Guitar Bridge Repair: How to Reset a Bridge, Repair Crack Bridges and Much More


Guitar Bridge Repair - Part 2

Learn how to reset, repair or replace an acoustic or classical guitar bridge with these easy to follow instructions for the do it yourself guitarist.

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Guitar Bridge Repair - Part 2:

Note: This article is continued from Guitar Bridge Repair Part 1. Bridge issues covered here will be:

    Bridge too thick.
    Bridge too thin.
    Improper bridge pin location.
    Saddle groove improper size.
    Saddle in wrong location.
    Screws used to secure bridge.
    Bridge set in wrong location.
Bridge too thick or too thin:

This can result from a few different conditions. If the bridge is too thick and the saddle is the proper height above the surface of the bridge and the action does not need lowering, the guitar neck was set improperly.

About the only cure for this is to reset the neck. If the bridge is too thin, you will loose strength as the bridge distributes the string tension evenly over the top of the guitar and to the braces and bridge plate below.

If the bridge is too thin you can get a cracked bridge, have your top belly or loose some tone. A bridge that is too thin is usually a result of improper construction or aggressive thinning of the bridge to improve string action, when a neck reset was in order.

Classical Guitar

Guitar Bridge Repair - Acoustic Belly Bridge

Improper Bridge Pin Location:

I have seen bridge pins located either too close or too far away from the saddle or too close to the edge of the bridge. The only Guitar Bridge Repair for this condition is to install a new bridge.

Saddle Groove Improper Size:

This can be either too small and the saddle is forced into place and the result is the saddle does not fit squarely on the bottom of the channel. This Guitar Bridge Repair technique requires the groove to be re-routed and resized to fit the saddle.

A more likely condition is that the saddle groove is too wide for the saddle and the result is that the string tension bends the saddle over or tips the saddle. The saddle groove could also not be deep enough to securely hold the saddle upright.

The easiest fix for these conditions is to thin the saddle in the case of the saddle is too thick. Install a wider saddle if the groove is too wide.

If you can't obtain a saddle that is wide enough for the saddle channel you have to glue a strip of wood into the channel.

Match the bridge wood and make the strip fit tightly and make it so the wood strip stand about the bridge very slightly. Use 2-part epoxy glue to glue in the strip.

Let the glue thoroughly dry - follow the glue directions. Sand the strip level with the remainder of the bridge. Now you will need to route a new saddle channel into the bridge. Follow the bridge diagram as shown below.

Guitar Construction

Guitar Bridge Repair - Gluing With Cam Clamps

Make sure you are very precise with these dimensions as position is everything.

Don't know what the exact position of your saddle should be? It is based on what the scale length of your guitar should be. Refer to the illustration at the top of the page.

Your scale length will be exactly double of the measurement from the back edge of the nut to the center of the 12th fret.

If you measure 325mm to the 12th fret, the distance from the center of the 12th fret to the center of the saddle between the 3rd and 4th strings will also be 325mm.

Refer to the article on Making a New Bridge for instructions on cutting a new saddle channel.

Acoustic Guitar

Guitar Bridge Repair - How To Measure Scale Length

Saddle Improper Location:

Can't seem to get your guitar in tune? Even with relatively new strings? Check your saddle location - it may be off slightly and the intonation of your guitar is off.

If this is the case the Guitar Bridge Repair needed is to fill-in the existing saddle channel and route a new one. To locate the saddle precisely, your scale length will be exactly double of the measurement from the back edge of the nut to the center of the 12th fret.

If you measure 325mm to the 12th fret, the distance from the center of the 12th fret to the center of the saddle between the 3rd and 4th strings will also be 325mm.

Acoustic Guitar

Guitar Bridge Repair - What's Wrong With This Picture?

Screws used to secure a bridge:

Look at the photo in the above illustration. See the MOP (Mother of Pearl) dots in the bridge. This is a likely tip-off That metal fasteners are lurking below. Pry-off the dots and check it out.

If screws are used to secure a bridge and you need to remove the bridge, you also will need to remove the screws (or bolts).

A heads up as to the clues that you have metal bolts or screws to secure your bridge is two mop dots located on either side of the saddle. If you see this you probably have metal attachments. To make sure, remove the strings and look inside the guitar.

You will see them on the underside of the bridge. They have to come off to work on the bridge or you may destroy your top plate. Once you have them out - do not replace them!

Metal severely compromises the sound quality of a guitar by dampening sound.

Follow my Guitar Bridge Repair on Bridge Replacement or Bridge Resetting.

Bridge in the Wrong Location:

The Guitar Bridge Repair technique required you to determine your guitars' scale length. I will say this - If your bridge is in the wrong location, it is likely that the guitar was built so poorly that it may not be worth salvaging.

I have made minor scale length adjustments by moving the saddle location within the existing bridge. I have even made a new bridge - By making the bridge footprint a bit larger.

This eliminates the need to perform any refinishing operations on the top.

To see additional information on Bridges and Guitar Bridge Repair - go to these recommended articles:

    Go to Guitar Bridge Repair Part One
    Guitar Saddle Adjustment
    Guitar Saddle Problems
    How to Reset a Bridge
    How to Replace a Bridge Plate
    How to Repair Loose Braces
    How to Make a Bridge
    Replacing Your Saddle
Bridge Pins

Guitar Bridge Repair - Consider Ebony Bridge Pin Replacements