I made my bridge out of a block of rosewood. I relied on Natelson and Cumpiano’s book to guide me through general sizing and saddle positioning, but I ended up borrowing from Sevy with the recessed pin placement idea, which I needed since in order to get my action down to a reasonable height I had to thin down the overall height of my bridge as I discussed in an earlier section. But overall I found making the bridge to be quite enjoyable. I felt like I was really able to shape the wood with my hands.
I started by planing the bridge down to the correct thickness, I just used a vice and a hand planer for that. Next I made the groove for the saddle with my dremel and router base.
I followed that up by drilling the holes, putting a nice little chamfer on them as recommended by Natelson and Cumpiano. After that I cut out the rough shape with a coping saw and went to town with chisels and course grained sandpaper. After a little while I ended up with the near completed bridge shown below. I finished it off by using finer and finer sand paper eventually finishing it with some steel wool.
The bridge attaches to the soundboard which had a slight curve to it, so in order for the bridge to sit flush I had to apply the same curve it. I did this by putting some sand paper on the soundboard and carefully sanding down the back of the bridge as shown in the picture below. It seemed to work pretty well and after a while I got the bridge to sit nicely.
After I’d completed the bridge I began to realize how little room I had to play with in the saddle height. Unfortunately I was going to have to bring the saddle down close to the surface of the bridge in order to get the string action down to a reasonable height. So to help keep tension on the strings to keep them from moving around on the saddle I decided to recess the holes in the bridge as shown below. It actually worked out okay, I used a router to do the work (I set the bridge in between two boards to give the router base something solid to sit on while I carefully made the cut) and then finished it up with chisels and sandpaper.
With the bridge completed I move on the last major construction task.
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Planning and Design | Fret Spacing Calculation | Template and Workboard | Building the Neck | Making the Body Plates | Soundhole Rosette | Soundboard Bracing | Bending the Sides | Gluing Sides to the Soundboard | Creating and Installing the Back Plate | Binding the Body | Making the Dovetail Neck Joint | Carving the Neck | Making the Fretboard | Making the Bridge | Creating the Headstock Inlay | Finishing | The End Product
Hey brotha! Ive been following your site closely since December working on my own guitar and can’t describe how much of a help you have been so far! I was wondering if the angle of the saddle channel is a precise measurement or if its obsolete to the function of the instrument. If you did shoot for an exact angle what was your method of doing this?
Hey Tom, sorry for taking a bit, I had to go back and look it up in my Guitarmaking book. It looks like there is a slope of 1/16″ per 1 1/2″, which should come out to about 2.386 degrees since you requested an angle. It’s the angle I used and I simply trusted Natelson and Cumpiano’s knowledge on this, so I couldn’t offer any insight on why this exact angle was used.
I think angling the saddle is more of a rough approximation to compensate for the intonation problem guitars have when you press the string down to a fret and increase it’s length slightly more than it should be for that specific fret, so I’m not sure how precise we could really get it.
If you wanted to get more precise I found this pretty cool paper which describes how to adjust each fret distance slightly to achieve better intonation: http://arxiv.org/pdf/0906.0127.pdf (I was only able to absorb about 50% of it 🙂 ). But I’m not sure in practical terms how much it will really affect how the guitar will sound, since it seems like you have to have be able to build the entire guitar to very precise measurements before things like precisely compensating for string intonation will start to have a big impact. But I don’t see how it can hurt to try. Hope that helps?!