Making a Reproduction Martin Bridge

This lovely little 1959 Martin 0-15 had a very badly broken front half to its original Brazillian rosewood bridge.  Forward pressure on the saddle caused the wood in front of the saddle to break clean off, in a jagged and splintered way.  Trying to glue this would never have been strong enough to hold, so I had to do what I don't like to do, that is, to replace an original part.

First, the original bridge is carefully removed.  I then found a nice piece of Brazilian rosewood in my shop, and double-stick taped the old bridge to it, using it as an index for drilling the new bridge-pin holes.  I also used this as the opportunity to trace the exact footprint on the new blank.  The new piece is then trimmed to size on the bandsaw, and profiled to shape on a variety of sanding belts and spindles.  The original bridge needed to be replicated precisely in all measurements so that the neck angle and tone would remain true.  This new bridge even weighed the same to within 0.5 grams as the original, with the same tap tone! The worse thing you can do is change a guitar's voice with a repair (unless it's for the better).

After counter-sinking the new pin holes, the new bridge is glued to the body, then a fixture is used to route in the 3/32" wide saddle slot.  Waiting until the bridge is on the guitar allows me to carefully measure the scale length/slot location for correct intonation.  I use a powerful Fordom Flex-shaft tool in a special sliding jig to do this. Hand polishing and lightly aging the new bridge by gently sanding the impression of use to its edges completes the job!

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