Modifying a J-200 Bridge to Increase Tone and Volume

This 70's Gibson J-200 had the kiss of death tone killing hardware that breaks the "don't modify" rule. There was an internal strut similar to a "bridge doctor" device running across the soundboard under the bridge, with a 1" steel pad on a threaded bolt, designed to push up against the top for stability. All it did was kill vibration and thusly tone. It is common to remove this device, thus enabling the soundbaord to vibtrate more freely, and also lighten the overall weight of the guitar.

This article picks up after that was done, addressing the horrible "Tune-o-matic" bridge insert, (as in Les Paul designs) which sat in a huge routed channel in the rosewood bridge. This tone-killing monstrosity virtually ruined any chance of this guitar sounding good!

What I did was to remove all screws, bushings, and metal posts from the guitar, replace the worn bridge plate with an exact matching maple plate (MINUS all the hardware holes), machine out an exact color and grain piece of Brazilian Rosewood to plug into the hole in the bridge, level it, reslot the bridge, and make a proper bone saddle. The customer was thrilled, and when it was done, it sounded better than most j-200s I've ever heard, and the mod was nearly invisible. The the soundboard was now free to vibrate, and the saddle/bridge transfered the energy correctly to the top.

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