Old D-40 Bridge pin hole slots - off center

jfilm

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Hey all,

What do you make of these bridge pin hole slots? Especially on the high E and B strings- the slots are not centered in the hole. Should I try to guide the strings so that they are centered, and does it matter? Do you think the strings wore these slots over time? The guitar is 56 years old. Thanks.
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davismanLV

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Well, that's a shame. I did measure across the screen and the spacing on the 1st and 2nd is definitely off. For string spacing that's a significant amount. I have no idea how this happened, but once the string had a groove to follow, it did and so here you are. If you cut the bridge and ramped the strings at the correct point, that small piece of rosewood would eventually chip out but as long at it's lower and deeper than the current ramp, the string tension will pull it straight. That will damage that beautiful old bridge but as it is it's already damaged and causing the string spacing to be off. So you could just damage it a bit further and keep it, or get a whole new bridge. Finding an old "semi-cloud" rosewood bridge like that would be tough, but one could be fashioned and installed. It's a shame this was allowed to happen but it has so now...... whachoo gonna do?? The bridge saddle looks low anyway and since I can't see what the action is on the guitar (you don't mention that) ramping those two would give you more break angle. But the ramp will have to be the greater (lowest) point for the string to follow.

Looks like redirecting the high E (1st) string has already been tried. You can see a tiny indent. The 2nd string needs a new ramp cut for sure. There's not a shelf to rest the string on and it's just gonna TWANG back into that old slot.

I'm sure more knowledgeable people will be along to advise soon.....
 
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bobouz

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That's a lovely bridge & worth preserving, imho.

I would fill the slots on the 1st & 2nd strings with rosewood dust, solidify with superglue, and then properly locate new slots.
 

adorshki

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Like Tom, I think the bridge was "ramped", although the strings can still deepen the slot as he explained.
Not knowing how familiar are with such technicalities, as Tom explained, "ramping" is a technique to create better string break angle to compensate for a low saddle, because a low saddle normally means a low break angle, and a sharper break angle helps restore "normal" volume and tone.
I was wondering if they were ramped that way because the pin holes aren't properly spaced, to give good string-to-string spacing at the saddle?
Or perhaps just to yield a slightly closer spacing between B & E, as a previous owner's preference?
If pinhole spacing is actually "correct"/good then I agree with Bobouz's suggestion to simply fill the ramp slots and go from there.
If they aren't actually correctly spaced the I suspect they could still be filled with dowels and the bridge itself re-drilled by a good luthier.
Agree with the advice to keep the bridge if possible: besides looking like it's the original, it's most likely Brazilian rosewood.
 
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chazmo

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jfilm,

It's either bad lutherie or serious wear by someone who really didn't know how to seat the strings in the pins (over a period of years). Either way, I would investigate whether filling those slots is a reasonable approach. I'm not sure that'll work (bobouz's suggestion, that is). Perhaps cutting new slots would work.

This one's a job for an experience luthier, in my opinion.
 

jfilm

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Thanks for the replies - here are a couple of new angles to see what's happening, there are ramps going down toward the bridge plate. The saddle has been shaved down from the top, and the action is good (about 3 mm at 6th string) but the saddle can't go any lower. Will need a neck reset in the future.
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Rayk

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Thanks for the replies - here are a couple of new angles to see what's happening, there are ramps going down toward the bridge plate. The saddle has been shaved down from the top, and the action is good (about 3 mm at 6th string) but the saddle can't go any lower. Will need a neck reset in the future.View attachment 1197View attachment 1198
Yeah Tom is right it's ramped it had to be to get a break angle and carving down the saddle like that screams neck reset.

Its a pretty bridge but not sure what it would look like after filling the slots , I'm not sure but the pin holes look big to .

If it were me I'd most likely go with a new bridge made to match the original.

The guitar definitely has mojo . 😊
 
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I see three things in that second set of photos: First, that the misaligned E/B string-slotting does not quite match what looks like older wear patterns in the pin holes. Second, that the saddle has been scooped--not just slotted--in a way that would guide the E/B strings to match the misalignment. And third, that the saddle scooping is unlike anything I've seen on any Guild--and I've had a good number of Guilds pass through my hands, including my 1965 D40. Somewhere along the line--probably a long time ago--the saddle was altered, and that's the source of the crooked wear.

