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Classical Guitar Bridge Repair

3/3/15

 

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1. A Classical Bridge.  This Alvarez Yairi has some damage, probably related to previous repair work.  There are chunks of the rosewood missing from around the saddle slot as well as some small globs of super glue or maybe epoxy. 2. A Damaged Saddle Slot.  With the saddle removed, I can see lots of glue.  There are also chunks of wood missing from within the saddle slot.  The bottom of the old saddle is very rough and out of square.
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3. A Cracked Bridge.  I’ll glue the crack, remove the old glue, replace the missing rosewood and repair the saddle slot. 4. Gluing the Bridge Crack with thin super glue.  The water-thin glue wicks deep into the crack.
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5. Cleaning Up the Excess Glue with a small square piece of paper towel dampened with acetone won’t hurt this non-traditional gloss finish. 6. A Sharp Chisel cuts away the damaged rosewood.  I’m creating a scarf joint in order to give the rosewood patches plenty of gluing surface.
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7. The Rosewood Patches.  I’ve found a piece of scrap rosewood that matches the grain appearance of the bridge reasonably well.  A few chisel cuts taper the under-side of the patches into a wedge-shape that corresponds to the tapered cut on the bass side of the bridge. 8. Gluing the Patches individually with medium super glue will do the trick.  I’ve taped off the bridge just in case I don’t catch all of the squeeze out with a q-tip that’s on stand by.
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9. Clamping the Patches with finger pressure for a couple of minutes is all that’s necessary for a strong super glue joint. 10. Sawing the Patch to rough width.  I’m using a saw with a .010” kerf to cut the patch a few thousandths of an inch proud of the inside of the saddle slot.  Later, I’ll use a sharp chisel to flush the patch with the surrounding saddle slot.
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11. Shaping the Top of the Patch with a sharp chisel to the surrounding bridge is quick and straight forward. 12.Trimming the Patch to rough length.  I’ll go back with a sharp chisel to flush the patch with the end grain of the bridge.
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13. Sanding with 600 grit wrapped around a cork-lined sanding-block smooths the patch and scuffs the bridge’s surrounding finish. 14. Repairing the Saddle Slot Floor.  I’ve filled the low spots in the bottom of the saddle slot with super glue.  Now I’m trimming the glue flush with the surrounding rosewood.
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15. Flattening the Saddle Slot Floor.  I’ve attached some course, self-adhesive sandpaper to the bottom of a flat bone saddle blank. 16. Sanding the Saddle Slot flat with the bone saddle blank only takes a few passes.
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17. The Repaired Saddle Slot. 18. Finish Work.  I’ve masked the top of the guitar and created a tight-fitting bone saddle blank in order to plug the saddle slot.  I sealed the affected area of the bridge with 2 coats of shellac applied with a q-tip and began spraying multiple thin coats of gloss lacquer.  The finish work will take a few weeks to complete.
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19. A New Bone Saddle completes the repair. 20. Done.  I was able to repair the original bridge for less cost and bench time than replacing the bridge would have incurred.