Chapter Ten – Light at the End of the Bridge

A guitar bridge on an acoustic guitar is what connects the strings to the guitar so that the energy from the strings vibrating is transferred to the resonant top. That’s why they call it the bridge. …I mean, I assume it is. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Let’s go with that. So, it was time to make mine.

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This one turned out to be a little flimsy. I made a stronger one.

On my instagram page, I posted a photo of the wood that I bought for my bridge a few months back. In case you missed it, it’s this piece of black and white ebony. It’s a dense wood, and it immediately caught my eye in a box full of a few different varieties. Typically, guitar bridges are made from rosewood or ebony, darker woods. Not that I needed help making this guitar stand out, but the black and white ebony will contribute to the uniqueness of my instrument. And so, I set about cutting it to shape:

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That looks better.

You might have noticed that the D string hole isn’t exactly in the centre. That’s okay – I spaced the treble strings a little tighter together to give the bass strings more room. After cutting it to shape on that plane, I gave it some dimension by rounding off the back edge, and shaping the wings of it so that it wasn’t cutting into my hand, and so that it looked nice. Also, I drilled through the outermost string holes into the guitar top exactly where the bridge would sit. That distance was determined by the scale length that I had chosen in the beginning when making my plans. This guitar has a different length for each string (hence, a ‘multiscale’ guitar), so the high E and low B were the two that I measured to set the bridge in place. Then, I stuck 2 pieces of dowel into those holes so that I had a perfect guide for the bridge to sit in place for when I would later glue it on. The last step in bridge-making is the slot for the saddle. I clamped the bridge onto my workbench and used a router and a guide to route out a perfectly straight channel down to a precise depth.

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You can see how the wings taper down toward the edges, and how the back edge is rounded off

You can also see that it looks like I screwed this part up, too. Well, I didn’t! Thankfully – I didn’t have a backup piece of this ebony. Yes, the slot for the saddle is off to the side, but that’s because the bridge will be angled back on the bass side, so actually, this will be the perfect offset for the strings. Don’t worry, it still looks weird to me, too. This next picture helps you to visualize.

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It still looks weird, but I think it looks less weird now

As has been the case with everything I’ve done in this build, customization means some extra considerations. Before gluing anything, I always do a dry run, but for this it was incredibly important because an improperly glued bridge can end up rendering the entire guitar basically useless (because I’m imagining it ripping off half of it and destroying the whole guitar top. I guess nothing is totally irreparable, but still…). Once everything looked to be fitting snugly, it was time to put glue on and clamp it into place.

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That body looks deep enough to swim in

So there it is, sitting pretty, waiting to set. There are so few steps left, I’m so excited to string it up and play it finally!

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