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I am replacing the bridge plate of a late 50's ladder braced Gibson LG-1. The original is made of spruce and is 1/8 inch thick. I have a piece of maple that I was thinking of using as the replacement. If I use maple, can I use a thinner stock, or should I stay with the 1/8 thinkness? Also, would there be any difference in making a bridge plate from spalted maple as opposed to the non-spalted varitey? Thanking you in advance.
Matt

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I would reacamend you use a piece of good 1/8 hard Maple Bill."""""""""
I would not use the spalted stuff. Possible spongy soft areas.
Yes, indeed.... a good solid piece of hard 1/8th" maple, defect-free if at all possible. But now I've got a question about bridgeplates. I've seen manufacturers installing the plates with the grain going with the top, 90° to the top and (sometimes) 45° to the top. It seems a case could be made for almost any orientation, but the 45° seems (to me) to make the most sense. Any thoughts?
I am almost 100% certain that I read that Frank Ford recommends grain that runs parallel to the soundboard. It seems that the only orientation you really wouldn't want is that of grain lines running perpindicular to the sound board. A single grain line in the path of every bridge pin hole would increase the possibility of a cracked plate.
The point of the bridge plate is to 1) disperse the pull of the strings and bridge over a somewhat broader area, but mostly 2) to keep the string balls from pulling through the top. Spalted maple is weak maple. It's structurally degraded by fungal and bacterial action. If you use maple, which I would support, use substantial maple.

In all my years I've never seen a spruce bridgeplate on a Gibson, and can't imagine what they were thinking when they did that.

I don't think bridge plates have a significant effect on tone unless they're absurdly massive. On his website (the other one) Frank has wisely recommended bridge plates with grain (stiffness) running parallel to the top's grain in an effort to correct bulging. I don't think the difference between rosewood and maple is very important. I don't think the angle of the grain is very important either, but every little bit helps. I also don't think model airplane plywood is a bad idea either. It'll never split, and you can set aside the worry about grain orientation permanently.

In any case, you have to look at the bigger picture - what are you trying to accomplish? A flatter top? A more solid bed for the string balls? - when you plot out a replacement bridge plate.

I don't think you'll correct much bulge in a ladder-braced guitar unless you're willing to lose some sound. Keeping string balls from pulling through until they're pulling on the bridge itself is the higher function of the bridgeplate. Most bridges that crack between the bridgepin holes do so because the bridge plate has failed.
Thanks Paul. The only reason I am replacing the plate is due to the ball end damage. Basically there isn't any material left in that area of the original plate. That is strange that you've never seen spruce used as a plate in a Gibson before, I have only repaired 5 LG models, but all of them had spruce plates. The maple I have is not spalted, but I was wondering about that because I have seen lots of auctions on eBay for spalted maple and the price is very cheap so I figured I would check to see if there would be problems. Thanks again.
Stringer,

Rethinking the matter I also agree that spruce is an unlikely candidate for a bridge plate and I also have never seen one. Is is possible that there isn't any bridge plate on these guitars? That is was omitted accidentally during manufacture? This makes more sense than using a soft wood that would quickly fail against the tension of the ball and I've seen many items over the years that had parts and components left out during manufacture.

Just a thought but when you look inside one of these again see if you find specific bridge plate edges or instead just assume - as I would - that there "has to" be a bridge plate.

Rob
I think it was a bad idea as well, but it is most definitely what was used. I have already removed it and attached a photo.
Attachments:
Perhaps they were being nice and decided they would give away a nice piece of spruce for future repairs, but disguise it as a bridge plate???
for what its worth i just did a bp replacement on a 50's gibson and it was spruce
In my oppion the bridge plate in the picture has the pin holes to close to the back to start with you are not getting the suport you need for the top having them in that position And there is a little trick to stop a lot of that damage around the holes and save spoiling the pins as well that is to cut the balls off your old strings and feed one on- to each string there by having a dobbal balled string,The extra ball will sit flat under the bridge plate, And it is said to make the Guitar sound better , As well you will have less of the string winding coming up through the Bridge. [Just my take on the subject] P.S don't forget to take all the wire of the extra ball. Bill.::::::::

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