Acoustic Guitar Saddle Compensation Patterns

Steel-string acoustic guitars often come with compensated saddles to adjust for different string radii and scale lengths. This article details the common acoustic guitar saddle compensation patterns. Note: For more information about saddle compensation, please see the following article: Why Isn’t My Acoustic Guitar Intonating Well.

Forward Line B Compensated Saddle

For this type, the saddle is compensated so that there is a slot for the B string so that it sits further away from the saddle than where the other strings rest. Notably, Taylor and Gibson have used forward line B compensated saddles. Visit our Guide to B Compensated Saddles to learn more. 

Bone Saddle – Fits Many Taylor Guitars – B Compensation – Standard Height Angle
B Compensated Saddle for Taylor Guitars
Bone Guitar Saddle Fits Many Gibson Guitars Angle
B Compensated Saddle for Gibson Guitars

B Compensated with Slanted Bass

This saddle type is similar to a B compensated saddle in that a distinct slot for the B string appears, and at first glance, might apper to be the same. However, a progressive slant appears for the wound strings to sit further back from the soundhole and extend bass string length. Alvarez, Eastman, Epiphone, Guild, and Yamaha often use this type of saddle. 

Bone Saddle Fits Many Newer Yamaha Guitars 75.2 mm Length Angle
B Compensated with Slanted Bass Saddle for Yamaha Guitars
Eastman Guitar Saddle
B Compensated with Slanted Bass Saddle for Eastman Guitars

Fully Compensated Saddle

Also known as ‘step compensated’, a fully compensated saddle has five distinct slots – one for the treble E, one for the B, one for both the G and D, one for the A, and one for the bass E. Note that both the G and D strings sit forward, whereas with a B compensated with slanted bass saddle, the D string will have some backward compensation. As such, we don’t advise replacing a B compensated saddle with a fully compensated saddle, or vice versa. Greg Bennett, Emerald, and many pre-2010 Seagull guitars often use fully compensated saddles. See our Guide to Fully Compensated Saddles for more information. 
Bone Guitar Saddle Fully Compensated 12 inch Radius 72 mm Length Angle
Fully Compensated with 12 Inch Radius
Fully Compensated Guitar Saddle with 16 Inch Radius
Fully Compensated Saddle with 16 Inch Radius

Wave Compensation Saddles

Wave compensation saddles have a wavelike appearance with smooth lines that contrast with the straight lines and 90 degree angles often seen on other saddle types. Please see our Guide to Wave Compensated Saddles for more information on the different wave compensation types. Several notable manufacturers use wave compensation saddles. For instance, Martin and Taylor guitars models often use wave compensation saddles.
Acoustic Bone Saddle Fits Many Martin Guitars Wave Compensation 11 mm Height Angle
Forward GDA Wave Compensated Saddle for Many Martin Guitars
Bone Saddle - Fits Many Taylor Guitars Wave Compensated Angle
Slanted Bass Wave Compensated for Many Taylor Guitars

Zig Zag Compensation

A zig zag, or lightning, compensated saddle will have one angle for the treble E and B strings, and a second angle for the wound strings. Post-2010 Godin and Seagull Guitars often have saddles with this compensation pattern.
Bone Saddle  Fits Many Godin Guitars  73.1 mm Length Angle
ZigZag Compensated for Many Newer Seagull Guitars

Non-Compensated Guitar Saddles

Your guitar may a non-compensated saddle. If so, we advise that you replace it with a non-compensated saddle. These come in three different types – center line, forward line, and diagonal line. Please see our Guide to Non-Compensated Acoustic Guitar Saddles for more information.
Non-Compensated Yamaha Bone Saddle Angle
Center Line Non-Compensated Saddle

Split Saddle

Your guitar might have two separate saddle pieces – one shorter saddle for the unwound treble E and B strings, and a second saddle for the wound strings. A split saddle allows the guitar builder to use different saddle angles for the wound and unwound strings. Split saddles are common on many Takamine and Lowden models. Rather than saddle compensation, split saddle guitars make use of the differing saddle slot angles for intonation. As such, you’ll find that split saddles are typically non-compensated, and may appear center line or forward line. See our Guide to Acoustic Guitar Split Saddles for more information. 
Takamine Split Saddles
Split Saddle

Plain G String Compensation

Although the majority of steel-string acoustic guitars have four wound bass strings (bass E, A, D, and G) along with two plain strings (B and treble E), some acoustic guitars have a plain G string instead, similar to an electric guitar set up. Guitars set with a plain G string will often have saddles designed for this, as with the B and G compensated saddle in the below image. There is no universal plain G string compensation pattern, though. Please see our article on Acoustic Guitar Saddles for Plain G String Set Up for more information.
Compensated B and G Guitar Saddle Bone Front Angle
B and G Compensated Saddle for Plain G String Set Up

Height Adjustable Saddles

Appearing in the 1950s to 1970s, and with some reissue models, height adjustable saddles have a bridge with metal hardware that allows you to easily adjust saddle height. At first glance, these saddles might appear the same, but a number of diffences appear, including compensation pattern. Please see our Guide to Height Adjustable Saddles for more information.
Adjustable Bone Guitar Saddle for Gibson Guitars
Gibson Style Height Adjustable Saddle

Through Saddles

A through saddle cuts through the bridge and are often associated with Martin guitars from the first half of the twentieth century as Martin used these from 1916 to 1965, and on some Martin retro models since the 1990s. For more information see our Guide to Martin Guitar Saddles. You will occassionally see these on some Gibson, Eastman, Collings, Huss and Dalton, and other brands’ models, too.
Cut through guitar saddle
Through Saddle

Routed Front Saddles

Commonly associated with Taylor T5 guitars, routed front saddles are similar to center line non-compensated saddles on the back side, but have string compensation routed into the front as shown in the below image. See our Guide to Routed Front Guitar Saddles for more information.

Routed Front Saddle

Which Compensation Pattern is the Best?

No universal ‘best’ compensation pattern exists because there are a number of factors involved, including bridge saddle slot angle, scale length, and string diameter, that guitar builders factor in when choosing a saddle compensation pattern. Typically, you should use the same compensation pattern that the builder used – please see our Acoustic Guitar Saddle Size Chart for more information. However, you might want to use a different acoustic guitar saddle compensation pattern if you’re experiencing intonation issues.

What Compensation Pattern Is My Saddle?

There are numerous variants of the above patterns, as well as other less common saddle compensation patterns. If you’re not sure which type you have, please contact us and we can provide more information.