Gibson LG-0 bridge

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

I had a mid/late 60s Gibson LG-0 come into the shop. it has a cracked bridge along the line of the bridge pins. Seems simple enough, except that I allowed my eye to deceive me.
First thing I did was repair the bridge plate. But I noticed something odd when I started the job. All the screws/hardware for the old plastic bridge were still in place in the bridge plate. My assumption, since the serial dates this guitar around 67, was that this guitar originally came with the plastic bridge but then someone later replaced it with a rosewood bridge, but for some reason left in or reinstalled the screws.
So I finished that phase of the job and then move on to repairing the crack in the rosewood bridge.... Except now that I'm looking at it, I'm not so sure this is a rosewood bridge at all. Now, the way I understand it, it's usually pretty easy to tell the difference between a plastic and rosewood bridge on these things. Plastic bridges are black like ebony as there was no way to put a rosewood print or pattern on the plastic, and rosewood bridges look like rosewood. But this bridge looks like rosewood, fooled me before I looked closer. But when I look at the edges around the bridge pin holes and the saddle slot I can see what appears to be a very thin layer like you would see on a laminate product, then a black and then a dark brown/grayish material the rest of the way. I drilled into the saddle slot a little just to check and there is not that distinctive rosewood smell, in fact I detect no smell at all. The bridge does not come off with the screws removed, and there is even glue squeeze out around the edges of the bridge, so it is glued on as well. This just doesn't make any sense to me to anything I've seen before, and I've searched the web to find anything like this and I can't find anything. It all shows either a matte black plastic or a real rosewood bridge.
So, now if this is not rosewood as I am suspecting, I'm a little puzzled as to how to proceed. I don't think I should fill it with CA and then scrape it down, as I'm worried about going though the extremely thin laminate layer. I could suggest replacing the bridge, but I'm not sure that's in the budget.

Insight? Thoughts? Suggestions? Comments?
Thanks

Joshua Levin-Epstein
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Joshua Levin-Epstein »

The plastic Gibson bridges I've seen are "skeletonized" underneath with receptacles for the sheet metal screws that held it on. I am guessing that someone filled the bridge with epoxy or whatever then glued and screwed it back on. If it is glued on well, perhaps you should just fill the crack and call it a day.

I have one of those guitars with a small spruce bridge plate that is neatly blown out between the bridge pin holes. No backer when the holes were drilled in 1960. It does have a wood bridge the was glued and bolted on.

Paul Breen
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Paul Breen »

Gibson plastic bridges.jpg
It seems extremely unlikely that a plastic bridge used on these guitars would crack along the bridge pin holes, the same way they do on wooden bridges. Typically, you find them pulling up and arching when the string balls find their way through the lousy Spruce bridge plates that Gibson put on these guitars.
64 Gibson Spruce bridge plate.jpg
The plastic bridges are often split vertically on the sides at the top or bottom edges. The sun bleached bridge with the saddle still in it, has a split through the top of it's screw post and down the side of the bridge adjacent to the crew post, next to the treble E pin hole. They used 4 screws to hold these bridges on, look at all of the holes through the top! This one is an LG1.
64 LG1 Plastic bridge top holes.jpg
I can't believe someone would go through all of the trouble to make one of these look like real wood or how you could even go about it without painting it that way. I suspect that it is wood and for whatever reason they put the screws back in it, you couldn't "just leave them in" and convert to wood. If somehow you did this and filled the rear with epoxy, then I am guessing it would also be glued to the top with epoxy. What else would stick?

When I rehab one of these, I ream and then fill the pin holes through the top with wood and hot hide glue. I used Spruce on this on because I had some old fiddle sound posts and it saved some time over making them out of Mahogany. These images are from an LG0.
Filled pin and screw holes.jpg
The Spruce bridge plate gets filled with thickened West System epoxy and sanded flat. (As a side note, West System epoxy is the best out there that I have found for certain instrument applications. Cures super hard, unlike hardware store two part mix. It is commonly used in the boat building trade.)
Filled bridge plate.jpg
I them add an overlay of Maple to be able to withstand the string ball ends under tension.

This on got a new bridge I made from scratch. I believe that undrilled/ unslotted blanks can gotten On-line but don't know a source off hand. I like to make my own to control sizing and shape.
Last edited by Paul Breen on Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Paul Breen
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Paul Breen »

Guess you only get 5 image attachments per post...

