Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Discussion of vintage Jazzmasters, Jaguars, Bass VIs, Electric XIIs and any other offset-waist instruments.
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akpasta
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Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by akpasta » Thu Aug 02, 2018 3:20 pm

Been playing a 1966 Fender Electric XII for almost a year now. Really enjoying it. I got the Curtis Novak replacement pickups, which are a real improvement imo and I just love the neck. The longer scale and 7.25" radius is perfect for a 12 string.

Only one problem. As opposed to a lot of other 12s, the strings of each pair are very close together. It's not really a problem for the E - A - D - G strings, but on the unison B and E strings, each pair are so close together, when you pluck them, the strings buzz against one another and totally buzz out almost like fret buzz. I can tell it's not fret buzz because when you play one at a time it's clean, but when you play the pair they buzz. Happens every time and it really kills the jangle and almost makes it sound like a phaser or something, not good.

It's easy to fix at the nut because you can just cut a new nut with spacing exactly how you want, but at the bridge it is a little bit different. You can see there's no way to space the strings differently

Image

My local shop said the only thing they could think to do is to remove material from the insides of the posts on each side of the saddles (near the holes where you adjust bridge height), which would create some space, and then placing spacers between the desired string saddles to space the strings more. I am obviously very apprehensive about permanently altering the bridge. Besides I don't think there is enough material to remove before you hit the holes and I also think it would just look shitty. The other idea would be to remove material from the outside of a saddle piece itself so you could put a spacer on the other side, which would be much more subtle but still not ideal. Tiny spacers could easily run away when you have to re string the guitar.

Does anyone have any other ideas? Is there any other bridge that will fit on the Electric XII? It's a very unique design, so I somehow doubt it.

Can I buy any of these components second hand and mod them however I want without worrying about messing up the original?

Thanks.

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by akpasta » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:48 am

I'm using .10 and .13 now. I should go up? You think they'll rattle less?

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by mgeek » Fri Aug 03, 2018 7:17 am

is the block that goes up and down which the saddles rest on a simple lump of metal or is there any complicated threading etc?

If it's basically just a lump with some holes in it I'd suggest making an alternative one and then doing what the shop suggested- putting spacers between the saddles

Working Aluminium for example is really surprisingly easy even with hand tools.

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by akpasta » Fri Aug 03, 2018 7:29 am

Here's what the components look like. The block has tiny holes for two hex bolts that raise and lower the bridge on each side. Not super complicated but not that simple either.

I haven't taken it apart but I bet the component that sits in that bridge height piece is threaded as you can see in the other photos on that reverb listing.

https://goo.gl/images/4LyBc8

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by Paul-T » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:39 am

How strange. My Electric XII functioned really well.

Can you find a small circular piece of steel, like a small light key or rather buckle ring, with a diameter slightly smaller than the saddles? You could snip it, then slide it over the saddle, against the edge and it would force the string away from the edge, and its companion.

Do shout if this attempted explanation does/n't make sense...

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by mgeek » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:33 am

Paul-T wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:39 am
How strange. My Electric XII functioned really well.
Is there any other possible explanation for this? I don't think I've heard anyone complaining about the strings being too close together on an electric xii before, and on the closeup of that bridge they look...completely normally spaced for a twelve string

Just chucking this idea out there- Looking at the bridge design, with the long saddle screws, I'd say it could run into buzzing problems if there wasn't much break angle. Is the neck shimmed?

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by akpasta » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:41 am

Paul-T wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:39 am
How strange. My Electric XII functioned really well.

Can you find a small circular piece of steel, like a small light key or rather buckle ring, with a diameter slightly smaller than the saddles? You could snip it, then slide it over the saddle, against the edge and it would force the string away from the edge, and its companion.

Do shout if this attempted explanation does/n't make sense...
That sounds tough to pull off! It would have to be a mere 1-2mm thickness almost!

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by akpasta » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:45 am

mgeek wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:33 am
Paul-T wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:39 am
How strange. My Electric XII functioned really well.
Is there any other possible explanation for this? I don't think I've heard anyone complaining about the strings being too close together on an electric xii before, and on the closeup of that bridge they look...completely normally spaced for a twelve string

Just chucking this idea out there- Looking at the bridge design, with the long saddle screws, I'd say it could run into buzzing problems if there wasn't much break angle. Is the neck shimmed?
Part of the explanation is that I'm picky but it's also noticeably different from every other 12 I've played and it irks me.

Neck is not shimmed!

So far I think the best answer is to make anew bridge height piece out of aluminum with the proper holes for height adjustment. Machine shop search? Haha

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by mgeek » Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:36 am

Aha, well I reckon shimming it and raising the bridge to compensate is well worth a shot.

The extra break angle over the saddles will increase the tension and may well sort it...nothing to be lost and if it doesn't work, then yeah, machine shop it is!

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by akpasta » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:02 pm

mgeek wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:36 am
Aha, well I reckon shimming it and raising the bridge to compensate is well worth a shot.

The extra break angle over the saddles will increase the tension and may well sort it...nothing to be lost and if it doesn't work, then yeah, machine shop it is!

I see. So you think shimming it will pull the strings harder and make them less likely to rattle against one another? Hm. The main problem I think is they are so close together when you play an individual note on the B or E pair with one finger the two strings are literally touching unlike a Ric or something where they stay apart. That makes me skeptical that more pressure will do it.

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by mgeek » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:15 pm

akpasta wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:02 pm
mgeek wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:36 am
Aha, well I reckon shimming it and raising the bridge to compensate is well worth a shot.

The extra break angle over the saddles will increase the tension and may well sort it...nothing to be lost and if it doesn't work, then yeah, machine shop it is!

I see. So you think shimming it will pull the strings harder and make them less likely to rattle against one another? Hm. The main problem I think is they are so close together when you play an individual note on the B or E pair with one finger the two strings are literally touching unlike a Ric or something where they stay apart. That makes me skeptical that more pressure will do it.
Yeah it will give a little extra tension to the strings, so things would be less likely to wobbly about at the bridge end.

Got to ask though, how are the strings touching each other? They aren't in the picture of the bridge, so how is that happening?

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by akpasta » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:19 pm

Photobucket is dead and this site can't upload photos. But often on this guitar when you fret an individual note if it's not perfectly delicate the two strings push together and touch. Come to think of it. Maybe tension will make them less likely to drift that way as well.

There's two issues right, the first is the one I just described. The second is even if you play the strings open they rattle against each other.

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by Paul-T » Sat Aug 04, 2018 4:52 am

Could you be dragging a bit hard with your left hand perhaps? I still can't quite see how with a 1.5-2mmm separation the strings are oscillating so much that they touch. Are you using a pick, perhaps even a softer one might make a difference?

I can't see how a better break angle will make a different to the string oscillation, obviously it might help sustain etc.

it's a weird suggestion but I wonder if you had slightly mis-matched unwound strings - .08 and .09, plus say .10 and 11 for the B, they should oscillate differently and be less likely to touch.

All that said, my friend who I lent the XII to, who kept it so long that in the end I sold it (too cheap) uses it as a six-string.

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by akpasta » Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:17 am

I found a friend with a CNC machine. I was thinking of just taking the part over there and having it re made with the posts spaced farther apart so I could swap it out and start trying spacers between the string saddles

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Re: Fender Electric XII String Spacing

Post by N0_Camping4U » Sun Aug 05, 2018 1:09 pm

I have never heard of this before. My XII plays fine, I use very light strings though. But not much lighter than you. Please keep us updated for potential future travelers.
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