The Workbench

If I knew then…

27

When two kids were bowed up on the playground, you were the one on the side telling one “Did you hear what he just said about your momma?!?,” weren’t you JBJ? ;)

I’m really weighing this, especially in the absence of a definitive “I’ve done this, and here’s what you should do.”

The hesitation comes from worrying that with a poly finish, if I botch this, there’s a good chance I won’t get a do-over.

28

Roller bridges are junk and should always be replaced. Tuners have absolutely nothing with tuning problems or Bigsby's, but locking tuners make it easier to change strings with a Bigsby. The best way to secure the bridge is to drill a pair of holes in the base, and screw it to the guitar. If you mostly play guitar in front of a mirror, that might bother you, but If you play for a living, screw it down.

29

Roller bridges are junk and should always be replaced. Tuners have absolutely nothing with tuning problems or Bigsby's, but locking tuners make it easier to change strings with a Bigsby. The best way to secure the bridge is to drill a pair of holes in the base, and screw it to the guitar. If you mostly play guitar in front of a mirror, that might bother you, but If you play for a living, screw it down.

– Billy Zoom

You'll never see the screws past the third row.

30

Sorry I didn’t see this. Acetone will soften the glue then use an iron after the acetone flashes off. Don’t try to pull up when removing it, just push it back towards the tailpiece.

EDIT; Starting over, if your guitar has a PolyEster top then acetone won't be an issue but you still have to be careful. Take an iron and keep the heat on medium while pressing it on the bridge base. Check from time to time to make sure it's not too hot. Once it feels hot to the touch remove the iron. Use a Q-tip with some acetone on it, not supersaturated but wet. Keep the feet slightly wet for a few minutes then have someone put backward pressure on the bridge while you take a small sharp knife or razor blade and slowly insert between the the top and the bridge.

It that doesn't work it's epoxy not suprdave's glue.

ANOTHER EDIT; And if it is epoxy it's still not over. Mask around the bridge base then if it were me I'd give it a shot with a hammer which should remove about 90% of the base. If you don't want to drive down that rode then start slicing away at the wood until you're down to just a mass of glue. Remove the previous tape and then add two layers of masking tape parallel to the base and on both sides then take a #9 #9 #9 #9 #9 razor blade using the tape are your guide and carefully scrape the glue away.

31

Thank you very much, Curt, as well as everyone who’s taken the time to help me.

Last night I placed an order on Amazon for this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/a...

If acetone would work just as well, I could give that a try too. I presume my wife’s nail polish remover is strong enough?

I was going to swing by Home Depot on my lunch break to find something thin enough to get underneath the bridge to work it free. When I first discovered the problem, I tried a razor, but I started to worry that I would scrape away some of the surrounding finish if I didn’t get the angles just right.

My wife is out of town this weekend, so my goal is to have everything in place to tackle this then.

Thank you all again so much for all your help!

32

Yeah it's the same stuff, acetone has a lot of clean solvents like alcohol and it evaporates quickly.

You could always cut a shim out of a soft wood to get under there.

33

The perfect tool, as I said above... Maybe too much of a hassle to try to get your hands on one just for this job, but it has many uses. Curt, I bet you'd love it.

34

yep I have two of those plus a bunch of other spatula type things.

35

It makes me very happy to hear that! I have an almost pathological attachment to mine. I need to know where it is at all times.

36

So just back from Home Depot.

Seadevil, I didn’t see anything resembling that tool.

I picked up some plastic drywall tape scrapers, which have an edge, figuring that’d be a good way to start lifting the bridge without damaging the top. A different take on Curt’s wood shim idea, which I really liked. Of course I plan to tape it off, but it can’t hurt to be safe.

I also got a metal putty scraper, that I’d use to get under the bridge once there’s enough gap, and then I could continue easing that under the bridge as it loosens with the application of whatever solvent I’m using.

It’s sounding like acetone vs. the super glue remover is six of one, half a dozen of the other.

The plan feels sound.

37

To get a tool like the one Seadevil has you would go to an art supply shop rather than Home Depot. It's a painting knife by the looks of it - A long time ago I use to paint with oils and loved my painting knives.

What sort of nutter glues a bridge to a guitar? Before I ever heard of pinning I used to use the little tiny black screws Gibson uses for pickup rings. My guitars had ebony bases so by counter sinking the black screws you could never see them, especially as I put them on the inside of the bridge posts. So being physically under the bridge they were next to invisible. I never did them up tightly so the tone would not have been affected at all.

