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Inexpensive bridge removal options?
Author
Post
DannyGoneandPop

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 9
I know that a silicone heating blanket is the correct way to do this but I'm wondering if anyone can give me some good advice on how to do this on the cheap.

I've read of heating a set of three putty knives in boiling water and going at the lifted side of the bridge cold and I'm thinking that a damp rag and an ordinary clothing iron makes sense.

Thermometer advice would be most welcome as well.

The patient is finished in satin poly and the bridge is rosewood. I'll be scraping all finish under the bridge with razor blades and sanding the top and then, the bridge bottom to matching radius.

I'm planning on using hot hide glue to replace the bridge and I just ordered a KMG bridge setting kit. I think I've got the procedure down from the info I've gathered on the web and youtube.

Any spare advice would be great!

Thanks in advance.

Jul 05, 10 | 5:19 pm
DannyGoneandPop

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 9
Oh yes, is 450 gram strength hot hide glue a good choice?

Jul 05, 10 | 5:20 pm
Hugh

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 309
I've removed only 2 or 3 bridges. I put a block against the neck edge and hit the block with a hammer. Someone has given specific instructions somewhere. I was always surprised it worked though.

Jul 05, 10 | 7:37 pm
Running Dog

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 103
I don't think I'd try to remove a bridge by whacking it with a hammer, at least not if it was at all glued on and I wanted to save the soundboard. Whacking the neck would be even less useful.

Hot putty knives will probably remove the bridge pretty well but they'll scar the finish, too. A damp rag is another good way to transfer destructive heat to the finish around the bridge.

What's the backstory here? Is a bridge lifting? If so, where and how much and why? Those things (plus knowing what glue was used) will help determine the best course of action.

(And no, you don't need a silicone blanket or other expensive lutherie tool for this, no matter what.)

Definitely practice with the hide glue before trusting it hold a bridge on! Make test pieces, glue them, test them ...

Rick

Jul 05, 10 | 9:54 pm
DannyGoneandPop

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 9
Some backstory then: The guitar is an Epiphone AJ500RE, 2009 vintage, that I bought used and, I thought, in good shape. Turns out tha tthe guy had super glued the lifting edge of the bridge (the entire wing on the treble side is up now).

Beyond that, the guitar was pretty badly dehydrated as the top began to develop a sunken center seam two weeks after i got it. Worse yet the top belly has been mishapen a bit, though it may just be that the bridge is twisting and causing uneven stress on the top. The other possibility is, of course. a loose brace.

I can't say what exactly caused all this but, because the guy had a car, I'd bet that he let the guitar cook in the trunk while it was at full tension.

Thanks for the advice about practicing with the hide glue. I will do that as I didn't realise that it was a touchy process.

















0

Jul 06, 10 | 12:28 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
There are a few method that I use. One is heat . It depends on the glue and the guitar. When I know I am dealing with titebond or white I use a sharp chisel and gently work around the bridge using light tapes. I don't whack it , just light taps , this will fracture the glue line and let the bridge come off clean.
Another method is heat , I will use a heat lamp or blanket and allow the heat to penetrate the glue. If this doesn't work I replace the bridge and rout off the old one.

John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc.
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Jul 06, 10 | 8:12 am
Running Dog

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 103
Sounds like it got cooked, all right. The sunken center seam (aka: beginning to open) and misshapen belly point in that direction.

I've not been brave enough to try the whack it with a chisel technique. I use a thick aluminum block with a bit of a curve ground into one side to match, more-or-less, the curve of the bridge top. Plop a hot iron on top and let it cook for a while. The al block keeps the heat away from the lacquer. By the time you can feel warmth on the bridge plate, you can usually work a dull spatula or putty knife under some area of the bridge.

Be careful not to take too much wood off the top! Often, you can feel the wood split in one direction and not the other (runout, in other words). Work in the good direction. Be patient, try different angles, and as the bridge begins to come loose keep one hand on it! It'll often blow off at the last minute, taking chunks of spruce with it. You want a controlled release, or at least I do and that's why I fear the "whack it" techniques. YMMV. After all, John's quite experienced and I'm just chicken.


Jul 06, 10 | 8:38 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
The first time I saw the chisel removal method was at Martin. I also saw Dave Nichols do it. This is a touch method. When I do this I have a special chisel that is ground with a more sever angle . A light tap works well but you need to be careful as Rick Davis points out you need to be aware of tear out.
I can't count how many bridges I took off this way but the tear out ratio is about the same as heat and pry. I keep a sharp razor blade to cut free any tear out.

John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc.
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Jul 07, 10 | 4:56 am
deadedith

Total Topics: 34
Total Posts: 165
Ok. 10 minutes ago I went to the shop to try John's method with the chisel. I used a sharp one, 3/4" wide. I tapped around the exterior of the bridge, did about 10-12 laps, and it lifted off beautifully.
I've removed bridges with heat, this was quicker and for me, cleaner.

Thanks John!!

Dave B

Jul 07, 10 | 9:35 am
Running Dog

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 103
OK, so next time I have a bridge to remove I'll suck it up and go for the chisel method! But John, by "more severe" angle, do you mean more like a cold chisel? Or a very low angle like 10?

Rick (the chicken-hearted)

Jul 07, 10 | 10:52 am
DannyGoneandPop

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 9
John - Do you sell a specially ground chisel for pulling the bridge?

Jul 07, 10 | 1:15 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
I lower the angle so it appears over sharpened.
john hall

Jul 07, 10 | 1:20 pm
DanB

Total Topics: 50
Total Posts: 272
I am guilty of not reading through all of these, but I did what Ken Hundley had done to remove his bridges before when I had to remove mine:

Pot of boiling water with 3 or so putty knives in it, I taped off around my bridge to save my finish. Cycle through the putty knives, and get about 15-20 seconds off each one, then dip it back in the water and grab another one.

Worked for Ken, worked for me, cost nothing since most people have a few putty knives laying around.

-Dan

Jul 19, 10 | 8:31 pm
DannyGoneandPop

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 9
It's done now. I used John Hall's method of light taps all around on the cold bridge and it worked almost perfectly. Got one very small and minor area of spruce that came up on the G string neck side. Sanded everything to bare wood and proper radius.

Just to post the info, the Epiphone AJ-500re (and the 500rc and 500me as well) have a reputation for lifting bridges and I found some interesting reasons why.

First, the finish was only removed from about 75% of the area under the bridge and there were 1/4" ledges of finish that the glued bridge sat upon at all edges.

Second, the bridge was glued using a very small and light amount of glue that was pretty much only underneath the bridge pin area of the bridge, with almost no coverage underneath the wings at all.

It looks to me that the MFG was trying mightily to avoid having any squeeze-out to deal with and went with a very suspect bond instead.

To fix this, I razor bladed the finish off up until the scribe outline I made of the bridge (Though I made the mistake of going to far on the end of the bass wing) and sanded the area flat with 150 grit fingered with a soda bottle cap. I sanded the bridge to radius using the KMG method described here:

http://www.kennethmichaelguitars.com/bridgeprep.html

Now to order my thermometer and the hide glue.

Jul 20, 10 | 7:38 am



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