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Angled Bendmaster Deluxe Bridge Ruining Action

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Post by alostforgottensadspirit Thu Dec 14, 2023 6:21 pm

I have to start off by saying that my Westone Genesis I is one of the best guitars I've felt ever. It was made with fantastic old-school Japanese craftsmanship, and feels very magical to play.

However, a major issue I face with my Bendmaster Deluxe floating bridge is that it completely butchers my action, elevating it at the lower frets where it should be the low. This isn't a truss rod issue, upon closer inspection it seems to be a problem with some of the metal parts of the bridge.

When setting up my Genesis (I have .09 gauge strings), I noticed that the bridge was being pulled upwards. I had this issue before with my Jackson when I would tune to F standard while using .11 gauge strings, but that was a more obvious tension problem of wrong tuning/string gauge combo. 

I levelled the bridge issue by tightening the two claws inside the body and the anchoring flat screws on the sides of the bridge (what is the name for these flat screws btw?), but still noticed that some strange metal pieces on the bridge were angled upwards, causing the action to be gradually higher closer to the bridge.

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Upon closer inspection, the culprits may be the bell ends of the strings, but I haven't replaced them since I got the guitar; this was their default setup from the seller at least. Assuming this is the problem, is there a way I can anchor new strings so that the bell ends are tucked lower and don't cause this action problem by raising those metal things? I've never replaced strings on a floating bridge before.

I also noticed some small black hex screws (north) on the bridge. I doubt they're related, but if so: would their adjustment somehow fix this problem?

Increase the dreadful phobia!  Twisted Evil
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Post by corsair Thu Dec 14, 2023 7:02 pm

At first glance, the bridge anchors look to be being drawn out of the body - I can see a small section of splined material which should be buried in the wood…

The string saddles do indeed look to be inclined up at the rear, which they shouldn’t; how is that saddle secured to the baseplate? The ball end of the string should not be an issue as they sit clear of anything else underneath.

Adjusting the bridge anchor bolts will affect the action for sure, as will altering the spring tension in the back, but as you’re finding out, there’s a balance to be made between string and spring tension to get that bridge floating, with a decent action.

I use 11 gauge strings and have no problems balancing the bridge with a good action; take a photo from atop the guitar, both far and near shots, and then check to see if the bridge anchors are, in fact, pulling out…

These are a finicky bridge to get set up exactly just-so; the small black hex head bolts are the saddle adjustment bolts - you loosen these and move the saddle back and forth to intonate the guitar, which is a pain in the arse as it generally takes two or more gos to get it right,  but necessary.

Also, the saddles are radiused to the neck profile, so if they’re not in the right place, that can cause issues as well… those little saddles that look as though they should turn… don’t. 😁
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Post by alostforgottensadspirit Thu Dec 14, 2023 9:40 pm

Thank you for all the information in your reply.

I noticed the splined bolt (bases?) were out of the guitar but I don't think that's the issue neither do I know how to fix it. I screwed the bridge anchor bolts as tight as possible and that helped level the bridge before. When I checked from the neck profile and from above the headstock, they seemed to be slightly lower than the bottom of the neck (maybe I have to loosen the anchor bolts after I fix the saddle issue).

I'm pretty sure the saddles are secured by these hex bolts. I checked and they're as tight as possible now.

bridge - Angled Bendmaster Deluxe Bridge Ruining Action 20231210

An hour of tedious tinkering later, I adjusted the saddle hex screws until they were about half a cm closer to the humbucker, having to push the rear ends of the saddles down when they were loosened as I was screwing them in place. I noticed that there were two threaded holes so close to one another, had to loosen and move the strings over like a girl's panties to access the hex screw.  Laughing

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The adjustment was seemingly minor, but helped a lot. I might tweak it in the future to see if I can flatten the saddles just a little more. Are there any other methods of doing so? Here is what it looks like now:

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Post by corsair Thu Dec 14, 2023 10:23 pm

You just push them back into their holes! However, to fix them more permanently, withdraw them completely and pack a piece of something thin around the splines and then replace them. 
The best repair is, of course, to re-dowel the hole and re- drill…
The two holes for the saddle adjustment arento allow a little more movement of the saddles, is all, and yes; it is a most tedious process, setting the intonation! However, done carefully you can get the guitar to pretty close to perfect - my Genesis is only a few cents sharp/flat across the board.

