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Need advice about the adj. bridge on my J-50

dj335

New member
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
120
Hello,

I would like to get some opinions/advice about replacing the adjustable bridge on my 1964 J-50 (bought this in 1975 for $300). I've been getting fret buzz around the 12th fret on just the D & G strings, so I took it to my luthier to see what was going on.

He showed me that the adjustable bridge piece, the white colored part (which is made of porcelain or bone?) has collapsed in the middle, and no longer has the correct radius for the neck. It's definitely not the right radius anymore; he proved it with a radius gauge. Also, the existing bridge is not compensated, and is not in exactly the right spot either (it's slightly too far towards the neck).

His solution is to remove the adjustable bridge, fill the hole with a piece of rosewood that he has that is an almost exact match in color and grain, then route out a new slot and put in a compensated bridge.

My question is: will this ruin the resale value of this guitar? I'm not planning on ever selling it, but still want to be mindful of making a design change like this. Plus, I made a couple permanent changes to it when I bought it years ago. I replaced the awful inline white button tuning keys with individual Kluson green keys. Also, right after I bought it, I took it to a great repair guy in Glendale Ca named Jack Willock (was Gibson's warranty & repair tech in the 1930's) for a setup, etc. Jack convinced me to replace the thick, tone killing stock pickguard with the thin replacement guard that he installed (see picture below). Opened up the sound tremendously, so I have no regrets doing that mod.

I would think that this bridge replacement my current tech wants to do would add to the value, as it is not really playable anymore in it's present state. Here are a couple pictures to illustrate:




By the way, this guitar is in near mint condition, no finish checking anywhere, zero buckle rash, only a couple of dings on the entire guitar. Plays like a dream, sounds huge with a great focused and balanced tone. I want to start playing it again, but with the bridge as it is now, the buzzing is not acceptable to me, and I don't want to raise the bridge up. My only other choice is to somehow reshave the present bridge into the correct radius, which still doesn't fix the location problem.

Advice? Anyone else here change out the adjustable bridge on theirs? In my opinion, this adjustable bridge idea was more of a design flaw than a feature....

Dave in So Cal
 
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oldog

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2003
Messages
196
Why not just make a drop in bone bridge that will fit the existing slot and save the old bridge in case you ever need to sell the guitar?
 

Tom Wittrock

Les Paul Forum Co-Owner
Joined
Aug 2, 2001
Messages
42,567
Why not just make a drop in bone bridge that will fit the existing slot and save the old bridge in case you ever need to sell the guitar?

Exactly. Start with "nut" blanks, he should hand make the saddle from them to drop in [perfectly snug] into the open area where the adj. saddle was. This is easily reversable. Those procelein saddles are rarer. Rosewood ones are pretty common.

His idea is also good. But make sure his piece of rosewood inseret can be fairly easily removed.

:salude
 

dj335

New member
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
120
Exactly. Start with "nut" blanks, he should hand make the saddle from them to drop in [perfectly snug] into the open area where the adj. saddle was. This is easily reversable. Those procelein saddles are rarer. Rosewood ones are pretty common.

His idea is also good. But make sure his piece of rosewood inseret can be fairly easily removed.

:salude

Tom,

Thank you for the reply and the ideas. After I posted this earlier and read your's and Oldog's replies, this is what I've come up with as a possible solution.

I'm going to call my guitar tech tomorrow and suggest that he shape the rosewood insert he has to be a press fit into the slot where the adj. bridge sits now. I'll ask him to size it so it's tight, but still could be easily pressed back out of the slot by going thru the sound hole, and using a pin pushed into the threaded holes that would still be there. Then he can route out a thin slot where the bridge should have been, and insert a compensated bridge.

This way I get a compensated bridge that's in the proper spot, and can still put it all back to original if needed.

I think this will be the best fix that doesn't permanently alter the guitar. As I mentioned before, this guitar isn't bone stock, as I changed the tuners and pickguard already, both of which improved the guitar. Plus, I had John Carruther's shop in Santa Monica install a piezo pickup under the bridge, as well as a tiny Sony electret mic mounted in a foam wedge that points towards the sound hole. This was a mod that John was doing for a lot of pro players back then. There were a few acoustics from the Eagles in his shop getting the same thing when I brought mine in. The only permanent change to the guitar that created is there is now a stereo 1/4" jack that doubles as the strap button at the base of the guitar. The mic and piezo pickup are just taped in.

Thanks again for the help.

Dave in So Cal
 
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