38

I didn’t figure I’d actually find it at Home Depot. I just knew that’d likely be my one chance, between work and a 4-year-old, to get stuff for the project, so I looked anyway.

Plus, JazzBoxJunky has me working on a tight timeline, already reprimanding me over that bridge still being on. ;)

39

Wait, it’s still not removed? ;] Sorry, wasn’t trying to be an ass about it, time is money in the repair world. In my mind you could have masked off the top and removed it with a rasp in a 45 minutes.

40

I’d love to have that thing off, but as soon as I get home from work, I take the tag on a 4-year-old before my wife kills her. Then after she’s in bed, I spend an hour or so with my wife before I go to bed to do it all over again the next day.

I live in an older house, and I’ve begun applying the same household repair factor to my novice guitar working: whatever I think it should take to do the job, triple it. There are always surprises, like say... a gluedbridge base. Sadly, in both cases, even that factor comes up short on the eventual repair time.

Free time is my biggest obstacle here.

And there was absolutely no offense taken, as I hope you knew I too was joking.

And the lighthearted criticism, without the context of my nonexistent free time through the week, is actually pretty fair.

“At what point will this guy stop wringing his hands and either fix it or let it go?!?”

41

Curt says.....It that doesn't work it's epoxy not suprdave's glue.

Hey! Don't blame me, I'm just here for the popcorn.

The Good news is the weekend is coming and likely you'll get more time on it. Lots of great advice above. Best of luck.

42

So I carved out a few minutes to try to get started.

Two beers, nail polish remover and brute force with a putty knife.

I got under it a little, but it was slow going to the point that I’ll need another plan.

Tomorrow, I’ll try Curt’s heat approach, while I wait for the guaranteed Friday delivery of the superglue remover.

Glued bridge base... worthy f-ing adversary.

43

Super glue remover didn’t break that bond either. This thing is tough.

I’d try the heat, but as tight as this thing is, I’d hate to char the @*%# bridge base only to still be stuck with it.

I need to step away from this before I do something rash.

44

This is as far as I got, and it was applying a lot of force. Then progress just stopped.

I had the best luck, if you want to call it that, with the nail polish remover.

45

Maybe take the thumbwheel studs out, it’s possible they are screwed/extend into the top?

46

You may be able to get some steam in there.

How are you applying the SuperGlue debonder? I would have thought there’s enough gap there for some to trickle in and start to work. If you lay the guitar at such an angle that the angle where the bridge and guitar meet forms a gulley and then allow some debonder to lay in the gulley so it works its way in over time. I’m thinking it may be epoxy if the debonder isn’t working.

47

Good Lord. Somehow I didn't realize it was a GREEN Sparkle Jet. Like irreplaceable. What an amazing incompetent goober. I don't suppose you can bring action against a guitar tech for malpractice, but in my view this borders on that. I mean, number one: you don't do anything to another man's guitar without his express permission, and you SURE don't do anything invasive or permanent. But number two, the approach suggests either someone with too little experience with floating bridges to be working on a guitar so equipped - or someone who secretly considers them an affront to guitardom and that it's unquestionably a contribution to the greater good to affix them whenever they're found.

I don't know anyone anywhere at any TIME who's ever suggested any such permanent glue for affixing bridge bases. Most instructionals are scrupulous about using only dabs. Only as muchlittle as necessary to stick it down - and they usually suggest Elmer's white (like school) glue, not even wood glue. BUT if woodglue, just a dab on each end.

This guy has apparently used enough to cover the entire underside of the base...

which makes me wonder how none squeezed out around the edges to disfigure the top. Further, whether maybe in fact some did, and the guy was attentive enough to wick it away immediately, or if he used something to clean up after himself. I might try to have a civil conversation with him about that fateful day, and see if he did use something to clean up, what that something was. Because it might come in handy.


Before I lay out my next suggestion for removal, let me back out a level and explore how to get to your desired end result without removing that base. This started because you wanted to put on a Tru-Arc. We can make a completely custom Tru-Arc, to fit any post size and spacing, and with a compensation profile to work in (almost) any bridge position. Individualized compensation profiles get pricey, so I don't suggest you immediately go there.

If it was my guitar, first I'd want to be sure I even liked the sound and performance of the Tru-Arc, and in what metal. I'd start by seeing if at least the post spacing and diameter work with off-the-shelf (well, literally, out-of-the-small-stacked-drawer-bin) Tru-Arcs. If it does, you could temporarily buy bridges in whatever materials you think you'd like to audition, knowing there's a possibility they won't intonate properly. You'd just be testing for tone.

