1961 Gibson J50

Fletcher has sent me another of his old Gibson acoustics to sort out an unfortunate bridge replacement.

This old guitar has been repaired in a most novel manner in that the bridge has been replaced a couple of time, with neither repair being quite right. At some time, the bridge plate has been removed and replaced by a 10mm thick piece of maple in an attempt to correct a serious distortion in the top, with only minimal success.

To compound the problem, the replacement bridge that had been made and installed had the saddle nowhere near where it should have been by perhaps 6mm or so.

There’s another interesting aspect to this repaired guitar- at some stage, another bridge replacement resulted in the bridge- which to some might look back to front- actually being installed back to front, hence the two filled bolt holes and the outline just visible…

When one of the bridges was removed in the past, a considerable amount of the spruce top was torn away at the same time, and on removing the existing bridge, this is what greeted me…

The gaping holes under the bridge were filled with either fibreglass resin- the reddish patches- or Araldite, behind the bridge.

My suggestion to Fletcher was to make an oversized bridge that would cover all the damaged areas…

…but that’s not what he wanted because the bridge would’t look right.

The main area of concern is the area behind the bridge that had been filled with Araldite and those two filled bolt holes from the back to front bridge attachment.

So, working within Fletcher’s parameters, I’m making a new rosewood bridge that shouldn’t be too far away from the original Gibson bridge, but with the saddle slot in the right place and just slightly extended at the back to cover the bulk of the filled area and the infamous red dot that’s now replaced with a spruce dot…

Before the new bridge can be fixed on, those big patches of resin are going to be removed and replaced with pieces of spruce.

When dry, the glued in spruce pieces are levelled and the replacement bridge is temporally clamped in place and all looks quite promising…

One more thing- the sanded back area behind the bridge will need to be touched up and the gluing area for the bridge is masked so the nitro finish can be applied…

I’ve left the paint to harden over night and this morning, I’ve gently rubbed back the touch-up and then buffed it and the result has been pretty good.

Now, the bridge is glued and bolted back in place…

…and the unfortunate repair that the guitar had suffered is all but gone.

The pearl dots covering the bridge bolts are glued in and a new bone saddle is made and strings fitted…

The scars of over half a century are still there, but once again, the intonation is spot on and the guitar plays and sounds wonderfully…