LMI Help Center

Bridge Removal – Full Text

Sometimes while building or repairing a guitar it is necessary to remove the bridge. There are many ways to do this. One way is to hand plane the bridge off the top, however you may want to save the bridge and reuse it. In this case, you could use a sharpened spatula and a hammer and hope that the shock of the hammer blows releases the glue that holds the bridge to the top without releasing the center seam or any braces from the inside. Yet another way and the method I prefer is to heat the bridge to soften the glue and then use a sharpened spatula to help the bridge separate from the top. If you choose to heat the bridge, you could use just a regular clothes iron as a heat source. Some folks use strong light bulbs. I prefer to use a small heating blanket that i got from LMI. When using a heat source near your guitar, you must think about protecting the finish, if your guitar has one, and also controlling the amount of heat so as not to do damage to the other glue surfaces. Since the LMI heating blanket is specifically designed for removing bridges I don’t need to worry about protecting the finish from the excess heat because the blanket is the size of the bridge. I can also use the LMI temperature controller to dial in the temperature and control it during the bridge removal process. I begin by placing the heating blanket on the bridge and securing it so that there is good heat transfer. This can be as easy as just placing some weight on the blanket to keep it in contact with the bridge. I usually begin on the outer edges but it doesn’t matter and sometimes the bridge is already separating from the top. If this is the case, then you should begin at this point. Slowly work the spatula under the bridge from both sides. Make sure the heating blanket has thoroughly heated the bridge and allow time for this heat to penetrate the glue line the softening the glue. There is a fine line between just enough heat and using too much. Use just enough to do the job but don’t rush the process. If you like you could even heat the spatula before inserting it under the bridge. However, care must be taken to not damage the guitars finish when doing this. Slowly and carefully keep working the spatula in under the bridge around all the edges. As the glue heats up it becomes softer and this allows you to work the spatula farther under the bridge. Extreme care must be taken to not damage the finish, the sound board, or the bridge itself as you insert the spatula. Eventually the glue holding the bridge will release. Ideally you want no pieces of the top stuck to the underside of the bridge when it’s removed. Unless you’re using hide glue, all excess glue needs to be removed from the top and the underside of the bridge before gluing them together again. Now that the bridge has been removed you are now ready to continue building or repairing your guitar.