Yamaha LL16 bone saddle upgrade

Did a bone saddle upgrade for this LL16 ARE last week. The dark tint finish gave this guitar a vintage vibe, Back and sides looks the same as a regular LL16 with nice rosewood grains.


This one came to me with a saddle sanded way too low. The guitar had almost no sustain especially at the thinner strings. Here you can see that the saddle is almost level with the bridge slot. When you get such a shallow break angle, it’s always bad news. Granted action was very low here (about 3/64 inch), but the guitar actually sounded quite lifeless and certainly did not sound like what the LL16 is capable of.


The strings were also done in a weird manner. Perhaps the previous person knows something of a higher ordinance, but both E strings just look wrong.


No problems. Let’s start with some Bearclaw Special. A nice guitar deserves all the TLC from Guitarbear. Fingerboard and frets are cleaned and shiny after some massaging with lemon oil and steel wool.

Before (dry & rusty)


After (moisturised and shiny)


New Bone Saddle

Did some measurements and started work on shaping a new bone saddle.


OK, we got a good fit. All smooth after sanding up to 2000 grit.


I put in a new set of vintage coloured brass pins. They match this particular guitar very well. Action set to around 5/64 inch at 12th fret capo on 1st.


Latte the cowboy is happy with Guitarbear’s work.


Closing notes:

The Yamaha L Series continue to show very good build. This is not the first time I see a saddle sanded so low on the L series, yet the amazing thing is that fret buzz is quite minimal. There’s really some impressive fret work done at their China factory.

However, the overly low action had taken away all the guts and voice of this guitar when it came to me. Just a note to anyone who wishes to do their own setups, DO NOT neglect the importance of a healthy saddle height.


4 thoughts on “Yamaha LL16 bone saddle upgrade

  1. Hello Guitarbear great read! You really gave it a good makeover. I have an ll16 ARE myself and I believe the saddle is stock that I bought it with which is plastic. It does not have fret buzz but I notice when I lowered the action it did lose some of its ”ring” however I can play a little better with lower action the barre chords are easier for me. I also noticed tiny cracks in the fret board but after conditioning with daddario conditioner using a toothbrush it really livened it up and the cracks sealed up. I use the humidifier packs too. Yes on your ll16 the E strings were strung the wrong way it would be odd tuning it like that too. I will look into a bone saddle upgrade but I don’t know how to sand one myself so I will have to get premade. Have you ever used one from Bob Colosi before? Great read guitarbear I am very happy with my ll16 too they are quality built guitars.


  2. Hi Roy, thanks for dropping by.

    I’ve never ordered from Bob before because shipping cost to Singapore is rather high. Having said that, I would think a pre-made saddle from him could be the best choice for you if you’re not familiar with sanding and shaping of a bone saddle.

    Enjoy your LL16!


  3. I had my stock Urea saddle sanded down on my LL16, but I have a Bob Colosi coming in the mail for a bone upgrade. The LL16 is an awesome guitar but a little to trebly for my liking, hopefully the bone upgrade improves that a little.
    I like a low action but it does feel like it’s lost a little body or something, but I’ll take the tone cut (which isn’t very much) for the ability to play comfortably.
    I am interested to know what your thoughts on a healthy action height are?


  4. Hi Derek, thanks for writing in.

    Like you, I choose low action over tone most times. The action would depend on the individual player but I typically go with about 2.5mm on 12th fret with capo on 1st fret.

    The capo on 1st fret is important because it takes the nut “out of the equation”. That said, I also have a small bit of relief on my neck. I have heard many experts talking about a perfectly straight neck, but it just doesn’t work for me because I strum pretty hard. Again, the amount of relief is up to the individual player.

    Hope I’ve helped in your queries.


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