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Let's take a look at a non-ideal compensated saddle:

It has deep nicks where the strings pass over, and it has been filed to very sharp (and unnecessary) angles on top.

The moral of the story is that to reduce string breakage during hard playing, you should:

  1. Smooth out the top of the saddle to remove nicks.
  2. Use the hardest (and toughest) material for saddle.
  3. Make the top of the saddle support the string smoothly.
  4. Keep the string angle as low as possible over the saddle.

Let's not even talk about guys who lower their action this way:


Mandolin players often break strings, too.

We can't remove the nicks in the saddle because that's what holds the strings in alignment:

However, a bone saddle like this one can be very unforgiving. If you're a Bill Monroe style player and hit the strings really hard, you may break a lot of them if you have a bone saddle.

An ebony or rosewood saddle is not quite as hard, and I think it allows the string to move sideways just enough to deflect some energy:

In my own experimentation with mandolin bridges I found that bone and ivory saddles made it difficult for me to avoid breaking lots of strings. The minute I changed back to ebony, my string breakage was under control again.


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