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 Post subject: Bridge and bridge plate.
PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:08 pm 
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Walnut
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Hi all. Have bought a cheap acoustic guitar in need of a lot of repairs. I bought it just for the experience I would gain doing these repairs.

I may have done things in the wrong order, but this is what I did. I first did a neck reset. Came out pretty good. The neck was loose when I got it. I then started on the bridge and bridge plate, both were coming off. I discovered that the bridge plate was made of cheap plywood. So I replaced that with on I made of hard maple. May have been a mistake on this cheapy. When I pulled the bridge I discovered that the saddle slot had been cut all the way through. The saddle actually rested on the soundboard of the guitar.

I am wondering what effects this thing's will have on tone. I believe I should replace the bridge, but if it will work as is I don't want to. But if it won't sound right then I am going to. Please any info would be appreciated.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:00 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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If you are doing this for experience, then why not make a new bridge? You will learn a lot. Don't be afraid to re-make it a few times until you are happy with what you have made. Locating and gluing the bridge properly will be a good learning experience too. What is the condition of the wood under the bridge? Is it covered in failed glue, the wood torn up, still covered in the same finish the rest of the soundboard has? All of this will need to be addressed new bridge or not.

If the neck, bridge and bridge plate were all coming loose, inspect all the other braces. I can't imagine they are not also coming loose in places.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:44 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Most cheap guitars have dowelled neck joints which provide absolutely no useful experience in resetting them. In the world of working Luthiers no one is going to pay $600 plus to reset a neck on a $125 dowelled neck import nor would any working Luthier that I know even agree to do it. If this guitar has a dovetail it is a good candidate for learning resets.

If you want neck reset experience old Harmony guitars on eBay have real dovetail joints and they provide useful experience in resetting any guitar with a dovetail joint, i.e. Martins, G*bsons, Collings and so on and so forth.

For bridge regluing the experience that's desired, useful, and necessary for commercial Luthiers is removing the bridge with no damage to the top of finish, expanding the bridge footprint on the top by clearing finish nearly to the perimeter of the bridge (f*ctories don't do this...) and then learning to fit the bridge back on with a cleaned up bottom and the top's bridge patch cleaned up. Often bridges need to be fitted to the tops for gapless fits.

Next learning to use hot hide glue in 15 seconds or less and/or preheating, working in your underwear in a 110F room (this does not go over real well in the commercial world especially if you like going commando...) and how to clamp things in place without the darn thing sliding out of place is all useful experience.

As far as what impacts tone it's WAY too subjective and working Luthiers with decent levels of experience will rarely go there. What you hear and what I hear may be different.

Lastly bridge plates rarely need to come out or be replaced. It does happen but what is far more common is "capping" a damaged plate with a maple, beveled .060" thick bridge plate cap. Much easier, economically feasible for nearly any instrument, and you do not risk splitting the top's center seam like you do when removing a bridge plate.

Bryan is right that experience making bridges from scratch is very useful and that's how it's done. you cannot by bridges that are exact replacements for most instruments and even Martin replacement bridges are not perfect fits so we make our own. Know your platen on your belt sander we say...;)

Good on you for wanting to learn.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:06 pm 
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Walnut
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The neck is a dovetail, and it's done. The bridge plate was coming off. I understand that people hear differently. I really would like to know if you think the bridge being cut through will hurt the tone. I don't need to know specifics.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:23 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Ricklt wrote:
The neck is a dovetail, and it's done. The bridge plate was coming off. I understand that people hear differently. I really would like to know if you think the bridge being cut through will hurt the tone. I don't need to know specifics.

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Rick,
Let me start by saying "I don't know".
But just to get the conversation started let me list my unfounded concern:

If the saddle slot is not cut all the way through, the saddle rests on the hard ebony bridge, and the vibration then is distributed through the bridge onto the top. That is traditional.

