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Montello

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Hello,

 

I have an old Gibson acoustic for which I need a new bridge to replaced the awful plastic adjustable bridge I have been subjected to. I have debated whether to keep the guitar original for years, but have had it. So, I would like to replace the bridge with the ones used on today's Gibson round shoulder guitars (rosewood with pearl inlays). Can anyone on the forum help me locate one?

 

Thank you.

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Hello,

 

I have an old Gibson acoustic for which I need a new bridge to replaced the awful plastic adjustable bridge I have been subjected to. I have debated whether to keep the guitar original for years, but have had it. So, I would like to replace the bridge with the ones used on today's Gibson round shoulder guitars (rosewood with pearl inlays). Can anyone on the forum help me locate one?

 

Thank you.

 

What is the guitar? Please post a picture for us. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, this is a job for a luthier, not a do-it-yourself job. Any luthier can make a Gibson-style replacement bridge, but the details will depend very much on the condition of the top of the guitar when your existing bridge is removed. Since these plastic bridges are just lagged on, the top finish should run underneath the bridge, which can be good from a replacement perspective, as you may have no top damage that needs to be covered by the new bridge.

 

While most people here would go along with the plastic bridge replacement, some would prefer to keep the guitar original. If you tell us what model it is, we can advise on what the likely result of this replacement will be, both on the tone and value of the guitar.

 

The other thing you should be aware of is that many of the plastic-bridge Gibsons have a plywood bridgeplate, which may be worse for tone than the plastic bridge itself.

 

 

This is a replacement Gibson bridge made by luthier Ross Teigen. Since it is on a late-40's J-45, it is a belly-up, slot-through saddle design. Depending on the year and model of your guitar, this may or may not be an appropriate style for your replacement bridge.

 

J-45pins2.jpg

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Hi, thanks for your help.

 

I have a 1964 B25N. Here's an image.

b25.jpg

 

I have replaced the nut already and it has new bridge pins. Other than that it is original.

 

BTW I was not planning on doing the work myself. Does anyone have any recommendations for a luthier in NYC?

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Hi, thanks for your help.

 

I have a 1964 B25N. Here's an image.

b25.jpg

 

I have replaced the nut already and it has new bridge pins. Other than that it is original.

 

BTW I was not planning on doing the work myself. Does anyone have any recommendations for a luthier in NYC?

 

Alex Ax

48th Street one fight up.

Ask for Pasqual.

He's getting on in the years but he has saved many a guitar.

Off the top of my head I think # is 212 704 2042

The NY Bloomberg Gestapo Traffic Division will be on you within a minute if you try to stop in front of the shoppe in car (above Rudy's) so beware.

My wife drives around the block over & over..

I think originality is hardly an issue with that guitar.If it were me Id try to do something to make it better for me than to cater to value issues.

Good luck

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Alex, I agree. The originality thing was just my problem. It is has plenty of scratches and finish checking, but I really like the guitar.

 

I spoke to the guys at retro fret and they want $350 to replicate a bridge to fit and look like what Gibson was using before they decided plastic was the way to go. If I have to hear one more muted A string because of that bridge I'll scream! Anyway, any thoughts about the guys at Retrofret? Every time I've been in they are nice people and the certainly have the stock of instruments to repair. I'm in Brooklyn and like the idea of staying local.

 

Thanks.

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Alex, I agree. The originality thing was just my problem. It is has plenty of scratches and finish checking, but I really like the guitar.

 

I spoke to the guys at retro fret and they want $350 to replicate a bridge to fit and look like what Gibson was using before they decided plastic was the way to go. If I have to hear one more muted A string because of that bridge I'll scream! Anyway, any thoughts about the guys at Retrofret? Every time I've been in they are nice people and the certainly have the stock of instruments to repair. I'm in Brooklyn and like the idea of staying local.

 

Thanks.

 

 

That's a reasonable price if it includes a new maple bridgeplate. If it doesn't, it's quite high in my book. I just checked my work order for the bridge shown in my picture posted above, which was done about 18 months ago:

 

"Remove existing adjustable bridge and hardware, plug top holes, replace with new fixed bridge to original belly-up design (Brazilian rosewood to match fretboard) with bone saddle: $225 "

 

"Remove existing ply bridgeplate and fabricate new solid maple bridgeplate 1/8" thick to original specs" : $180 "

 

This was in Florida, but the luthier (Ross Teigen) is a sought-after restoration specialist as well as a guitar builder.

