Firstly the guitar as received is checked over & the current dimensions for setup are recorded. In this case there was no request for any changes, so the aim is to return the guitar to the customer with as far as possible the same playing action as it had before. In this instance the saddle was fitted backwards so this will be corrected in the final fitting.
The saddle is marked to give an indication of the supported depth hidden inside the bridge. If sufficient depth of saddle is available, material can be removed from it to make room for the pickup. If not, the saddle slot must be routed deeper.
There wasn’t enough hidden depth in the saddle on this guitar so the slot depth must be increased. The first step is to examine the bottom of the saddle. For the pickup to work properly, both the bottom of the saddle & the bottom of the saddle slot must be flat & smooth. In this case the saddle was not flat or square, it also had a shim beneath it. The depth of the saddle at its highest point was measured & recorded.
After the saddle had been corrected for flatness its depth was checked again. The increase in the depth of the slot could then be reduced by the change in depth of the saddle & the thickness of the shim.
The corners of the saddle are chamfered to allow it to float up & down better. This helps the function of the pickup
The guitar is set up in the assembly fixture; the guitar top is set parallel to the base. All the clamping devices are faced with cork to eliminate the risk of damage to the guitars finish.
The router table is located on pillars attached to the fixture base. It has protective pads underneath that contact the guitar top; these tie the router table to the guitar without causing damage. When the slot is being cut, any movement of the guitar relative to the router table is disastrous. The fence along which the edge of the router base will run is set using the gauge shown. The two pins locate in the existing slot & the edge of the gauge can then be used to align the fence. The gauge also confirms that the sides of the slot are square to the router table. Ultimately this is checked when the router cutter is lowered into the slot for the initial depth setting.
The gauge is also used to measure the depth of the slot before routing. At this point it is useful to check that the router table top is parallel to the bottom of the existing saddle slot.
The slot depth is carefully increased in small increments until the previously calculated measurement is reached. The travel of the router is limited by end stops clamped to the table as shown.
The slot is now flat, smooth & at the correct depth.
After removing the router table, the dust is carefully cleared from the area to avoid damage to the guitars lacquered finish.
The hole for the pickup to enter the saddle slot is drilled at an angle to the guitar top. This is to lessen the risk of damaging the pickup by bending it too severely. The hole being drilled here is slightly undersize.
It is then opened up by hand. This lessens the possibility of splintering the guitar on the inside.
The jack socket is fitted through a hole drilled through the end block; usually at the same centre as an existing strap button. In this case the strap button was retained by an expanding locator in a fairly large hole. It was therefore only necessary to slightly enlarge this hole to get the socket to fit.
The pickup is passed through its hole into the saddle slot. It runs the full length of the channel. When the saddle is refitted and the guitar restrung it will bend slightly to sit flat in the bottom of the slot.
The battery holding pouch is located on a solid part of the guitar that does not resonate or contribute to the sound. Here a block housing the adjustable end of the truss-rod sits below the fingerboard; this is an ideal location. Ordinarily the heel block might be used.
The next task is to tidy up the cables inside the guitar. These are taped to non resonant areas, (braces, linings etc) so that they are less likely to be pulled or damaged when the strings need changing. It is important not to tie the power lead up to such an extent that it becomes impossible to change the battery!
The guitar is then restrung & measured to check that the correct dimensions have been achieved. Fine adjustment of the saddle may be necessary following this installation, particularly if the saddle slot was poorly finished initially or the saddle was not flat. The saddle on this guitar was installed the correct way round at this point; hopefully this will improve the intonation! The action was found to be almost exactly as it had been prior to the installation, the guitar plays beautifully.
Pickup instalations of this nature are priced depending on the work inolved but should be in the region of £120
We offer FREE instalation for all Stonebridge /HE2 Pickups when purchased together.
Please call 01789 26 33 33 for further details.