Guitar repair: Super glue – the latest pet peeve becoming a bane!

Though being something very practical and even prosaic, involving lots of measurements and mathematics, I see guitar repair more as a healing that I provide to the instrument and to the owner. That somewhere in the process, I, too, am healed, is also true.

In the one-and-a-half decades that I have been repairing guitars, there’s a generalisation that has got rooted in me. People who hand over their instruments to friends/cousins to be brought to me for repair, are actually not too attached to their instrument, and thus, are not serious musicians. Having said that, of course, there are exceptions to the rule.

When a family member falls sick, YOU take him/her to the doctor. You don’t ask your friend or cousin to do it. Why? Because your concern makes you want to find out what is happening with your loved one and what can be done to get him/her normal.

Your guitar (or any other instrument) is like that family member whom you are concerned about, or, at least it ought to be. Instead, you deputise your friend! I will still try and do whatever I can to set things right with the instrument, but…you should have been there!

One such instrument was recently ‘brought’ to me.

More than the problem, it was the condition of the instrument which was off-putting.

The problem with it was that the bridge had lifted off it.


Let me say something in black and white: 95% of the bridges don’t lift before pulling a little belly into the instrument!

As the strings strain against the bridge, in their effort to pull it off the top of the guitar, the glue bond resists it. If the bridgeplate

is made of a good, hard wood (as in the case above), the bellying will be to a lesser degree, but it will still be there. In the unfortunate instance of an inferior wood or inadequately sized bridgeplate having been used, the belly will be much bigger, and take that much more effort to straighten out (if at all).

Only after they have forced a belly into the instrument, do bridges finally start to lift, even if it is just the corners of the wings. So, as soon as you can make out that the bridge on your acoustic guitar is lifting, loosen the strings and take your guitar to someone whom you can trust.

Lesson over!

The first thing was of course to take off the strings. In the process, as I tried taking out ‘G’ bridgepin, it broke right at the neck – a telltale sign that the guitar was very dry.

You remember from the photograph posted earlier that the bridge looked as if it was ready to pop off the bridge anytime. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. No matter how hard I tried, the bridge would not budge.

Yeah! I had to clean (sanitise) the guitar before I worked on it!

The more heat I gave it and tried to prise under the bridge, the more it popped and crackled but refused to come off. Pop and crackle…hmmm…it was my old nightmare, super glue, visiting me again.

The persistence finally paid off and the bridge did come off, but like this

Do you see the handsome 2-3 mm area inside the footprint of the bridge, all around? I have never understood manufacturers, why they leave that area of paint under the bridge.

This is area here is critical to providing strength to the bridge-top bond, for it is here that the force of the strings pulling, acts. With that pressure point weak, there is little hope for the bridge to stay on, endangering your instrument’s overall health too.

Anyway, I began cleaning the bridge and

the super glue on it came off only bit by bit and as a white shavings. What a royal mess it made!

However, there was something odd about the bridge itself. It didn’t seem right to feel, even though it had seemed okay. But as I looked closer

Do you see it? The bridge had curled due to the bellying and under the strain of strings tuned to pitch. I called up the owner’s go-between and told him that straightening the bridge and the belly would cost extra. Mr Go-Between said ‘let me talk to my man’ and I said, ‘Right’!

Meanwhile, I continued my work. I pulled out my marble slab, glued on sandpaper to it

and had a go trying to straighten the bridge out. I marked an area along its outline to check whether I was getting anywhere with the sanding and began sanding it. Much dust but little luck!

Just then Mr Go-Between called to say that the price was too much for His Man. He said don’t go any further and that he would come and collect the guitar from me!

Surprised as I was, I dropped everything and dusted my hands off. I had to wait a month before Mr Go-Between came and collected the now-bridge-less guitar and its sundry parts!!

I charged nothing for my labour, in fact, I even replaced the broken bridgepin.

For the Unseen Owner and for others a reminder in lighter vein



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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