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Old 11-04-2011, 12:16 AM
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Removing and reattaching guitar bridge

I have a pretty electro-acoustic Tanglewood guitar. Today I went to play it and was surprised to find it was a tone or so flat, on pretty much every string. I retuned it and noticed that by the time I got to the top E, bottom E had dropped by a tone again. Then I found out why: one side of the bridge is pulling away from the soundboard.

I immediately de-strung it and put my hand in the hole. There's no internal fixing to be felt, so I think the bridge is only glued onto the soundboard (bad Tanglewood!), and the glue at the end furthest from the strings has failed, so that side of the bridge is sticking up about 3mm from the soundboard. The side closest to the nut is still securely glued. With no strings pulling at it, it's completely rigid, so I can't push it back flush with the soundboard using my hands.

I've priced professional repairs and the cost of repair seems to be about the same as the cost of the guitar, so I need to DIY.

I think the best repair is to remove it and re-glue it, but a) I don't know what glue to use (cyanoacrylate? Araldite?); b) I don't know how to release the glue it's currently stuck on with in order to replace it; c) there's a wire for the pickup going through the soundboard inside the guitar, which I suspect is embedded in the bridge itself and I don't want to damage it.

Has anyone had experience of this type of repair? Anyone an amateur (or professional) luthier? Anyone got any advice?

Last edited by jjimm; 11-04-2011 at 12:17 AM.
Old 11-04-2011, 04:11 AM
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Location: CentralArkansas
Posts: 22,634
Google repair loose guitar bridge

Quite a few hits. Here's one that sounds pretty good. It's a complicated repair that I wouldn't risk unless the alternative is the trash.

Quote:
Most commonly is the practice of slipping glue under the loose bridge and clamping it back down. This is not the best idea, as there is old glue on the surface of the wood, which blocks the glue from getting into the pores of the wood for solid adhesion. The bridge can pop loose again pretty easily this way. A correct bridge reglue requires the removal of the bridge, the cleaning of old glue footprints from both the top and the bridge underside, and then regluing.
http://customguitars.com/dos.html

A pros approach.
http://guitarrepairshop.com/repairbridge.html

Last edited by aceplace57; 11-04-2011 at 04:13 AM.
Old 11-04-2011, 07:17 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 21,362
On my smartphone; not sure how articulate I can be.

Been through this. My old Gibson acoustic had a bridge corner lift - needed to be redone 4 times. Turns out that it was constructed with hide glue, but a previous bridge glue down (pretty common on old acoustics) someone used Elmer's Wood Glue or equiv. Once they realized that they had to remove the bridge, clean the glue off pretty aggressively and then start over with hide glue. it's great now; I love that thumpy little guitar.

I suspect Your guitar was made with the type of glue referred to commercially in the U.S. as TiteBond. Hide fell out of favor because it is messy and slow to work with. Most luthier use TB but hide has made a small cult comeback - Martin's high-end Authentic Series uses hide. Geeks think the hide glue crystallizes and helps increases overall resonance vs more pliable glues.

The post above offers the best coaching: seek out online vids, do your research and use the right tools (eg, clamps) and glue. But yeah, the whole bridge should most likely come off.
Old 11-04-2011, 07:59 AM
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OK, thanks both of you.

Looks like I'm screwed as I am in the middle of nowhere and I have no tools. Guess it'll have to wait until I'm back in civilization!
Old 11-04-2011, 08:07 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 21,362
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
OK, thanks both of you.

Looks like I'm screwed as I am in the middle of nowhere and I have no tools. Guess it'll have to wait until I'm back in civilization!
Well crap; sorry. Look if you don't mind "kludging" a solution that gets you playing but is not a "best practice" that will likely require a re-look back in civilization, then yeah smear/squeeze some glue in there, but what matters most is the clamp - you've gotta have a deep C clamp or two to really ensure a good bond.

Hope this helps.
Old 11-04-2011, 08:10 AM
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Yeah, I have cyanoacrilate with me, but I don't want to risk damaging it any further. I'm going to let a professional handle it, and I guess I won't be able to play for the next five months.
Old 11-04-2011, 08:16 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 21,362
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
Yeah, I have cyanoacrilate with me, but I don't want to risk damaging it any further. I'm going to let a professional handle it, and I guess I won't be able to play for the next five months.
Yeah, crap - I was afraid of that.

I assume the wild place you're in has a different climate vs what the guitar is used to. Acoustics need tweaks sometimes as they adjust to new climates. Sorry.
Old 11-04-2011, 08:22 AM
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Yes, the guitar came from England to 30-34C, but I stupidly rested it under the A/C unit, so it has been doing down to maybe 25C then back up again depending on whether I'm in or not. My own damn stupid fault.
Old 11-04-2011, 08:31 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 21,362
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
Yes, the guitar came from England to 30-34C, but I stupidly rested it under the A/C unit, so it has been doing down to maybe 25C then back up again depending on whether I'm in or not. My own damn stupid fault.
Got it. Yep, that'll do it. Sorry.
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