The Workbench

If I knew then…


Please don’t call me stupid. I’ve already covered that.

I’ve hit a snag while installing a Tru-Arc to replace a roller bridge on my Jet, which had been recommended along with locking tuners for Bigsby tuning stability by a tech who I thought knew more than me. I was new to guitar and newer to Gretsch, so I trusted the guy who’d done good work for me before.

Snag is an understatement, but let’s at least try to build some suspense.

When I had the strings off, I was ready to slap the new bridge on and get to playin’, but the old one was stuck. I mean stuck.

Not 2-sided tape. Not rosin, which all these years I assumed it was.

Super glue.

Rub your eyes. Shake your head vigorously. Maybe wipe up the drink you had in your mouth and spit everywhere, or for those who play Custom Shop builds, pick your monocle out of your soup.

Yes. Without running it by me, he superglued my bridge base to the top of my guitar.

His recommended fix was an absolute non-starter. I tried acetone, and that did nothing. I tried lightly prying, but it was clear it was only coming off in pieces, and maybe with a chunk of my guitar if things went really poorly.

Is there anything else out there that might get this thing loose without melting my finish?

Thanks in advance for your help!


You can get superglue remover/de-bonder. If it is liquid enough you might be able to work a little into the seams of the bridge base/guitar top. Not sure what it might do to the guitar finish but it might be worth a try. I have successfully used it to unstick my fingers in the past!

Just google “super glue remover” or “super glue debonder” to find out where to get it depending on where you are in the world.


I think hot water dissolves superglue.


The idiot that's responsible for that owes you a new guitar.


Under normal circumstances, I’d take the guitar back for him to sort out, which he’s offered to do.

Unfortunately he’s in Ohio, and I’m now in Texas.

That said, it might be for the best to keep him and my guitar separated based on their history together.


You weren't stupid for trusting the tech; don't beat yourself up. There are a lot of scammers in the music "biz" and you ran across one. I've run across several. Threaten him to fix it -- on his dime -- or you will unleash all hell on social media. There was a guy several years ago who took his prized Martin to get a pickup installed. So the "tech" obliged him -- and drilled the top to install the output jack.


This guy was pretty highly-regarded, yet to a man, everyone to whom I’ve told this story has responded with some degree of “what on earth was he thinking?!?”

The hot water option might be worth a try. I just wonder if it’ll be able to get far enough under the wood to free the bridge base.

If that fails, I guess I’m left to decide how much I hate the roller bridge and go from there.

This sucks.

Thanks again for all the help though. As always, you guys are great.


He’s probably sniffed a lot glue.

Have you tried a bar bridge on the base, in case it happens to be in the right place/angle?


I’ve had good luck using dental floss, not sure I’ve ever encountered Super glue though. They also make round sandpaper/abrasive cord that looks like floss for extreme cases. Localized heat often works wonders as well, I think you may end up sacrificing the bridge base at the end of the day, perhaps split it with a chisel at one of the post holes.


I thought about that.

The holes he drilled for the roller bridge are pretty offset. I’ve canted bridge bases to get bar bridges to intonate better, and eyeballing it, I got the impression this angle would be way too extreme.

Not wanting a perfectly good, new bridge to sit, I put it on my DSW, and it intonates wonderfully with the bridge base perfectly parallel to the base of the neck/pickups. That kinda confirmed my hunch.

Thanks for the sugggesrion though!


That's a bummer. Have you tried what NJBob suggests?


I didn’t actually try the bridge on the glued base. The angle the holes would’ve imposed was just too extreme for a bar bridge.

That sandpaper/abrasive cord is intriguing. I wonder if it’d be thin enough.

I know there’ll be cleanup no matter how I do this, but that would tackle what looks like the toughest issue, just getting the bridge base off.


If Tim could make his TruArc with this U channel and set screws, you'd be good to go.


A “bad-ass” Tru-Arc? I wonder if there’d be a demand?

If it was a special order, it might be cheaper just refinishing the guitar after the I’ve used a blowtorch to loosen the glue.


What about using steam? Not sure how you would get it under there though.


Seriously? Superglue? Someones got some splainin' to do.


All Tru-Arcs are badass.

But in a string-over (rather than wrap-around) config, there would be nothing to hold the bridge securely on the posts...


Break angle would keep pressure toward the neck. Of course, it would need to be a decent angle.


It would - but I don't know if it would be enough pressure. Bigsbying on the narrow bottom ledge seems like it would de-stabilize things too. Also, since we'd be adjusting intonation against a pretty-small diameter post - without as much thickness in the hole wall of the bridge to thread through - it would take a longish screw to provide sufficient offset for adjustability.

And the more we offset the bridge's mounting holes from the posts, de-centering the bridge from its mid-point, the weirder everything would get.

Might be worth a try, though. I have sacrificial bridges.


Since you've already used acetone, we know that you don't have a nitro finish. That's good. The CA/superglue solvent should work, but you may well have to destroy the bridge base anyway. If I were trying to get it off and the solvent didn't seem to be doing the job fairly quickly, I think I would cut away 99 percent of the base, leaving just a veneer-thick sliver on the top. That way the solvent could soak through the remaining wood, which could then be peeled away from the finish. The point of that is to make the wood weak enough that it would lack the structural integrity to pull away any finish, and would just break apart instead.


There's a tool that I find absolutely indispensable for jobs like this. It's technically an artist's canvas scraper, but the compound curve of its blade (like a very flat spoon) makes it useful for many other tasks:

(Caveat: mine is over twenty years old, made in Japan, and branded Holbein; the one I linked to above looks similar, but may be of lesser quality.)


I think I would cut away 99 percent of the base, leaving just a veneer-thick sliver on the top. That way the solvent could soak through the remaining wood, which could then be peeled away from the finish. The point of that is to make the wood weak enough that it would lack the structural integrity to pull away any finish, and would just break apart instead.

Those were my thoughts too, over the weekend when this popped into my mind. That's the path I'd follow - if indeed you can't find a real archtop guy who agrees to assume all the uncertainty and suffering for you.


I agree. All along I figured the bridge base was going to be ruined however this was done.

I’m just starting to wonder if my unwillingness to surrender to a tech’s gross buffoonery is driving me to what may be Pyrrhic victory, where I’ll do whatever it takes to remove that thing, even at risk of trashing the guitar.

Even A/B-ing it with my Les Paul this weekend, the roller bridge Jet’s sustain was extremely comparable to the tune-o-matic Les Paul (no chambering or weight relief).

Hopefully, being on a Gretsch rather than Gibson forum will save me someone telling me the ABR-less Les Paul was fighting with one arm behind its back. ;)

Still, that giant chrome contraption torments me...

Am I refusing to accept defeat when I’ve been soundly beaten?

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