How Much Does It Cost to Replace an Acoustic Guitar Saddle?
Wondering how much an acoustic guitar saddle replacement costs? For DIY installation, quality guitar saddles cost around $15 to $30 each. For installation by a professional guitar technician, the cost will typically be around $75 to $150 for parts and labor depending on saddle material and your location. Let’s review the pros and cons of DIY acoustic guitar saddle replacement versus professional installation.
DIY Guitar Saddle Installation
The key benefit of DIY installation is the low cost. With shipping, quality compensated saddles of manmade materials, such as Tusq, NuBone, or Micarta will typically cost around $15 to $20 each. Please see the below links for examples.
If you prefer bone, then a quality compensated bone saddle will typically cost around $20 to $30.
Please note that you can find much less expensive plastic and bone guitars saddles online. However, the materials are likely low quality and will lead to poor tone and soon develop string gouges.
The other key benefit of DIY installation is that you learn more about how your guitar works and how to make subtle adjustments to dial in tone and playability for your preferences.
The main drawback of DIY installation is time. If you are satisfied with your current saddle’s height, and are simply swapping a saddle, then total time for sanding and fitting should only take about 30 to 60 minutes. However, if you have lost your saddle or wish to make height adjustments, plan on additional time to dial in the height.
The other drawback is that if you make a mistake with your new saddle, such as sanding it too low, then you will need to pay for another saddle, whereas if you hire a guitar technician to do the work, then the guitar technician would be responsible for any mistakes.
Guitar Tech Installation
Each guitar is slightly different, even from the factory, with different neck angle, neck relief, nut slot height, and saddle height. Although each guitar might leave a factory with the same twelfth fret action specs, this can be achieved via a balance of the factors just mentioned. As such, you are unlikely to simply pop in a new saddle without making adjustments.
The notable benefit of having a professional installation is that the technician has experience with many other guitars and can dial in your saddle height/length/thickness. For example, your original saddle and your new saddle may have varying E to E height differences and a guitar tech knows how to make these adjustments. Another common problem of DIY installation is getting the saddle too low, or too tight or too loose. A good guitar tech also knows how to balance saddle height, neck relief, nut slot height for optimal playability and tone.
The main drawback is the cost. As mentioned previously, good guitar technicians will typically charge around $75 to $150 to replace a saddle, although this often includes other basic setup work, such as a truss rod adjustment.
Another drawback is that you might end up with a guitar tech who does a poor job. A common problem with guitar techs is that they will simply lower your saddle so that the action is as low as possible without buzzing, which can negatively affect the tone. A good test for a guitar technician is to ask them to get your guitar’s action as low as possible without buzzing. Good ones will explain that this is not necessarily desirable as it can kill tone, and will discuss appropriate steps to improve playability.