plenty of other potential culprits- low saddle, saddle screws uneven, burr on the saddle itself (happened to me plenty of times- if you move the string to a new resting position on the saddle, you'd find out), or a sympathetic vibration somewhere (also have it on one guitar).

    I'd suggest spending more time working out where the buzzing is coming from before just jumping to new saddles.
    I have tried all the things you mention, except I had not heard of sympathetic vibration before. With that term, I have found other people reporting similar sounding issues. I'd really say it's more of a glassy kind of sizzle than a buzz (if that makes sense). Not a big enough problem to keep me from happily enjoying the guitar for the past two years. Just a slight annoyance. I'll look into that further and keep tinkering. Thank you for the response!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by GWDavis28 View Post
    So someone has done it with a Sterling by Music Man model, but I don't remember anyone doing it to the Music Man model, have you contact customer service to see what they think, or if it will even work? I prefer the solid saddles myself. Be interested to hear what comes of this.

    Glenn |N)
    I did call EBMM today and talked to a friendly and helpful guy named Joel. He said he hadn't heard of anyone trying the solid steel saddles on a cutlass before and was curious himself if they would work. He said the spacing wouldn't be an issue but that the bridge cover could be too low for the high and low E saddles -- but maybe not. I haven't decided to pull the trigger on those yet but if I do, I'll be sure to report back the results.

  6. #6

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    Clyde, there are two more culprits you might want to check, I experienced "phantom buzz" (with different instruments) with both of them:

    * Saddle screws: on a S-type I bought used most of the saddles were sitting on only one of the two height adjustment screws, the other was loose and some had no contact with the trem plate at all. These were "rattling" in their threads when that string was played, producing a faint buzzish noise.

    * Trem springs: depending on string tension, claw adjustment etc these can be at a stretching point where the windings would just still touch each other. One spring more (or less) or changing the angle can be the cure. Softer/harder springs are usually not necessary.
    SBMM Silhouette HSS
    You can tune a bass but you can't tuna fish.

  7. #7

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    Thanks, Stephen. Those are good suggestions. I don't think it's the saddle screws because I've adjusted the saddles enough that I think I would have noticed a relationship by now. The trem springs idea is really interesting though. When I have time, I think I'll put another in there and see if that has an effect.

    I did notice that the sizzle goes away on the G string when I raise the saddle (or adjust the relief) so that the height is about 5/64. It also doesn't occur on the open string. When I put my head down to the neck and listen, it does sound like it's coming from the area that I'm fretting. The neck is straight and the frets are level so I don't understand why the guitar doesn't want to take what I consider medium action (about 4/64 or a tad higher) on the G string without issue. I've heard it said that some guitars just don't want to take low action but I still feel like there has to be some underlying cause that can be identified.

  8. #8

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    Hi Clyde!

    OK, let's rule out the saddle screws (very exotic anyway). Re the springs: just remove the cover and reverse the guitar so the strings face your body. Then gently pluck the springs and listen. After a full setup it can be helpful to wiggle them into a "stable" position. Thing is, there is tension on these springs but sometimes not enough to settle them in the trem block or the claw. A firm press with the thumb can help here.

    That said, your issue really does sound like a tiny amount of fret crowning might be needed. Have you played the G fret by fret from the top? What you describe usually comes down to one fret with just a little too much wear or one fret being just a little to tall. With the action as low as 4/64 we are talking fractions of 1/64. In my part of the world that would be less than 1/100 mm.

    Another thought, with an easier and cheaper solution: have you tried another, new G? Sometimes it's simply an odd string. Kinked, rusty, somehow out of spec.

    Disclaimer: besides mentioning these rather exotic cases I do like simple solutions. They mostly are.
    Last edited by Stephen; 07-20-2020 at 09:58 AM. Reason: Speling.
    SBMM Silhouette HSS
    You can tune a bass but you can't tuna fish.

  9. #9

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    This is great info. Thanks, Stephen! I think you may be onto something about the crowning. The good news is that I added another spring to the trem block and it seems to have helped with this issue a lot. Maybe it's the increased tension since my trem is set to float. I haven't had a chance yet to play it too much but it seems like issue is more isolated to the G string now. I don't think it's the string itself because I've noticed this since I've had the guitar and it's gone through four or five string changes. I may go ahead and change strings anyway and move back to a 10-46 set from a 9-42. Appreciate your time!

  10. #10

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    I've come across several MM guitars that have a ghost resonance behind the nut .... cured by a hairband on the strings behind the nut.
    If you want a set of titanium saddles pm me as I have a set I took off my Albert Lee.
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  11. #11

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    I’ve had this odd buzzing happen also. Most recently on my Cutlass. (There’s actually a few things with the Cutlass that are infuriating because I can’t get the issues resolved...though I really wish I could...I love the feel of that guitar)
    Mine always seems to happen on the G and/or B strings.


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