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Devices for centering the neck and bridge placement
enalnitram (Martin Lane)

Total Topics: 47
Total Posts: 338
hi all,
has anyone made their own devices used for centering the neck and for measuring the neck's relationship to the bridge height?

I'm about to fit my dovetail neck to my body and I want to have as much help as I can get to make sure everything fits precisely.

I've seen the Martin factory videos where a couple of the employees there, are using two tools. both look like pieces of plexiglass, that have been cut to fit onto the fingerboard. one indicates the neck is centered and the other one is used to tell that the height at the bridge will be ok.

I was just about to go out to hobby lobby and try to get a piece of plexiglass. cutting it might be tricky. has anyone made things like this for themselves?

having the center line jig be made out of plexiglass will be handy, because I'll be able to see thru it to see if I am centered. the bridge height device won't need to be clear, and should probably be made out of something that won't "flex" like plexiglass does.

a third tool I was planning to make would help me place the bridge in the correct spot, and would fit my scale length. or maybe I could "combine" two of these tools and get two functions out of one thing?

Apr 21, 09 | 12:36 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
martin has 2 gauges. One is the action height , this plexiglass tool has a go no gauge so the setter knows where the neck belongs . The 2nd gauge is for the saddle location.
There are many tools out there but you need 1 tool , and that is a good straight edge. This will tell you action height , neck angle and your string line so you can plot center.

Apr 21, 09 | 1:09 pm

Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
Hi enalnitram,

What's your name? There is a forum member (see his site, KMG Guitars) who makes a "bridge setter" that does exactly what you asked for. Price is right and unless you've got a CNC machine and an engineering background, you will not come close trying to make your own jig. I'm speaking from 1st hand experience. There is also a jig that SM sells, but it doesn't square up the bridge, just positions the saddle point. Someone else makes a jig that squares up the bridge after you know exactly where to put it, I think that's also from SM.


Apr 21, 09 | 2:50 pm

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
Martin, KMG has a good reputation and I know a few other forum members have used his jig. So I'm sure you will get input on his product. Personnally I'm not familar with it.

For my first 6 guitars I used a 36" straight edge and was able to get the bridge in the correct position. For my last two, I puchased the simple center finder from luthier suppliers (link below). I find this product to work extremely well and would highly recommend it if you plan to build more than a few guitars. If you are only going to do one or two, take the extra time to use a 36" straight edge.


Apr 21, 09 | 4:12 pm
enalnitram (Martin Lane)

Total Topics: 47
Total Posts: 332
thanks Dave and llajoy, for the recommendation, but I'm interested in making my own, just like I mentioned.

tonight I went to home depot and bought a milled piece of poplar, 1/4"x2.5"x36". I centered my fingerboard on it so that the nut end was on one side of it, and I traced the outline of the fingerboard on it with a sharp pencil. I'll cut this so that I can strap it to the fingerboard. I'll mark holes for the bridge on it and also use it to determine center.

I'm thinking of attaching a couple of bent pieces of metal to the sides of this piece of poplar, that will keep it from moving on the fingerboard.

sounds like all I need is a straightedge to determine action height.

no offense, but this is just my nature. I'm quite capable of making tools and jigs, and whatever I can't do adequately, I ask for help. I'm probably only going to build one (or maybe two). but it'll be awhile before I'm even able to start a second one.


ps. Dave, "enalnitram" is Martin Lane spelled backwards.

Apr 21, 09 | 8:37 pm

Total Topics: 7
Total Posts: 24
Hi Martin, about the jig I've made. It's 3mm plywood cut exactly at the final size of my fingerboards. It has two notches at the 12th fret position and the end is cut exactly where the saddle has to be positioned, compensation included.
When my neck is ready -it means all done and already finished- I make a try to lock it to the body. I use mortise/tenon, bolt on method.
I fix my jig to the fingerboard (fret level ok) and I can see if it's centered to the center line in the guitar top and can make adjustments. Once centered it gives me the position for the bridge just touching the end of the jig to the saddle inserted in its slot. It is simple to center the bridge watching where 3rd and 4th pinholes are positioned. Distance between underside of the jig and guitar top at the bridge front end gives me the height of the soundboard.
I don't have a website to publish my pics, so give me your email address and I'll send you some pics of it.
Beppe - -

Apr 21, 09 | 11:44 pm
enalnitram (Martin Lane)

Total Topics: 47
Total Posts: 332
here are pictures of Beppe's jig.

Apr 22, 09 | 5:29 am

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