Guitar Bridge Repair: Lots of Things Can Go Wrong With a Bridge. Find Our Repair Tips Here

Guitar Bridge Repair

Learn how to reset, repair or replace an acoustic or classical guitar bridge with these easy to follow instructions for the do it yourself guitarist.

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Guitar Bridge Repair:

There can be many problems associated with an acoustic guitar bridge. It is after all the single element that transfers all of the string tension to the top plate of the guitar.

Therefore if there is any compromise in the glue joint, excessive heat or humidity, too high string tension or just old age, the bridge is the first to go.

Here are some common ailments that I have seen in bridge repair:

    Bridge beginning to let loose at the wings.
    Slight lifting on the back of the bridge directly behind the pins.
    Bridge complete popped off.
    Bridge cracked between the pins.
    Bridge moved off its original position.
    Belly in back and or in front of bridge.

The Guitar Bridge Repair Issues Noted Below Will Be Covered In Part 2 of this Article

    Bridge too thick.
    Bridge too thin.
    Improper bridge pin location.
    Saddle groove improper size.
    Saddle in wrong location.
    Screws used to secure bridge.
    Bridge set in wrong location.
Classical Guitar

Guitar Bridge Repair - Acoustic Belly Bridge

Wow! This is a lot that can go wrong with a bridge!

Yes it is. The complexities of the bridge brings about a lot of problems. With most of these Guitar Bridge Repair conditions, you will have to remove the bridge from the guitar and start over.

Relax though - it is relatively easy to reset a bridge.

Tools Required for Guitar Bridge Repair:
    Padded Workbench
    Good Worklight
    Top Protection Template
    Sharp knife such as an xacto or matt knife
    Deep throat clamps

    Bridge gluing jig

    Painters Spatula or Sharp Putty Knife

    Flathead bolts with nuts, washers and lockwashers

    Bridge Glue - Titebond III

    2-Part Epoxy Glue

    Painters Tape 3/4"
Bridge Letting Loose At Wings or Ramps:

This is common and needs to fixed immediately. There is a sever compromise in the glue joint and the bridge could pop off at any time.

Immediately loosen the strings and perform a Bridge Reset.

See the article on Resetting a Bridge for instruction to fix this condition.

Bridge Letting Loose Behind the Pins:

This Guitar Bridge Repair is a similar situation to above that has probably progressed to an even worse condition.

Again loosen the strings and perform a Bridge Reset. See the article on Resetting a Bridge for instruction to fix this condition.

Bridge Completely Popped Off:

OK this Guitar Bridge Repair is rather obvious. Actually if you do not get a whole lot of damage to the guitar top plate, this is what the glue for the guitar bridge is designed to do, pop off without any structural damage.

See the article on Resetting a Bridge for instruction to fix this condition.

Bridge Cracked Between the Pins:

Guitar Bridge Repair - Cracked Between the Pins: If it is a very small crack, you can just work in some glue with your index finger and go back and forth across the crack. Do this several times until you can't work any more glue into the crack.

Acoustic Guitar

Guitar Bridge Repair - Bridge Cracked Between Pins

Glue to use would be 2-part epoxy for superior strength. Be sure to complete cleanup the area because this stuff is hard. If the crack is more severe you will need to remove the bridge, repair the crack or replace the bridge with a new one and this will require Bridge Removal.

I would recommend the use of a 2-part epoxy glue to repair the bridge as they are usually rosewood or ebony and contain quite a bit of resin within the wood. See the article on Resetting a Bridge for instruction to fix this condition.

Bridge Moved Off Original Position:

This is usually the result of a guitar overheating in an enclosed space like a car or car trunk, left in the sun or the guitar may have been too close to a heat source.

The glue softened, the bridge moved and when the guitar cooled off the glue re-hardened. In any event, the glue has now been compromised the guitar will not tuneup properly and you will need to perform a Bridge Reset.

See my article on How to Reset a Bridge.

Belly in Back of and or in Front of Bridge:

If you have a belly in the top plate of your guitar, it a sign of that a more serious condition exists beyond a simple Guitar Bridge Repair. Some of the potential problems are:

Weak, loose or broken top bracing or struts. Check for loose braces and repair methods by following my article on How to Repair Loose Braces.

Acoustic Guitar

Guitar Bridge Repair - Bridge Belly Problems

Top plate it too thin or too weak. String tension over a long period of time will lift all bridges and their soundboards to a certain degree. Since tops differ in strength due to density, grain patterns and flexibility, some are inherently weaker than others. the exact same top thickness and bracing may be fine for one top, but will belly a weaker top made to the exact specifications.

If the belly is so pronounced that the bridge has tilted out of its horizontal position, you need to take action to see what is causing the problem. You will see a pronounced hump in back of the bridge and see a depression between the sound hole and the bridge front.

There's not a lot we can do to fix the top thickness other than replacing the top, but that may be too drastic of a measure.

A much better alternative is to replace or add additional strength to the existing top by making a bigger and thicker bridge backing plate and re-gluing the loose bracing.

Look at my article on How to Replace a Bridge Plate for instructions. Bridge backing plate is loose, too small, too weak or doesn't exist at all.

Most times this condition exists along with a bellied top and is a common cause of a top belly, along with loose or broken bracing.

To Read on Additional Repairs Go To Guitar Bridge Repair Part 2.