Exploded M20 bridge

Nokomite

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Hi, first post, longtime multi-Guild owner. I have a '65 M20 that I had the neck reset about three years ago. Just an amazing little guitar. So I was sitting on my couch and heard this CLAWANG sound, and found that the bridge had broken apart. A clean piece the same size and shape as the saddle had broken off the bridge and both the piece and the bridge were lying on the floor under the guitar stand. My luthier is an hour or so drive away and I haven't sent him pictures yet. But just wanted to get some feedback about whether you all think this is likely a bridge repair or a replacement. I'm thinking replacement, but I'm concerned because I called Guild and was told the new M20 bridges are a different size and wouldn't work. I have never had to have a bridge replaced before, and am wondering if this is something someone would have to make. I could post pictures if that would help.
 
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donnylang

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I know nothing about this stuff from a technical perspective, but ...

My laymen’s view of what I’m seeing in the picture brings two things to mind:

1- I’ve heard stories that this is what can happen when the saddle is too tall.

2- I was under the impression that this type of through-saddle is supposed to be glued down.

Can’t help with whether or not the original bridge is salvageable, but I would be wondering if this might have been preventable.

PS- If this were my guitar, I would personally be looking at keeping the bridge original if there’s a decent chance it could be made stable.
 

Rambozo96

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Had this exact same thing happen with a cheap Silvertone parlor guitar. Of course it wasn’t in the same league as a Guild so it was thrown into eBay so I could wash my hands of it. I have my doubts that bridge could be salvaged
 

Nokomite

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I know nothing about this stuff from a technical perspective, but ...

My laymen’s view of what I’m seeing in the picture brings two things to mind:

1- I’ve heard stories that this is what can happen when the saddle is too tall.

2- I was under the impression that this type of through-saddle is supposed to be glued down.

Can’t help with whether or not the original bridge is salvageable, but I would be wondering if this might have been preventable.

PS- If this were my guitar, I would personally be looking at keeping the bridge original if there’s a decent chance it could be made stable.
Thanks for the comments. I like the idea of keeping the bridge If it can be stabilized. it’s Brazilian rosewood, l believe. Gluing down the saddle might prevent this from happening again. The saddle does seem a little tall and can probably come down a little. I am completely speaking from a lay perspective. I am in SW Florida so maybe I will consult the guy over in Titusville, although I have a good luthier in St. Pete.
 

davismanLV

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Mostly the strings put downward pressure on the saddle, so I'd think you could take the strings off (already) and glue that piece of the bridge back together. Clamp, allow to dry and then slide the saddle back in and see how you go. What could that hurt? You'll need a fairly big U-clamp to make sure the piece is held tight while the glue is drying. There may be a reason why this can't be done, but I can't think of what it would be tonight. If it breaks again, then have a new bridge installed. But I bet it would work. What have you got to lose??
 

davismanLV

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Oh and Tom Jacobs of Jacob's Custom Guitars is in Merritt Island, FL which is on the East coast, but he's super familiar with Guilds and even worked for them back in the day. He's done a ton of work for so many people here including me. If the quick fix doesn't work, or if you just want someone else to do it, it's worth a phone call. Check out his website!!
 

kostask

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While I can understand the desire to keep the original bridge, it is not a massive undertaking to carve out a new bridge with the exact dimensions of the old one, if a factory bridge with the correct dimensions cannot be located. You may want to consult with Hans Moust; he had a factory original bridge for my 1983 F50R, in the correct ebony. Rosewood may be an issue, due to CITES.

To be honest, from the pictures you have shown, I'm not sure that the string slots didn't contribute to the breakage. They are pretty long, and would tend to put more forward pressure on the saddle, and by extension, front edge of the bridge. Those string slots may or may not be necessary, depending on the saddle height required to get a good string break angle, but if they are not, then consideration should be given to filling them in when having the bridge glued back up.

This type of break is also contributed to by the way the original bridge was cut. In this case, the wood grain of the bridge seems to be parallel (or close to it) to the saddle slot. This is not the preferred grain direction. What happens is that the little string pressure that is trying to pull the saddle forward is also working to separate the wood fibers, i.e. against the weakest direction of the wood grain. It is much preferred that the wood grain of the bridge be as close to 45 degree angle to the saddle slot as possible. If you do decide to have a new bridge made, this would be something to aim for.
 

wileypickett

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Not the end of the world by any means! I've had several bridges repaired with similar problems.

Properly glued and clamped, the repair will be invisible, and stronger than the original wood.

So far as I know, saddles should not be glued in. You want to be able to remove the saddle easily when you need to. If it's glued in, you're going to have to use a pliers and brute force, and risk damaging the bridge (or the guitar!) when you try to yank it out.

The saddle should fit snug and tight without glue. If the saddle is loose, it'll tip forward (as Tom noted, above), putting pressure on the area of the bridge in front of the saddle slot. This could be reason your bridge cracked. Your luthier will know if you need to have a new saddle fitted.

If you don't already keep your guitar hydrated, maybe think about doing that. It's possible the bridge may have dried out over time, which might also may be why it cracked.

Good luck -- let us know what happens!
 

Nokomite

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While I can understand the desire to keep the original bridge, it is not a massive undertaking to carve out a new bridge with the exact dimensions of the old one, if a factory bridge with the correct dimensions cannot be located. You may want to consult with Hans Moust; he had a factory original bridge for my 1983 F50R, in the correct ebony. Rosewood may be an issue, due to CITES.

To be honest, from the pictures you have shown, I'm not sure that the string slots didn't contribute to the breakage. They are pretty long, and would tend to put more forward pressure on the saddle, and by extension, front edge of the bridge. Those string slots may or may not be necessary, depending on the saddle height required to get a good string break angle, but if they are not, then consideration should be given to filling them in when having the bridge glued back up.

