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Thread: bridge pulling up -- affects tone?

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    bridge pulling up -- affects tone?

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    I just got my dreadnought back from the shop -- some binding was coming up and I had fret buzz - they fixed both. They noticed that the bridge was starting to pull up -- took a piece of paper and slipped it under the back of the bridge, pulling it across to show the separation -- uneven, but as deep as a 1/2 inch in one place, I think. The top is still flat. Apparently the situation is not "emergent", so to speak, but it's about time to get the bridge glued back on all the way.

    It had been in the shop for some time, and I wanted to get it home for a while, so I decided to reschedule. I asked the repair guy all the questions I could think of, but forgot to ask the most important one:

    how much will this bridge separation affect the tone? The guitar is a 1972 Martin D-28, and sounds great to me, but I want to use it for some recording, and it occurs to me that if I can expect an improvement in tone after they re-attach the bridge, I should probably take it back sooner rather than later.

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    Certainly the connection of the bridge to the top is important. The bigger concern is that those things get worse as time goes by. At some point, they just come flying off, and they frequently take sections of the top with them. It's a bad thing.


    Light

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    Agreed. Probably a good idea to get it fixed ASAP - as Light has already pointed out, if it comes off it won't be pretty, and any luthier worth his salt should be able to effect this kind of repair without much trouble. Not sure how much of an impact it will have on your tone, but I'd be inclined to think that you'd notice a difference in the balance of the instrument, especially if the contact between the bridge and top is no longer consistant from string to string.

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    The bridge and saddle fit is the single most important thing in getting the sound into the top and consequently the tone. No point having decent spruce and bracing if the bridge is pulling off. Also as light says they have a habit of popping off if they are loose and pulling spruce out with it. Take the strings off and get it seen to. Better safe than sorry.

    I did a photo essay recently on doing just what needs to be done if your interested. Search "Removing Acoustic bridge and refitting" it's there somewhere.

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    Paying it forward: Here's the link to Muttley's essay, so he does not have to find it again (he found it for me a short while back.)

    https://homerecording.com/bbs/showthread.php?t=274162

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevieb View Post
    Paying it forward: Here's the link to Muttley's essay, so he does not have to find it again (he found it for me a short while back.)

    https://homerecording.com/bbs/showthread.php?t=274162
    I'd put it in my signature if I had one. Along with other useful links.

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    thanks - I thought of myself as fairly up to date with this forum, but I guess not.

    Muttley - the photos are fascinating, but I don't have the cojones to try something like that on this one

    The repair guy said, in the current state, I could play the currently new set of strings down some (a week or two, I guess) and bring it back in to get the bridge work done without risking anything, and I'm confident he's right. But I didn't tell him I wanted to record -- I think I'll go back tomorrow. Thanks everyone!!!!

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    By the way, unless it has been dealt with in the past a 1972 has it's bridge in the wrong place. (This is true of every Martin from about 1970-1980 or so.) You should get that taken care of while your at it. If they are already regluing the bridge, it's a pretty simple fix. Martin sells what they call a saddleback bridge to fix this exact problem. It is a little more work than a straight forward bridge reglue, but not much (at least, not now days - it used to be a bigger deal, but Stew-Mac came out with a terrific tool which makes things much easier).



    Light

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    Quote Originally Posted by Light View Post
    By the way, unless it has been dealt with in the past a 1972 has it's bridge in the wrong place. (This is true of every Martin from about 1970-1980 or so.) You should get that taken care of while your at it. If they are already regluing the bridge, it's a pretty simple fix. Martin sells what they call a saddleback bridge to fix this exact problem. It is a little more work than a straight forward bridge reglue, but not much (at least, not now days - it used to be a bigger deal, but Stew-Mac came out with a terrific tool which makes things much easier).



    Light

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    Oops - just read your post . Hmmm... I could have been taken care of before 1976, when my uncle had it. It's got grover tuners on it, which I don't believe are stock. But if Martin still had the problem in 1980, seems unlikely that it would have been fixed before then. It doesn't *look* like it's in the wrong place to me, though.

    I picked it up a few times before I started playing it heavily in 1984, and I know it's only been to the shop once to get a new pick guard and a re-glued brace (while I watched, except for the drying time), so I know it didn't happen while I had it.

    The place I took it to is a certified Martin repair shop, and the guy seems to know his stuff (but I'm easy to impress), and has an impeccable rep around town, and he didn't mention it, so maybe it was done after all.



    Anyway I got it back yesterday and, besides putting the bridge back on (presumably in the same place - I can't tell that it moved), they did a general setup, and lowered the action. The neck is a little bowed (and as you may know, there's no truss rod). Apparently it's not yet a candidate for the neck re-set treatment (which would freak me out!), so he lowered the bridge some, and did other things. He had warned me that the fully set bridge might tend to inhibit the top vibration more than what I was hearing with the partially pulled up bridge, and that might impact tone for the worse a little.

    WOW!!!! It plays so much better now than it ever has - I'm an idiot for hurting myself with that thing for 25 years. At first, I thought some volume and tone were gone, but I just needed to break in the strings a little. Before you know it, my son was complaining that he couldn't hear to tune his guitar -- but he was upstairs and several rooms away with a closed door

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    Quote Originally Posted by antichef View Post
    It's got grover tuners on it, which I don't believe are stock.
    My '67 Martin D-28 came stock with Grovers. (At any rate, it had Grovers on it when I obtained it in '69, and the original owner had barely taken it out of its case. So I think stock Grovers is a safe assumption.)
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