What’s supposed to,happen with the bridge anchor bolts is that you can set the action to you requirements by turning them either up or down, whilst measuring the action - plenty of YT videos on doing that - but this becomes a variable proposition if the anchors are loose in their holes, allowing movement.
The knife edges on the bridge plate will get damaged if you tighten those bolts down onto the plate and onto the anchors - I certainly don’t recommend you swing on the bar if you’ve tightened everything up!! Those bridge bolts should be adjustable even with string tension on them!
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Post by Barry Sat Dec 16, 2023 2:54 pm

I agree with Corsair's first post observation about the post anchors.
That is problem #1 that must be addressed!

You are really doing things backwards eh?
You have spent a lot of time working on settings which key into this basic condition without fixing it.

As you've discovered they can only take your adjustment so far. They were not meant to compensate but complement the basic geometry of the bridge. If it's not anchored down and solid everything else you do is futile.

My recommendation is to take the bridge off and get those anchors down and solid!
Then look at everything else mentioned here.

It's not rocket science, gently lever them out (protecting the finish of course) Don't use pliers please!

Then it's up to you how to  tighten them up.
If you think that they may have to come out in the future then use a method that allows for that. If you're not concerned about it then something more permanent can be used.

You can wrap the splines with several turns of plumber's Teflon tape, or possibly aluminum foilfor a non invasive temporary fix.

Or, you can try a small amount of wood glue which should fill in the gaps and offer enough hold to stabilize things.

But for a more permanent fix use epoxy. That will definitely do the trick! 
(Ask me how I know!)

Keep in mind that if removal is necessary in the future applying heat will always break the bond.

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Post by The Guitar Mon Dec 18, 2023 12:50 am

If those post bushings are loose in the holes, like Corsair said, doweling and redrilling the post holes would be the ideal way to fix. Otherwise you can get away with removing them, running some wood glue on the hole walls, them shaving slices off a popsicle stick/toothpick to put around the perimeter of the holes, and finally tapping the bushings back in so they are flush with the top of the body. If by chance they aren't loose, just tap them flush. The thumb screws on the whale tail are for fine tuning once the lock nut pads are tightened down. I usually get them half way down, then tune with the tuners and tighten the pads down. This will give you some headroom if they go sharp or flat to correct that. Since the saddles are made to match the radius, yours could be off? I'll toss a pic up of how they are on my Deluxe if that helps. 😋 Then by messing with the saddle bolts, you may have thrown off the intonation. Quick check is tuning up, then checking the fretted 12th fret to the open string. The fretted note should match the open string. If not, unwind that string some, unscrew the little hex screw and slide the saddle back if the note is flat, forward if it's sharp.... Or vice versa, I can't remember off the top of my head. 😝. Wash, rinse, repeat for the rest of the strings.
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Post by Barry Mon Dec 18, 2023 12:36 pm

The Guitar wrote: If by chance they aren't loose, just tap them flush.
I would not recommend this as a reliable fix for the simple reason that, if they pulled up once, it means that they are not stable and will likely pull up again. Wink

Also, although we've both mentioned wood glue I'd be very cautious about jamming wood pieces into the holes with it.

The toothpicks and glue "repair" works OK for re-seating screws that can't hold because they will cut new threads in the added wood. Not so much with a spline.

Because the added wood is not evenly distributed about the circumference you run the risk of either having the post go in crooked and jamming, or at worst, developing enough compression that it could cause a crack in the body if forced.

