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Fitting your bridge

Josh HeggJosh Hegg Tacoma, WAModerator
Fitting a bridge blank

Before you order a new bridge: measure your action height at the bridge. If you like where it is then order a bridge that will keep it the same. If you want to change it then make your order accordingly. Dupont bridges come in #1 - #4 and you can order them from www.djangobooks.com. The bridge you get will be a "blank" and will need to be fit to your guitar.


1. Take the strings off of the guitar

2. Take the old bridge off of the guitar

3. See if the new bridge will slide in between the "mustache" pieces

If it does then go to "Fitting to the top" if not then go to fitting

Fitting:
What you will need: A good file, A block of flat wood, Sand paper (not less then 300 grit)
The fit should be close on the new bridge so make sure to work slow so you don't take too much wood off of the new bridge. Use your file to take off small amounts of wood. Make sure not to just take from one end. You don't want to make the bridge off center. Keep checking the bridge to the guitar after a few stokes of the file. You don't want the bridge to be tight but you don't want big gaps. It should just slide in. When you get close you might want to use your sand paper and block to work the corners just a bit so they are not too sharp.

Fitting to the top:
When this is done take a piece of sand paper and cut it to fit in between the mustaches and about one or two inches long on each side. Using low tack masking tape, secure the sand paper in place. Now place the bridge in between the mustaches and start moving it back and forth. This will slowly form the feet of the bridge to the top of your guitar. Keep taking the sand paper off and placing the bridge and holding the guitar up to see if there is any gaps between the feet and the top.

Notching for Strings
** READ THIS ** There are 2 sides to a bridge. The bass side and the treble side. The bass side is taller or higher then the other. Before you start going to town make sure you have the correct sides in mind

Note: the best way to do this is it buy bridge/nut files. But you don't have to have them for a bridge. You just have to work slow with what you have. Keep in mind this step can make your action different and or make the bridge not usable. So WORK SLOW
What you will need: Small file (a tri angle needle file works well) last choice is an exacto knife. A supper sharp pencil (a mechanical one works well or you can take sand paper and thin a normal one)

1. Using your old bridge put new string on the guitar. Don't tune the string. Keep them lose with just enough tension to keep them straight.

2. Take the old bridge off

3. Put the new bridge on

4. Make light makers with pencil on each side of each string. Don't move the string when you do this. The strings should be just tight enough to keep them straight.

5. Take new bridge off

6. You will be able to see the marks you made. Now you have 2 marks for each string. Like this || in the center of those marks is where the string lives.

7. If you are lucky and have the good nut files then you have it made from here on out as long as you don't get too file happy and go too deep

*Needle File: Place the edge of the file in the center of one set of the marks. GO SLOW and start to make a notch. Do this for each string. Don't worry about making the notches deeper for the big strings at this point

*Exacto Knife: (this is harder) GO SLOW and make a small V for the string to rest in with the bottom of that V at the center of the marks. Do this for each string. Don't worry about making the notches deeper for the big strings at this point.

8. Put the new bridge on. Make sure you have the bass side on the base side. The higher part of the bridge goes under the low E string.

9. You want your notches to be half as seep as the string is round. In other words you only want to sink half of the string into the bridge with your notches. This is not easy on the small strings but just do your best to get them close. This is easier if you WORK SLOW

10. After you have the notches perfect and the bridge is in Tune it up and start ripping. If the action is too high DO NOT TAKE wood out from the part of the bridge that is resting on the top of the guitar.

Lowering your action:

1. Loosen your strings and take the bridge off

2. Take your larger file and start taking of wood from the TOP of the bridge. The Top is where the string sit....The Thin part. Only take a very small amount of at a time. Do I need to tell you to work slow again? Remember .5mm can make a huge difference when it comes to action.

