Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Bridge Removal on Epiphone FT-145 Acoustic Guitar

So now I get to take the old bridge off the Epiphone.

I bought a new replacement bridge a couple of years ago (I told you this project has been in the queue for a while) from I think Stew-Mac.  It's a Martin-style replacement, and it's not an exact fit for this guitar.

So, I've up and ordered a Gibson-style bridge from LMI.  If you think about it, a Gibby-type bridge makes more sense, since this is more-or-less (emphasis on the 'less') a Gibson-type guitar.

Whichever bridge is the closest fit will wind up on the guitar. 

Notice the green arrow pointing to that circle on the old bridge.  That, my friends, is actually a plug that covers a screw head.  Yes, this is officially a cheap guitar - with the bridge partially held on by screws and nuts.  I hear someone (hi, TMD) saying, "well, isn't that a good thing?  It will never come off due to string tension!"

It's actually a bad idea for a couple of reasons.  First, the mass of the screws will suck up string vibration and not transfer the vibration to the top.  So it loses tone.  Second, the fact that it's bolted to the top means that while it won't be easily pulled up, it will tend to force the thin top into a 'belly-up' behind the bridge, and possibly pull the top up off the internal braces.  Basically a structural disaster.

You'll see old Martins where the bridge has begun to pull up at the trailing edge.  They generally just need to be removed and reglued to fix them.  The proper method, using glue only to attach, is still the best.

I need to get the nuts off the bridge screws first.  It's pretty easy to reach in under the bridge and use a 6mm wrench to get the nuts and washers off.

These go into my metric nuts drawer to maybe be reused in the future.

Now I can get the bridge off the guitar.

Using my special bridge heating tool, I go at it.

A minute or so using aluminum foil with the iron on a high setting will free it up.

Yes, I know there are special heating blankets for this, but the iron works perfectly well, and I can't see a $200 investment for something I do relatively infrequently.

After heating the bridge, I start in with one of the bridge removal tools.  I have one I got from Stew-Mac, and another is a homebrew one.  That one is a paint spatula with the edge ground thin.

I think this one is actually the spatula.

You can also see where the heat bubbled the finish a little - this bridge is made of  a light-colored wood and was then painted.  Another cost-saving measure rather than use a hardwood such as rosewood or ebony.

A little more heat, and the spatula begins to break the glue joint.

You can also see where I taped around the bridge so as to not scratch up the finish.

As I did this, I could hear the glue begin to 'crack,' and I could start to twist the tool to help leverage the bridge up.

And here's the removed bridge.

This one came up very clean - just a little glue to clean off the top.

Notice the two holes for the bridge screws, and also two divots that were under the adjustment studs.

I'll fill those with spruce plugs, and I will probably also have to fill the string holes as well, depending on which bridge I wind up using.

All in all, this is a 10 minute job to get the old bridge off. 


Post a Comment 2 comments:

  • Unknown said...
    January 21, 2016 at 2:50 PM
    what does the foil do?
  • Yr Fthfl Blggr said...
    January 24, 2016 at 9:54 AM
    A few things: it helps evenly disperse the heat. It also keeps the potential for scorching or burning the bridge down. And it keeps heat away from places you don't want it, i.e. the body of the guitar.

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