Find the Correct Saddle for Your Gibson® Acoustic Guitar
Need a Gibson acoustic guitar saddle? Gibson began making guitars well over a century ago, and so finding the right saddle for your Gibson can be difficult as there’s no single saddle size.
This article will provide some tips on finding the right saddle for your Gibson flat top steel string acoustic guitar, but we advise that you measure your guitar’s saddle slot for a proper fit. If you are not the guitar’s original owner, at some point someone may have installed a different saddle or have adjusted the saddle slot, resulting in different specs from the factory’s.
Step One: Determine Fretboard Radius
Gibson acoustic guitars typically have a 12 inch fretboard radius, but please note that some Gibsons have a 16 inch radius fretboard. If you have recent model, you can check fretboard radius specs on the Gibson website. If you have an older model, find your guitar’s serial number and contact Gibson and ask what the fretboard radius is for your year/model.
Please note that if you are not the original owner, another neck may have been installed at some point. You may want to check the fretboard radius with a gauge.
Step Two: Determine Saddle Type
Gibson acoustics often have one of the below saddle types, but please note that other saddle types may have appeared during Gibson’s long history.
If your Gibson flat top steel string guitar was built prior to the 1950s, then chances are it has a through saddle, which goes all the way through the bridge and is often glued in. Through saddles are also used on several of Gibson’s current Custom Shop Historic Collection models. These saddles are often non-compensated with a 12 inch radius, but height, length, and thickness vary.
This type of saddle requires much more skill and knowledge to do the replacement and we advise that you hire a professional guitar technician do the work.
Non-Compensated Drop In Saddle
From some time in the 1950s to the present, Gibson has often used non-compensated drop in saddles with a 12 inch radius, although since 2000, Gibson has more often used a B compensated saddle – more on this later.
Please note that a drop in saddle means that the saddle is not glued in, but still may require adjustment to a specific guitar. Similar to through saddles, these drop in saddles also typically had a 12 inch radius, but length and thickness varies.
Gibson C Series Saddles
Gibson C Series nylon string guitars will have either a through or drop in saddle, and are typically non-compensated. However, these saddles do not have the 12 inch radius that Gibson steel string saddles have, and instead often have a flat top where the strings rest on the saddle. Length and height will vary.
Height Adjustable Saddles
The height adjustable saddles appeared on a number of Gibson models from the mid-1950s to the 1970s. This saddle type was either made of porcelain or rosewood, and the bridge contained metal hardware that allowed one to adjust the saddle height. Although a great idea for playability adjustments, the saddles are often regarded as tone killers, with some guitarists opting to replace the entire bridge.
If you wish to keep the bridge, but replace the saddle, try contacting Gibson directly as this type of bridge/saddle is currently used on the 60s J-45 model, and has been used on some of the Reissue models, such as the J-160E. Please see the below links.
Note: A height adjustable saddle is different from a floating bridge, which is found on an archtop guitar. Please see the following links for more information on floating bridges.
Gibson Tune-o-Matic Bridge
Although somewhat rare, you will see some Gibson acoustic models with Tune-o-Matic bridges, which allow for intonation adjustments just as on an electric guitar. Please see the following video for more information: 1960s Gibson J-200 with Tune-o-Matic
Gibson Mark Models
From 1975 to 1979, Gibson produced the modern-looking Mark line with five different models. Only 8,311 of the Gibson Mark models were made. They had a distinct bridge and saddle. Finding a replacement saddle will be difficult, and you may need to have one custom made.
B Compensated Saddles
Around the year 2000, B compensated saddles started appearing on Gibson models. These saddles are typically 71.5 mm long, 3.3 mm thick, and fairly tall, often around 11 mm. Gibson models typically have a 12 inch fretboard radius, but note that Gibson will also use a 16 inch radius. Please see view our 12 inch radius Gibson-style saddles. We can also make this saddle with a 16 inch radius upon request.
Which Saddle Size Does Your Gibson Need?
If you need more information on which saddle your Gibson acoustic guitar needs, please contact us with the below information:
- Your Gibson’s Year, Model, Fretboard Radius
- Current Saddle Length, Height, Thickness
- Guitar Saddle Slot Length, Thickness (if different from your saddle specs)
- Current Saddle Compensation Pattern (please send a picture if you are not sure what type you have)
We will respond within 48 hours.