That said, one remedy might be similar to what my late repairman did when a split developed along the pin holes on my D40: he routed out a section, inlaid a piece of ebony, and then re-drilled. That fix lasted for a couple decades, until the ebony started to move and my current luthier made a whole new bridge out of an old piece of Brazilian rosewood he had.
 

jfilm

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Like Tom, I think the bridge was "ramped", although the strings can still deepen the slot as he explained.
Not knowing how familiar are with such technicalities, as Tom explained, "ramping" is a technique to create better string break angle to compensate for a low saddle, because a low saddle normally means a low break angle, and a sharper break angle helps restore "normal" volume and tone.
I was wondering if they were ramped that way because the pin holes aren't properly spaced, to give good string-to-string spacing at the saddle?
Or perhaps just to yield a slightly closer spacing between B & E, as a previous owner's preference?
If pinhole spacing is actually "correct"/good then I agree with Bobouz's suggestion to simply fill the ramp slots and go from there.
If they aren't actually correctly spaced the I suspect they could still be filled with dowels and the bridge itself re-drilled by a good luthier.
Agree with the advice to keep the bridge if possible: besides looking like it's the original, it's most likely Brazilian rosewood.
Well I ordered a Mitchel's Platemate just to protect the old bridge plate, and strung it up. I find that when I center the high E string, that is, use the small groove in the center of the hole and not the big ramp, that when playing in first position the string seems a bit too close to the edge of the fretboard, to where I've slipped off the edge a couple of times. So whoever cut these ramps was probably trying to avoid that. I'll probably just use the ramps for now until I can get to a repair person.

I'm also thinking of installing a JLD Bridge Doctor - the screw mount kind. I wanted to avoid the hole in the bridge scenario, but the bridge pin mount doesn't work for this guitar the way it is now- the saddle is too low, so the strings coming out of the JLD brass pins pass clear over it. I've done some research and it looks like some people have made rosewood plugs for the hole created by the drilling, possibly from a rosewood bridge pin, instead of the abalone one that comes with the bridge doctor, so it might be possible to make it look OK.
 

Br1ck

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Time for some serious TLC on this old warhorse. Neck set, new bridge (probably), and a refret while you are at it. The question is, would you like something better than this guitar for the cost? When I had similar issues with my D 35, I answered no and spent over $1000 on it.
 

wileypickett

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If seating the high E correctly means the string is too close to the edge of the fingerboard, I wonder if the bridge was glued down in the wrong spot originally?

I've installed a fair number of Bridge Doctors and can confirm that pin mount versions aren't as effective on 12-strings as the ones you drill a hole for.

To hide the screw hole, cut wooden discs from rosewood or ebony tapered end pins -- bridge pins are too narrow.
 

Rayk

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Ya'll giving me the "Let's fix her up ! " I want to get my hands dirty . Lol
 

davismanLV

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Not maybe exactly related to this topic but possibly because of the "....the string seems a bit too close to the edge of the fretboard, to where I've slipped off the edge a couple of times." I'd like to mention the difference between width at the nut and string spacing. Both of my Guilds were spec'd at 1 11/16ths inches nut width. Now I've measured them both super carefully with precision tools and they both fall at 1 3/4". My Taylor is spec'd at 1 3/4" nut, which is what it has. However, since the Guilds I'm sure used a template for string spacing for a 1 11/16" nut and it's a tad (small increments we're talking here, but they matter) bigger, I never noticed anything different until I played my Taylor which I tended to come off the edge of the fretboard on the high and low strings every now and then. So I measured the string spacing of the Taylor and the Guilds and they're different. Taylor is a wider string spacing so I play it a little differently than the other two. Just something to consider in the big, overall picture of nut width and string spacing. They're two different things. (y)
 

