Yamaha LJ16 ARE Bone Saddle Upgrade

Finally got in some drop-in compensated bone saddles and did an upgrade on this LJ16 ARE.


Guitarbear has been very impressed with the Yamaha L series guitars and the LJ16 doesn’t break the tradition. This is the medium jumbo sized guitar in Yamaha’s stable and is really versatile, at home with both strumming and picking.


Compared to my LS16, the LJ has a bigger and rounder lower bout, and a longer and larger body over all. OK, there’s this funny tan line on most of my guitars. 🙂


The all-solid timbre LJ16 stays very consistent with its nice and tight grained rosewood body. The top is ARE treated Englemann spruce which Guitarbear finds more refined and controlled sounding than sitka tops.

The L 16 series are probably the best guitars you can buy for around $1000. The workmanship is good and the guitars really sound fantastic. The only things that need improvement will be the tuners and plastic fretboard binding.


I put my digicam into the sound hole and found that it’s mostly clean and well done all around. Very impressed. Of course there are many guitars with more detailed craftsmanship, but those are going to cost 5 times more.

On to the project. 

Bearclaw Special

I took off the horrendous dead strings that were on this guitar. Time to moisturise the fretboard with lemon oil and 0000 steel wool.


No prizes for guessing which part has just been treated with TLC. I believe the fretboard is heavily stained to achieve the dark colour. Yamaha states that fretboard and bridge are ebony.

Next I put some pencil lead in the nut slots to lubricate the contact points between string and nut. This prevents binding and lessens string breakage to some extent.

Bone saddle

The idea to put in a bone saddle to improve over all tone of the guitar. To date, I have only come across very few guitars (just two!) that did not improve with bone saddles.


These are 75mm drop-in bone saddles with “serpentine compensation”. I’d need to sand it down to match the current saddle height and fret radius.


Sanding block and sandpaper to the rescue. I used a pencil to mark out how much I need to sand off. It is always better to go easy and not over sand the saddle. Remember, you can always sand off more if saddle is still too high. But if the saddle is too low, you’ll need to either start with a new saddle (waste saddle/money), or use shims to increase saddle height (risk of losing tone).


I straightened the neck a little by giving a quarter turn clockwise as I found too much relief. Some more work had to be done to round of the crown of the saddle to match the fret radius and improvement intonation.


Owner’s choice of strings here was Elixir Polyweb 80/20 lights. McBaby Pompom was happy to oversee this project. She gave her thumbs up. 🙂


Body cleaned and polished all over. The guitar seemed happy to get a nice pampering session. And owner hasn’t complained so far. 🙂





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