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Post by gittarasaurus Mon Dec 18, 2023 6:53 pm

i notice that the saddles on your bendmaster are not in the correct positions. one way you can is tell by the string retainers. they should be 3 left, 3 right.
compare the 1st and 3rd pics in post #3 with the pic in post #6
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also, the saddles are slightly different from each other. they are built to reflect the radius of the fretboard. so being out of order will affect your ability to get consistent string height above the fretboard. the saddles have 3 different heights to the roller, higher in the center(strings 3 & 4), middle in the middle(strings 2 & 5), lower on the outside(strings 1 & 6).

bridge - Angled Bendmaster Deluxe Bridge Ruining Action 00-h4rYz82ScDKmXss5jj8Qgc6phI1Pj6QvbkXh9nuQH-4HINwSO4P3vaWZFkWTlmZ3?cn=THISLIFE&res=medium&ts=1331504187


Last edited by gittarasaurus on Mon Dec 18, 2023 7:09 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : add pics)
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Post by alostforgottensadspirit Tue Dec 26, 2023 2:37 pm

I will take this all into account, and update you guys when I attempt to fix it again! Thanks for all the helpful information!

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Post by Barry Tue Dec 26, 2023 4:43 pm

Like I said it ain't rocket science but things can go dreadfully wrong if rushed or forced.

Take your time and go gently, and it will work out well in the end!

Pix of your progress when you can eh? Very Happy

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Post by alostforgottensadspirit Wed Dec 27, 2023 5:25 pm

First update: I did rush it, but it seems to have went well.

I cut the strings off my Genesis last night and removed the Bendmaster bridge, also removing the saddles to rearrange them in the proper way. I looked at these before, and thanks to the reply by Gittarasaurus, and the photo from The Guitar, I was able to rearrange the saddles so that the strings would be at optimal height intervals with the retainers in the correct positions and the saddles for the correct strings when I restring my guitar. (No thanks to the guy who set up this guitar before me...)
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If I'm being honest, I was scared to mess with my Genesis enough to really push the splined anchor bolts down as was Corsair's first suggestion (I pressed them and they didn't move), but it seemed to work nicely after I removed the bridge and pushed them down with more effort (thankfully, so they will probably stay down for at least awhile until I permanently fix them with wood glue.)
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(Ignore the inaccurate 1 cm mark, it's more of a level than a ruler and cheap for that.)

When putting the bridge back on, I forgot to take the springs off and they unhooked themselves from the block and shot across my room like bullets.
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I moved the claw (about an inch) nearer to the block after hooking the springs again (it used to be screwed as tightly as possible) wisely as I realized thanks to Barry, and some common sense I didn't have, that the claw tension, anchor bolt height (which I will adjust soon) and saddle position were complements to the bridge's position/geometry rather than major adjustments to it. I was just satisfied with the negligible action repair I did before, and didn't want to mess with the bridge any more.
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After screwing the bridge back on, I found that it dips slightly towards the rear instead of staying level or lifting, but still doesn't touch the body.
bridge - Angled Bendmaster Deluxe Bridge Ruining Action New_ac11
I think this is normal, and that it will lift and need complementary adjustments when I put on new strings, but I wonder what further adjustments I need to make before restringing. Maybe it's a good idea to raise the anchor bolts by loosening them or lower the Magnaflux IV humbucker as my action will be significantly lower? If you guys have any recommendations that would save my Bendmaster before I restring (with .09s), I would love to hear them. If not, I would be even happier to have the green light assuming there aren't any destructive consequences that will couple saddling and stringing a new set of strings.

Thank you all for your help! I wouldn't have been able to figure it out without you guys!

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Post by Barry Wed Dec 27, 2023 6:07 pm

I think this is normal, and that it will lift and need complementary adjustments when I put on new strings. . .
Yup. The bridge will lift if you haven't put sufficient spring tension on it. Or not if too much!
Think of it as a teeter-totter, a dance between string tension and spring resistance. It's normal to tune, adjust springs, re-tune...rinse. repeat.