 

I should point out that this bridge replacement was part of a $1700 "million-mile" tune-up on this guitar, but that did not impact on the cost of the bridge job.

 

In your case, removing the bridge, once the strings are off, is a five-minute job at most.

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Retrofret is very expensive - NYC prices on steroids.

 

Don't hesitate to replace that plastic bridge. I would say the guitar is worth more once it has a proper wood bridge on it. There are some things in life that should not be made of plastic.

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For reference, stewmac.com sells a rosewood bridge blank (unshaped) for $6, and a finished rosewood belly-down bridge (Martin style) for $18. They don't sell Gibson-style bridges, unfortunately.

 

And I would not hestiate to replace that bridge. It won't add significantly to the value, but it should add to tone, should make the guitar more desirable, and should bring a smile to your face.

 

It's a nice guitar, by the way. Almost looks more like a faded cherryburst B-25 than a B-25 N.

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527, if you think the Retrofit price was high how about the Matt Umanov, $450. I used to take my guitars to Fried Guitars who was a very good with reasonable prices but he closed up shop. I tried contacting him be have not heard back.

 

J45nick, yeah, I thought it looked like a cherry burst in the photo too. I was using the fancy Instagram app on the iphone which added that 70s glow. Looking through the sound hole you can faintly read B25NAT.

 

Thanks everyone and I'm open to suggestion on someone to do the work who is relatively local to me (Brooklyn). $350 is about my limit.

 

BTW the Gibson repair shop will do it for $650!

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I would also see about removing the adj bolt sleeves from the top, as they may disrupt the profile of the surface the new bridge needs to adhere to. Specify to the repair guy that you're looking to get rid of the thick saddle in case he's thinking you prefer that slot/saddle size. Keep the bolts and saddle for resale. There are guitars out there that are looking for functional setups like these.

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I would also see about removing the adj bolt sleeves from the top, as they may disrupt the profile of the surface the new bridge needs to adhere to. Specify to the repair guy that you're looking to get rid of the thick saddle in case he's thinking you prefer that slot/saddle size. Keep the bolts and saddle for resale. There are guitars out there that are looking for functional setups like these.

 

I would certainly remove the entire adjustable saddle mechanism, which is shown below. Plans for a standard Gibson belly-up bridge that should be very close to the footprint of the plastic bridge are readily available. To be a bit more period-correct, he should probably use a drop-in saddle rather than a slot-through, although I prefer a slot-through saddle.

 

For the kind of money he's talking I would want to get it exactly right.

 

Once the adjustment mechanism is removed, the holes in the top need to be plugged, which is not a big deal, although they go through the bridgeplate as well. If it were my guitar, and if it has a laminated bridgeplate, this would be a good time to replace it, although I don't know what the price would be like, given what they want for the bridge job.

 

boneadjustable.jpg

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Hey Nick...is that a thin saddle set into the adj rosewood piece on your old bridge? I know we talked about this setup before. Do you have a shot of that old saddle from the top?

 

This is as close as I come to having the shot you are looking for. Basically, the raised rosewood part of the saddle was cut flush to the top of the rest of the adjustable saddle, which was then slotted for the new bone insert. It worked well, although it split a few years ago, and I had to glue it back together, which was a five-minute job. (well, nothing is really a five-minute job, but you get the picture.)

 

boneadjustablesaddle.jpg

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This is as close as I come to having the shot you are looking for. Basically, the raised rosewood part of the saddle was cut flush to the top of the rest of the adjustable saddle, which was then slotted for the new bone insert. It worked well, although it split a few years ago, and I had to glue it back together, which was a five-minute job. (well, nothing is really a five-minute job, but you get the picture.)

 

boneadjustablesaddle.jpg

Thanks. Similar to what I did with my B25.

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I don't understand...looks to me like you have a adjustable bridge on there. Unless I'm missing something. That's not a plastic bridge. If its an adjustable bridge...which it appears to be why not first just try replacing the ceramic saddle in the adjustable bridge with a tusq saddle for an adjustable bridge or one of the bone saddles now on the market for an adjustable bridge. Both the tusq or bone saddles now on the market have fixed the problem associated with the old adjustable bridges...the ceramic they used which didn't efficiently transfer the sound to the top.

 

Where the verdict is and always will be 50/50 of those who like/dislike the adjustable bridge...as it does sound different than the non-adjustable bridge...the tusq or bone fix now is generally thought of as the way to go in the vintage guitar market as it retains authenticity. Keep the ceramic saddle, but unused as one of its original parts.

