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When I asked Son House to listen to a particular line from a song by Charley Patton that I could not make out, House laughed. He said "You could sit at Charley's feet and not understand a word he sang." - Jeff Todd Titon, Early Downhome Blues

Author Topic: Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge  (Read 1700 times)

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Offline lareth

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Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge
« on: October 05, 2015, 09:46:57 AM »
Hey!

A long time ago, my bridge started coming off on a guitar I really liked, and as I'm a musician I don't really have the cash to repair it, and alas, it is my source of income.

The bridge also came completely off on my cheap ukulele.

So I thought, what have I got to lose. I'll just drill a couple of holes through the bridge and the ukulele, and use a bolt and nut to reattach it. It worked. I sawed off the end of the bolt, and filed it down so it wouldn't scratch my playing hand.

As this worked well, I thought I'd take a chance on my guitar as well. I repeated the process, and tightened the bridge back on with the bolts (or screws, not sure what you call em).

It's a bit too late now, I wasn't going to be using that guitar on gigs etc anyways since I always feared the bridge would eventually come off, but is there a reason why bridges aren't attached this way to guitars more often?

Glue seems to always be the first thing to start failing on bridges, and it doesn't take much of a bump for it to start losing grip on cheaper guitars, and on old guitars, especially here in the cold climate.

Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Re: Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2015, 09:51:09 AM »
Someone who is a luthier will probably chime in on this one, but as far as I know, using screws puts the bridge down in one place, whereas with glue the bridge can be moved back and forth easier to find that "sweet spot"....
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Offline Stuart

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Re: Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2015, 11:19:34 AM »
I agree with Ross--Being able to re-glue the bridge to correct the intonation is an important consideration. Using fasteners just complicates the process.

FYI: Stew-Mac sells the Plate Mate which is actually made by Mitchel Meadors.

http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Tools_by_Job/Bridges/Plate_Mate.html

http://www.mitchelsplatemate.com/index.html
« Last Edit: October 05, 2015, 11:25:33 AM by Stuart »

Offline slidnslim

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Re: Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2015, 04:04:06 PM »
Many 30's guitars especially Kay and Harmony had the pin bridges bolted as well as glued,they had pealoid dots over the bolt head.


Kenny,

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2015, 01:38:35 AM »
Many 30's guitars especially Kay and Harmony had the pin bridges bolted as well as glued,they had pealoid dots over the bolt head.

That's also the case with my Kalamazoo from 1941.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline lareth

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Re: Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2015, 05:50:24 AM »
Thanks for all the info!

I left the glue in place, and didn't remove the bridge before bolting it in place, since the glue was just coming off the top side of the bridge, and I thought that I wouldn't want to risk misplacing it with such a permanent solution. I drilled holes on the sides to put the bolts in, so the bridge is now secure right where it originally was, and after playing it for a couple of days it hasn't started to come off at all, and I can always tighten the bolts if necessary.

I'm glad this worked since I really love this guitar, and I don't mind the bridge being permanently where it is now.

This is a good thread for anyone else thinking about doing something like this!

EDIT: Also, I put, dunno what you call them in English, but those rings on both ends of the bolt, to spread the pressure of the nut and bolt, just in case, to make sure it wont start breaking the wood. I would suggest, if possible, to put rubber rings there as well, just to keep it in place, and to make sure there's not too much pressure on the wood from the metal. I didn't have rubber rings but I might get them at a later time and put them there to make sure everything stays in shape.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 05:53:10 AM by lareth »

Offline slidnslim

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Re: Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2015, 09:08:48 AM »
"Washers"  yeah good idea,,,,,,,,


Kenny,

Offline pete1951

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Re: Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2015, 06:15:18 AM »
Screws (or more often bolts) have been used by lots of makers (with a washer on the underside of the table) Most guitars with 2 mother-of-pearl dots on the bridge will have bolts under them (Gibson J45 ? some Ovations) The Italian maker Eko , used `Pop` rivets with plastic covers on top.
PT
Takamine have 2 MoP dots each side of the saddle on many guitars but these hide height adjustment screws

Offline onewent

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Re: Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2015, 04:12:46 PM »
Since this info lives on the web for likely a very long time, I'd like to add that it's not best practice among luthiers to bolt or screw the bridge to a guitar.  In fact, it can do damage to your guitar top, and devalue your guitar, especially a vintage Gibson, Martin, Stella etc.

Yes, makers have in the past done it ... Gibson in the 30s-60s, Kay and Harmony in the 40s -50s ... but that does not mean it is a good idea or the best idea, and the bulk of quality guitar makers today don't bolt, only glue. 

Hot hide glue or instrument makers white glue is the best method to attach a bridge.  The reason is that glue covering the entire gluing surface between guitar top and bridge bottom, ensures complete surface contact.  That translates to maximum tone production.  With only a few bolts, there are many air pockets between the guitar top and bridge bottom.

Additionally, a guitar strung to tension, or even extreme tension, and left in poor atmospheric conditions (temps/humidity) over time, or a car on a hot day, will have its wooden parts begin to 'move'.  These forces are extremely strong, and will pull the top of the guitar up, and in some cases will rip the bolts right through the top, taking chunks of the top with it.  I've seen many beautiful old guitars with this problem, since it was a common 'handyman' fix back in the day.  Without the bolts, however, the bridge will just come unglued, preserving the integrity of the top.  I recently bought a WWII era Gibson that suffered this exact thing, it's not pretty and very tricky (expensive) to repair.  Plus, the repairs, no matter how expertly done, will greatly devalue the guitar.  I take the position that I'm a 'caretaker' of a vintage instrument and will keep it in good shape for the next generation to enjoy, rather than 'it's my guitar and I can do what I want with it' viewpoint, in case you haven't noticed  :P.

lareth, to reglue your bridge, you'd only need a bit of carpenter's glue, a few cheap-ish clamps, and a small chisel or kitchen knife to scrape the surfaces before gluing.  Hardly any more effort than to drill holes and attach bolts.  The added bonus is you'd get better tone and longer life from your instrument!  If you want to pursue this, let me know, I can help you through it, plus there are tons on youtube videos, too.

Hope this helps shed some light.  Regards, Tom

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2015, 01:21:15 AM »
Wise words from onewent.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline pete1951

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Re: Reinforcing Your Guitar Bridge
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2015, 11:29:08 AM »
I guess I should have said something of the sort after my bit on bolting bridges.... yes it is NOT best practice , but can save a cheap guitar that otherwise would be burnt.

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