Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

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Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby John Yungbluth » Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:05 am

Hobbiest here, non professional.

I purchased a Aria A558 classical guitar in a garage sale that is missing its bridge. There are a few tight cracks in the top and a loose area of the binding. These are repairs I can do with hide glue.

It seems to be a mid 60's - early 70's model from the little bit of information I can find on the internet. I believe it is hand made by Matsumoku, might even be brazilian rosewood back and sides, solid? Solid cedar top, rosewood fingerboard, straight neck, good frets and wood binding.

I don't know much about good quality classical guitars, so I'm speculating until I can take it to the professional in town to look it over.

I'm guessing that maybe it's a mid to upper level model, and if so, I want to get the bridge replaced with a good replication. I have a rosewood bridge that fits the footprint of the original, and the saddle slot position. But it is a plain looking bridge.

Please look over the pictures and if anyone has a picture of the bridge, or any information on this model I would greatly appreciate it.
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Last edited by John Yungbluth on Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby John Yungbluth » Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:14 am

A couple more pictures.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby Phillip Lee » Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:48 pm

Wow, never seen a bridge lift of so cleanly! Cool looking Classical, the neck photo looks Brazilian to me, though the dark streaks may be age. I don't have a photo but a "Simple" bridge like the one you have could be aged to match the other wood IF the footprint is right, I wouldn't shortchange a nice guitar like this. Curious about the action, though. If in need of lower relief it could be problematic with the spanish heel and a new bridge could (or could not) be configured to help in this area.
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby John Yungbluth » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:32 pm

Here are a few pictures of the bridge I have. It is from a Framus donor cadaver.
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:24 pm

Looks pretty thick, stiff and heavy to me.
You don't want to try making your own? A bridge can be so much more elegant than that!
Likes to drink Rosewood Juice
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby Peter Wilcox » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:57 pm

Looks like I've got his flamenco cousin, as it has wood tuning pegs and a golpeador.
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby Peter Wilcox » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:04 pm

Bridge pics. The bridge is 7 1/4" long, 1 3/16" wide, 3/8" high at the tie side, and maybe 1/32" less at the saddle side. I don't know if there would be differences in the classical and flamenco bridges.

Let me know if you need any other info.
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby John Yungbluth » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:00 pm

Thanks for the pictures. Is the tie block level on the top, or slightly slanted downward to the saddle?

Rosewood, plastic or bone for the saddle and nut?

I like that 1930's detective movie look on that last picture. I can hear Humphery Bogart threatening to "pull its strings off" if it "dosen't start singing right now".

Thanks again.
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:21 pm

The tie block slants down.

The nut and the binding on the tie block seem to be relatively soft, as in plastic (worn grooves where the wound strings pass over.)

The saddle is bone, but may not be original. I guess the bridge is rosewood - it seems to be similar to the fretboard and the headstock veneer.
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby John Yungbluth » Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:09 pm

Thanks for the side view. That answers the last of my cosmetic questions.

The last issue I would like to throw out there would be input on a target weight for the replacement. My experience with classicals in nil. So I'm looking for some education here from builders, repair persons or anyone who has practical experience with classicals.

Stew Mac has an ebony at 34.7 grams, and a rosewood at 23.7 grams. Other sites do no even mention weight in their specs.

The rosewood Framus bridge I've pictured above weighs 32 grams as is. It would need to have the saddle support lowered to get the saddle into the correct string geometry, about 1/32-3/64. Then the string block could be lowered and slanted forward. I will need to double check to see if the string holes will keep a good string break angle if I lower the saddle support.

But it I hope to hear alittle insight on this weight issue. Is there a range to stay within.

Thanks in advance. John.
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby Michael McBroom » Sat Oct 27, 2012 1:24 am

I've researched this whole weight issue with classical bridges, and my conclusion is that weight doesn't matter all that much. I suspect the reason for this is because the bridge is located at one of the strings' nodes, specifically an endpoint node, and nodes don't seem to affect the vibrating material (i.e., soundboard) as much as other areas of the material. I've seen some pretty massive bridges located on some very loud guitars, which has helped me reach this conclusion.

I do think, however, that the material is more important than the weight -- although material choice does affect weight, of course. For instance, I would recommend rosewood over ebony, not just because of the weight savings but because ebony seems to dampen string resonance. Rosewood seems more transparent. I like my bridges to be very bright sounding -- to ring like a bell -- and ebony typically doesn't do this, whereas a good rosewood blank sounds like a marimba key.

Definitely use bone for your nut and saddle. For your bridge's tieblock trim, bone is most durable. If you can find mammoth ivory (no ban restrictions on mammoth ivory cuz mammoths are already extinct), it also works well for tieblock trim. I have also used ebony as tieblock trim with good results.

I recommend that you try building your own saddle. If you have the right tools -- mostly a narrow chisel and a 4-in-hand for shaping -- it doesn't take very long at all to make one. I use a 0.100" end mill chucked up in my router to cut the saddle slot and a 1/16" drill bit in my drill press to drill the string holes. I don't bother with angling my tieblocks. Whatever you choose to go with, you need to be aware that your guitar's top has a slight arch to it, and the bridge should match that arch. Dialing in the right amount of curvature can be tricky, but it is necessary.
Best,
Michael
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby Michael McBroom » Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:50 pm

Michael McBroom wrote:I recommend that you try building your own saddle.


Whoops, I meant "bridge," not saddle.
Best,
Michael
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Re: Aria A558 Classical Bridge replacement

Postby John Yungbluth » Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:28 pm

Michael, thanks for the insight.

I'm hunting up some rosewood blanks now. I have the bone I'll use.

Shaping the bottom, do you lay fine sandpaper over the footprint, and slide the bottom of the new bridge over it , sound hole to endblock direction, to duplicate the top arc? Or just eyeball and freehand sand?

Thanks in advance.
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