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Larrivee Bridge Plate Repair

1.0 larrivee bridge plate repair.jpg 1.1 larrivee bridge plate repair worn bridge plate.jpg
1. Larrivee makes some excellent guitars. Unfortunately, even the best instruments are not immune to wear and tear. 2. The Bridge Plate is designed to both stiffen the top beneath the bridge as well as protect the soft-wood spruce top from sustaining damage from the ball ends of steel strings. Over the years this maple bridge plate has taken a bit of a beating from the ball ends. See how the ball ends no longer rest on the inner surface of the bridge plate? You can’t even see the 6th string ball end because the maple has chipped away and com- pressed to such a degree.
1.2 larrivee bridge plate repair lifting bridge.jpg 1.3 larrivee bridge plate repair worn bridge pins.jpg
3. A Lifting Bridge can be serious business. I’ll remove and reglue the bridge while this Larrivee is in the shop. If that 6th string ball end has damaged the spruce, having the bridge out of the way will allow me to easily repair the spruce around the pin hole. 4. Worn Bridge Pins have probably only contributed to the wear and tear on the bridge plate. I’ll fit some new bridge pins after I’ve repaired the bridge plate and reglued the bridge.
1.5 larrivee bridge plate repair bridge dr.jpg 1.6 larrivee bridge plate repair repair spruce top.jpg
5. The Bridge Saveris a clever little tool sold by Stewart Macdonald. It is really two tools. As Stew Mac describes it the bridge saver consists of a “hand-operated steel cutter that creates a precisely dished cavity at the bottom of the bridge pin hole, and a steel cutter bit for making a matching wooden plug.” 6. With the Bridge Removed I immedietly determined that the top required repair around both the 6th and 5th string pin holes. I’m hollowing the top around these pin holes in prep- aration for plugging.
1.7 larrivee bridge plate repair make plugs.jpg 1.8 larrivee bridge plate repair trim plug flush.jpg
7. Cutting Spruce Plugs with the bridge saver plug cutter is quick and easy with the drill press. I’m cutting the plugs from a scrap piece of spruce. 8. Trimming a Plug flush with the top. I glued this plug with hot hide glue because of its strong initial tack, ease of clean up with water and resistence to creeping.
1.9 larrivee bridge plate repair top repaired.jpg 2.0 larrivee bridge plate repair hollow bridge plate.jpg
9. A Repaired Top. 10. Cutting the Bridge Plate. The block and handle drive the cutter from outside of the guitar.
2.1 larrivee bridge plate repair hollow bridge plate.jpg 2.2 larrivee bridge plate repair.jpg
11. Inside the Guitar the cutter works its magic. 12. A Precisely Dished Cavity. I’ll create these little cavities in every other pin hole and glue in the corresponding plugs. Then I’ll repeat the process for the remaining pin holes the following day. This is necessary as the edges of the plugs sometimes overlap.
2.3 larrivee bridge plate repair glue plug.jpg 2.5 larrivee bridge plate repair drill pin holes.jpg
13. Gluing and Clamping the Plugs. Strong magnets both inside and outside of the guitar act as quick action clamps to hold the plugs in place as the hide glue cures. 14. Redrilling the Pin Holes. I’ve clamped a block of mangaris hardwood to the bridge plate. I’ll drill until the reddish-brown wood chips of the backing block are visible. This way I’m confident that the drill bit won’t tear out any of the maple patches.
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15. Plugged and Drilled. 16. Sanding the Plugs Flush to the bridge plate would be a real chore if it wasn’t for the shop’s powerful “rare earth” magnets. I’ve attached a piece of 120 grit self adhesive sandpaper to the interior stack of magnets and washers. Stacking magnets and washers increases their magnetic strength.
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17. More Magnet Mania! Another stack of magnets and washers above the bridge drive the interior “sanding block”. By pulling the exterior magnets back and forth they, inturn, drive the interior magnets back and forth thus sanding the plugs flush and getting rid of any glue squeeze out. 18. Reaming the Pin Holes is necessary to properly fit the new bridge pins.
3.1 larrivee bridge plate repair notch pin holes.jpg 3.2 larrivee bridge plate repair.jpg
19. Notching the Bridge Plate will give the strings and pins their final fit. I want the strings and pins to fit snug, but not so snug that those pins are tough to extract! 20. A Repaired Bridge Plate. Now that I’ve plugged and redrilled the bridge plate at the pin holes, those string ball ends sit right on the surface of the bridge plate, just as they did when this fine Larrivee left the factory.