If the saddle slot is cut all the way through, the saddle rests on the relatively softer spruce and the sound is not distributed as well through the bridge, and is locally damped by the spruce.

Like I said, "I don't know", but I've found when I say something that people disagree with, they aren't shy about piling on with good info, so maybe this will get your answer jump started.
Mike


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:26 pm 
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Walnut
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First name: Rick
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That's the kind of information I'm looking for. Maybe I'm not saying it correctly, but you got what I'm after. Thank you very much. I still want any other input anyone might have.

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These users thanked the author Ricklt for the post: Imbler (Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:22 pm)
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:20 pm 
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Koa
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It is traditional to have the slot not go all the way thru but in my humble, if it was well cut, has a flat bottom against the top, doesn't have glue or anything in it, it is probably OK. On a pinned bridge the saddle works by "rocking" the top, you want a nice snug fit, as deep as possible and no play.

However you said the bridge is coming off - you need to take it all the way off to clean up the old glue and ensure that you have a nice tight connection when you reglue it. Even if it would work to just reglue it, why not make it better by making a new bridge? The one caveat here is that normally the neck angle is set to the bridge (which I assume you did), it might be difficult to duplicate the thickness of the old bridge with a new one.

Another option would be to reglue the old bridge, then fill the slot with ebony or rosewood and reslot it. That way you can get a nice tight slot in the correct location and make it not quite as deep. It is fairly common to fill and reslot bridges on both old Martins (with the slot in the wrong location) and those Epi's and other guitars with the big thumb screw inserts.

One nice thing about using the old bridge is that you can use the pin holes to locate it - here is a caul that I made for this purpose. It goes inside on the bridge plate, is made out of UHMW so glue won't stick to it, has slots so I can adjust the pin spacing and is tall enough that I won't crush braces with my clamps

Image

Bottom line, like Mike, I don't know it is has any effect on sound - I would say its subtle if any. If you feel the quality of the repair is what you want with the old bridge, then glue it back on. If you want a chance to change it, now is the time



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: dpetrzelka (Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:45 pm)
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:59 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Ricklt wrote:
I am wondering what effects this thing's will have on tone. I believe I should replace the bridge, but if it will work as is I don't want to. But if it won't sound right then I am going to. Please any info would be appreciated.

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That's the rub.... it will work as is (unless the bridge or saddle are damaged/lifting/etc) AND if you replace the bridge it will likely have some impact on tone but honestly and realistically no one here including me knows exactly to what degree beyond hunches and opinion. Hunches and opinion are not something that I'm willing to spread or offer about tone because I know from personal experience it's too important to folks to get wrong.....

Everyday in our business someone asks if they will like these pickups or another pickup more or what the difference in sound will be. And every day we offer that we are happy to put the stinkin things in but we are not snake oil merchants dealing in the subjectivity of issues related to tone. Nor do we sell any of these products that folks purchase chasing tone, we are not a music store. We only do heavy lifting repair work and insist that our work that we take in has a defined beginning, a defined ending.... and a mutually agreed upon definition of success. If this is not the case we won't accept the work.

The instrument you are working with was engineered to have a saddle slot that goes all the way through the bridge. I'm not recalling which maker did this but I've worked on these before. Since it was engineered this way what impact it has on tone is very much part of how this guitar is intended to sound. It's not a question of if it sounds better or worse it's simply what the maker intended.

Putting a more conventional bridge on it where the saddle sits on bridge material likely will sound different. If how different is what you are asking again no one here including me would know the answer to this. Lutherie is like that, try to build a better mouse trap and you may be on your own.

OTOH thousands have come before us often with the same questions and concerns and just as often there are good reasons why things were or are as they are.

If you are "restorative" in your motivation copy or reuse the existing bridge. Having the saddle sit directly on spruce is not wrong..... it's just different from the norm these days. If there are specific issues that you seek to improve/address in how the instrument sounded prior measurements with controls would have been a good idea. It's..... very...... easy...... to.......fool.......ourselves when discussing or addressing anything as subjective as tone. If I sound like a broken record with the subjectivity of sound, good, that's one of my points here.