Here is the maple bridge plate.
Maple bridge plate.jpg

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Here are a couple pictures of what I have here. It *looks* like rosewood and even has a grain texture to it.
This bridge had the 4 screws as you have shown. I've seen this in every example of the plastic bridge. But it also has two large bolts, probably 1/2" or so in diameter. I don't know what these types of fasteners are called, but they are hollow through the center like a barrel. (I'll get a picture if needed next time I've got it on my bench...) then they have a star washer and a flat nut that goes up against the bridge plate. These protrude from the bridge plate about a half inch and appear to go up through the bridge plate and presumably into the bridge. The nut and washer had already been removed from the the bass side bolt to make room for when someone installed an undersaddle pickup.
Granted, I've only worked on a small handful of these Gibson student line models from this era, but I've never seen this combination of oddities and I'm not even finding anything like it on the interwebs. I think in either case I may just suggest replacing the bridge, but the fact that it could be epoxied on makes me more than a little apprehensive about removing it.
More than anything, I really just want to solve the mystery. What is going on here???
Attachments
LG0 2.jpg
LG0 1.jpg

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Barry Daniels »

Weird. It is not plastic. Sure looks like rosewood but that white layer is certainly not original.

I recently removed a bridge that was the easiest method ever. I routed it down with a router sled to a layer about 1/32" thick and then used a little heat. It came up really cleanly. That should work even on an epoxy glued bridge.
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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Barry Daniels wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 1:33 pm
Weird. It is not plastic. Sure looks like rosewood but that white layer is certainly not original.

I recently removed a bridge that was the easiest method ever. I routed it down with a router sled to a layer about 1/32" thick and then used a little heat. It came up really cleanly. That should work even on an epoxy glued bridge.
Barry, That is absolutely the way I would go with this, except that I would more than likely hit those bolts. I don't think I can take them out from the underside. My guess is that they are probably epoxied into the bridge, but I don't know that for sure.

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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Paul Breen »

That sure appears to be a Rosewood bridge but as Barry mentions, the White lines visible in the pin holes are odd. Can you see any evidence of an overlay on the sides of the bridge? It is surely modified and I suspect started it's life as an adjustable bridge, explaining the heavy bolt hardware you indicated. Here are images from a Kalamazoo Epiphone Texan I worked on. The Kalamazoo example only has two mounting bolts that would be located under the pearl dots. Can't explain why yours has 4 bolts along with the two saddle adjuster bolts.
kalamazoo Texan adjusters.jpg
Kalamazoo Texan bridge.jpg
Here is an image I found on the Internet of a 60's LG0 wearing one of these contraptions.
LG0 adj. Bridge.jpg
Wood bridges would have been glued on at the factory, in addition to the bolts. It's possible that this bridge was reworked in place, not removed and re-glued. Hard to tell not having it on my bench but it does look a bit like the type of finish damage to the top from bridge removal.

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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Paul Breen »

Just found this on Reverb which may explain 4 mounting bolts plus the saddle adjusters:
https://reverb.com/item/32765996-vintag ... 6kQAvD_BwE

The adjuster bolts would have remained set into the top and a new wooden bridge glued down over them with the bolts re-installed?

You should recommend re-doing this mess.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Barry Daniels »

Yep, hitting a bolt with a router would be very bad. Intense heat from the top would probably be your only option. I would not worry about the chance that epoxy was used because it releases with heat very well, maybe even easier than Titebond. It also might be possible to excavate the wood covering the bolts and remove them.
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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Paul, YES! that's exactly what I have going on in here, with the 4 screws added as well. That link you provided helps me visualize what's going on.
I agree that it does look like the bridge had been removed, some of the damage to the finish and the top, especially around the back side of the bridge, really looks like it could have been done when someone was removing it. I thought that at first, but then dismissed it thinking that if it was a screw on bridge there never would have been a conventional bridge removal job... But who knows what all has happened to this thing now.
I looked very closely at the edges with a bright light where some seams in an overlay might be evident. I can't see anything, and the grain on the top and the sides matches up as if it was all cut out of a single piece of wood. That being said, I can clearly see the grain disappear in the pin holes and the slot, a white line, then a thin black layer (about 1/16") and then just a dark gray material the rest of the way down. It's not wood down there.
One thing that does make me happy, in a weird sort of way, is that I don't seem to be the only one that is totally befuddled by this thing. Kinda makes me not feel so dumb. lol
Barry, yeah, you're right about the epoxy not being such a big deal (of course you are! You're Barry Freaking Daniels!) I think I will suggest just replacing the bridge. It's not going to be that much more.. and I really would like to take this old bridge off and get to the bottom of what this thing actually is.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Barry Daniels »

