Guitar repair: The toughest bridge glue-up job I took on!

This is the second in the series of super glue/epoxy-stuck bridges.

The famed moustache bridge does sit very easy on the eyes but if it is stuck with super glue and you have to take it off, oh…heaven be with you!

Usually while taking off bridges, one has to be really careful to use the right amount of force while getting under it with knives. In this case, because the bridge itself was so delicate, I had to also take care that I didn’t break it, while taking it off.

Preparations complete, I heated the bridge area and tried prying with the smallest knife in my armoury. It got in and as I moved to larger knives, I began to hear that unmistakable pop and crackle that one hears when super glue is protesting the invasion of your knife.

I actually stopped for a second to mutter, “Bloody Hell”!

Anyway, after some time prying, prodding and prising, the bridge did come off without too much effort.

The encircled areas show you where the super glue did not come in contact with anything and dried up in pristine form. One look at the footprint of the bridge on the top and I could see why the super glue had not held on. No one had bothered to clean the footprint before sticking on the bridge. I let out a heavy sigh…there was much, much, much work to be done!

Realising that, I jumped right in. The first thing I did was to fill the holes in the top which had been created to accommodate the little pegs glued on to the underside of the bridge. What help flat chips of wood were, sitting in perfectly circular holes, is anybody’s guess.

Can you see that little sliver of wood standing up on the rosewood bridge? The top of the guitar was solid spruce so I plugged it with some solid spruce dowels.

This needed to be done first so that I could flush cut the dowels. After I picked the paint off the footprint area, all that I would need to do was to take some rough sandpaper to the stubs of the dowels.

Strangely, perfectly circular dowels had been embedded in the bridge to help seat it in the top and not let the bridge slip around. But it seemed as if the round stubs had been whittled down to mere flat sticks. Why? Dunno!

Anyway those pieces in the wood were promptly shaved off for there was little use for them.

Can you see the round different colour wood where the dowels were seated into the bridge? And that’s also the view of the super glue mess and the little corner of the bridge that I was able to clean. That little corner had taken me something close to 25 minutes. I am able to clean wood glue off a whole bridge in less than 20!

An hour and 15 minutes later, I finally breathed. The bridge was finally clean.

As I looked at the footprint of the bridge on the guitar, I knew fun times were just beginning.

That is another 40 minutes of labour. The curves and bends in the design reduced speed and force while the clean, stark perimeter of footprints that I am used to seeing was sadly missing. It looked as if a child had tried its hand at taking off the paint!

A good two hours later I managed to take the paint off the entire footprint, leaving jagged edges all around. Trying to chip in straight lines and chipping around a bend are two very different things – I very sadly noticed.

But now that both surfaces were absolutely clean and the relative humidity was just right for a glue up job

I got around to it. Generous amounts of glue were spread out on the now-clean footprint of the bridge and the bridge was dropped in place. I pressed down on the bridge as hard as I could and cleaned off the first wave of squeeze out.

Then came the clamping and more squeeze out and then the tedious cleaning.

Do count the number of clamps used to tackle what I saw as pressure points.

Then I just walked out and never came back to the workshop for two days. When I did, it was because it was time to take the clamps off.

But before anything else, a touch-up job was required to fill in paint where it was missing around the periphery of the bridge. I did that with the smallest paint brush I could find.

Now, I had to re-drill the holes (glue gets in everywhere and blocks all the holes), give the bridge a nice coat of ‘love’, and then to string her up.

Oh, she sings so sweet: loud, long and clear!


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:

2 thoughts to “Guitar repair: The toughest bridge glue-up job I took on!”

  1. I usually use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe off the excess squeeze out. Make sure to wipe it away immediately. You don’t want it to harden and ruin the finish. I usually like to let the bridge set up over night. This way there is plenty of time for the glue to dry. Take the clamps off the next day and you are ready to restring your guitar. Just make sure to be careful removing the clamp and caul. It is very easy to dent the inside of the sound hole with a deep c-clamp. Understanding the principles and basic operations of guitar bridge is critical.

    1. Yes!
      Thank you for your comment.
      That is exactly the process I follow while gluing on bridges but the issue I faced was not of glue and its squeeze out.
      This was a moustache bridge under the footprint of which I had to painstakingly remove lacquer – not your everyday bridge pull and re-glue!
      Inevitably, there were a lot of little chip-outs despite me being as careful as I could be.

      Say, did you actually read the piece??!!

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