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For about two years in the mid 1960s, Gibson experimented with plastic bridges on some of their acoustic models. Mostly hollow on the underside and held on with four screws, these bridges tended to warp and do not mate well to the top of the guitar. This choice of materials and adhesion created a poor mechanical joint and thusly poor tone. A proper wood bridge functions like another brace and helps the top in conjuction with the bridge pad to shoulder the 150 plus pounds of tension created by the strings at pitch. A plastic bridge places undue stress on the top and bridge pad.

This particular 1965 LG 0, Gibson's entry level student acoustic, came in with the usual plastic bridge problems. It was set up with nickel wound .010s, a warped and unseated plastic bridge and weak tone. The bridge pad was spruce and was badly cracked across the pin holes. The new owner and I opted to replace the bridge pad and bridge with sturdy wooden counterparts for tone and stability. After removing the old bridge pad, I installed a new one made of quartersawn maple. The new bridge was made from a piece of Indian rosewood that wasn't very red/purple and nicely matched the Brazilian fingerboard.

After installing the bridge pad, I took advantage of the opportunity to correct the too narrow string spacing by plugging the old pin holes in the top with matching mahogany, glued in and trimmed flush with a chisel. With a new bridge, pad and plugged pin holes in the top, the new holes would be completely virgin and thus a stable and perfect fit.

Wooden Gibson bridges made in this backwards belly style tend to split across the pins so I made the new bridge subtly wider with more wood behind the pins. Because the plastic bridge is screwed on, the lacquer was never removed beneath it. I stripped the lacquer under the new bridge's footprint to ensure a good glue bond. Unfortunately, I neglected to get any pictures of the clamping for the bridge or pad, but one can imagine the clamps and cauls arranged on the top.

After gluing the bridge on, I calculated the position of the saddle slot and routed for the new 1/8" bone saddle. After final fitting of the saddle and pins and a set of Martin SP .012s, the LG 0 was ready for action. The end result was a clean vintage look like a wooden bridge LG and vastly improved tone and sustain. The tone was fuller and brighter with more volume. Another satisfied customer!

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