From the Work Bench

’63 Gibson Bridge Repair

by larry on March 19, 2013

in Guitar shop

On our trip back from Harlingen Texas we stayed at a friends house that had an old Gibson Guitar he bought new in ’63. He said his daughter had it for many years and the bridge started lifting so her husband took it on him self to repair it. He removed the old bridge and epoxied a new one back in it’s place not knowing that it would leave the guitar completely useless because of intonation (the saddle not being in the right place). So he asked me to try to fix it. I thought it might be a good blog to put up so I took a lot of pics of the process and decided to put them on this page. First of all if you ever replace a bridge on a guitar do not use epoxy…. it dose not transfer sound very well and is a pain in the neck to clean up if you have to replace it. Use animal hide glue (first choice) or an aliphatic resin (AR) glue (like carpenters wood glue 2nd choice) also make sure that the saddle of the bridge is equal to the distance from the 12th fret and from the 12th to the nut. that is 12th fret would be exactly half way to the center of the saddle. First I heated the bridge with a 80 watt bulb to soften the epoxy and started a very thin bakers icing spatula under the bridge and very slowly worked all the way around it pushing ever deeper and keeping it hot till the bridge came off. The area of bear wood was now larger than the original bridge design would cover so I thought it was ok to refinish the entire top because it was to late to save the original. this was a last resort type of thing but it was not a very expensive model Gibson and he just wanted it to play well. First I had to repair the area where the the pins went through the top since there were now two sets of holes instead of one and it was very weak and splintered. I sawed out the holes and glued a new 3/32 by about 2 by 7 inch maple bridge plate over the old one (After I sanded the old one smooth). Then filled the rectangular whole with a spruce patch that was 1/4 inch thick leaving it sticking above the top and then planned and sanded it flush. I then removed all the finish I could with a safe indoor paint remover and sanded it smooth using 150 and 220 grit paper then applied a sealer of orange and clear shellac (60 % clear and maybe 40% orange)this gives the top and binding the right patina for an old guitar. It is now ready for the sun burst finish of colored lacquers (in a later installment)

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