On the bench is a 60's-vintage Japanese acoustic 12-string that arrived in pieces. It has a trapeze tailpiece and uses a zero-fret at the nut.  Fairly stout guitar, with no structural issues noted.

Job #1 is fingerboard leveling & new frets  (in the midst of that now, pardon the mess) but something kept "not lookin' right".  So I break-out the saddle-locator and the pictures tell the rest of the story.

The saddle location  should  be well-past where the fade-shadow of the old bridge sat.  

When all's said & done, of course, the saddle will have to "sit where it wants to sit"...but how did this setup ever work for anyone all these years with the bridge so far north? 

On the other hand, could I be having a senior moment and totally overlooking something that's so obvious?  Help an old guy out here....

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Someone replaced the tailpiece with one too long??

The previous owner was tone-deaf :-) That shadow from the bridge is wide and huge!

Maybe a replaced neck or fretboard?

Looks like some one scratched horizontal marks in the sound board where the bridge should have been located. Apparently, the bridge was incorrectly relocated at some point, at the marks nearest the sound hole. The bridge was probably let loose for a string change and it's owner not understanding how to re-set it in the right place.

I don't think this has anything to do with the tail piece, neck or finger board mods or replacements. I have found that a lot of players (some good ones) have no clue about correctly placing a floating bridge and are confused why the chords sound off but the open strings are in tune. Doubling the distance from the nut to the 12th fret to find scale length and adding a bit of compensation is not common knowledge. Also many players are confused about checking intonation at the 12th fret and compare the open string to the 12th fret harmonic rather than comparing the open string or 12th fret harmonic to the fretted (stretched) string at the 12th fret. Many decent instruments get sold off when the owners get fed up and proclaim the miss-placed bridge instrument is no good.

Good eye, Paul...  I hadn't noticed those scratch marks off to the side before.  Yes, that would be about right (give or take) for the correct bridge placement area.

So that's how it's going to be, with the new floating bridge (yet to be made) in the correct position, and the owner will forever spend his days fending-off the questions of "that funny shadow area"!

Thanks all for the input. It will probably always remain somewhat of a mystery but I think Paul's take on what may have happened is about right. 

I suspect as Paul does that the bridge got moved in a string change.   It's not uncommon to find floating bridges in very strange places - some folks just don't understand that there is only one right position for them.  I've had many customers who gave up on their guitar because it never played in tune when the only problem was that the floating bridge was mis-located.  And one fairly recent case where the owner just had the guitar set up by a local "tech", but even the "tech" didn't understand intonation.  That's not all he didn't understand, but that's another story.

Judging by the condition, it looks like a guitar that was rarely played, so intonation was a non-issue for the owner.  I've seen this on other floating bridge guitars before.  Makes you wonder..Tom

If rarely played, why would it need a refret?  Maybe it was played some in its early life with correct location, then went to the person that moved the bridge who then unloaded it when the intonation was so far off.  Just sayin'... .


The frets were down to nuttin'!  In hindsight, I wish I'd saved the frets to photograph, but didn't think of it. Truth be told, there was no way to tell if the frets were worn down through play or not.

The board looked as though somebody had tried to correct the dreaded neck-to-body hump (or actually, the intentional drop-off) by filing all of the frets as flat as  pancakes, leaving less than .020" worth of meat remaining.  Tsk-tsk.

my very first fretted insterment a guitar I started making  violins at the age of 15years old and they had no frets and the bridge could be any place. I made the first guitar with no guitar to copy .  I had bought a fingerboard so the frets were right so when time to glue the bridge down I just held it up and looked at it and said this looks good to me! I was used to varnishing and all and at that time in the 1950 there was no books to buy so what did I know!  I took it into a music store and said look at what I did and he tried to tune it and play and measure the bridge placement and told me I had the bridge in the wrong place and I said what do you mean ? It looks right and he clued me in that there is a right place for it and clued me in! Wow did my pride take  a plunge! it was several guitars later I learned about compotision but we all have to learn!


That's a good story, Ron....  thanks for the chuckle this morning :)

mabye they pushed the bridge north fer different scale length...maby going fer tenor?...i did that on electrics fer awhile till i discovered short scale a 8 string tenor guitar/bariuke thing does sound way cool...i got two....anyways jus thinkin outside the box.....but that is wierd...........walker


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