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Routing Saddle Slot for Martin Guitar Bridge

Now that I have a jig with which to rout the saddle slot, I can place the bridge, measure for the slot location, and do the routing.

The original pickguard has a chip in it - likely from removing the bridge. You can see it in this picture.  I'm going to remove it, and eventually replace it with a new one.

It was a piece of cake (mmmmm...cake) to get the pickguard off.  A little heat from the trusty heat gun and one of the removal spatulas got it right off.

The pickguard came off cleanly - no spruce removed whatsoever.

However, there was some of the old glue Martin used to attach the pickguard remaining on the top.

Heated it a little with the heat gun, and used a small scraper to carefully scrape it off.   Once again, you can see the difference in color between the bare spruce and the way the original lacquer finish has yellowed over time. 

Now I can put the bridge into position.  I made the new bridge out of some lovely cocobolo.  It's a bit larger than the old one, so I can cover the finish 'seam' where the old bridge was.

I used the famous Sven method to locate the bridge.  Put it where you want it, then use a couple layers of tape around the bridge.  This way you can easily remove it and then put it right back in the correct place.

Now, armed with the amazing, fantastic Saddlematic from Stew-Mac, I can mark the front edge of the saddle slot.

Yes, you could do this without the Saddlematic, but this is a lot easier and quicker than using straightedges and such.  Plus, who doesn't want a tool called the "Saddlematic"?

The tool has two pins you set for compensation.  Make marks at each pin point, then draw a line between them.

Then it's off to the new routing jig to rout the slot.

Couple of notes on the jig:  The top of the bridge is below the jig, so it's important to keep the router base level.  Also, as with any router, you need to keep the base right up against the fence.

Ze bridge, she is routed!

I made a rout about an eighth of an inch wide.  I wanted a little leeway in the final placement of the saddle for intonation.  I figure I can either slant the saddle in the slot a bit or cut some compensation into the saddle during the final set up as needed, and it would be easier with a wider slot.

I really like the cocobolo.  It's not as hard as ebony, and in my drop tests, it sounds a little more midrangey than the ebony. 

Mainly, I love the grain.  And the smell of the sawdust.  Although I did find that the cocobolo dust makes me sneeze - I had to wear a respirator mask when sanding it to shape.


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