Most players should use a gap of 2.2mm on the sixth string and 1.6mm on the first string. Determine the height of the sixth and first strings at the 12th fret from the top of the frets to the bottom of the strings.
In this article, I’ll show you my suggested measurements for the height of the bridge on acoustic guitars.
So without further ado, let’s start this article with the general bridge height measurements.
How tall should an acoustic guitar bridge be?
When it comes to acoustic guitars, a lot of people usually go for low action.
That’s fine but you run the risk of the guitar going out of tune faster than usual or it’ll be hard to play on (if there is excessive buzzing).
When it comes to playing with other musicians, if their tunings are not as accurate as yours, your guitar may sound out of tune in certain chords.
The higher the strings, the longer it’s going to take for them to break and go out of tune.
So what height should we go with?
I generally use a gap of 2.2mm on the sixth string and 1.6mm on the first string (at the 12th fret).
You can use a higher gap if you think there’s too much buzzing on the guitar.
And don’t just go by what I said, try out different heights and see how it works for your guitar.
What about the saddle height?
In general, just get your saddle height at a comfortable level where when you play on the lower frets, the strings don’t touch them.
I recommend that your saddle height should not be less than 1/32 inch or more than 3/16.
If you are using a capo, make sure to measure the height of your strings in their highest position after they are pressed by a capo.
You should do that because if not, your guitar will go out of tune once you take off the capo.
Don’t rest your fingers on the nut
If you’re going to play a lot of solos or music where you need lots of speed, make sure not to leave your left-hand fingers right above the nut because they’ll get in the way when it comes time for you to slide up and down the neck fast.
If you do want to rest your fingers on the nut, make sure that when you play a chord with your left-hand fingers touching the strings at the last fret, they don’t touch any of the strings at their 12th frets.
That’ll cause unnecessary buzzing and sound out of tune.
Don’t try to remember all measurements
When you play a lot of guitars, it’s important to find a happy medium with the measurements for your instrument.
Do not try to remember every measurement I have said in this article because what works for me may not work for you.
If you’re just starting out playing the guitar, just go by my measurements mentioned.
And as you gain more experience and become a better player, try doing some adjustments to your guitar and see what works and doesn’t work for you.
When should you adjust the saddle height on a guitar?
Strings that sit too high are difficult to fret; strings that sit too low produce buzzing. If the strings are positioned incorrectly, you must modify the action.
To modify the saddle height, you must use a straightedge and mark the top of the bridge.
Using a digital caliper to measure the distance from that line to the bottom of each string, then adjust the saddle accordingly.
The most popular materials for saddles are Bone and Tusq.
Bone is more rigid than plastic and provides more sustain and clarity to the tone.
It also expands and contracts with seasonal temperature changes, which affects intonation.
Tusq saddles are made of a synthetic material that is very similar to bone in terms used by players (warmth, brightness).
The material does not expand or contract with seasonal changes.
Bridge pins are used to hold the strings in place when tuning.
The most popular type is ebony, but various other exotic materials are sometimes used, such as Rosewood and Micarta.
These materials are very hard and are not affected by temperature or humidity changes.
However, these types of bridge pins can be slippery and cause a buzzing sound.
Rubber, on the other hand, is a more forgiving material.
It can expand and contract with temperature changes and does not create as much sliding on the string as ebony or Rosewood do.
The most popular gauges are light, medium-light, medium, medium-heavy, and heavy.
People generally recommend going with a lighter gauge if you’re just starting out playing the guitar because it will be easier to fret notes and chords.
Carrying that thought one step further, a thicker or heavier string might give your fingers more strength to press down, which gives you better control over each note.
Does saddle height affect tone?
Reducing torque at the bridge will have a significant impact on tone and volume.
The shorter the distance between the string and saddle, the more you reduce torque.
Reducing torque creates a longer sustain on each note or chord, which gives your guitar more volume.
But remember that there has to be a balance between playability and tone, so lowering the saddle too much will make it hard for you to fret notes or chords.
If you only play open chords, it may be worth lowering the action on your guitar to lower the distance and increase volume and sustain.
If you play a lot of power chords and barre chords, keeping the action at a safe level for your playing style will reduce string noise and increase tension so that when you do play open chords or notes they still sound clear and ring out.