A customer brought in a Tanglewood bowl bac today and asked me to sort out an over high action. On examination I could see the problem. The belly had bowed up badly behind the bridge, some repair(?) man had tried to re-glue the bridge without correcting this problem and clamped it inadequately so that one wing was lifting. To compund the crime it looked as if he had used epoxy! The customer had only bought the guitar secondhand in January, and apparently it was in this condition when he bought it; the shop had replaced a lefthand bridge with a righthand for him. I advised him that the repair bill would be almost as much as he paid for it, but that he should take the guitar back to the shop and demand his money back or a replacement.
Which leads on to my question; how do you remove an epoxed bridge without causing needless damge to the soundboard. This is the fist time I've encountered this problem, but I don't doubt it will occur again and I'd like to be able to tackle it with confidence.

Tags: bellying, bridge, epoxy, glue, soundboard

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The same way I remove epoxied fingerboards, with a machine - machine the bridge off with a router set in a templated facing jig using an endcutting bit. This will also flatten out the area you are going glue on the new bridge (make it oversize to cover the ratty edges from the removal) - if it is a laminated top guitar just put it in the fire. There are other ways of breaking epoxy bonds but the delicate nature of the area we are working in makes it difficult (difficult for me anyway - I'm all ears when it comes to doing things a better way). Better suggestions welcomed here guys. Rusty
thats all good but you (in my humble opinion) dont want to flatten a beg belly with a router, you would just end up digging through the top if the belly is as big as it sounds ...the correct way (again, in my opinion) would be to fix the belly and then reglue the bridge....first remove the bridge with a heat blanket and knife. then flatten the top..check for loose bracing or bridge plate and then reglue the bridge to a now corrected soundboard. problem solved
Thanks. Russell. Routing is one option I had considered. However, I was reluctant to do so given the excessive bellying. It was about three times what it should have been; I'm still shaking my head in disbelief that a shop could even consider this guitar saleable! I think I'd use a router only where the belly could return to near enough flat after taking string tension off. I don't like the thought of removing wood from the soundboard.
Nick, I have reservations about removing an epoxied bridge by heating. Although I use epoxy in my building, laminated ribs, double top and inlay, I have a horror (irrational?) of encountering it in my repair work. My only experience of epoxy giving way under heat was at wood-charring temperarures! I always put my bridges on with hide glue and a vacuum clamp. I don't entirely trust Titebond, and cannot understand using epoxy; the bond seems far too thick. Incidentally, I've always used hide glue, but I have recently been told that bone glue has a far stronger bond. Ayone got any experience of that?
It's a Tanglewood guitar, the approved method of repair here is worth more than the guitar. The belly up is behind the bridge and you will find the area in front of the bridge is concave (but not to the extent of the obverse belly in the relatively unbraced are behind the bridge. The bit under the bridge is relatively flat. The problem that was presented was how to remove the bridge which was epoxied. A heat blanket won't do the job if the epoxy is a high quality (relatively heat proof) type - and physical manipulation will tear up the area around the bridge, and, my jig which clamps to the sides actually helps flatten the top when the strings are off thereby helping get a flat area for a new bridge. But, yep I take a whisker of when I route the surface. Alternatively you can pop the top or slip the braces or whatever it takes I guess, as long as everybody is happy and one of us gets paid a fair wage. If it was a horse you would shoot it. Rusty.
i've had good success with heat for removing epoxied bridges ...just go slow and easy...and let the customer know that it is risky and prepare him for the worst ...
I'd say, the application of heat, and a LOT of someone else's money.


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