Keeping track of bridge position while changing strings


Past week I ended up buying a second hand (b-stock) Altamira M01D from a dealer in my country. I have fallen in love with the sound and especially the insane resonance of this guitar as it is my first ever Selmer-style guitar. The string action has been set up perfectly but It feels as if the strings have to be changed, they feel kinda rough and whilst they still have the metallic fresh look to them, they have like brownish/black areas on them that wont scratch off, mainly the treble strings. I have 3 questions for you guys and I'm sorry if this has been a topic already.

  • I wonder, how do I "remember" the position of the bridge when changing the strings? Do I change them 1 at a time? is there a way to measure the position just for safety? (moustaches are fixed in place)
  • On some spots of some frets there's like very little bulges of metal on top of the frets which scrape a little bit when doing bends, do I take it to a luthier or can I somehow smooth them out?
  • The bridge was adapted to set the string action to 3,2 mm, is it normal that my E strings sometimes slightly slip from their position when doing bends on the high frets? Do the strings still need to grind into the bridge or is it necessary to make the "slips" by hand?

Thank you very much comrads



  • Posts: 92

    In my humble opinion...Change the strings one at a time. If only the non wound strings have lost tonality and won't intonate, just change them. I buy Argentine strings in 10 packs for only the high e and b and they get changed far more often. If you must change all the strings and don't want to do it one at a time for whatever reason, use a felt tip pen and make tiny marks where the bridge sits. If your frets are actually rough enough to be scraping your fingers when you play, it might be time for a fret dressing where they level them all with a series of files. This needs to be done on occasion. If your frets have been dressed too many times, then it might be time for a refret. This too must be done on occasion, but much less often. Your strings should not slip from their position on the bridge when you bend. A luthier can open those slots on your bridge so this does not happen. Just my 2 cents. Blessings

  • spatzospatzo Virtuoso
    Posts: 768

    Yes! One string first then another one and so on.

  • pmgpmg Atherton, CANew Dupont MD50R, Shelley Park Custom, Super 400, 68 Les Paul Deluxe, Stevie Ray Strat
    Posts: 140

    Use masking tape to mark the approximate position which is easily remove when done. I don't like making permanent marks because the bridge position will change to accommodate intonation changes required with new strings.

    After tuning your guitars's open strings, always check both the harmonic E as compared to the fretted E on the twelfth fret on both the 1st and 6th strings - and make any slight needed adjustments in the bridge position to so that both notes are in tune.

    It is rare in my experience that the bridge would remain exactly the same from one set of strings to another.

    I often check and adjust bridge position even with same set of strings as they age to maintain good intonation up and down the neck.

    I'm always interested in jamming with experienced jazz and gypsy jazz players in the San Francisco - San Jose area. Drop me a line. Bass players welcome!
  • mac63000mac63000 Tacoma, WANew Geronimo Mateos Jazz B
    Posts: 248

    Yep, one at a time. And two at a time of you want to clean the fretboard while you're at it :) masking tape another great idea for a full job, but I imagine intonation will also change throughout the year with the different weather/seasons, so it's not a bad idea to get comfortable adjusting the bridge yourself as you become more familiar with the guitar.

  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited June 2020 Posts: 1,858

    As somebody who doubles on banjo, I like to re-seat my banjo and guitar bridges occasionally just to make sure my instrument is totally in tune all the way up the neck.

    I use one of those little clip-on tuners and make sure the twelfth fret harmonic perfectly matches the fretted twelfth fret.

    Sometimes you have to slant the bridge a little bit to ensure the bass strings are good... I won't say perfect, because Perfect can sometimes be the enemy of Good...

    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    edited June 2020 Posts: 1,459

    I like to change all strings at once so I can clean crud off the top and the fingerboard periodically. Yes, it means you need to know how to reset the bridge, but that's not difficult and it's useful knowledge to have anyway. To fix intonation there is a mnemonic of three f's:

    If the fretted note is flat, move the bridge forward.

    Sometimes when matching the octave harmonic with the 12th fretted note, you may have different position for the high e string and the low E string, which means your bridge may be on a slight diagonal. That's normal, don't worry about it.

  • dikkeorcdikkeorc BelgiumNew Altamira M01D
    Posts: 7

    Thank you very much for you answers, they are plenty helpful. Looks like I will dig into adjusting my bridge 😎

    Move the bridge forward as in towards the nut?

  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    edited June 2020 Posts: 1,459

    Yes. This will shorten the distance between 12th fret and bridge, making the fretted note sharper.

  • Posts: 4,797

    Then you can have a 3 s mnemonic: shorter string = sharper

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320

    If the current location is good you can just mark it with some small pieces of blue low-tack painters masking tape. That won't pull up finish or leave residue but don't leave it on for days on end. Just put it on while you are changing the strings.

    Generally, it is probably best to only change one string at a time unless u r planning to clean off the grime on the fretboard.

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