Workshop: Gibson L-1 Bridge Woes

This "Robert Johnson guitar" has some bridge-area woes. Here you can see that a bad reglue job yanked the top right out from under the bridge and left a split bridge plate, too.

Step one is to make a bridge plate cap (this goes under the top) to sort-out the damage to the thin maple plate.

"Oh no!" you say, "that'll kill the tone!"

Never fear, me hearties -- my bridge plate caps are made out of cedar soundboard material -- stiff and light. It adds a lot of structure but barely any color to the tone to my ears. Besides, it sure would sound awful if it was left as-is, wouldn't it?

I glue that up with a good amount of clamps and blocks on each side to straighten-out the whole area.

Next-up I peel-off whatever remaining soundboard material I can from the original (split) bridge and get that back in place and clamped-up. You can see the pieces below the bridge imprint in the above pic.

Here I've done that and used a combination of new spruce and filler to fill-in the gaps. That gets sanded flush and then I'll add my new rosewood bridge. Note that the pin-holes are filled so that they'll redrill nicely.

Said new bridge has the same overall dimensions as the original but not the sculpted front edge. I've sanded it into a long arc and after it's glued I'll drill the bridge pin holes and cut the saddle slot. Once all that's in place it will look respectable and a drop-in saddle slot will mean it'll be easily-adjustable per player action preferences.