Slightly lifting and warped bridge - should it be replaced now or later?

A friend brought to me a Martin D-28 (from the late 90s) for a quick setup, and while inspecting the guitar I noticed that the bridge is a little warped and lifting slightly (see pictures, taken when the strings are completely slack). When strung to pitch I can wiggle in feeler gauges up to .008, and when detuned the thickest that will go in is .004. No cracking noises come from the bridge when I tune it up to pitch. Also, the guitar plays quite alright.

In a perfect world the bridge would be removed and reglued (and the warp fixed), but sometimes I think that a better approach is "if it's not broken, don't fix it", particularly in this case where the guitar plays fine and the bridge seems to be stable. I have definitely seen other repair persons take this approach.

Assuming proper care in the future (humidifying the guitar and not letting it sit in a car), how long before the bridge absolutely needs to come off? Would most people here leave it be for a while or go ahead and reglue the bridge?

Of course, my friend will be informed of the situation.

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I would not worry about it to much.  Looks like it will fall off tomorrow!

FIX It NOW!!!!!


Those pictures are taken when it is detuned.  And you say that it pulls up more than that when tuned to pitch?  Then I think "it is broke", and if it was mine I would fix it.  Otherwise it is likely to just fly off one day, and do some damage to the soundboard when it does. 

I am not seeing the warp.  But you can certainly make sure that the radius is well matched to the soundboard during the repair. 

BTW, that saddle looks really high, and tilted forward.  Is the action good? (or maybe I am just seeing a trick of the photography)


You are right, Mark, the saddle is indeed a little too high. That was the first thing I noticed. However the action measures 3/32" and 2/32" on the bass and treble sides respectively (measured at the 12th fret). That compounded with the fact a straightedge was clearing over the bridge a little too much, I think the neck is overset. It feels like I can bring the action down even lower, so I will try after the bridge is reglued.

"Assuming proper care in the future (humidifying the guitar and not letting it sit in a car), how long before the bridge absolutely needs to come off? Would most people here leave it be for a while or go ahead and reglue the bridge?"

It depends on the customer once they know that the bridge is lifting, bridges are not well known for gluing themselves back in place... ;), and the suggested fix is to carefully, with no damage to anything (or anyone...) remove the bridge, clean up the bottom, clean up and expand the clear wood, wood-to-wood gluing patch, and then regule.

Seriously if a bridge removal and reglue was not quoted or discussed with the client what I would do is call them and let them know this is what you are seeing upon closer inspection.  It will have to be removed and reglued at some point.

How long if left to it's own devices before it gets worse:  It's anyone's guess but I suspect that anyone fortunate enough to have a nice D-28 would be keen to keep it in good shape too.  Famous final words.... ;)

There really are only three options here:  1)  deal with it now, 2)  do nothing, and 3) inform the client, let them know that these things typically get worse and that if the bridge is left to lift further on it's own it could.... not always mind you.... do damage to the top where removing it properly now the damage could be avoided.

It's not uncommon to see this kind of a thing and miss it in the triage when the instrument was taken in.  

So my take would be fix it now too but get authorization from the client first AND this authorization should include a new quote for the expanded scope of work.

Thanks guys. You said more than enough, a reglue is in order.

i would reglue it

How far in does your feeler go?

Is that maccassar ebony?

Quote: "I think that a better approach is "if it's not broken, don't fix it"

- Snipped for Shortness -

Quote: "the guitar plays fine and the bridge seems to be stable. I have definitely seen other repair persons take this approach."




Reading this Thread.

Reminded me of the Soliloquy in Macbeth.

"If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly."


Shakespeare would stay here overnight on his Travels between London Stratford-upon-Avon.*

And working opposite to where he slept, I would enjoy my lunch in an Alcove in which his Bed was once Placed.

"Other peoples approach's" are not always the best guide. There's nothing to be gained, by Driving a Car with loose Wheel Nuts.

Yet the amazing truth is that I have known Drivers, astonished as one of their Own Wheels, Pass their Car by, as they sped round a Major Roundabout.

Thus, Envisaging this Bridge, eventually flying past the end of the Players Nose, travelling towards the Headstock at Considerable Speed, requires the merest modicum of imagination.

