Chillyburst in hot soup – I

This sunburst – chillyburst – came to me on its deathbed. A young friend’s first guitar, it is one of those inexpensive contraptions that cost double its actual cost, if repaired. But repair, I had to and yet not put in anything from my pocket.

But first what ailed it. Cheap guitars are cheap because of the (ply)wood used, its (lack of) craftsmanship and other throw-away material used in it. However, these instruments have a market here in India. For parents, they are an ideal choice, for they don’t cost an eye, a kneecap and your right toe, and the child gets to play out his/her infatuation. You never know when the child loses his/her infatuation with the instrument.

Knowing the many corners that ‘manufacturers’ cut in making these instruments, even for me, this instrument was nothing short of a shocker.

Change my name if you won’t be able to drive your truck through that! But it wasn’t an ordinary lifting bridge. Look at the photograph on the left. The right corner of the bridge continues to be attached while the left one is ready to fly off. Naturally, all that tension warped the bridge too.

The one bright spot – thankfully, the neck was straight and the truss rod worked.

I have always frowned at strap buttons installed right on top of the heel of the guitar (ideally, it should be on the left of the heel). So, it’s out and a hole would be drilled in the right place to take in the strap button.

Another thing I am not a great fan of: an adjustable saddle. While it might adjust the saddle height – which seems like a great feature – it actually does more harm to the top, eating into it and the bridgeplate sitting below it.

And then, there were minor touch-up issues.

But the biggest problem – what I earlier referred to as a shocker – was when I discovered that the instrument did not have a bridgeplate! A moving man without a heart???!!!

A rosewood/maple bridgeplate would have been way too expensive for the project, but repair I had to. So…

…ice-cream sticks! But before your smile broadens, this is not that variety that you are used to. These are special sticks used in aero-modelling, modelling, etc. I laid five horizontally and six of them cut into half, laid vertically, as the back.

Sanded, smoothed and cut to fit, my bridgeplate would rival a rosewood/maple bridgeplate in sturdiness!

And I wasn’t going to put the adjustable saddle back into the bridge, so…

…I used two bone saddle blanks, stuck them together and shaped a saddle by hand!

Now, all that was left to do was get everything together and hope it would hold!





Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

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