Bridge Collapse

The saddle slot in some bridges is quite close to the front edge. In an ideal world, this might not be too much of a problem because, even though there’s a lot of tension from the strings, most of that is ‘downwards’ towards the bottom of the bridge.

Of course, it’s not an ideal world and, even though most of the pressure goes down, there’s always some that’s trying to tip that saddle forwards too. Things like the strings ‘biting’ into the saddle and actually pulling it forwards as you tune up can add to the problem.

And sometimes the bridge gives way. Like this.

The front edge of this bridge has sheared off

Now, I could just smooth off the fracture line and glue in a new piece but I don’t want to trust the glued joint to take that strain. It might be fine but I want to give this repair as much of a chance as possible.

So, I’m going farther back into the saddle.

My plan is to remove wood to the back of the saddle slot. I’ll glue in some new wood and then re-rout a new slot into that new wood. This way, the glue-line won’t be taking the strain.

You can see what I mean in the sketches below.

'Grafting' new wood to broken guitar bridge

New saddle slot will have new wood in front of and below

So, below is the bridge with the wood removed. I’ve sloped a section from the front of the bridge to the back, bottom corner of the saddle slot.

You can see the (slightly out of focus—sorry) shape of the piece I’ll be glueing in.

By the way, that’s just a thin piece of sheet brass that’s taped down to the guitar. It’s there to protect the top as I work on this.

The photo on the right below gives you a better idea.

New wood to be grafted on to bridge

New section will fit in like this

Clamping this one needed a little thought. As well as clamping downwards, I have to keep a pressure towards the rear of the guitar. That’s tricky though. I came up with this:

Inventive clamping to keep it in place

I clamped a block in place near the front of the bridge. The new bridge piece will bear off this and, as I clamp it down, this new piece will ‘wedge’ into place against the block. I can now get good clamping pressure in all the right places. Yay.

Once done, it’s just a matter of shaping the glued-in wood to the right profile and routing a new saddle slot.

I decided to make a new saddle too. The old one was actually an un-radiused classical saddle and it was made from a pretty soft plastic (the strings were digging in as mentioned above). A nice bone saddle will sound, play, and wear much better.

Hopefully, there's a long life ahead for this guitar.