I put the bridge on the guitar today. Because accurate bridge placement is crucial to making sure the guitar plays in tune all the way up and down the neck, it’s something you need to get right the first time.  I have a trick.  I don’t think anybody else does it this way.

When I install a bridge, it’s actually almost the last step in building the guitar. I’ve finished the body, except for a patch where the thing gets glued on. To determine the exact spot the bridge needs to lie, I’ve dummied up some temporary devices.

  • I temporarily attach a trapeze tailpiece to the guitar so I can anchor the strings.
  • I actually string up the low and high E and tune them up to pitch. Notice, the bridge is not secured to the top at this stage except by string tension. The two little blocks you see are to make sure that the string spacing is correct at nut and saddle since everything’s floating free.
  • I test the tone with the open strings and tune them with an electronic tuner to be precisely E (low and high). I then fret each string at 12 and make sure it is exactly E, but one octave higher. I can adjust the intonation by moving the bridge fore and aft, until it is dead on with both strings. I won’t accept even a penny’s variation.
  • I also slide the bridge back and forth across the belly of the guitar so the strings lie correctly athwart the neck.
  • When I am satdfied the bridge is EXACTLY where it needs to be, I box it in with painter’s tape.
  • I take the strings and trapeze off, and drill 2 tiny holes whee the bridge pins are going in at the 2 E strings.
  • Using glue, 2 wood screws, and clamps, I glue the bridge down.

That’s it. Any variation in intonaton that i find during final setup can be addresed by beveling the saddle one way or the other, strng by string. This mounting method is accurate enough that I find I have no issue with the final tweaks.

The area the bridge needs to attach to is unfinished.
temporary trapexe attachment
The trapeze is just held on with a nylon loop around the strap button.
Once I’m satisfied with bridge placement I block it off with painter’s tape.
Clamps and screws exert respectable gluing pressure.

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