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The Saddle and the Nut


The Unpacked Kit
Ribbon Lining
End-Piece Set
Guitar Top
Top Bracing
Guitar Back
Back Bracing
Attaching the Back
Attaching the Top
Edge Bindings
Fitting the Neck
Truss Rod
Fitting the Nut
Grain Filling
Attaching the Neck
Attaching the Bridge
Saddle and Nut
It's Done!

Once the bridge was located, it became apparent that the saddle needed to be in position for the next steps. However, I could find no mention of the saddle at all in the kit instructions, which was a little disturbing, as like the nut, the saddle was just a blank rectangle of bone. So, I reverted to the guitar making books again, and used a file and various sandpapers to rough shape the saddle to fit snugly into the provided slot in the bridge. I left the bridge ridiculously tall to start, knowing that once the nut was slotted for all the strings, the next step would be to shape the saddle to the correct height.

After the rough shaping of the saddle was complete, I installed the 6 tuning machines. One thing that I found odd, and I've yet to call Martin about, is that I was provided 6 identical tuning machines, which means that when looking at the guitar from the front, the 3 tuning machines on the right have the tuning knobs extending out from the top of the tuning machine, and the three on the left have the knobs extending out from the bottom of the tuning machine. It looks very unbalanced. I called Martin about it, and they agreed that was an error, and a few days later I received 6 new machines in the mail. They've been very responsive when I've called with questions or issues, for which I'm grateful. It's not very often you find good customer service these days!

After installing the tuning machines, I installed the saddle in the bridge, and mounted the first (low E) string. This was rather exciting - it made it quite clear that I was almost done, and I'd soon know if the instrument was going to be playable!

With the low "E" string in place, the nut is marked where the two sides of the low "E" string are located relative to the nut. The nut is then notched just enough to prevent the string from sliding around. The nut is then marked where the high "E" string hits, and is notched there as well. The space between these two notches is then divided between the rest of the strings, and small notches are made at those locations as well. The rest of the strings are attached, and tightened just enough to prevent them from moving around. The spacing of the strings is checked (primarily visually), and the notches for the thicker, low-end strings are gently widened in the direction that gives the best visual appeal. This is because the spacing will not be equal between each string, as the low strings are thicker and will appear to be closer together as the centers of the strings are left equidistant.

Once this is done, you start cutting the slots in the nut.

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