 

The replacement saddle drastically improves the sound...replacing the entire bridge was the way to go before they came on the market.

 

BTW...the adjustable bridge and ceramic saddle is not the notorious plastic bridge that Gibson used. Those had a bone saddle, but the bridge itself was actual black plastic. Those were generally always replaced before or after they broke.

Their sound was always substandard to a wood bridge or an ajustable ceramic bridge.

 

Just thought I'd put this into the mix.

 

Hope you decide what you think is best for your guitar. Its a beaut. And, really cool with the adjustable bridge in it if you ask me. Might be worth $25 or so to first try the tusk or bone replacement saddle for an original adjustable bridge's original ceramic saddle before having the thing forever removed/replaced.

 

BTW...don't expect jumbo sized tone out of the guitar no matter what you end up doing. The B25, like the LG2 is still a small bodied guitar and will never boom like a jumbo sized guitar or dreadnaught...though they can sound really sweet in their own smaller sound way and be quite responsive.

 

 

 

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

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Hey QM...I think perhaps the coloring in the photo gives that bridge a brown tone that only looks wooden. If I recall my old plastic bridges they didn't bolt down so no holes, as in Montello's case. Guess he'll have to check you on this when he looks at the thread again.

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I think Pasqual on 48th Street will be a decent price..you can call him and ask.

He's an old time craftsman that used to fit necks to the bodies at Fred Gretsch's factory in NY.

(But if you are particular about the specific type of rosewood ect better you procure the blank).

Unless hes past it..which can happen at anytime... he's better than most youngins...plus he's not price hungry..and does not make a big deal out of simple jobs.

Carlo Greco who was in the same shoppe has retired due to lost eye sight.

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Hey fellas, thanks for your replys.

 

First I have decided to replace the bridge rather that what some of you suggest which is to replace the saddle. I would prefer to keep it to as few pieces as possible to limit the possibility of any extra vibration or buzzing or any thing like that. Besides, I've have had it with the ugly discoloration of this plastic bridge. It has turned a marbly grey which really bothers me (In case you are interested I'm an architect which may explain some of my comments). We all have our opinions about looks, and mine are not the same as Questionmark. I have lost my appreciation of keeping the guitar original and of the looks of the adjustable bridge/saddle. I want a clean natural material look.

 

According to this site (http://home.provide.net/~cfh/gibson6.html), on a 1964 B-25 the bridge is adjustable (carried over from the LG-3) and is plastic. I suppose the saddle could be bone, but it feels like plastic when the strings are off of it. If I understand you correctly you are saying that Gibson's adjustable bridge carried a bone saddle. Is it possible that the J-45/50 and whatever Jumbos carrying an adjustable saddle used bone? I would think that my guitar, being bottom of the rung, would have the cheaper material. I'd be interested in some other thoughts or of a way of verifying the material of my saddle.

 

I am hoping that the sound of my guitar will improve, but realize I will not have an increase in volume. I had a J50 for a while and know what Questionmark means about sound. What I am looking for is a cleaner sustain and what I describe as a more pure sound. The way it is now it seems muted, particularly up and down the neck on the second string. I realize the guitar I have (not only in size and sound but value) and am willing to put some money into it to improve the sound. What I like about the guitar is its size and the sound difference that comes with a leaner body.

 

As for you Mr J45Nick, I will take your advice and replace everything. As you can read from the link (I think this info comes from the blue book, maybe someone can verify) there is a laminated bridge plate. Does that mean that there is plastic inside the body? I am assuming the bridgeplate is a reinforcement "block" which the bridge screws into. Please let me know if I am incorrect on this one.

 

I feel like just going for the slot through rather than the drop in saddle. I'm going for the current look of the saddles found on the J-45. That would satisfy me. I'm not really worried about keeping it period correct considering that keeping it period correct would be for collectability (in my view) and these guitars I do not feel are valued high enough to worry about it. It is worth more money that I think I could get for it. Besides, I am not interested in selling the thing. However, I do want to get it right and will follow your advice. What's really important to me is not only all of this but getting those two little pearl dots (that should tell you something about me) on either side of the bridge pins like the current bridges and the ones of the 40s and 50s.

 

Thanks to all of you for your input. I'll try Pasqual tomorrow and let you know how it goes.

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Don't overthink it Monty. The B25 really is a nice sounding geetar, tight and well built, with a somewhat 'smaller' voice than dreads have. Many B25s compare well or sound better than certain LG2/3's that are out there.

