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.
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.
Fully Compensated Saddle
Also known as ‘step compensated’, a fully compensated saddle is similar to a B compensated saddle. However, whereas a B compensated saddle only has one distinct compensated slot for the B string, 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.
Wave Compensation Saddle
Wave compensation saddles have a wavelike appearance. This acoustic guitar saddle compensation pattern often includes compensation both for the B string and for some of the wound strings. Several notable manufacturers use wave compensation saddles. For instance, Martin and Taylor guitars models often use wave compensation saddles.
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.
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.
Your guitar might have two separate saddles – 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.
Which Compensation Pattern is the Best?No universal ‘best’ compensation pattern exists because there are a number of factors involved, including 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.