I'm working on an old Kent guitar that suffered a severe bridge lifting. The cedar top under the bridge has bowed and weakened. I've manage to flatten out the top again, but there is evidence that this bridge has been off before, so I'm concerned the problem may be reoccuring.

Looking inside, I was surprised to find there was no bridge plate. Perhaps this is why the bridge is lifting? I noticed that this guitar has a radial bracing design that extends under the bridge. I don't have a lot of luthier experience, so I don't know if this is a proper design or not.

Should I try to manufacture a custom bridge plate to fit around or over the radial braces to help support, or will that adversely affect the sound?


Doug Collins

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Normallly, I would say that such a guitar is probably made for nylon strings, but even a nylon string guitar most often has a bridge plate.

On an old fanbraced Goya I have, which is made for steel, the bridgeplate is very small and underneath the braces. I think it was put there mostly as protection for the string ends underneath the soundboard (it´s a pin bridge).

I managed to heat it and get it lose to replace it with a new. A tricky job inside the guitar. Next time I would consider removing the bottom.


Is that bridge plate actual underneath the brace? Did you have to loosen the brace too?

How thick is the plate?

Doug Collins
You may not have a choice but to install a bridgeplate. One of it's functions is to keep the top flat enough so the bridge joint can stay together. The art of making and installing a bridgeplate is to hopefully make it just as small and thin as possible yet still be strong enough to do the job. Also, it sounds like this guitar was made for nylon strings so you probably can't put steel strings on it.

Hey Guys,

Thanks for you replies. I'm wondering how it is that you knew that this guitar had steel strings? I don't think I can put nylon strings on it because the neck is quite narrow. The girl who owns the guitar actually wanted nylon strings on it. I suggested going with extra light steel strings.

Don't all nylon strings have loop ends? This would require a different bridge, wouldn't it?

As you can tell, I don't have a lot of experience, so I really appreciate your help.


Doug Collins
If it has a pin bridge, it is most likely intended to have steelstrings.

When it comes to "string through" or classical bridges, it is typical for nylon string guitars, but appear also on several steelstring flattops. I have mostly seen this on older ladderbraced flattops, and also 12-strings, but there are also more modern flattop makers using stringthrough bridges on jumbos and dreads, like Lowden and Alhambra...

Nylon strings in my experience have "open ends" which is to be "tied" in the stringthrough bridge, whereas steelstrings allways have a "ball end" which is locked by the pin in a pin bridge or in the back end of a stringthrough bridge.

I hope this makes sense, it is difficlt to put in words (at least in English, if You are Swedish)..

They now make 'ball-end' nylon strings also. I used to take pride in tying on nylon strings to the bridge in a neat way on my classical.

Radial bracing?


You said it appeared to have been removed or fixed before. Maybe the classical bridge was replaced by a peg bridge? Most classical bridges extend farther on the side then a steel string bridge.If so there should be signs of the extended bridge..


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