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Gitane DG 250M

muddymuddy Southern New EnglandNew Gitane DG-250M
So I bought my first gypsy guitar about 9 months ago - a maple 250M.... loud, brash a little ringing which I learned to control by muting, or use for effect pretty quickly. In short - I LOVED this guitar and I have been playing 50 years and have three Gibsons (175, SG and J-45)…. the setup was magnificent. I had to move to the east coast and could only take a few guitars.... I sold the 250M. BIG MISTAKE.

I found another on Ebay, 2005, with a hairline crack from the pickguard being put on when the humidity had swelled the guitar quite a bit, and when the humidity dropped, the pick guard pulled the wood outside of its area. It was removed by previous owner. No problem, the thing sounds great, and I can live with that.

The neck had quite a bow to it, I adjusted the truss rod to flatten it out - pretty close. The Bridge is the issue. It has one of those old Gitane railroad tie bridges and it has the E string (both sides) at 5+ mm above the 12th fret.

Given my arthritic and painful trapezium (end of thumb bone), I need to get the action down to around 3mm on the low E and 2.4mm on the high E. As it is now, the arpeggios die out on the way up the scale as the string distance increases and my hand doesn't have enough strength anymore to compensate for such high action.

I saw some advice on this forum about lowering action by filing the top of the bridge. My question is, is that too deep a cut to be making on the string slots? I want to be sure I don't sink the string into the slot too deep that it affects it... I understand the slot should be about half a string height. So I guess that means a wide channel groove to achieve those dynamics. Seems like it could be a little sketchy.

Question: Should I attempt this or try a different bridge... I am unsure about bridge shopping. Height, brand etc. Any suggestions. This guitar will have to do until spring when I can look at something European. ($$$). But I know the 250M can be set up right because I had one that played like an SG and still was ripping loud!


  • TDogTDog Victoria, BCNew Shelley Park Montmartre; Cigano GJ 5
    Posts: 19
    I bought a Dupont bridge from Michael for my DG 500 that I have been happy with
  • vanmalmsteenvanmalmsteen Cameron Park ,CANew DiMaruro, Paris swing, Altamira m30d , Altimira Mod M
    Posts: 123
    I think it would be easier to Sand down the feet, because on that particular guitar I believe The top where The bridge feet set is flat (I once owned a 250m)
  • Chris MartinChris Martin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Petrarca, Catelluccia, Bucolo, Martino, Hofner, Hoyer, Burns
    edited September 2018 Posts: 403
    I recently bought a cheap used 250M (I didn't need it but was tempted by the bargain price) and was surprised to find I really like the sound of it. Loud too. But mine also had a weird setup, I wonder if a previous owner had tried to mess with things to aim for a Gibson SG type action but got it all wrong. The action was about 1.5mm at the 12th but irrelevant as the G and B strings were buzzing anywhere past that and the top E was choked off completely above the 9th.
    So, no matter, lets have a look.....well the neck looked too flat, possibly even a slight back bow, so first thing was to back off the truss rod a little. Then retune, check again and a final small adjustment got the neck ok, but the bridge had been sanded down too low. So, a few shims of a spare piece of veneer brought it up to a sensible 2.75mm action and now it is all playing great.

    I mention all of that only to say that many of us have come across some odd setup problems, and often different problems with different causes, but usually nothing to be afraid of. If a human did it, another human can undo it.

    For yours, I would echo the suggestion above to start by sanding the feet of the bridge. On this guitar because there is no curve to the top it is easy to do, but go gently. Slacken off strings enough to be able to turn the bridge on its side and remove it, sand the feet on a piece of 120 paper on a flat surface being sure to apply even pressure to both ends. Put back under strings and just by tightening the top and bottom E strings a little you will be able to see how the action measures at the 12th fret. If needed, sand some more, possibly finishing with 180 or 240 grit just to give a smoother finish.

    In theory if you want to lower the action from 5 to 3 you would need to remove 4mm to achieve lowering by 2 but the geometry doesn't quite work that way so take it easy. Best to do a little at a time rather than take too much off and then have to shim it back.
    You certainly do not want to be filing deeper string slots, that could cause a lot of other problems with tone, intonation and muting.
  • muddymuddy Southern New EnglandNew Gitane DG-250M
    Posts: 6
    Thanks to all for weighing in.... I may go for the sandpaper, if I screw it up, I can shim or order a new bridge. I have other guitars to play if it end up downtime. I would like to get this done sooner rather than later - going to Django by The Sea, and I'd like to take the brash bugger with me. I agree, when these things are set up right ( like my last one -) it is a screamer cutting through everything. The ringing was controllable with the right hand heel muting it, just required a little technique. I'll report back my results
  • muddymuddy Southern New EnglandNew Gitane DG-250M
    Posts: 6
    Thanks all..... yesterday I taped a piece of #120 sandpaper to the bench, and a piece os #220, using T-Rex tape to keep it steady. I ran the feet of the bridge about ten 2" strokes on the 120, buffed it a bit (five light strokes) on the 220 and put it back, tuned up and measured. I was just shy of 5mm at the start on the low E, now at 3mm after about 8 sets of the above routine. Not much pressure. The high E is about 2.9mm. It plays really nice now, but I'm going to do one more set on that foot yo get it down to about 2.6mm. Its fine now, but it is going to be excellent by this afternoon! Again, thanks for the advice
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited September 2018 Posts: 2,651
    The top of the guitar is likely not flat like the workbench. Use non-permanent blue painters tape to hold the sandpaper to the top of the guitar not the workbench. Make sure there is no debris or sandpaper grit between the guitar and the sandpaper. Hold the bridge steady and work it slightly forward and back to get a perfect fit with the top of the guitar. 220 is probably overkill.
  • muddymuddy Southern New EnglandNew Gitane DG-250M
    Posts: 6
    The 220 was used on the bench and a few strokes w the paper on the bridge in case there was some curve, which I was advised didnt exist on the 250m. It looked slightly, almost inperceptibly at the bridge point, but hard to really measure at that locus between the two placeholders. Came out Delightful I must say....
  • vanmalmsteenvanmalmsteen Cameron Park ,CANew DiMaruro, Paris swing, Altamira m30d , Altimira Mod M
    Posts: 123
    As long as there’s no daylight visible under the bridge feet Your good
  • Chris MartinChris Martin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Petrarca, Catelluccia, Bucolo, Martino, Hofner, Hoyer, Burns
    Posts: 403
    Bones wrote: »
    The top of the guitar is likely not flat like the workbench. ............220 is probably overkill.

    The top of my DG-250M is absolutely flat in both directions.
    Interestingly it takes a very slight concave dip (probably less than 0.5mm) in the bridge area when tuned up. This can only be due to string tension pushing down on it but it certainly is no problem.
    (BTW -I have checked inside with the inspection camera, the braces are all fine and there are no cracks and it is not getting any worse.)

    My suggestion to finish with a finer grade was simply to remove any rougher marks from the 120 and at the same time ensuring a cleaner surface, and would only take a few seconds but yes, not entirely necessary.

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