Taking off all of the bolts and hardware, and replacing the bridge with a solid wood one will make a huge difference in terms of tone and volume.

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Paul Breen
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Paul Breen »

Barry is correct, these can be really good sounding guitars after a proper conversion. Someone went through a lot of effort to end up with a crappy result.

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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Is it possible that they cut down the original bridge and then capped it with a rosewood one (epoxying the two together)? If it is well glued down and structurally sound I would just repair the crack between the pin holes and call it a day. Curiosity killed the cat and made a lot more work for the rest of us.

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

The customer has agreed to just replace the bridge. So he will end up with a better guitar and we will get to the bottom of this mystery.

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Well, now I just feel silly.... :oops:


I got the old bridge off, came off quite clean and not too hard. So, my eyes were really playing tricks with me and the complication of the whole thing just really psyched me out I think. This bridge is real rosewood, through and through. Based on the age and the very dark color, I suspect Brazilian. I don't know why I couldn't detect any smell when I drilled into it the other day, but it definitely has the distinct smell of rosewood when I scrape the bottom of it. And as far as the layers, the grain lines worked perfectly to deceive me. And as far as the white layer, that was a thick layer of finish and the light reflecting off of it on the open edges around the pin holes and the saddle slot. I sure feel like a doofus. Oh well, live and learn. The bridge really needed to come off anyway. Now I can remove all the hardware, plug the holes and do it up real nice.
But I still have a conundrum... The replacement bridge I have is not quite big enough to cover the foot print of the old bridge. I ordered a blank to just fabricate a new oversized bridge, but then I got thinking... Would it be better to salvage the original bridge? How else am I going to get hold of a real BRW bridge? But here's my concern with it. Remember how the old screws were still inside? yeah, They did actually put the screws BACK in and into the rosewood bridge. The two screws on either side of the bridge pin holes are lined up right in line with the holes. I don't know that they predrilled before they sunk them in, but I suspect that's part of why the bridge split like it did. It was already weakened from the pin holes all being in line with each other and then the screws just did it in and it split. So the crack goes all the through the bridge from top to bottom. I can glue/fill it, but will it still be more likely to fail? Am I better off putting in a new IRW bridge at this point, or is there any real benefit to putting the old BRW bridge back on?

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Barry Daniels »

A new bridge is needed due to the holes and the crack. I can send you a BRW blank if you want to go that route. I would need your minimum dimensions and you can PM your address to me.
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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

That settles it. New bridge it is. It's kinda what I was figuring, but thought I'd give someone the chance to sway me the other way.

Paul Breen
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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Paul Breen »

Yup, I second Barry's assessment, glad to hear removal went well.

These are images of two different Indian Rosewood bridges that started as blanks purchased from LMI. Buying bridge blanks one at a time as the need arises for a project is always a crap shoot even though I always buy the best grade they have available. The bridge you removed may just be Indian Rosewood but a Brazilian blank may have a better chance of looking more like the bridge you removed. You can see the finished bridge I made for a Martin M38 is more Brown and the second example, an undrilled/ unslotted replacement for a 76 Gibson J45/50, is considerably more Red. Both will change a bit over time with UV light and player grunge.
Indian Rosewood M38 Martin bridge.jpg
Indian Rosewood Martin J45.50 bridge.jpg

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Re: Gibson LG-0 bridge

Post by Paul Breen »

Correction...

The second bridge example was made from a blank of Madagascar Rosewood, I forgot I had done this. Both of these guitars originally came specified with Indian Rosewood. The M38 Martin was a paying project but the J45/50 is one of my own basket case projects, so I didn't get picky on the bridge wood choice and had the Madagascar on hand.

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