This is the 5 Best Tips for Making an Acoustic Guitar Bridge. In this post, I’ll show you some great ideas for making your guitar bridge, and doing it in a way that makes the process easier, and less stressful.
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Making an Acoustic Guitar Bridge
When you finally get to the point in your guitar build where you are making the acoustic guitar bridge, it means you are nearing the end of the build. This is one of the last items that you’ll make, and it’s what will hold the ends of your strings in place.
There are a lot of different places where you can buy a bridge that’s fully completed, and all you need to do is the final fitting, and attach it it to the guitar. However, making a bridge is not that difficult, and you really should give it a try.
After all, if you’re making a handmade guitar, you should do your best to make as many of the parts and pieces as you possibly can. I’ll show you everything you need to know coming up, and these five tips will help you get the job done very easily.
See Also: How To Make An Acoustic Guitar Bridge
Select the Best Wood
Very first thing that you need to get right for making your bridge is picking out the best piece of wood. This doesn’t mean the most expensive piece of wood, it just means a piece of wood that will do the job well.
Going to traditional route, you can’t go wrong with a piece of East Indian Rosewood, or a piece of Ebony. Both of these have a long track record in instrument making, and they have been used to make bridges successfully for hundreds of years.
If you want to do something a little different, look for a different species of wood that has similar properties to Rosewood or Ebony. If you can find something with a similar density, odds are it will make a fine bridge.
Beyond the species, you need to look for a piece of wood that is well seasoned, fully acclimated to the local area, free of defects, and as straight as possible to start with. You can even buy a larger board, and cut several bridge blanks from it.
Like anything, the foundation sets the tone for the rest of the building. If you pick a good piece of wood to start, the rest of the process will be a lot easier.
Plan a Classic Design
This is a mistake that a lot of beginning guitar makers fall into, and I recommend that you pay close attention to this part if it sounds like you. In the beginning, choose a classic design for your bridge, and avoid anything experimental.
It would be absolutely awful for you to get to the end of your guitar build and have an instrument that looks fantastic but sounds like crap. If you mess around too much with the standards, you can really end up ruining your instrument.
Instead of falling into this trap, and making an overly elaborate or bizarre looking bridge, choose a classic design in the beginning, and execute it flawlessly. Later on, you can try the experimental route.
If this is one of your first instruments, it’s more important to make a completed instrument and than it is to make an interesting looking bridge, or any other part for that matter. The task is the guitar as a whole, not showing off your woodworking skills on any particular piece.
Make Jigs to Assist You
Another thing that’s really important is to make the tools and jigs that you need to help you make the best acoustic guitar bridge before you even start the building process. A bridge is a highly accurate item, so you’ll need some jigs to help you.
Don’t even subject yourself to the frustration of trying to make a bridge without using some helping devices to make the process easier. Jigs and purpose built tools help you in the building process, and all you need to do is make them before you start.
The two jigs that I recommend are a saddle routing jig, and a bridge pin drilling guide. The first will help you route a clean and accurate slot for the saddle, and the other will help you drill six perfectly aligned holes for the bridge pins.
These are arguably the two most difficult operations in creating an acoustic guitar bridge, so if you can eliminate the difficulty by creating a jig, you are doing yourself a huge favor when it comes to the quality of your bridge in the end.
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See Also: Bridge Pin Drilling Guide
Do the Hard Parts First
When it comes to the actual process that you use, and the different steps in creating your bridge, you want to focus on doing the hard parts first. This way, if you make a mistake, it will likely happen early in the build.
The last thing you want to do is make a big mistake at the end, which forces you to go all the way back to the beginning and start over. The higher the difficulty level, the more likely you’ll make a mistake.
With that in mind, do the steps that are the most difficult first. For me, this is getting the slot and pins precisely located. After that, making a couple cuts and doing some sanding is pretty easy, so the likelihood of me ruining my bridge at that point is very low.
Since you and I are different, whichever steps are the most difficult for you, as long as it makes sense to do them in that order, you should consider doing them closer to the beginning. Again, if you make a mistake, it’ll happen early enough that it won’t be so frustrating to start over.
Buff the Bridge to a High Sheen
Finally, most acoustic guitar bridges are buffed rather than finished with a traditional film finish like the rest of the guitar. While this is not 100% necessary, it is traditional, and in keeping with the style of most instruments.
The easiest way to buff a piece of wood is with the Beall buffing system. This is a set of buffing wheels that either go on your lathe or a freestanding motor, and it uses different buffing compounds to polish a piece of wood to a high sheen.
If you’ve never buffed a piece of wood before, you’re really in for a treat. In seconds you’ll create literally the smoothest surface you’ve ever created as a woodworker, and it will happen so fast that it almost feels like a magic trick.
When I first got my buffing system, I buffed nearly anything I could get my hands on, because it was such a fun process. The same will happen to you, and you can put an amazing finish on a bridge in just seconds on the buffing wheel.
See Also: How to Buff Wood to a High Sheen
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know these five great tips for making an acoustic guitar bridge, it’s time to get out into your shop and take action. If you’ve been kicking around the idea of making a guitar, but the bridge is held you back, you no longer have any excuses.
Making a bridge is not that difficult at all, but if you follow the tips that you’ve already read, you’ll have a much easier time, and a fairly stress-free build. Making a guitar is a lot of fun, and the bridge is just one more part of that fun.
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