Vintage Gibson with a chipped out bridge plate. Multiple loose braces, a top crack and the back is peeling up a bit puts replacing the bridge plate out of this clients price range. We'll most likely go with an 'overlay' plate.

I don't know how I would get that plate off... normally I would heat the top a bit (with the bridge removed) with a lamp or a chunk of steel and an iron.... and use the bridge plate chizel, separation knife, razors.

How would I get that plate off?

Tags: bridge, pad, plate

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Well, I'm an amateur so you should probably wait for someone that actually know what they are talking about but, since Frank has been so kind as to give me an opportunity to voice it, I will give you my opinion anyway .

In my amateur world, where time and money are not consideration... well time, anyway, I don't think I'd try to remove it. I'd see If I could fill the damage with new wood and redrill the holes. You would need to clean up the existing groove before fitting a filler (maple? ). Maybe make a rounded scraper to clean it up?

Actually, In my amateur world and given the list of issues, I might be tempted to pull the back to effect all the repairs more easily. I guess that this would depend upon the extent of the back separation that already exists as well as the access to and number of loose braces and top cracks. With the back off, it might be possible to chisel out the bridge plate. If it were removed, I'd be very tempted to replace it with a narrower plate in an attempt to free up the top a bit (in my world, this would be my guitar and my risk ) I've always thought the double X braced Gibsons were too heavily braced anyway.

It's always so easy when I don't actually have to do it and it's not my time/money involved. Now, hopefully, someone else with more practical knowledge will give you better advice that doesn't include bankruptcy and a potential law suite.

I agree with Ned about effecting a repair on the existing bridgeplate. Dan Erlewine made a nifty little tool set to deal with the problem of ragged individual bridgepin holes (check-out "bridgesaver" at StewMac), but it doesn't quite address the tear-out between the holes.

Confession time: on less expensive acoustics (lower-end Yamahas, etc) with this problem, I'll use a maple backer plate just large enough to cover the pinholes (plus maybe 3/8" all 'round), then introduce epoxy down into the bridge holes BEFORE redrilling the holes... the epoxy fills-in the missing tear-out areas and, when it has set, I redrill the holes though the backer plate and, voila', it's solid and good to go. Not for high-enders, but it's a good fix in a pinch when $$ is an issue.
Hey Mike - you stole my idea! - yep, in addition, I mix a coarse ebony dust into West System epoxy to give it some body while still flowing before filling the void - I also use a full size laminate 1/16 thick to reinforce the bottom of the plate and hold the ebony/epoxy mix in place before drilling and reaming the finish product. A full depth bridge plate over the original makes the extended tapered peg holes too small for the string ball ends to fit in through from the top (however, you can backload them through the sound hole if you need to do it). Its not restoring the Mona Lisa quality but it's good for a middle range fix.
Hey, Mike and hey, Russ, you both stole also my idea! It's probably the best solution I'd use in a similar case.
Not only is the epoxy fill the best solution, it's a bona fide repair procedure to any but the very high-end instruments (where pulling the plate is the better option). Remove the bridge, cut a clamp caul backed with cork and a non-stick tape to use as a gasket clamped to the plate. Make sure the caul covers all the splits in the plate or you'll have epoxy running out onto the back of the guitar. And make sure you're using a very hard epoxy (not the five-minute hardware store kind).
This Gibson Blue Ridge will get an 'overlay' bridge plate with marine epoxy at the pin-holes.

I guess the only way to get that plate off (04.jpg) would be to loosen one of the braces around it.

Thanks to you guys for your suggestions. I appreciate it.



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