This is How to Make an Acoustic Guitar – Part Thirty Three – Making the Bridge. This post is filled with helpful tips on making the bridge and the method for making a great looking acoustic guitar bridge. Enjoy.
If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books
Making the Acoustic Guitar Bridge
This is the last piece that you will need to create before your acoustic guitar is officially one piece and ready for finishing. You’re coming down to the wire, and this is one of the more exciting parts of the build.
It’s not necessarily that making a bridge in itself is thrilling, but the fact that you are close to the end, and getting ready to finish the guitar that makes it exciting. That being said, don’t get too excited, because you don’t want to rush and ruin the process.
Making a bridge yourself is not that scary of an operation. The trick is to do the parts that are the most difficult first. That way, if you do make a mistake and ruin your piece of wood, you ruined it early in the process and you don’t waste as much time.
In case you missed it, here is How to Make an Acoustic Guitar Part Thirty Two from last week.
Choosing Your Bridge Wood
And acoustic guitar bridge can be made out of nearly any type of wood that is dense, and holds up to a little bit of wear. If you want to be on the safe side, east Indian Rosewood and Ebony have been used for guitar bridges for a very long time.
Both of these wood species have an excellent track record, and you can find them in a lot of different places. Most guitars have a Rosewood bridge, and though a smaller amount have an ebony bridge, it’s still a very good material.
Another thing that you can do is find pieces of wood that have similar properties as those two, and use them to make your bridge. This opens you up to a lot more choices, and they all make an excellent bridge.
In reality, since the strings go all the way through and anchor underneath the soundboard, your choice of bridge material is really a lot wider than you might think. Sure, a very soft species might wear down overtime a little faster, but it’s not going to completely fall apart.
Deciding on a Style
The next decision to make is the style of bridge for your guitar. There are a lot of different ways you can go, though pay attention to any bridges that are overly large or overly small, because these will affect the way the top vibrates.
When in doubt follow your plans that you’re using, or make a bridge following the directions in your book. This way, at least you’ll have made one bridge that you know will function properly on the guitar.
However, if you’ve made several bridges before, take a look around and find some inspiration online for the different styles that are available. Alternatively, you can take an existing style and modify it slightly to suit your own taste.
This is how you can create your own signature look, and still stay within the confines of what’s considered a highly functional part of the guitar. Over time, you may end up having a style that is completely your own.
See Also: How To Make An Acoustic Guitar Bridge
Do the Hard Parts First
I alluded to this earlier but in reality the secret to making an acoustic guitar bridge is to do the hard parts first. A better way to put it might be to do the parts that are the most difficult for you first.
No two people are the same, so the processes that might seem very easy for me might seem very difficult for you. You might also do much better at some things that I don’t really enjoy doing. Either way, do the hard parts first.
For me, the hard part is milling the slot, and drilling the bridge pin holes. These require precision for both, and have a higher chance of failure. I do both of these operations first so that way if a mistake happens, I’ve only lost a few minutes of my shop time.
See Also: Bridge Pin Drilling Guide
Finish with the Easy Parts
After completing the hard parts of the build, it’s time to switch gears and coast downhill through the easy parts. For me, this is cutting the shape, and then carving and sanding the profile. Both of these are easy for me, and almost a little peaceful.
If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books
Also, the odds of making a mistake in one of these two operations that is completely detrimental to the bridge is very low. An extra scratch or a ding can easily be sanded out, and even a bad cut can be worked around.
The nice thing about this part of the process is that it’s very low stress. You’ve already gotten the tough parts out of the way, so now you can relax and enjoy the fact that you’re not going to ruin this part right before you need to put it on the guitar.
See Also: Acoustic Guitar Making For Beginners
Sand the Bottom to Match the Guitar
Once your bridge is 100% constructed, sanded, and basically ready to go, you need to do one last thing before you can glue it in place. Since the top of your guitar has a dome shape, you need to match the bottom of the bridge to that same curve.
This is pretty easy, and it just involves a little bit of patience. The last thing you want to do is smash this bridge down onto the surface, because it will distort the dome of your soundboard. It only takes a little time, and you can match the pieces perfectly.
Carefully tape a piece of 100 grit sandpaper face up on the acoustic guitar soundboard, and have an idea of where the approximate bridge location will be. Place the bridge in place like you’re going to glue it, and then slide it back-and-forth on the sandpaper for a while.
100 grit is pretty aggressive, but it’s still going to take several minutes of sanding back-and-forth, and several times cleaning the sandpaper to get the bottom of the bridge to shape. Once the entire bridge has sanding scratches on the bottom, you know you’re done.
It’s really important in this process not to tip the bridge blank itself. Make sure to keep it as level as possible, and sand back-and-forth only about an inch in each direction. Take your time, and it will come out great.
Bridge Making Tips and Tricks
- Choose a good wood species that has a track record of success for making your bridge, or at least another species with similar properties.
- Do the hard parts of the construction process first, and then finish with easy parts.
- Don’t be afraid to add some embellishments to your bridge, like inlays.
- Following existing plan, that way you have a bridge that you know will function properly.
- Take your time on making the bridge, you’re close to the end, resist the temptation to rush.
Coming Up Next Week
In the next installment of how to make an acoustic guitar, the series, I’ll show you how to attach your freshly made bridge to the acoustic guitar. There are a few tricks to help the process work, and I’ll show them all to you.
This is the last step before finishing, and after this post there will be another one showing the complete finishing process. Gluing the bridge is not super difficult, you just have to be ready for it with the right tools on hand.
- More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
- 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
- Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
- Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post. Join My Woodworking Facebook Group