adorshki

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Time for some serious TLC on this old warhorse. Neck set, new bridge (probably), and a refret while you are at it. The question is, would you like something better than this guitar for the cost? When I had similar issues with my D 35, I answered no and spent over $1000 on it.
In case Jfilm's still watching, I want to point out that Br1ck knew what he was getting into when he bought the guitar and elected to go for a full-blown restoration including a genuine NCL re-finish, something not easily (or cheaply) accomplished here in CA, and even got a replacement original rosewood bridge from Hans, and had the work done at one of the original Guild authorized service centers here in San Jose.
He knew he was investing more than the guitar could possibly appraise for but still considered it an excellent investment according to his personal valuation of the instrument (sometimes called "sentimental value")
Sentimental value can justify spending more on an instrument than it's technically "worth", ESPECIALLY if one's already owned the instrument for many years and experienced the full value of original ownership.
In many cases, and what I think Br1ck was really getting at, it's also still possible to wind up with a guitar that outclasses what could be purchased new for the same cost.
He's never expressed anything but complete satisfaction with his investment in his D35, that I can recall.
(Br1, please correct me on anything if needed)
Jfilm, in your case, I think a D40 of that vintage is well worth the investment.
And I'd ask Hans about that bridge, it actually doesn't look shaved to me, might still be usable.
 

jfilm

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Well, I agree, I think this D40 is definitely worth the investment, someday- this old guitar has a bell-like quality, a very sweet and full sound. My other Guild has this too. I can't describe it very well but it's definitely Guild, and I think it's something that would be hard to find in a new guitar. Right now I've got it playable, though the action is still a tad high. I'm probably going to try ramping the string slots, and then sand the saddle as low as I dare. I've got the bridge doctor in there, and hoping that after some time the belly behind the bridge will lower somewhat, and the action will as well (I've read mixed reviews on the action lowering capabilities of the BD).
 

wileypickett

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Having installed Bridge Doctors on numerous guitars, I can say that the ability of the device to lower the action depends on how bad the bellying is in the first place.

If there is any bellying at all, the BD will flatten the top, which inevitably lowers the action. I've seen improvements that have varied from slight to extraordinary. (Many of the guitars I've put them in need new, higher, saddles after the BD has done its thing.)

But if you have a BD in your D40 and you're still contemplating sanding the bridge, you may be in neck reset territory. The BD is a great little device (IMO) but it can't perform miracles.
 

jfilm

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Having installed Bridge Doctors on numerous guitars, I can say that the ability of the device to lower the action depends on how bad the bellying is in the first place.

If there is any bellying at all, the BD will flatten the top, which inevitably lowers the action. I've seen improvements that have varied from slight to extraordinary. (Many of the guitars I've put them in need new, higher, saddles after the BD has done its thing.)

But if you have a BD in your D40 and you're still contemplating sanding the bridge, you may be in neck reset territory. The BD is a great little device (IMO) but it can't perform miracles.
From your experience, how much do you need to tighten the dowel to get the top to go down? On older guitars, does it take some time to happen? I've seen some demos on youtube where the top comes down immediately, but I've also read that you shouldn't crank the dowel too much. The instructions that came with the device were pretty spare. So, I was thinking I'd let it acclimate to the device, and then tighten it every so often over a period of a few weeks. Any thoughts on this? I seem to also recall instructions from the company that for older guitars, you might need to be patient.
 

davismanLV

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There are very good tutorials on the installation of Bridge Doctors on youtube. Avail yourself of them. Here's one animation that I found very informative. It's one of the best I've seen on WHAT you're doing and HOW you're doing it. If you're not a do it yourselfer I'm sure you can find a luthier to do it.

 

wileypickett

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I approach the process pretty gently. I install the BD, tighten it some while measuring the amount the top flattens with a straight-edge. I stop after the top begins to flatten, then I super-hydrate the guitar. (I keep the guitar on its back on an ironing board or work bench; I lay down a folded washcloth and set an open plastic container with a saturated sponge inside on top of it, and then I cover the soundhole.)

I let the guitar sit for a few days while the top readjusts, then I crank the BD, again watching its progress with the straight-edge.

You should be able to get things where you want them within two or three sessions of doing this.

Here's a suggestion: When you first install the BD, the dowel will hit the end block at an angle, since the top is not flat. As you tighten the dowel, the angle of the top changes, but the dowel still butts up against the end block at the same spot where you started out.

For this reason, I loosen the dowel completely after it's been in for a week or two and reposition it. On some guitars the dowel has hit the end block BELOW the strap button when first installed, but lands ABOVE the strap button after the top has flattened and the dowel has been repositioned.

It makes sense that the dowel should be parallel with the top in order to work most efficiently. I figured this out with experience; it's not in any instructions I've seen.
 
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