My Gretch Boxcar has a split wafer bridge. The so-called tech who set it up, shaved the bottom of the both wafers to lower the action. He went too far on the treble side. It resulted in 1st and 2ed strings hitting fretboard when played above 10th fret or so. Thunk thunk...
I did a search for shimming instructions..Google found nothing...all I found was some stuff about shimming the whole spider bridge with a extra ring on bowl!.
I do have a couple blank wafers so I suppose I could cut one in half and experiment with it on 1st 3 strings.
Has anyone done any work with resonator bridges here?
Last Edit: Oct 25, 2017 13:20:00 GMT -5 by RobertW
There is a split on the spider bridge saddle because there is a cone tension adjustment screw in the center. They are called bisquits and wafers because resonator players don't make enough money to eat.
I'm going to see if I can get the treble side out without taking the tailpiece and cone cover off.
Well I found the forceps in my Soldering tool box...and I have 3 hrs free this after noon....4 hours from now...
For those interested, here is the problem. When I got this guitar in trade for the mahogany Fender 12, the School's tech lowered the very high action, by shaving the two saddle wafer DRASTICALLY. I ordered new wafers from ebay at the time, but hadn't felt the need to correct the problem until now. I wanted to make a comparison video of the string change from Elixer to EB Aluminum Bronze. However the tune I wanted to use required a clean sound out of the 1st & 2ed strings up at 10th fret or there-bouts.
Before the tech abuse:
You can see a very large amount of material was removed from the bottom. Now the ebony cap is as low as the aluminum slot! But not only that, he removed material at an angle, so that 1st and 2ed string are closer to fretboard.
I'll get back to this later..
Last Edit: Oct 25, 2017 10:00:50 GMT -5 by RobertW
If the intonation is only slightly off, you could try splitting the difference, for example, if the 1st string is, 6 cents sharp at the twelfth fret, tune the 1st string open to 3 cents flat. If it's that close only you will know. 😀
Has anyone done any work with resonator bridges here?
Robert, I stumbled on this when I was looking for another piece of information about Seagull guitars - yes I have done quite a bit of work on resonator bridges (I own an old spider, a biscuit and have made a tricone). There are a couple of things to remember about resonators - first, you don't get much room for adjustment at the saddle (as you have found) - you need to get close by adjusting the neck angle (just as any other acoustic guitar). Most wood bodies adjust by shimming the neck stick - don't know about the Boxcar (some of the PacRim imports have other neck configurations). Anyway, get it close then make final minor adjustments with the height of the saddle. Here is a picture of the cone well of an old spider - the neck stick is at the left with a screw head - you shim that to change the angle (loosen the one or two screws under the fretboard extension dots)
The split saddle is to allow access to the cone tension screw (which needs to be just barely snugged up - too many people make them way too tight). You can get one piece saddles which are notched to fit over the screw - they are much easier to install (and you really don't adjust the screw very often so it doesn't matter). Here is a one piece saddle and spider
As far as doing the actual setup - many people who play spider bridge instruments play lap style in which case you want the strings pretty high and perfectly flat. Traditional spider instruments (Dobro, Sheerhorn, etc) have flat fretboards - PacRim instruments often do not. If you are going to play fretted or Spanish style you probably want very slight radius following the f/b if it is curved. The rest of the setup depends on your playing style.
Traditionally resonators have the saddle break point at the scale length - ie they have no built in compensation. You don't need (or want) any if you are playing laps style slide, besides you have the ultimate compensator in the palm of your left hand. That means that if you fret them they play sharp - really sharp. Then only thing you can do about that is to push the break point as far to the back as you can - and just live with it. I've seen people do a lot of futzing around with this to try to make it better - when I build my tricone I actually moved the cones slightly from the scale length. Again, I don't know what you will find with your Boxcar - my experience is with Dobros (tm) and Nationals.
A couple of other resonator tricks. Strings labeled "resonator" are usually designed for so called "dobro" or "high bass" G (GBDGBD). They may not be the best gauges for other tunings. You can tune a spider up (to A or E) but never do that to a biscuit unless you are running very light gauge strings - you can crush the cone. I like to run mediums on the bottom strings and slightly heavier plain strings on top (14, 18, 22 unwound works pretty well for open D or G). As I mentioned before, don't tighten that coupling screw too much - you'll choke the cone. Its a good idea to put a piece of felt or foam under the tailpiece - it can rattle on the coverplate.
Setting up a biscuit is similar with a few minor differences - you didn't ask about that so I won't go into it. Fwiw - here are mine, the 1932 Dobro is on the right
Interesting 1 piece saddle I see there in the spider. I have one blank left, perhaps I can cut it like that to insure both sides at close to same height.
Now that I've replaced my phone camera lens cover, I can take a pic or 2.
The 1/2 saddle on lower 3 strings is as the guitar tech shaved it. . The one on 3 upper string is one I cut, shaped and sanded to fit with much less slant than the one damaged by tech.. (1st and 2ed strings would slap fretboard above 12th when played up the neck. I solved that problem by as you see it is not sitting flat in the saddle groove. When I get time, i'll loosen strings, pop wafer out and sand sides on my belt sander. If that does not solve problem, I 'll have to find a tech with experience. I ain't taking of the resonator cover... if it does work marginally better, I'll put on the D'Addario Nickle Bronze.
re: style I've tried to learn slide, I wasted money on different slides and bars..I just can't do it. I can't go commando on fingerboards.
The fretboard is rather flat for a round neck, and I like it, now that it is playable. It add a nice tone to various pieces.
Post by freemankeller on Nov 28, 2017 12:00:30 GMT -5
Robert, take it to someone who understands resonators and carefully explain your playing style. Like you and all the folks here, most guitars techs don't know what to do with one of these and setting them up involves different things than a normal acoustic.
It doesn't matter whether you use a one or two piece saddle - they both have advantages. Two piece is much easier to tension the cone but its harder to get the correct string height.