The only remaining question to my mind is. How much of the Tonally Essential Spruce Top will be Dramatically Torn Out, Fibre by Fibre, as the Strings are Played under Full Tension when it Gives?

Frankly, to me, the most important thing that needs to be urgently done, is to have a Very Serious Conversation with the Owner of this Instrument, regarding the Basic Requirements of Normal and Essential Guitar Care.

I simply cannot help but feel, that this Guitar has long been suffering from the Complete Lack of Sensible, Precautionary Measures, and is now in need of Major Repairs, simply because it hasn't been Looked After as such an Instrument should be.

I would certainly be having a direct "Eyeball to Eyeball Conversation" with the Owner of this Guitar. In the first instance as to examining and analysing their approach to the responsibility of Guitar Care, as with this and other problems highlighted in another thread, it looks to me  like entirely Avoidable Issues, Caused by Neglect.

My reason for this approach is to Directly Clarify the Problem. The Problem is Not actually the Cracked Top or the Warped Bridge or even the Lifting Bridge, although that might seem to be the case. The Problem is really the Owners Lack of Sensible, Precautionary Care, in Day to Day Use. The Repairs that are now Required, are Simply, Surface Symptoms of that Lack of  Care, which is the Actuating Cause.

Highlighting and Clearly Explaining that to the Owner. Facing and Placing the Causational Neglects in an Unequivocal Light, with the Responsibility Shouldered Squarely where it really should be is Important.


Here's the reason, WHY.

1. Without a Clear Diagnosis of the Real Problem, further Avoidable Repairs caused by this Underlying Issue are Completely Inevitable.

2. The Guitar was initially brought into you, for a Straightforward Setup. It is a Waste of Time and Effort, Attempting to Set Up this Guitar until these Needed Repairs are Accomplished.

3. The Owner appears to Not have Noticed, certainly Not to Have Mentioned, these Glaringly Obvious Faults. Is this Blindness a form of Avoidance, or even a Deliberate Ploy, as you could easily become Gradually Sucked into More and More Work on this Instrument. But feel Obliged to be Somewhat Constrained by the Expectations and Limits of the Costs first Discussed?

4. The Initially Anticipated Costs are Going to be Massively Higher, and that Point needs to be Clearly Reflected to the Owner, before undertaking any work whatever to this Instrument. He can then decide whether he wants to go ahead  with the Necessary Repairs. But you have not expended, Time and Effort on the Instrument. Clearly the Instrument is Redeemable and will continue to be the Fine Instrument, Martin Manufactured, if the Work is Done Properly NOW!


"Behold, Now is the Accepted Time; Behold, Now is the Day of Salvation"






The Bard was friendly with John and Jane Davenant.

They were  local vintners, and he stayed with them journeying between London and Stratford-upon-Avon. 

Jane is the only name linked to Shakespeare Romantically, other than Anne Hathaway and the Davenant’s Son.

Also called William, and Shakespeare's Godson, he became the first Poet Laureate, and liked to suggest he was the Son and Not Godson to the Bard. Whether this was true, and he was actually both, remains an open question?

I dont need to add any to the consensus on regluing the bridge, but Mark McLean is right about the saddle being quite tall, and it is definitely very tilted. That definitely needs to be addressed. What is the condition of the neck? Could it be someone jacked up the saddle to deal with a backbow, or something like that?

I don't know if you saw my reply to Mark, but yes, the saddle is indeed very tall and tilted. The action, measured at the 12th fret is 3/32" on the bass side and 2/32" on the treble side. A straight edge doesn't almost land on on the bridge, but overshoots it by a little too much. So I think the neck is over set. The neck itself is in good condition and I think I can bring down the action a little more and hopefully that'll help with the tilt a little bit.

Could there be any lift/distortion in the top because of the loose bridge?  If the saddle was made with that condition it could be the reason for the extra height.  I'd check for loose braces, too.


I think we are all getting the feeling that there is something off in the geometry of this guitar.  So it would be very prudent to closely scrutinize it for a problem with braces, or the neck block. 

It is amazing how your eye can catch one thing that seems wrong, then closer inspection reveals the whole can of worms.  But a D-28 is probably worth the effort, even if the plot thickens. 

Hey Peter - thanks for the tales of the Bard.  For a moment there I thought you were going to be presenting it in iambic pentameter


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