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 saddle compensation patterns. (Note: For more information about saddle compensation, please see the following articles: Compensating to Correct The Intonation and Why Isn’t My Acoustic Guitar Intonating Well.)
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. Taylor and Gibson often use B compensated saddles.
B Compensated with Slanted Bass
Similar to a B compensated saddle in that a slot for the B string appears, but a progressive slant appears for the wound strings to sit further away from the soundhole. For example, Alvarez, Guild, and Yamaha often use this type of 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 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. Notably, Greg Bennett, Emerald, and older Seagull guitars often use fully compensated saddles.
Wave compensation saddles have a wavelike appearance. This pattern often includes compensation both for the B string and for 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. Newer Godin and Seagull Guitars often have saddles with this compensation patter
Which Compensation Pattern is the Best?
No universal ‘best’ compensation pattern exists because there are a number of factors involved. Typically, you should use the same compensation pattern that the manufacturer used – please see our Guitar Saddle Size Chart for more information. However, you might want to use a different compensation pattern, such as if you use alternate tunings.