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Bridge questions on ES-165/175s

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Folks --just picked up a used 165 that's from the early 1990s, and was perhaps the most crud-infested guitar I'd ever seen but it had this great feel and response so I've been spending the last few days cleaning it up. Reinstalling the bridge I played around with the saddle screws facing both ways but it's clear the last owner played it with the screws facing the p'up/neck. When I check various pics of other ES-165/175s I notice it both ways so I presume it's more a matter of preference since there seems to be few adjustment advantages either way. But, any input on this issue would be welcome.

 

Other matter - I'm tempted to pick up a wooden bridge to try out so as I can explore tonal possibilities. Anyone have strong view on the advantages or otherwise of the various options here. Stew Mac can provide basic rosewood or ebony, and I know you can find used Gibson bridges out there (at high prices) or genuine Gibson parts but I am not sure any one is better than the other? I am less interested in the issue of original parts for re-sale value than in the quality of parts here, I'll keep the original regardless.

 

Thanks much

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I asked some tech guys at a guitar shop in Toronto about which way the saddles should be facing. Their thoughts were that some were made to face one way and others another and to just go by how it is currently on.

 

However, when I asked about used guitars --- who knows if the saddles are facing the right way since maybe the previous owner switched them around --- they didn't really have an answer as to which way is definitely the correct way to face the saddles.

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Howdy -

 

Congrats on the 165! They are fine guitars. Let's see some pics!

 

In the meantime I can offer up a little info on the bridges...

 

- I'm pretty sure ABR-1's are set at the factory with the adjustment screws facing the neck / pickup.

I think this helps facilitate setting the intonation since the break angle toward the tailpiece makes it

a bit tougher to work around. Not 100% positive, but it there seems to be some merit there.

I tried both ways on a few archtops and found I like the screws facing the pickups too.

 

 

- For the rosewood bridge, I kinda prefer the old ones from the 50's. I purchased a few off

eBay in the past and they were really nice Brazilian Rosewood which I'll admit is mostly an

aesthetic thing. Not sure if the older wood has a dramatic difference in tone, but I'm one of

those OCD types that likes the old stuff. Oftentimes the string spacing and shape of the

base is set pretty darn close to perfect too. On the other hand, a newer one from StewMac

might require fitting / slotting which may cost a little $ if you're not into doing your own repairs.

But a new one would be shaped / cut perfectly for your guitar.

 

Hope this helps!

Henry

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Thanks both -- that is most helpful. I've settled on the screws facing in toward neck, looks and sounds better to my ears. However, I think I do want to play around with a new bridge, if only to learn about the sounds this model can make. Also, the current bridge is the most worn part of the guitar. I can do most minor repairs and I understand how to shape the base to the archtop using the sandpaper technique but what I am less clear on is any 'slotting' that might be required of a new wooden saddle -- I assumed I'd let the strings find their natural resting spot but is this not the best way? Should I be creating a small notch for each string based on its size?

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I bought a replacement bridge for my ES-175 but never put it on. The tech told me NOT to pre-slot the saddles --- see where the strings hit them and then mark and slot them.

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On my ES165 the screws face the pickups. Mine ES165 is a great sounding archtop. It's loud but with sound texture/character that makes it very distinctive. I think my bridge is rosewood - its definitely not ebony.

 

I've had a fair bit of minor work done on mine which was brand new when I purchased it.

 

1. I replaced the volume pot which didn't vary the sound much,

2. I had the wiring to the pickup taken off the sound board and put underneath the pickplate but off the top.

3. Unfortunately my tailpiece broke and it had to be replaced at no expense to me

4. Also I put very fine and small pins to stop the floating bridge from moving around. The pins are very short and fine and if the strings are off the bridge does not stay in place.

 

The ES165's are beautiful guitars and the price is very cheap for what you get.

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I bought a replacement bridge for my ES-175 but never put it on. The tech told me NOT to pre-slot the saddles --- see where the strings hit them and then mark and slot them.

 

 

 

Makes sense -- but that means you DO actually slot them later? Is there some special tool for this or can someone point me to a site with some info on how to do this myself?

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They showed me their tools --- and they were simply very small files.

 

I bought a small file set (cost about $10 at a hardware store). You just need to have one that has a good edge on it. It certainly didn't look hard to do.

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Hey guys -

 

Meant to get back sooner but have been busy this week...

 

So yeah, slotting a bridge... I've done quite a few - both ABR-1's and wood

bridges and I usually install the bridge and string up to pitch. Once the strings are

lined up by hand / eye, I then take a small rubber mallet and tap each string where

it touches the bridge - firmly, yet gently and this leaves a small divot where the slot

should be / start.

 

A small file set can go a long way. However, I eventually invested in a complete

set of nut files from Stewart MacDonald and they are gauged according to average

string sizes and are really well suited for this task of slotting a bridge.

I've even slotted brass saddles on a Tele this way too.

 

Using the nut files, you can get a really nice, uniform cut and taper

with a nice break angle tailored for each string gauge.

 

Or, if you're only doing this one guitar, simply take it to a reputable shop

and have it done. This is probably how they'll do it.

 

Hope this helps!

Henry

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Perfect -- thanks. I found the Stew Mac site and those files, I think I will invest anyhow and learn how to do this -- that rubber mallet trick is great. I think the tone is a little stifled on my 6th in the upper frets and the guitar chewed up a 3rd string at the first bend so the bridge feels to my hand like it needs a little smoothing anyhow. Gonna get a couple of spare bridges to try this on first and I've found a class on basic set up and adjustment run by a local luthier so I'm gonna learn some of this stuff. Hum..life seemed so much easier with my strat but the old 165 seems to need real attention to get it to sing.

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ADD states:- "the old 165 seems to need real attention to get it to sing"

 

Let me say it will be worth it. The 165's are really great. I love mine just about more than anything else I own! Good luck and keep us posted on how she comes up.

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I noticed the 'original' bridge it came with has "Japan" stamped on the underside, so I guess it might not be as original as the previous owner claimed. Anyone know if original Gibson bridges have any special markings? I have a new rosewood bridge on order from UltimateGuitar who apparently have NOS Gibson rosewood bridges but the obsessive part of me wants to know what parts are original. BTW, the GHS cleaner/polish worked to great effect in bringing the top back to life though I was recommended some rubbing compund for the more worn parts. Will try to get some pics posted but I really should have done a before and after - it's quite a transformation.

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