How to Prolong Acoustic Guitar Saddle Life

Did your last guitar saddle not last very long? Unfortunately, this can be a problem with inexpensive saddles, or saddles with string grooves cut. Let’s review how to get a saddle that will last a long time.

Acoustic Guitar Bone Saddle Resting on Guitar Top

Buy a Quality Material Saddle

The first step to getting a lasting guitar saddle is to buy one made of quality materials. Inexpensive plastic saddles will not last long. Most notably, they will either break when you are doing a string change or will have deep string grooves as a result of string tension.

Similarly, inexpensive bone saddles will not last long. These saddles may have been processed with harsh chemicals, which speeds up production time, but results in weak, chalklike bone. Inexpensive saddles may also have been whitened with chlorine bleach rather than properly whitened with hydrogen peroxide. Using chlorine bleach is a fast and easy way to whiten bone, but leads to weak bone with poor tone that won’t last.  

As such, when shopping for a saddle, look for quality materials, such as Tusq, NuBone, Micarta, and properly processed bone. You will be fine with any of these materials, although there is no ‘best’ among them as each will produce different tones. For more information, see our article on What Is the Best Acoustic Guitar Saddle Material?

Do Not Cut String Grooves

Another thing you can do to prolong saddle life is not to cut string grooves in your saddle. Whereas acoustic guitar nuts require string slots to hold the strings in place, saddles do not. As long as you have sufficient break angle at the saddle, string tension will hold the strings in place at the saddle. For more information, including how to replace a saddle with string grooves, please see our article Do Acoustic Guitar Saddles Wear Out?

Add Pencil Graphite Between String Changes

Finally, a way to help prolong saddle life is to place a small amount of graphite on the saddle top where the strings rest. Do this each time you change strings. Simply take a pencil and ‘color in’ the area where the strings rest. The graphite will provide just a touch of lubrication and help keep string grooves from forming. Adding pencil graphite to the nut slots helps, too. For more information, please see our article on How to Customize Your Acoustic Guitar.