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Old Gibson, New Bridge


1.0 Gibson J-45 New Bridge.JPG 1.1 Gibson J-45 New Bridge cracks at through saddle and pin holes.JPG
1. This Guitar’s Original Bridge has to go. It needs to be replaced because it’s cracked almost in half. Making a new bridge will also allow me to address some other problems this guitar has including poor intonation and an over-set neck angle. 2. A Really Tall Saddle. The neck was poorly reset which threw off the intonation and rendered the original bridge way too thin to handle the tall saddle required by the guitar’s altered geometry.
1.2 Gibson J-45 New Bridge heat bridge to soften glue.JPG 1.3 Gibson J-45 New Bridge remove bridge.JPG
3. Heating the Bridge softens the glue which makes it easier and safer to remove the bridge. 4. A Thin Spatula frees the bridge from the top.
1.4 Gibson J-45 New Bridge bridge removed.JPG 1.5 Gibson J-45 New Bridge mill bridge blank.JPG
5. Removing the Bridge reveals the 1/8″ wide band of finish that was left under the bridge. I’ll remove this later. 6. Preparing the Blank. I’m using my #6 plane and a bench- hook to flatten and square one face and one side of the rosewood bridge blank.
1.6 Gibson J-45 New Bridge drill pin holes.JPG 1.7 Gibson J-45 New Bridge pattern sand new guitar bridge.JPG
7.Drilling the Pin-Holes on the drill press. 8. Pattern Sanding the New Bridge. I’ve shimmed the old bridge so the new one will be taller. This extra height will allow me to both compensate for the over-set neck and shape the new bridge to match the arching of the guitar’s top.
1.8 Gibson J-45 New Bridge fine tune footprint of bridge.JPG 1.9 Gibson J-45 New Bridge scrape away sander marks.JPG
9. Fine-Tuning the Bridge footprint to match the original bridge is important for the looks of the repair. I like to do this with a bench plane. 10. Scraping the top of the Bridge gets rid of the course patern-sanding marks.
2.0 Gibson J-45 New Bridge drill for pearl dots.JPG 2.1 Gibson J-45 New Bridge final sand bridge.JPG
11. Inlaying Pearl Dots. The original bridge had a couple of machine screws hidden under two pearl dots. There’s no need to bolt the bridge but I do want to maintain that original look. 12. Fine Sanding the bridge.
2.2 Gibson J-45 New Bridge contour gauge top.JPG 2.3 Gibson J-45 New Bridge fit bridge to guitar top contour.JPG
13. A Contour Gauge takes a reading of the top. This will help me shape the bottom of the bridge. 14. Shaping the Bottom of the Bridge with a block plane and a scraper. Edged tools make the best glue joints for hide-glue.
2.4 Gibson J-45 New Bridge check bridge arching.JPG 2.5 Gibson J-45 New Bridge clean up top.JPG
15. Checking the Fit. 16. Preparing the Top of the guitar for gluing. I’m using a chisel to remove the residual glue and finish from the top.
2.6 Gibson J-45 New Bridge glue bridge with hide glue.JPG 2.7 Gibson J-45 New Bridge layout saddle slot for intonation.JPG
17. Gluing and Clamping the bridge with hot hide glue. I’ll leave the guitar clamped for 24 hours. 18. Locating the Saddle Slot for optimal intonation with adjustable saddles shows just how off the intona- tion was on the old bridge. I can’t place a slot for the saddle that close to the front of the treble side of the bridge because the bridge would crack. But I can get closer than the old bridge by giving the new bridge a drop-in saddle.
2.8 Gibson J-45 New Bridge route saddle slot.JPG 2.9 Gibson J-45 New Bridge complete.JPG
19. Routing the Saddle Slot. This 1940’s Gibson J-45 has a compli- cated repair history that has rendered it a player’s guitar so the owner has chosen functionality over collectibility. 20. A Compensated Bone Saddle completes the repair.