Scott's Guitar Blog: November 13, 2008

Making a pinless guitar bridge

I had a challenge with the new custom 9-string acoustic guitar I’m building. In order to utilize the bracing pattern I designed, I couldn’t go with a bridge using bridge-pins as the string spacing was so wide, the pins would have impeded with the braces in two spots. So, I decided to go pinless…NOT a small task when you don’t have a milling machine or CNC technology. I make all my bridges by hand on bandsaws and sanding machines, then drill the pin holes by hand, and use a small fixture to route in the saddle slot. A pinless bridge is much tougher to make by hand.

I started with a rectangle of very nice Brazilian rosewood, and placed it in a vise on my drill press.
The correct 9-string spacing was carefully marked, and small pilots for where I would drill the string tunnels were placed on the rear edge. I needed to machine in a wide enough hole to accept the string ball ends, so that they would slip nicely into a perfect hole, not to be seen! By angling the vise, I was able to control the tunnel length, entry and exit angle. I then went in to create the “pocket” for the ball-ends. After this a strip of rosewood was glued to the top for strength, then the piece was shaped and profiled into the completed bridge. In this final shot, it is still not slotted for the saddle. This will be done after the bridge is glued to the finished guitar for scale accuracy.

All the best, and feel free to visit my website at CustomGuitars.com for more on guitar making and guitar repair!