Workshop: Making it Right

Sometimes things don't turn-out the way we expect. I originally did a neck reset on this D-40 back in June, but the fellow who had the guitar worked-on for his friend wasn't happy with the extra-tall saddle post-reset (I hadn't replaced the bridge) and was worried about the bridge and long-term structural stability.

After being strung-up for a bit, he told me the bridge was separating on the back edge and that something needed to be done. I'd told him that during the reset I thought that I probably should've installed a taller bridge as the original was a bit on the low side (shaved, possibly, in the past) for the new angle. I didn't, though, because many customers are on a budget and can be suspicious about extra work. He took it for a second opinion which turned out to be the first opinion and so it got shipped back for me to get a new bridge installed.

I tend to slightly-overshoot resets on old Guilds because I know the tops can deflect 1/16" or more after they've been strung-up for a month or two -- they tend to do that because the tops are a bit thin for the tension on their late-'60s and early-'70s dreadnoughts. On top of that, Guild dovetails are not the most accurate, and this guy went back just a hair more than I like -- hence the tall saddle post-reset.

Anyhow, this guitar came back and proceeded to sit for a long time. I had to fit it into my repair schedule again and to make the job even slower, I realized I needed to make a custom bridge for it as my source for oversize, vintage Guild bridges dried-up since the last time I bought them (several years ago). So -- step one was to find some thicker rosewood that was around the same color. Some eBay hunting landed me a block that was close to what I wanted and good-looking. Here's how the new bridge turned-out...

It's a bit taller, a bit longer front-to-back, and a lot sturdier than the original. I profiled it in the way some later-'70s Guilds are, with just an arc sanded into the top of the bridge instead of distinct "wings" with contrasting curves. When I make custom bridges I also move the pins slightly aft of where they were on an old bridge (this makes them more stable) and cut my saddle slots with a full 1/8" of compensation to the bass side.

During the removal and reglue process, I noted that the original Guild bridge had a 2-4mm gap around the foot of it that was unglued (as the finish was under it) in the first place -- much like this Martin OM-42's bridge. On top of that it had a pretty good normal-Guild-belly-hump behind the bridge. The fresh reglue with the more massive, stable bridge helped remove a lot of that belly and after settling-in for a while, this guitar seems quite content to remain with just a minor one behind the bridge.

I still have a taller saddle, but the slot holds this one a lot more securely, the break-angle is lower on the saddle, and the extra bulk of the bridge brings peace-of-mind.

In this light you can see how my profiling of the new bridge is different from the old.

It's funny to note that the old bridge had the string-path not on-center with the bridge. It was off by about 1/8" or so. You can also see that in the above pic, the farther-aft pin holes have more wood between them and the saddle -- something that will help the bridge from splitting over time if it's neglected.


Unknown said…
Very nice work Jake,it's the attention to detail that sets you
apart from all others,your simply the best
Thanks so much for the re-do. The guitar plays better than it ever has in the 15 years I've known it. Action is perfect, intonation is as good as any flat top I've ever played. Nice job!

Jake Wildwood said…
NP, glad you like it! :)