And, I'm assuming that you have checked the condition of the neck and made any appropriate truss rod adjustments first? If you have a back bow or too much relief that will cause lousy action all by itself.

but I wonder what further adjustments I need to make before restringing. Maybe it's a good idea to raise the anchor bolts by loosening them or lower the Magnaflux IV humbucker as my action will be significantly lower?
You can't always know before stringing what the condition will be.
But it will be quickly obvious if your strings are touching the frets or pups!

Then you know that the bridge height needs raising or the pups need dropping before continuing.

Once you have the action height zero'd in via the bridge and the tuning set, then concentrate on the pup height to get the best response and tone clarity.

If you guys have any recommendations that would save my Bendmaster before I restring (with .09s), I would love to hear them.
You have learned well Grashopper! Again, take your time, there's no prize for speed!
Be prepared to re-adjust the fine tuning for awhile as everything settles and the humidity changes.

And keep an eye on those bridge posts! If they move, everything is going to be out of whack again!

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Post by alostforgottensadspirit Mon Jan 01, 2024 6:59 pm

Final update:

The action is now fixed, and so is the saddle arrangement.

The saddles still lift ever so slightly, but I found that this was most likely intentional because of some edge they have at the end which would make them seem lifted even if touching the metal.
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The bridge lifts by about 5 degrees but I'm okay with that, I've tightened it as much as possible in the back.

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bridge - Angled Bendmaster Deluxe Bridge Ruining Action Saddle11
By the way, my intonation sucked before changing strings. I was 10 cents too sharp, but changing them did the trick. I'm probably 2-3 cents off now Smile

The Westone is pretty much repaired!

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Post by Barry Mon Jan 01, 2024 9:46 pm

Good news!
How are the post inserts? Are they down and stable? Still looks a little high to me, but whatever is comfortable for you.

And don't forget that you can always add another spring or two if the tension isn't quite right yet. Ideally you don't want the claw to run out of adjustment.

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Post by alostforgottensadspirit Mon Jan 01, 2024 11:39 pm

Barry wrote:Good news!
How are the post inserts? Are they down and stable? Still looks a little high to me, but whatever is comfortable for you.

And don't forget that you can always add another spring or two if the tension isn't quite right yet. Ideally you don't want the claw to run out of adjustment.
If you mean the anchoring flathead bolts, they're as low as I could get them and stuck that way. I unscrewed the bolts myself because they were way too low before. Lowest action I've ever seen, totally unplayable!

By the way, I appreciate the videos you upload. They're full of sense and wisdom the world has lost somehow. 

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Post by psafloyd Tue Jan 09, 2024 6:32 am

corsair wrote:You just push them back into their holes! However, to fix them more permanently, withdraw them completely and pack a piece of something thin around the splines and then replace them. 
The best repair is, of course, to re-dowel the hole and re- drill…
The two holes for the saddle adjustment arento allow a little more movement of the saddles, is all, and yes; it is a most tedious process, setting the intonation! However, done carefully you can get the guitar to pretty close to perfect - my Genesis is only a few cents sharp/flat across the board.

What’s supposed to,happen with the bridge anchor bolts is that you can set the action to you requirements by turning them either up or down, whilst measuring the action - plenty of YT videos on doing that - but this becomes a variable proposition if the anchors are loose in their holes, allowing movement.
The knife edges on the bridge plate will get damaged if you tighten those bolts down onto the plate and onto the anchors - I certainly don’t recommend you swing on the bar if you’ve tightened everything up!! Those bridge bolts should be adjustable even with string tension on them!

Philip McKnight of YouTube fame has used newspaper soaked in wood gloue wrapped around the posts to secure them into the body. Use a small amount of paper, drive them back in flush and let them dry thoroughly. They should then grip better.  