Then, if you found a winner and thought the expense would be worth it, you could pursue the full custom, sending all the candidates back for full credit against the custom (or refund if it's not worth the trouble and expense).

BUT. It's also possible this base is pinned at a location where a stock Tru-Arc will intonate acceptably. We just don't know. A picture of the bridge taken directly from above, showing at least part of the bridge pickup and the Bigsby, would provide some insight into that, and might be followed by measurements which would confirm. Then if the bridge location happens to be good for a stock profile - but the posts and diameter are off - that's a lot less expensive to customize.

This all means we're hoping Cap'n Gluehappy was familiar enough with floating/archtop bridges to at least permanently fuse it to the guitar top where it's supposed to be. I'm not counting on that.


But onward to my practical suggestions for removing the base. (Which will be followed by a caveat.) Someone has suggested using a wood rasp to grind it down. I think before I did that, I'd carefully measure, then re-measure, then have someone else measure, the distance between the top of the bridge base to the top of the guitar (at some very particular location). Then I'd put a drill bit in a variable-speed drill or a Dremel, mark it with tape just a hair short of that distance, and ever so paranoidly carefully drill down into the base at that measured location. I'd keep checking every whipstitch to see if I could see green yet. I'd try to stop a little short of green, then use some hand tool to clean away the bottom of the hole till I did see green.

At that point, I'd have another place to pour in some glue releaser.

And I might repeat that process in several locations on each side of the base. (Please tell me it's a two-footed base, not one that's solid all the way down to the top, all the way across. Because that will be depressing.)

The caveat: either this approach or the rasp approach pretty much guarantees you destroy the bridge base. You're then committed to getting the remnants cleaned off the top of the guitar, or you don't have a guitar, you have a sculpture of a guitar. That's something to consider, and the reason I suggested alternate ways of getting a Tru-Arc (if it's worth it) on the existing base. At least we know the base makes good contact with the top!

I remain a firm believer that anything can be fixed. (Except stupid.) There are, of course, situations in which the cost to fix is silly, or what remains of the fixed thing after the fixing is so altered it's no longer the thing it was. You should be nowhere near that conundrum on this project, unless something were to go horribly wrong with the tools and you booger it up substantially.

So let's say even THAT happened, and you gouged the top irretrievably in an exposed place, or put a hole in it. The top could STILL be re-covered. The guitar is not in existential danger.

But once you wholly or partially destroy the existing bridge base, it remains true that you don't have a guitar until you follow through and get it all cleaned off, whatever the consequences.

Stuff to consider.

48

Yeah, I tried getting those studs out, but they’re sunk pretty good. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tacked those down with glue too.

When I applied the solvent, at first I did it carefully with some sort of pointy Q-tip thing I found with my wife’s nail polish remover. When the frustration mounted, and after I saw it wasn’t hurting the finish, I flooded the seam between the bridge base and guitar top.

Nothing.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was epoxy. I applied enough force that it should’ve broke free, glue or not.

I’m fearing I’ve been beaten.

49

As soon as power tools, files or Dremels enter the equation, my trepidation grows and I have to acknowledge my luthiery ability’s been exceeded.

The solvent I used was recommended by the guy who glued it. I’m not surprised. He’s probably still wondering why I’d ever want to replace the roller bridge...

I may need to take it to a pro who might have the experience and the steady nerve that comes with emotional detachment from the guitar.

Like you said, just about anything can be fixed. The question just becomes at what cost.

50

50 Shades Get yourself a nice new sharp 1/2” wood chisel. Set your guitar on a stable, towel-covered work surface and brace it in place such that it won’t rock or slide sideways. Stack some books or heavy boxes against it etc. Lay tape all around the sides of the bridge base to protect the guitar top. Use wide masking tape. Carefully line up the chisel on one end of the bridge base, a whisker above the tape layer on the guitar face at one end of the base. Hold the chisel parallel to the guitars face, with the flat side of the chisel down (bevel side up) Using a mallet or small block of wood, lightly tap the chisel. It will split the bridge base up off the glued surface. Now turn everything around and do the same on the other end. That will remove the bulk of the base. Then you can see how much of the remaining base and glue you have to remove.You can also use the chisel for that, carefully scrape down to the guitar top, then sand off what the chisel doesn’t get.

Just take your time. You can do it.

Full disclosure: I am NOT a Luthier, but I AM a finish carpenter of some 40 years of experience.

Good luck!


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