Lastly if what you wanted to hear with no disrespect intended is support for what you wish to do anyway why not just do it? Again someone here can tell you what you may want to hear but that's not accurate, professional or how I personally roll.

To summarize no one can answer your question about the impact on something as subjective as tone unless they have done exactly what you are describing with an exact guitar just like yours. Even still wood is not homogeneous in nature and two pieces from the very same tree may sound.... different. This is our daily dilemma in the trade. Clients may ask questions such as yours (and they do just that) and answers are not generally reliably available OR prudent to offer.

So with all of this said, and you will run into this time and time again when attempting to address the subject of "tone" because it's so very subjective do what ever you like, try it. I'm just contributing the idea that no one here will definitively know AND your goals for the instrument, restorative or perhaps changing it matter in what we/you do.

I should have asked this up front, what's the brand of the guitar? I have a picture in my minds eye of this bridge having worked on them before but I can't remember the maker. Alvarez maybe, Ov*tion?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:36 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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I was going to make an attempt to answer some of your questions yesterday, but with so little information, it's almost impossible to give answers without speculation on my part. For instance, what will your saddle height be when finished? How thick is the top? Is the top bowed? X braced or ladder? Spruce? Plywood? You get the idea...
I wouldn't worry about "tone" as you don't know what it sounded like in the first place. I'd just say glue the old bridge on unless it is very low in height. You can always fill it and re-slot as mentioned above.
The neck reset would be the last thing to do as you don't know where to set it without the bridge on.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:12 am 
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Walnut
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I guess I'm not explaining this very well. The bridge was not designed the way it is. You can see where someone has used a knife, chisel, something to cut the nut slot out. You can see where the saddle used to set in the bridge. Someone removed material from the bottom of the slot to make it go all the way through. Sorry for not explaining well enough.
I am again, not asking for specifics on tone. I just want to know if you think, this will hurt the sound of the guitar.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:15 am 
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Walnut
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This is a SAE HAN guitar. It's x braced. Again not asking for specifics. Just want to know if I hurt the sound by putting in a hard maple bridge plate. And if the bridge being cut through that way will hurt.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:23 am 
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Walnut
Walnut

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First name: Rick
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Maybe I should say this differently. I am asking for opinions. I know you can't be specific. I want to know what you think. I know you can't guarantee anything and I don't want you to. I know you all have an opinion based on your experience. That's all I'm asking for.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:32 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Sounds like someone did a cheap "repair" of a neck reset, which is to lower the saddle (and probably file the bridge down). Not familiar with the guitar, but doubt you will hurt the tone much by doing anything. A good junker to practice on...

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:47 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Ah thanks, now that I can Google and learn that it's a Korean spec guitar that tells me some things that I do have opinions about.

You won't hurt one of these by replacing a plywood bridge plate that was loose with a hard maple one. Maple is a preferred bridge plate material and widely used by some of the top makers who's value proposition includes a perception of desirable tone. Of course all things bridge plate, beveling, thickness, shape, pin holes, slotting etc. apply in terms of what the bridge plate should look like. Grain orientation is also important although subject to some debate with some.

Since it needed a neck reset and you said the neck was even loose AND you suspect that the saddle slot had been deepened it could be, forensically speaking that the saddle slot was deepened, wrongly... because it needed at neck reset. They had taken the saddle all the way down and if the slot was shallow it would not stand up properly so they deepened it. Opinion from me though as you requested. I can't know. It could have been unintended and a sloppy route. Who knows.

There is a maker who slots to the top though and I have worked on guitars where the saddle slot goes all the way through the bridge. I just can't remember the maker but I do, as usual.... remember that I was not impressed.

Since the thing was not originally slotted to the top I would replace the bridge for another reason and not the tone/subjective reason. The slot may be too weak to handle the pull of string tension if it does not have a floor from the bridge blank. Or, in other words it may split forward with string tension since a through slot is much weaker.