If that fails, then dowelling and redrilling is the way to go.
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Post by Barry Tue Jan 09, 2024 11:03 pm

Just getting caught up with this thread now..

alostforgottensadspirit wrote:
Barry wrote:...And don't forget that you can always add another spring or two if the tension isn't quite right yet. Ideally you don't want the claw to run out of adjustment.
If you mean the anchoring flathead bolts, they're as low as I could get them and stuck that way. I unscrewed the bolts myself because they were way too low before. Lowest action I've ever seen, totally unplayable!
Ah no, I was referring to the adjustable metal plate to which the tremolo springs are attached. It is fastened to the body by 2 wood screws which allow tensioning of the springs to counteract the string pull. You can add additional springs if needed to bring the bridge under control. Normally you would not want to tighten the claw right up to the wood (unless you are "hard tailing" the bridge)

By the way, I appreciate the videos you upload. They're full of sense and wisdom the world has lost somehow.
Hey thanks! Very kind of you to say. Coffee Drinker

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Post by Barry Tue Jan 09, 2024 11:13 pm

psafloyd wrote:Philip McKnight of YouTube fame has used newspaper soaked in wood gloue wrapped around the posts to secure them into the body. Use a small amount of paper, drive them back in flush and let them dry thoroughly. They should then grip better.  

If that fails, then dowelling and redrilling is the way to go.
That's a better suggestion than using just glue, especially if there's a sloppy fit.

The key there would be, as you say, to use a "small amount" of paper to avoid jamming the insert and creating a piston effect. As long as the air in the hole can escape you're good to go.

Thanks!

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Post by Sgt. Vimes Sat Jan 13, 2024 10:24 am

It has been a long time since I've set up my BMD, but I'm sure the strings' ball ends don't sit under the saddle, don't they go through the trem block?
wouldn't this be the issue with the lifting saddle?
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Post by gittarasaurus Sat Jan 13, 2024 12:48 pm

actually the strings do not go through the trem block, they only pass through the saddle. there is a series of notches in the front side of the trem block that make space under the saddle for the ball end of the strings.
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Post by alostforgottensadspirit Mon Feb 26, 2024 3:38 pm

Sgt. Vimes wrote:It has been a long time since I've set up my BMD, but I'm sure the strings' ball ends don't sit under the saddle, don't they go through the trem block?
wouldn't this be the issue with the lifting saddle?
They didn't, I was only seeing things when I posted the first pictures. The problem is mostly resolved Smile
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alostforgottensadspirit
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Post by alostforgottensadspirit Mon Feb 26, 2024 3:42 pm

gittarasaurus wrote:actually the strings do not go through the trem block, they only pass through the saddle. there is a series of notches in the front side of the trem block that make space under the saddle for the ball end of the strings.
bridge - Angled Bendmaster Deluxe Bridge Ruining Action 00-h4rYz82ScDKmXss5jj8Qgc6phI1Pj6QvbkXh9nuQH-4MOi-3OZPHhF6K2g4Yr4ZL?cn=THISLIFE&res=medium&ts=1331504182
bridge - Angled Bendmaster Deluxe Bridge Ruining Action 00-h4rYz82ScDKmXss5jj8Qgc6phI1Pj6QvbkXh9nuQH-5j60ILzwG7niCmKPObnwwc?cn=THISLIFE&res=medium&ts=1331504188
Yes.
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Post by alostforgottensadspirit Mon Feb 26, 2024 3:44 pm

Barry wrote:
psafloyd wrote:Philip McKnight of YouTube fame has used newspaper soaked in wood gloue wrapped around the posts to secure them into the body. Use a small amount of paper, drive them back in flush and let them dry thoroughly. They should then grip better.  

If that fails, then dowelling and redrilling is the way to go.
That's a better suggestion than using just glue, especially if there's a sloppy fit.

The key there would be, as you say, to use a "small amount" of paper to avoid jamming the insert and creating a piston effect. As long as the air in the hole can escape you're good to go.

Thanks!
As an update to this and an update in general: I have not had to dowel/redrill or even glue in the posts.

They are stuck fast in their slots.
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