Guide to Wave Compensated Guitar Saddles

Although it might seem as though all wave compensated saddles are the same, differences do appear as to which strings are compensated forward (toward the soundhole), center, or backward (toward the bridge pins), as well as length, maximum height, bass to treble height difference, thickness, and radius. Rather than being defined by a specific pattern or size, wave compensated saddles are defined by their flowing compensation lines versus the straight lines and 90 degree angles often seen on other saddle types.

There are three main compensation variations found on wave compensated saddles for steel string guitars: Single Wave, Forward GDA Wave, and Slanted Bass Wave. Let’s review each by looking at images that are looking down on the saddle top. All images for steel-string saddles show a three degree bridge saddle slot angle. The thin blue line shows approximately where each string sits on the saddle top, but this will vary depending on bridge string spacing.

Single Wave

The single wave pattern places the treble e, B, and bass E strings back, the G, D strings forward, and the A string center as shown in the below image. This is the least common of the three main steel-string wave saddle types.

Blueridge Wave Compensated 3 Degree Angle
Single Wave Compensated Saddle

Forward GDA Wave

As the name suggests, with this saddle type the G, D, A strings all sit forward, while the treble e sits center, and the B and bass E sit backward as shown in the below image. Many Martin guitar saddles since the late 1990s use this pattern. You might also see some Larrivee saddles from the 2000s and 2010s with this pattern, although the length, thickness, maximum height, and bass to treble edge height difference differs from those of the Martin wave saddles, and thus the two are not interchangeable. Some Ibanez saddles use this pattern, too.

Forward GDA Wave Compensated Saddle

Slanted Bass Wave

This saddle compensation pattern places the treble e forward, B backward, then has a progressive backward slant for the wound strings as shown in the below image. This pattern is similar to the B compensated with slanted bass pattern type as far as where the strings siton the saddle top, but with smoother lines.

Slanted Bass Wave Compensated Saddle

Most notably, a large number of Taylor guitar saddles, especially on guitars made since 2015, use the slanted bass wave pattern. Some Ibanez saddles also use this pattern, but note that you will find varying versions and sizes of Ibanez slanted bass wave saddles, so be sure to check length, height, thickness, radius, and bass to treble edge height difference of your original saddle before ordering a replacement. Fender Acoustasonic models often come with this saddle pattern.

Taylor NS Wave

At first glance, when not in the bridge, the Taylor steel-string slanted bass wave saddle discussed in the previous section and the Taylor NS Wave style saddle (NS stands for nylon string) might seem the same. However, the saddle slot angle and saddle compensation pattern both differ as shown in the below image, as do the length and radius, so the two are not interchangeable. This saddle compensation pattern places the treble e forward, B center, G and E back, and D and A forward as shown in the below image.

Taylor NS Wave Compensated Saddle Top Down View
Taylor Nylon String NS Wave Saddle

Which Saddle Does Your Guitar Need?

Still wondering which saddle size your guitar requires? Please contact us with all of the below information.

  • Guitar Year, Series, Model
  • Current Saddle Length, Maximum Height, Thickness – Must be measured with a caliper
  • Bass to Treble Edge Height Difference
  • Bridge Saddle Slot Length, Thickness (if different from saddle specs) – Must be meausured with a caliper
  • String Spacing at the Bridge
  • Current Saddle Compensation Pattern (Please send a picture if you are not sure which type you have)

We will respond within 48 hours.