With this said I'd make a new bridge with a properly slotted saddle slot.

Pics are usually requested on this forum and others too if you would please do so. That would have possibly avoided lots of confusion on the part of a number of us. Thanks.

Lastly how about showing some results (pics) as well. Show us your neck joint, what the bridge looks like, etc. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:40 am 
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Koa
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I'm going to add one thing to what Hesh just said. The normal thickness of a bridge is about 3/8 of an inch and with a correctly set neck you will have approximately 1/8 of saddle sticking out of the bridge. Frequently bridges get shaved to allow the action to be lowered (rather than doing the correct neck reset). Sometimes if the bridge has been shaved, the slot will be made deeper so the bridge retains some strength. You may want to go back and check all of the geometry to make sure you are reasonably close.

You have asked several times whether this will "hurt the tone". Lets be honest, this was probably not a great sounding guitar in the first place, certain did not sound good when the neck, b/p and bridge were all loose, and probably won't sound great when you are all done. However "tone" is subjective and so the question is really moot.



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: Hesh (Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:45 am)
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:50 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Remembering now.... there were Epiphones from Japan that had saddle slots milled completely through the bridge for a "chassis" assembly with adjustors on both ends that cradled the saddle. The adjusters were threaded into threaded inserts inserted into the top taking some of the load likely off the leading edge of the bridge now slotted completely through the top.

The system actually worked pretty well and permitted the player (or Luthier) to adjust action on the fly with no tools required. Imagine that....

The down side might have been the 100 plus grams of metal hardware right in the sweet spot of the top. The best laid plans of mice and men..... oh well.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:35 pm 
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Koa
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Hesh, I had one of those a while back where the owner lost the insert. Rather than try to find one on evil bay or make one, I simply made a tight fitting rosewood plug for the hole and routed a 3/32 slot in it to fit a standard saddle. I didn't glue the the insert into the bridge - that way if the owner ever finds the little ToM piece he can go back if he wants to.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:32 pm 
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Walnut
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Sorry about not having pics. I know better. Just forgot. Will get some soon.

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These users thanked the author Ricklt for the post: Hesh (Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:08 am)
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:06 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Freeman wrote:
Hesh, I had one of those a while back where the owner lost the insert. Rather than try to find one on evil bay or make one, I simply made a tight fitting rosewood plug for the hole and routed a 3/32 slot in it to fit a standard saddle. I didn't glue the the insert into the bridge - that way if the owner ever finds the little ToM piece he can go back if he wants to.


We had one too a couple months ago that belonged to an ex Navy Seal who is a friend of ours and hangs with a nearly 80 year old famous jazz player who is also a friend. The Jazz player played with Joe Pass and knew him and also knew D'Aquisto and had two, has two... Archies that D'Aquisto made just for him that we work on from time to time.

We had one of those chassis with crappy plastic saddle which is what Jerry, the ex Navy Seal was missing so we set him up at no charge and thanked him as we often do for his service. Since we inherited our shop from a 54 year old repair operation that was where Dan E. got his start we have a lot of vintage parts that we don't even know we have at times.... Most of it is crap but sometimes you have a need for specific... crap....;)

BTW Alvarez did use a very similar system and that's where I've see the saddle slot milled all the way though the bridge before. Alvarez for a while used a chassis too.

The plug idea is a great idea. We have to plug 70's Martins that had the saddle mislocated and then recut and properly position. The Collins Saddle Mill makes that a 5 minute operation first in making the existing saddle slot consistent for a plug and then in recutting with no run out.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:13 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Ricklt wrote:
Sorry about not having pics. I know better. Just forgot. Will get some soon.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk


No prob, welcome to the forum. It's mostly a builders forum but there are professional repair people here some with decades of experience and even Frank Ford is here too. It's a good place to bounce ideas if you wish.


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