I never came across any explanations how to actually lower the bridge itself.

Often times I would like to perform this type of setup, especially when saddle to bridge pin string break-angle is not sufficient or the guitar has high action, but the saddle's not protruding enough.

I was thinking about it a lot and still can't come up with a neater solution than sanding and filing it down. And, of course, endmilling the saddle slot if needed.

I thought that it would be easy with a plunge router base on a dremel with a 3mm endmill, using with a simple jig that one would put over the soundboard. But since soundboards are bellied, this method is very tricky to work properly, I'd say.

Recently I had a customer that badly needed a bridge shave. Outer strings had such poor break-angle that the piezo was just barely picking it up. I had to recommend another repair guy for this type of job. That guy apparently did it for $30. I haven't seen the guitar yet. The owner assures the problem is gone and of course I believe him.

I can't call the guy and ask him, these old-timers here are taking everything to their graves. Small country, handful of customers, but lots of repair people and private instrument builders lately. Seems like the old-timers are being annoyed on a daily basis.

Since everyone here always has a better solution to offer, or at least an alternative one, I wanna know what you do.


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Here is how I do it. I don't have a pic as I'm away from the shop but it should be easy enough to visualize. 

I cut a piece of 1/4" plywood (which I'll call the base) to approx. 8" x 12". I then cut out a rectangle in the center of the base just slightly larger than the footprint of the bridge I wish to shave, with approx. 3/8" clear space around the bridge. The base should sit flat on the top of the guitar with the bridge centered in the hole.

I then take a profile gauge and get a read on the bridge. I then transfer the shape onto any old piece of softwood milled down to around 1" thick. I lay it out such that I'll have around 3/4" of wood below the profile line. It's as though I'm simply replicating the profile of the original bridge but adding some height to it. I then bandsaw this piece from the softwood, then cut it lengthwise down the middle, so I now have two identically shaped pieces of wood that have the shape of the bridge but are taller than the bridge by about 3/4".

I then glue these two pieces onto the base adjacent to each long edge of the center cutout. This forms a pair of rails upon which a small router base will glide. I use a trim router with a custom base I derived from experimentation, and any handy sharp router bit around 1/4" in diameter. I run the router over the top of the bridge in stages till I reach the desired bridge height. It takes about 15 minutes on average to complete the job.

Let me be clear: I only use this method on cheap guitars with sufficient bridge height. I wouldn't think about doing it on anything else, and come to think of it, I haven't done it in quite a while because I try to work on as few cheap guitars as possible!

Well, for me it's a classic Stanley #60-1/2 block plane to cut the bridge lower, and a variety of sanding blocks and grits to contour it appropriately.    No need for power tools with a sharp plane blade.

Just did one today on a really sick 1980s vintage Epiphone dreadnought with a horrendous neck angle.  It'll have a few more  years of marginal playability before the landfill. . .

I have a small wood spoke shave that i got from Lee Valley I use it for most of the stock removal. I like a miniature jack plane (also from LV) for shaping and/or feeler guages sharpened as scrapers. 

In my mind the easy part is taking material away, the hard part is making it look like you didn't. Take a picture before you start so you have a reference.

Recently I did a neck reset and replaced a bridge on a1970s Larrivee, twenty years ago when I planed the bridge down that's all the customer could afford. It's not a repair that's exclusive to cheap guitars. Personally I would rather buy a vintage guitar with a planed bridge than a poorly done neck reset.

Hear here for the old timey methods Frank and John. The block plane and spoke shave are great for a job like this. I would also be using a couple good sharp cabinet scrapers or other self made scrapers for most of the contour refinement. Small 'squirrel tail' palm planes and other detail planes and instrument planes/teeny spokeshaves are nice to have as well. But of course John, if you shop Lee Valley, you probably know all of these.

Theres nothing, nothing like a well tuned and sharpened hand plane.

Here's an interesting method. Not sure why this was done to a Taylor with an easily removable neck though...


This is interesting but, one has to make sure the strings won't hit the bridge and buzz.

In the picture the lower pitched strings are hitting the bridge, other wise it could work if they can't afford a neck reset  

I more suspicious of the photography than the repair. 

Interesting? I prefer the term "idiotic".


The top of the bridge looks a bit discolored which makes me think they hit the  top with a plane or sand paper before deciding to cut channels. I've guessing it was done by someone that knew something about working wood but not about guitar construction.  Could it be an early Taylor before the easy reset neck joint?

I didn't get a chance to inspect it too closely. Someone brought it to me because they were thinking of buying the guitar from someone on craigslist. I recommended he pass.

I did feel the need to snap a quick picture with the iPhone for posterity though.

It is an early Taylor, by the bridge shape. Glue only on the fingerboard extension, heel is flush with two bolts. Easy to pull out the bolts and slide sandpaper between heel and body. You don't even have to touch the extension. I'm sure you're right that whoever did this had woodworking skills [clean job] but no guitar experience. With the wealth of information available today about arcane subjects like guitar repair, I hope instances of "repairs" that do more harm than good are fewer and fewer.


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