Good model to use with a soundhole pickup. Have fun!

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According to this site (http://home.provide.net/~cfh/gibson6.html), on a 1964 B-25 the bridge is adjustable (carried over from the LG-3) and is plastic. I suppose the saddle could be bone, but it feels like plastic when the strings are off of it. If I understand you correctly you are saying that Gibson's adjustable bridge carried a bone saddle. Is it possible that the J-45/50 and whatever Jumbos carrying an adjustable saddle used bone? I would think that my guitar, being bottom of the rung, would have the cheaper material. I'd be interested in some other thoughts or of a way of verifying the material of my saddle.

 

I am hoping that the sound of my guitar will improve, but realize I will not have an increase in volume. I had a J50 for a while and know what Questionmark means about sound. What I am looking for is a cleaner sustain and what I describe as a more pure sound. The way it is now it seems muted, particularly up and down the neck on the second string. I realize the guitar I have (not only in size and sound but value) and am willing to put some money into it to improve the sound. What I like about the guitar is its size and the sound difference that comes with a leaner body.

 

As for you Mr J45Nick, I will take your advice and replace everything. As you can read from the link (I think this info comes from the blue book, maybe someone can verify) there is a laminated bridge plate. Does that mean that there is plastic inside the body? I am assuming the bridgeplate is a reinforcement "block" which the bridge screws into. Please let me know if I am incorrect on this one.

 

To the best of my knowledge, no Gibson acoustic with an adjustable bridge of this type ever came from the factory with a bone saddle. Most often, they were either ceramic, or in the case of many of the rosewood adjustable bridges, rosewood. The bone insert that I showed in my old adjustable bridge was a home-built job.

 

The bridge plate is the flat backing plate support under the bridge, which coincidentally also serves as the anchoring point for the ball ends of the strings, which are wedged against it by the bridge pins. The pearl dots you refer to on the bridge actually cover the heads of two very small machine screws (bolts) which form part of the bridge alignment and anchoring system. In addition, the wood bridge is glued to the top of the guitar.

 

As part of the process of fitting the new bridge, the repair technician will scrape away the finish from the top under the footprint of the new bridge, to give a wood-to-wood gluing surface.

 

Many Gibson flat-tops in the 60's and 70's used a multi-ply (plywood) bridge plate. A multi-layer bridge plate tends to damp the vibration of the top, as sound waves move less efficiently through a laminated wood plate compared to a solid hard maple plate. That's the reason a laminated bridge plate is often replaced if you go to the trouble to replace the bridge on guitars from this period.

 

Traditionally (and today), Gibson used a 1/8" (3mm) thick bridge plate of solid maple, which is a highly resonant piece of wood that is also hard enough to resist damage from the ball ends of the strings. If your guitar has a laminated bridge plate--which is highly likely--you could see a subtle increase in sustain from replacing the bridge plate wiht a solid maple one, which will probably increase the cost of the job significantly. It may or may not be worth it to you to do this, since it costs the same thing to replace the bridge plate on a 60's-era B 25 as it does on a higher-value vintage model.

 

This is a basic problem with repairs on lower-value instruments, whether vintage or modern. The cost of the repairs does not particularly vary with the value of the instrument.

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  • 1 month later...

Hello everyone,

 

Nearly two months later and I have the guitar back with new bridge plate, bridge and saddle. Well worth the money, I'm happy its done. Wish it would have been a little cheaper than $350, but I got a custom bridge and saddle made and installed for that price.

 

For those of you in Brooklyn and wondering about Retrofret I can tell you that everyone in that place is super nice. Mamie did the work on my guitar and she could not have been nicer. Cons are the price and the two months (plus two weeks to I had to wait for an appointment) I had to wait, but now that it's done I'm pleased.

 

Thanks again for your help.

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Hello everyone,

 

Nearly two months later and I have the guitar back with new bridge plate, bridge and saddle. Well worth the money, I'm happy its done. Wish it would have been a little cheaper than $350, but I got a custom bridge and saddle made and installed for that price.

 

For those of you in Brooklyn and wondering about Retrofret I can tell you that everyone in that place is super nice. Mamie did the work on my guitar and she could not have been nicer. Cons are the price and the two months (plus two weeks to I had to wait for an appointment) I had to wait, but now that it's done I'm pleased.

 

Thanks again for your help.

 

 

That price is probably rational when you include the bridgeplate, and given that it is NY, after all.

 

How about a picture?

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