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The massacre method
Line 'em up and drill 'em
© Frank Ford,10/25/02; Photos by FF

Here's a new bridge I just made for this 1973 D-28. It was not only the subject of heat abuse, necessitating the replacement of the bridge plate, but it also played a bit more than ten cents sharp at the twelfth fret. So, I wanted to install a new standard size bridge with the saddle in the correct location, and I wanted to make sure the bridge pin holes would have an appropriate spacing from my new saddle slot. So, I made my new bridge with no holes, and glued it on before even drilling the holes through any part of the top.
First, I measured and marked the location of my new saddle slot. Even at this early stage it was obvious that the saddle would have been right up against, if not actually all the way into, the sixth string bridge pin hole.
I routed the slot for the new saddle, using my guitar top bridge router mill.

Here's a little tool I got from John Mickelson, the Fossil Ivory King and maker of those fine ivory bridge pins. It's a high quality proportional divider - a classic old draftsman's tool. He buys them on eBay and gives them as presents to his pals. Thanks, John! I set the divider right at "5" to lay out my six bridge pin holes. The first time, I set it at six, and since there are only five SPACES between the bridge pins, I had my bridge nicely laid out for seven strings. . .

Setting the wide end to the standard spacing (2-18" in this case) I was ready to lay out out the bridge pin locations
Having drawn a line where I wanted the pins, and having marked the outside edge projection of the fingerboard, I located the pin holes to center the strings and keep the pins at a reasonable distance from the saddle.
3/16" is the smallest diameter through which a string ball will pass easily, so I always start with that diameter drill bit.
And, in contrast to a few major manufacturers, whom I don't suppose I need to name, I always backup the drilling operation with a scrap of wood to avoid excess chipping on the inside of the bridge plate.
A touch of hand reaming, and a bit of chamfer at the top of the holes, and my new bridge was ready for a saddle and setup. Most folks wouldn't notice that the bridge pins are quite a ways back from their original position, but because there's a new bridge plate under there, the construction is as sound as the original. And, speaking of sound, well, the guitar now plays in tune up the neck. . .

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