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Fixing The Guild Top Massacre; A Classical Guitar Bridge Reglue

11/1/13

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Vintage Guild MK3 Classical Guitar Bridge Reglue Bridge popped off by itself Guild mkiii bridge reglue repairing the guild top massacre damaged spruce
1. A Guild Mark 3 manufactured in 1965.  This bridge jumped off on its own and was found dangling from 6 strings by the owner; the result of a shoddy manufacturing process that left a hidden mess before the guitar left the factory. 2. The Guild Top-Massacre (GTM) is what I call the awful top preparation and bridge gluing practices that the guild guitar factory employed for decades.  Numerous missing splinters of spruce leaving voids that were simply filled with the factory’s glue and a raised ridge of spruce covered in finish within the perimeter of the bridge’s foot print are par for the course when regluing a vintage Guild bridge.
Guild mkiii bridge reglue repairing the guild top massacre Guild mkiii bridge reglue repairing the guild top massacre gluing loose splinters of spruce and finish
3. The Splintered Spruce in front of the bridge won’t be visibly discolored by hot hide glue.  There are also a couple of small chips in the finish both for and aft of the bridge.  This damage was the result of the recent catastrophic failure of the glue joint. 4. Clamping the Splinters with a cam-clamp and a plexi-glass caul.  I’ll turn my attention to the MKiii’s bridge as the glue dries.
Guild mkiii bridge reglue repairing the guild top massacre removing splinters from bottom of bridge Guild mkiii bridge reglue repairing the guild top massacre more gluing splinters of spruce
5. Removing Splinters from the bottom of the bridge with a razor blade will allow me to glue them back down to the top.  I will only bother with splinters that are .005” thick or thicker. 6. Gluing the Spruce splinters back down to the top with tweezers and a dental tool.  I’ll clamp the spruce with the cam clamp and a narrow plexi-glass caul.  There are a number of such splinters so it will take a few sessions before the top is ready for scraping.
Guild mkiii bridge reglue repairing the guild top massacre sanding bottom of bridge Guild mkiii bridge reglue repairing the guild top massacre scraping bottom of bridge
7. Sanding the bottom of the bridge with 80 grit PSA sandpaper attached to a flat sanding block gets rid of the old glue and ensures that the bridge is flat across the grain.  The bottom of the bridge is slightly concave running with the grain which closely matches the slight curve of the guitar’s top.  I won’t attempt to change that. 8. Scraping the bottom of the bridge gets rid of the sanding marks and any remnants of sandpaper grit.  Hide glue works best when the parts are meticulously matched and smooth.
guild mkiii mark 3 classical guitar bridge reglue score finish around bridge guild mkiii mark 3 classical guitar bridge reglue prepare spruce top with chisel
9. Scoring the Finish the following day.  I use a razor blade to cut the finish around the perimeter of the bridge.  Most factories leave a small amount of finish on the top under the edges of the bridge and this guitar is no exception. 10. Under-Cutting the Finish and ridge of spruce from inside the scribed line with a sharp chisel.
guild mkiii mark 3 classical guitar bridge reglue scrape guitar top with chisel to remove old glue guild mkiii mark 3 classical guitar bridge reglue chiseling the top
11. Scraping the Finish with a sharp chisel.  I place the cutting edge of the chisel in the scribed line and pull away the under-cut finish.  I use the chisel as a scraper. 12. Leveling the Spruce to give the top a decent gluing surface.  I’ll cut and scrape away the old glue and trim the sprue down a few thousandths of an inch in order to get below the shallower voids.  This spruce is not an ideal gluing surface, but it would weaken the top if I scraped it flush with the lowest void left from the GTM.
guild mkiii mark 3 classical guitar bridge reglue scraping the top with a razor blade witha burr guild mkiii mark 3 classical guitar bridge reglue clamping cauls
13. Final Scraping with a razor blade levels the majority of the spruce.  It would weaken the top if I were to scrape it down below the deeper gouges, then build it back up with a large patch as the patch would mean adding yet another glue joint to the spruce beneath the bridge and/or would create 2 long end-grain glue joints that might fail under prolonged string tension. 14. Clamping Cauls.  The inside clamping caul has notches cut into it to accommodate the top’s struts (braces).  The three outer cauls are padded with rubberized cork.  The center-outside caul is flat whereas the wing-cauls are radiused to accommodate the contour of the bridge’s wings.
guild mkiii mark 3 classical guitar bridge reglue clamping bridge guild mkiii mark 3 classical guitar bridge reglue no finish touchup
15. Gluing and Clamping the bridge.  I use hot hide glue which has a short open time.  To give myself a little extra time to get the cauls and clamps in place, I heat the bottom of the bridge before applying the glue. 16. All Glued Up.  I suppose I could have done a finish touchup.  However, given the low value of the guitar and its generally poor cosmetic condition, doing a finish touchup doesn’t make any financial sense for the owner.
guild mkiii mark 3 classical guitar bridge reglue after
17. A Reglued Classical Guitar Bridge.