Simple Guitar Repairs 7: Cleaning your Strat Saddles

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Here we are at number 7 already. In this piece, we are tackling an MIA Stratocaster. This Strat has the new 2-post bridge with the new cast string saddles. The Trem works great and the saddles are a breeze to adjust and stay where you put them. I will cover the six screw pivot bridge later as I don’t have one for pictures… sorry.

I’m going to show you a few tricks to make these guitars really play great. Any Strat (or copy) with cast or rolled steel saddles and a 2-post tremolo will be covered here. The vintage Strats and the Squiers with the six screw pivot on the trem are easy to do except that the saddles do 2 strings at once. They are a little more finicky in setup because you can’t get really good intonation on them, easily. I will cover a few tricks in the future.

1

Remove the strings after inspection and don’t be afraid to remove your neck and inspect everything. Figure 2 shows my neck is right on the money but I removed it to check for a shim that I could eliminate. Yay! There wasn’t one.

2

The hole in the neck plate is how you adjust the Micro-Tilt. Solid wood to wood contact gives the best sustain, though. My Micro-Tilt is backed off all the way.

If you look closely, you can just make out what looks like a “Yo” on the 6th and 7th line of the inspection tag. So, my neck was approved by “Ya” and “Yo” …

3

… back in 1987. A bunch of comedians in Cupertino, CA! It’s an ’88 alright.

4
Once you have all this foolishness out of the way, flip the guitar over, take off the trem back plate and loosen the claw screws so you can remove the springs.

Once the springs are off, the 2-post bridge will fall out so be prepared so it doesn’t land on your big toe. It’s heavy.

5

It’s really a pain to get a good arc on the string saddles because of their size. I apologize for this bad example but I will do better when I put it back together.

6
Take the string saddles off and mark them with a Sharpie so you don’t get them mixed up. You’ll want to remove all the height adjustment screws, too, so we can clean them and soak them in oil.

7

You can see in figure 8 that the tension springs are shorter than the screw so the springs won’t go flying if you aren’t paying attention. Way better than the old days… let me tell you.

8

Figure 9 shows an important point you want to pay attention to when you reassemble. The longest screws go in the center (3rd and 4th strings) and get progressively shorter as you go out. My Strat only has two sizes.

9

You don’t have to cover the saddles. This stuff is so thick that you can just pile it up on them and it will sink into the holes.

10

We’re going to let these soak for a while to penetrate the screw threads and the threads in the saddles. The steel screws are where any rust problems will show up. If you have a problem removing any of the screws, squirt some liquid wrench on the offending ones and let them soak.

11

Whatever you do, don’t break off a screw inside the saddle. That will mean a trip on the internet to Stew-Mac, or your favorite guitar parts house, unless you have a friend in the business with a music store, for new saddles and screws.
I’m leaving you soaking… see you next time.

More from Doug Knight

Need to clean your Tune-o-matic?  Check here.

Intonation off?  We’ve got you covered.

Need help for your setup?  Problem solved.

Building a K-MOD102 guitar amp.

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Doug Knight

Our “Man on the Street” reporter, with his “What’s New in Music Stores?” series, resides in Coos Bay, OR. You can find him on Friday nights at The Small Events Center at OrCoast Music in Coos Bay.

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