This type of break is also contributed to by the way the original bridge was cut. In this case, the wood grain of the bridge seems to be parallel (or close to it) to the saddle slot. This is not the preferred grain direction. What happens is that the little string pressure that is trying to pull the saddle forward is also working to separate the wood fibers, i.e. against the weakest direction of the wood grain. It is much preferred that the wood grain of the bridge be as close to 45 degree angle to the saddle slot as possible. If you do decide to have a new bridge made, this would be something to aim for.
Super helpful, thank you.
 

Nokomite

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Not the end of the world by any means! I've had several bridges repaired with similar problems.

Properly glued and clamped, the repair will be invisible, and stronger than the original wood.

So far as I know, saddles should not be glued in. You want to be able to remove the saddle easily when you need to. If it's glued in, you're going to have to use a pliers and brute force, and risk damaging the bridge (or the guitar!) when you try to yank it out.

The saddle should fit snug and tight without glue. If the saddle is loose, it'll tip forward (as Tom noted, above), putting pressure on the area of the bridge in front of the saddle slot. This could be reason your bridge cracked. Your luthier will know if you need to have a new saddle fitted.

If you don't already keep your guitar hydrated, maybe think about doing that. It's possible the bridge may have dried out over time, which might also may be why it cracked.

Good luck -- let us know what happens!
I live in SW Florida so hydration hasn't ever been an issue for any of my instruments, but I have only owned this guitar for about six years, so I don't know where or how it was kept beforehand. I agree with you about the gluing of the saddle. I'm not looking to do a temporary kludge, I'd rather do it right. This is a great little guitar otherwise in excellent shape, so I'm now leaning toward replacement, especially after the funky hole slot issue kostak posted about above.

Greatly appreciate all the good thoughts here, thank you. Happy to be part of this forum.
 

chazmo

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Nokomite, I'd definitely give Tom Jacobs a call. I wouldn't know what to tell you about that kind of break and whether it's worth a repairing, although I think you've already gotten good advice here. Even though you've got a good broken piece, I would be very uncomfortable (personally) trying to glue that and put it back together, especially in place. And, steaming the bridge off to work on it is not a job I would personally attempt. Good luck with the repair, whatever you do!
 

davismanLV

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Just FYI, those "string slots" have an actual name. What happens is over time the neck angle changes and/or people want to lower the action and they take down the height of the bridge saddle. That's the white (bone/plastic/micarta/etc.) part. When you take the saddle down, it flattens the break angle. The break angle is responsible for the downward pressure on the saddle which drives the soundboard. To keep the break angle steeper, they cut those grooves which is called "ramping". Just in case you're talking to someone it might be good to know the terms to use. Keep us posted on your repair!! We love this kinda stuff!! (y)
 

Nokomite

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I feel like such an idiot, I've played guitar since I was 11 (I'm 67) and I guess I have never really had to know much of this technical info before. Now that I've become addicted to buying classic older instruments I'm experiencing a learning curve, and I think that's a very good thing because I want to know. I have taken my instruments to trusted luthiers and so I never really had to know too much about what was going on under the hood. When I bought this M20 it was in fantastic shape except it needed a neck reset. I had that done at 7Cs in St. Pete, authorized Martin and Taylor repair facility. They did a great job but I didn't know or ask if they had done any work to the bridge. They did put in a new saddle and nut though. So, let's see if I'm learning here: possibly (?) the ramping was done by the previous owner because of the neck issue, and maybe the new taller saddle my guy installed with the neck reset set up stress on that part of the bridge because maybe he didn't feel the need to address the ramping? I am just guessing here. I am going to get in contact with Tom Jacobs and get his thoughts about the best solution. It's probably a 4 hour drive over there for me, I could make a weekend out of it if I take it to him for the work instead of shipping it.
 

HeyMikey

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….

possibly (?) the ramping was done by the previous owner because of the neck issue, and maybe the new taller saddle my guy installed with the neck reset set up stress on that part of the bridge because maybe he didn't feel the need to address the ramping? I am just guessing here.
This was my thought as well when I saw the pictures. If he reset the neck without considering the long slots/ramps it created too much pressure on the new tall saddle. I would consider a new bridge or repairing the existing one plus filling the pin slots and making sure the saddle was snug. Ask Tom Jacobs what your options are and what he would advise.
 

wileypickett

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If Tom is only an hour away, that's where I'd go for sure.

You won't get better advice, or better workmanship, from anyone and man, he sure knows his Guilds!

You're lucky being so nearby -- the rest of us have to ship our guitars to him, from all over the country.
 

davismanLV

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If Tom is only an hour away, that's where I'd go for sure.

You won't get better advice, or better workmanship, from anyone and man, he sure knows his Guilds!

You're lucky being so nearby -- the rest of us have to ship our guitars to him, from all over the country.
Glenn, I think he said 4 hours drive, but yeah, that's still way closer than the rest of us. Still I'd always ship across the country to have Tom do the work!! (y)
 

Nokomite

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Glenn, I think he said 4 hours drive, but yeah, that's still way closer than the rest of us. Still I'd always ship across the country to have Tom do the work!! (y)
Yup, he’s on the other coast. I’m a bit south of Sarasota.
i may wait to call him or go though because I have an old F50 incoming and it might also need some work.
 

jedzep

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While you may get through this with a repaired bridge, I keep a couple of BRW chunks on hand for the (inevitable?) copying of any original I may need. I repaired my '62 M20 bridge and got lucky...so far.


You're in good hands. Hope your bridge plate is in good shape as well.

Also, this guy will make you an exact BRW copy if you can send photo and dimensions. Better yet, send yours after it's pulled. Then your luthier can shape to fit. I tried mightily to find a used one at one point. Hopeless.

 
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