Stuck Stuff: Removing tun-o-matic bridge posts

More stuck stuff. We’ve dealt with tailpiece bushings and now we’re moving up to tun-o-matic bridge posts.

Many Gibson-Style tun-o-matic bridges sit on ‘studs’. These studs are are screwed into bushings in much the same way as the tailpiece we talked about last time. You’ll extract these bushings in the same we we discussed then.

However, the more ‘vintage’ style bridge sits on two narrow threaded posts. These posts are actually screwed directly into the body. This is what we’re looking at today.

Safely remove Gibson tun-o-matic Bridge Posts

Because they’re threaded in, you shouldn’t pull them out. All going well, thought, you should be able to back them out like a screw.

You’ll sometimes be able to just grab one with your fingers and and screw it out. But the damn things are tricky to grip — if it’s tightly secured, you’ll need to be a bit more clever. Don’t just mash it with your pliers to try grip it or you’ll ruin the threads.

Removing tun-o-matic bridge posts

The photos that follow are me removing a bridge post from a mandolin bridge but the principle is exactly the same.

Removing a bridge post like this one…

Here’s what you do. Take the thumbwheel from one post and screw it onto the other post, over the thumbwheel that’s already there.

The thumbwheels have to 'lock' together.

When the thumbwheels contact each other, snug them up good and tight. It’s important they’re ‘locked’.

Once locked against each other, if you turn (counter-clockwise) the bottom thumbwheel only it can’t actually move up the post because the top thumbwheel is preventing it doing so.

So, the entire post unscrews from the wood as you turn. Until it’s out. Yay.

Bridge post is out. Yay!

Complications and workarounds

You need a good lock. If your thumbwheels don’t lock well, both will just turn and travel up the post.

A couple of tips…

Try popping a washer between the thumbwheels. The extra gap might make it easier to grip each one individually.

If you have a couple of appropriately sized nuts you can thread these on instead of thumbwheels. Then you can use a regular (although small) spanner/wrench to grip the nuts.

Tools to help with bridge post removal

A tool like the ESP Multi Spanner can be used to grip the thumbwheels to help lock and remove them. You should be careful not to mar the knurled grips on the thumbwheel rim but it can be a really useful tool.

This ESP 'spanner' thing can be really useful, particularly for jobs like this.

The ESP Spanner is great for lots of jobs, actually. It’ll tighten tuner and control-pot nuts brilliantly, for instance. It’s also good for tightening toggle switches, or even just turning stubborn bridge thumbwheels when adjusting action. I’d actually recommend throwing one in your guitar case — you never know when it’ll save the day. Grab ‘em on Amazon (US | UK) or eBay (these are affiliate links — just search ESP Multi Spanner if you prefer).

As you’ve expect, Stew Mac also have you covered. Their Tun-O-Medic Post Tool will make short work of removing bridge posts.

So, there you go… Bridge post removal made easy. Mostly.

What else is stuck on this guitar? Oooh, the suspense.