The saddle on my Guldan fiddle is wore out. Surprisingly I have found little online about removing them. I did see one video where the person got the rib braced and with one good whack off flew the saddle. I wanted to ask here first if there was anything I should do before I give the saddle the above whack to minimize collateral damage?
Edited by - marcusb on 06/19/2021 12:09:10
Just whack it with a block of soft wood and a 2 oz. hammer or another block of wood. Never had a tear out taking one off.
Some of the old school fiddles weren't bad instruments. I've had luck fixing up old instruments like that and selling them on commission at music stores. Doesn't make a lot of money, but it pays for a hobby. I give mine a little something to make them stand out from the others on the rack such as a bone nut and saddle, dots or a design on the fingerboard, or fancy pegs and tailpiece.
Edited by - 46davis on 06/19/2021 12:16:05
I would heat up the end of a snub nosed pocket knife blade. It should do the trick.
I agree with the above. A light tap and it should pop off. If that doesn't work then somebody might have used lots of tightbond or something previously. You never know what's been done before.
I've never come across a saddle that worn. That can't be ebony.
I believe it to be Persimmon. Fingerboard is the same wood
I use a single edge razor blade to gently break free the glue joint, then lightly tap as mentioned above.
Also, it looks to me (an amateur) as though its in there pretty tight, so you might want to be cautious about force. And when you fit another one, maybe it could be a little looser.
A saddle can be released with a tap if the sides are free and the glue joint isn’t too strong. BUT, saddles are often glued on quite heavily. Also, many are either fitted too tightly or have gotten too tight because of dryness in the air. Those are dangerous conditions for removal that can lead to serious damage.
I’ve watched someone crack a top in half while trying to tap a saddle out with a block, and I’ve seen lots of saddles break out and take pieces of spruce along. If the glue is strong enough, the saddle might split into several pieces.
I much prefer using an opening knife and a syringe with alcohol to CAREFULLY release it. Applying sudden impact to a violin is risky, especially if the violin is valuable.
Originally posted by marcusb
I believe it to be Persimmon. Fingerboard is the same wood
That's quite likely. I've seen it before, kind of an ugly gray tight-grained wood with a black stain. BTW, use only a tiny bit of glue putting on the new piece. It's mostly held on by the tail gut pressure and the glue is only to make sure it doesn't get lost when the instrument is unstrung. Be kind to somebody in the future.
(Horror of horrors: a fingerboard put on with gorilla glue!)
Persimmon is in the same genus as the African ebonies, and although not quite as hard, its still pretty hard - hard enough for golf club heads. I've never seen a saddle like that either, and I wonder if somebody put those grooves there deliberately for some reason?
I agree with Doug, looks like someone put the grooves in with a file.
The grooves are quite deep, but I don’t think they were put in with a file. A softer wood combined with a tailgut (perhaps a wire one at some point) will wear down quickly. Even ebony can get worn down severely by a wire tailgut. This is why I really try my best to discourage the use of the Akusticus tailpiece on cellos.
I have no experience at replacing a saddle! However other wood working experience would cause me to whittle the middle part out and get some slack. Or maybe notch the ends for slack, it sure does look tight. It needs some room to break out of there, maybe in pieces. The choice of different wood would be a clue to me to be cautious of the glue type that someone else used. Looks like an accident waiting to happen. Hope it goes good for you.
The Jackson Guldan violins come in quite a range of qualities. Some are quite decent, while other not so much.
I also question having grooves worn that deep. Looks more like some hack filed them.
I typically remove a saddle with a light hammer tap to a hardwood block against the saddle. If it looks like the saddle is glued to the sides, a light cut in the ends of the saddle with a jeweler's saw (don't cut the top or the ribs!) can help prevent problems. When fitting the new saddle, leave a razor blade wide opening on the ends to prevent saddle cracks.
This one is quite decent. I will try the cut, its very tight fit and the center seam on the top plate has begun to open from shrinkage.
I'm debating on what wood to use as a replacement? I would like to keep the native woods theme.
Just a caution. I had a fiddle in which the top shrank a bit and then a crack developed at one end of the saddle. After the top was repaired, I had the luthier remove a little bit of wood from the end of the saddle and put in black filler, so I wouldn't have a saddle crack again.
The hardest native woods I know (except for ironwood) are persimmon and dogwood, but neither are as hard as ebony, not generally available, and not particularly dimensionally stable.
Why do you want a native woods theme? It looks like the endpin is ebony, and usually all the fittings on a violin are the same wood. What are the pegs made of? I'd just use ebony, which is best for the job and easily available as an unfinished blank.
Edited by - DougD on 06/21/2021 11:27:05
Osage orange is supposed to be pretty hard. I wouldn't worry about trying to use native woods. It can often result in inferior parts (Jackson-Guldan used a lot of those)
You're right about Osage orange. Here's a useful website about woods: wood-database.com/
While browsing it I came across Texas ebony which is very hard and quite handsome. All you have to do is find it!
Edited by - DougD on 06/21/2021 14:23:07
Ok, I am doing a test run on the saddle. I wanted to ask where should I apply the glue and what dilution is recommended?
Thanks for all the help!
Pretty dilute. I don't apply glue all the way across the width because I don't want any oozing into the ends. You can hold it in position by hand for a short time until the glue starts to set, then set it aside. Also, make it even in the space so one side isn't tight against the top.
Edited by - Brian Wood on 06/26/2021 16:09:41
I wouldn’t dilute the glue for the saddle. Clean the contact surfaces thoroughly and make sure the saddle isn’t tight, then apply glue. Wash away excess, then set it aside to dry. If the glue joint is weak, the saddle will pull up and the tailpiece will move toward the bridge. The afterlength will be distorted and there will be greater likelihood of saddle cracks.
Cello saddles are under a lot more load, so having a weak glue joint there can cause issues very quickly.
Whew, surgery complete! Saddle was in tight and came out in several parts but with lots of patience and scraping I got a nice clean pocket. I did find that a small depression on the back side of the rib under the middle of the saddle. Saddle was level across so I am thinking it was part of manufacturing perhaps? Debating on adding some wood there or leaving it alone. You cant see it with the saddle on.
Naturally the chunk of ebony I have been dragging around for 15 years has grown legs and walked off. I am stalled until I can find something to carve a saddle from.
Edited by - marcusb on 06/28/2021 11:37:41
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