3. Use your small file to re notch for the strings.

Keep doing this until you get the action the way you like it. If you want to measure your action do it at the 12th fret with a ruler from the top of the fret to the bottom of the low E string. It should be any where around 2.5mm to 4mm depending on what you like and how you play

If you have questions feel free to PM me

Cheers,
Josh
AWTWim Glenn
«1

Comments

  • Posts: 1
    I've got a Mexican-made Dell'arte with a bridge that's a little unique in that the moustache pieces and the bridge are all one piece. This is kinda nice because, when I make small adjustments, everything moves together. Unfortunately, my action is a little high and I want to take it down somewhat. My thought was to get a new bridge to play with so that, if I didn't like the end result, I could go back to where I started. However, I can't seem to find any bridges like the one I have. Any suggestions?
  • andmerandmer New York✭✭✭
    Posts: 92
    can you recommend a good file set or any details on what to look for? I'm primarily interested in lowering my action a bit.

    I'm looking at this one:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... R&v=glance
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    I used a similar set of needle files with good results. The triangular one was the most useful, but they are only for cutting the slots.
    For the rest sandpaper works great.

    Don't go too deep when cutting the slots, they are supposed to be half as deep as the string is wide.
  • constantineconstantine New York✭✭✭✭ stringphonic
    Posts: 431
    Josh

    If you remove wood from the top of the bridge, doesn't it flatten it out?
    Or do you also reshape the top of the bridge into a V again?

    Thanks
  • HCQHCQ Northeast NJ✭✭✭
    Posts: 222
    Hi,

    A good, small triangle file can be had at any hardware store.

    I have that very good cuts for the plain strings are best handled by an X-Acto fine toothed razor saw. At an art store, you can find them sold individually, or as I have, a set of three. They have very teeth and I could match up a saw blade thickness that best matched up to either the high E or B string. This way the slot won't choke any string vibration.

    I only had to remove a little bit of wood from the entire top of the bridge after I cut the string slots. I used a long very fine textured file. As Bluesbop Harry mentioned, you want the wound strings to only be half their diameters into a slot. I again used my long fine grained file to profile the thickness of the bridge, looking at it from the top, to be about as thick as my D strings diameter. My bridge is currently made from ebony which works rather quickly and and stays rather smooth when filed or sanded.

    I emphasize that you have to work very slowly! Check your work repeatedly.

    I found it best to use a 2" or 3" square piece of cardboard as a template. I initially just placed it on the 12th fret and used a pencil to draw a line where the top of each string met it. This served as a rough guide to see how I would take a string's height down to. It can also serve loosely to compare a height of the high E string as to where it was down to where you really like it. This way you can measure the difference to serve as a rough guide for the other 5 strings. I personally like my string height off the 12th fret to the bottom of a string between 2.5 and 3 millimeters. I think that would be considered low action action.

    Good luck,
    HCQ
  • Josh HeggJosh Hegg Tacoma, WAModerator
    Posts: 622
    Thanks for the posts! The small files are great to have. I use them every day for many different jobs.

    As for taking wood from the top. Once you get the hight correct you then need to reshape it. If you don't take too much from the top you might not need to do this but the further you take it down the wider the saddle will get. The key is to start with a bridge that is as close to the right hight as posable.

    Cheers,
    Josh
  • tubetwangtubetwang New
    Posts: 3
    i used a 16 foot radius block from stewart macdonald to shape the bridge top using 220 grit and, sanded it back to a sharp edge before using nut files for the string slots...

    as previous poster recommendation...easy does it...

    i highly recommend Jamie Boss dvd on setting up Selmer type guitars... :roll:
  • gypsystuffgypsystuff ✭✭
    Posts: 15
    how much wood should i sand off the bridge if i want to lower the action at the 12th fret by 1 mm?
  • slicker37slicker37 New
    Posts: 20
    erm about 1mm would be good.
  • bopsterbopster St. Louis, MOProdigy Altamira M30, Wide Sky PL-1, 1940? French mystery guitar
    Posts: 506
    I am fitting a bridge to the top, and to check how flush it is, I use a pen light on one side of one of the feet, and look for light leakage across the entire other side of the same foot. I can't seem to get the feet to be entirely flush across the entire foot. Am I being too nit picky, or are there any suggestions?
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