Find the Right Saddle for Your Alvarez® Acoustic Guitar
Are you searching for an Alvarez steel-string acoustic guitar saddle? This guide provides tips for finding the correct saddle size for your Alvarez steel-string acoustic guitar.
Alvarez has made steel string acoustic string guitars for over fifty years, and Yairi models have been made for over 80 years. Unfortunately, no single saddle size exists. This can make finding the proper saddle for your guitar difficult. Although this guide will help, we suggest that you also measure your guitar’s bridge saddle slot for a proper fit. If you are not the guitar’s original owner, someone may have installed a different saddle, adjusted the saddle slot, or even installed a different bridge or neck at some time, thus producing different specs from the factory’s original specs.
Pre-2011 Alvarez Models
Non-Compensated Center Line
Alvarez models built prior to 2011 commonly use a non-compensated center line saddle with a 12 inch radius. These saddles often have setback corners with a sharp angle, which can give the appearance of having an even tighter radius. Length is often around 72 mm. The saddles are often on the thin side – around 2.6 to 3.0 mm.
Height Adjustable Saddle
Some 1970s era made in Japan Alvarez models have adjustable saddles, somewhat similar to the Gibson style adjustable saddles of the time, but without the looped ends for the saddle. The bridges make use of metal hardware that allowed the player to easily adjust the saddle height. These non-compensated center line saddles were often around 60 to 65 mm long, around 8 mm max height, about 2.5 mm thick, and with a 12 inch top radius.
While adjustable saddles might seem like a dream come true for playability purposes, they are often viewed negatively for tonal purposes; some guitarists choose to replace the entire bridge. If wish to keep the bridge, but replace the saddle, you will likely need to take your guitar to a professional guitar tech for evaluation.
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: Floating Bridge Information and StewMac Archtop Bridges and Tailpieces.
Tune-o-Matic Style Bridges
Although rare, a few of the 1970s Alvarez Dove models appear with Tune-o-Matic style bridges, which allow for individual string intonation adjustment.
B Comp with Slanted Bass
We have seen some pre-2011 Alvarez guitars with B compensated with slanted bass saddles, but do not know whether these were the factory saddles or installed afterward.
Integrated Acoustic Electric Saddle
Occasionally you will see pre-2011 Alvarez Yairi models with integrated pickup saddles. These are typically long and thick saddles. Finding a replacement will likely prove difficult, but try Reverb.com or StewMac.com. If you wish to remove the integrated pickup saddle and replace with a standard saddle, please take your guitar to a professional technician.
Alvarez guitars saw a number of changes beginning in 2011, which has affected the saddle types used. First, a shift from a 12 inch radius to flatter fretboard radii commonly appears, which, in turn, leads to a saddle with a flatter top radius. Second, B compensated with slanted bass saddles frequently appear on models made in China. Below is information about saddle types for Alvarez steel-string models made since 2011.
The Alvarez Yairi series are handmade in Japan. As with the Yairi models made before 2011, these guitars typically use a non-compensated centerline saddle. However, the post-2011 Yairi models often have a 400 mm (15.75 inches) fretboard radius.
The Alvarez Masterworks models are built of all solid wood and made in China. The post-2011 models often have a 380 mm (14.96 inches) fretboard radius, and use a B compensated with slanted bass saddle.
Artist and Regent Series
Also made in China, the Alvarez Artist and Regent models often have often have a 400 mm (15.75 inches) fretboard radius. Similar to the Masterworks models, they often use a B compensated with slanted bass saddle – please see our Guide to B Compensated Saddles for more information.
Which Saddle Size Does Your Alvarez Need?
If you need more information on which saddle your Alvarez acoustic guitar needs, please contact us with the below information:
- Your Alvarez’s Year, Model, Fretboard Radius
- Current Saddle Length, Height, Thickness – Must be measured with a caliper
- Guitar Saddle Slot Length, Thickness (if different from your saddle specs)
- Bass to Treble Height Difference
- Current Saddle Compensation Pattern (please send a picture if you are not sure what type you have)
We will respond within 48 hours.