Can You Change The Bridge On A Guitar? The bridge on an acoustic guitar serves several functions. It keeps the strings in place and ensures that the strings have good tone, intonation, and action. It also assists as an extra brace for reinforcing the guitar’s body.
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But there are times that the bridge must be changed! Otherwise, your guitar will not sound the way it should be, even become broken since its extra brace has been compromised. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to change the bridge on a guitar with the right skills and tools.
Causes Of Damage To The Bridge
The primary reason for changing the bridge on your acoustic guitar is when it’s broken, cracked or separated from its body. You will know when it’s time to do so through regular inspections of the bridge and being observant of the changes in your guitar’s sound.
A wide range of causes can damage the bridge.
- Prolonged exposure to dry, humid conditions, as well as cold temperatures. These relative extremes in temperature ruin your guitar’s appearance and structural integrity. High humidity typically causes a guitar’s finish to crack while low humidity can result in the bridge coming loose. (Tip: Keep your guitar in an environment with 50% humidity and use a humidifier, if necessary)
- Exposure to excessive heat can melt the glue connecting your guitar’s braces resulting in a warped top and the bridge peeling away from the body. It can also make the bridge start sliding forward and, thus, affecting its intonation. (The common cause is leaving your guitar inside your car during a hot summer’s day)
- Glue was improperly applied to the guitar’s top during a bridge replacement work. The new bridge then doesn’t adhere to the body as securely as it should be. (This emphasizes the importance of proper cleaning and sanding of the guitar’s top before the bridge is glued to it)
The bridge may also be warped or cracked, an unfortunate occurrence in the bridge plate, too.
Steps in Fixing the Bridge
You decided that your guitar’s bridge must be replaced.
- Determine the underlying cause. If the bridge is damaged, such as broken, warped, or cracked, or it has come loose, then it’s time to replace it.
- Remove the bridge by heating its glue. A few methods include placing a heating pad on top of it or using a clothes iron with a towel over the bridge. Just be extremely careful as too much heat will not only damage the finish but affect the guitar’s structural integrity.
- Peel away the bridge by working a blunt, flexible putty knife between it and the body. Again, take it nice and slow so as not to damage the finish.
- Clean the joint and the bridge.
- Line up the new bridge before gluing it down. Use a clamp, such as the Timiy Solid Mapel Guitar Bridge Clamp, to check that the parts are, indeed, in their proper places. Don’t use glue yet so that you can make adjustments.
- Glue the new bridge using Titebond 1413 III Ultimate Wood Glue and apply the clamp again to ensure that the bridge sticks to the top. Be sure to wipe off the excess glue immediately using a paper towel or damp cloth.
Now, your guitar’s new bridge is installed!
To conclude, the bridge on your guitar may seem like a small piece, but its functions cannot be overemphasized. You should learn to replace it, when necessary, or get your guitar to a luthier for a proper replacement.