Raising with out detuning
Adjustable Bridge
© Frank Ford, 1/29/99; Photos by FF, 1/22/99

Here's a quickie that's really quick.

It's easy to adjust a Gibson style adjustable bridge. All you do is turn the little thumb wheel on the adjusting post, and the bridge goes up and down.

Well, at least it goes down.

Most of the time, you have to detune the instrument to be able to raise the bridge, because the friction is so great you can't turn the thumb wheel. It's especially true of mandolins, where the higher string tension and the string angle provide a lot of downward force on the bridge.

To adjust the bridge upward, all you have to do is relieve the load on the screw by slipping a flat screwdriver blade between the top and the base:

Now, you could twist the screwdriver to raise the bridge to the desired height, but that would scar the bridge. It's better to just shove the screwdriver straight in, riding on the flat tapered shank of the blade. If you must twist, or if there's a lot of space, you can protect the bridge with little slips of veneer.

Naturally, you have to retune the instrument after adjusting the bridge, but usually that's just a touch up tuning, and it takes only a few seconds. And, you have to watch out for those high tension instruments, such as mandolins. The load can be so great on them that raising the bridge in this fashion can be dangerous.

It may seem a bit silly to avoid retuning, but when you do this sort of thing for a living, you learn to appreciate those saved moments!

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