1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

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1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Steven Wilson » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:24 pm

I've had this very lovely lady bring me this Gibson she has owned since she was 12(the guitar was 10 when she got it) complaining about a lose of tone and requesting a truss rod adjustment. I knew that was not the issue and agreed to do it and change the strings at a very very minimal fee. The bridge plate is worn to where the string balls are pretty much on the bridge. She doesn't have much means so my question is has any one used the Stu-Mac plate mate with any luck? The bridge was bolted on some time in the 50's and I want to give her an easy fix.
Thanks
Steven
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby John Hamlett » Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:20 am

I've never used one of those, but I know of those who have. It may prevent the bridge from splitting and help the solidity of the bridge/string ball system, but I don't think they do anything good for "tone".
(FWIW, it looks like a candidate for Stewmac's "platesaver" to me.)
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:43 pm

from the stewmac description:
"The Plate Mate guards against the eventual wear of ball-end strings on the bridge plate holes beneath the soundboard. It helps prevent costly bridge plate replacement. This simple .032" brass plate is held in place by the strings and the supplied adhesive backing. Players have also noted enhanced tone and improved tuning stability after installation."

I have never used one but it seems that it's more of a preventative measure than a bridge plate fix. The more experienced can correct me if my thinking is wrong on this but I would be afraid that if the damage is already done the ball ends would just pull through the brass plate too.
I agree, this may be a job for the plate saver or a new bridge plate altogether.

On another note: the wear of the ball end strings can also be prevented by proper installation. Perhaps what your customer really needs is a lesson in proper ball end string installation technique. That being said, the guitar is over 60 yrs old so this may have happened anyway.
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Dave Gentner » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:07 am

Rather than using a plate mate I would use Stewmac's "Bridge Saver", as John suggested. Although a bit pricey it does an excellent job restoring bridge plates.
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Steven Wilson » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:53 am

Thanks for the replies. I know a plate repair/replace would be the best fix. I was hoping to offer her an inexpensive alternative.

Thanks
Steven
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Fred Marcuson » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:26 am

I was hoping to offer her an inexpensive alternative.


well get a thin piece of brass sheet, remove the nuts and washers from the bottom of the bridge .
cut the brass to shape , drill holes for the strings and bolts . contact cement brass to the bridge plate .
restring .
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Arnt Rian » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:21 am

Replace or repair the bridge plate would be my advice, too... BUT! These sell for $10-20 000 depending on the condition (according to those who follow eBay etc), so a low cost repair would seem like false economy. The bridge plate mate shouldn't hurt anything much, but I would think long and hard before changing or "fixing" anything that might devalue it. BTW, I think those bolts were original, check out this thread on Vintage Gibson bracing over on on UMGF http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/topic/1364/Vintage-Gibson-bracing-library?page=2#.T2yHMhEgcsI
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Ron Belanger » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:03 pm

I would opt for the bridge saver as well. I have used it for repairing old bridge plates and to fix an error in drilling pin holes in a new instrument as well. Well worth the $$! You could have it repaired in under an hour. :D
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Steven Wilson » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:26 pm

Thanks Arnt
I had checked on the value of the guitar and was suprised. But since she has no money to invest in the instrument I was looking for the least invasive/most reversable fix.
I'm not sure about the bridge bolts. Most of the pictures I found have them, but not all. Also she said the bridge "lifted" in the 50's and needed to be reattached. Hard to see how with bolts. I know this was a "budget" model when it came out so I wonder if the bolts where a common repair back then. One of the dots on top of the bridge to hide the bolts was not done very well, you can see tear-out from the drill and its half sunk in. I've never used the plate saver and may just get it and do the repair for her.
Very interesting guitar and lady though.

Thanks all
Steven
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby John Hamlett » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:45 am

A couple of things;
The bolts and nuts look like original Gibson equipment, the bridge holes are often chipped out from people removing the pearl dots and screws to work on the bridge. The back of the bridge can lift with the bolts in place, and that could be what happened, and the chipped hole could have happened when that was repaired.
I think you'll appreciate having the plate saver on hand in the shop. It can come in handy a lot, it get's guitars in good playing shape with much less work than a bridge plate replacement, there is much less chance of damage to the guitar "plugging" rather than removing the bridge plate, there is no discernible sound difference, and the resulting repair can be re-done later with a new bridge plate if that is what a future owner decides.
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Michael Lewis » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:32 am

The Stew/Mac tool is worth having and will pay for itself with two bridge plate repair jobs (after you fix this guitar) if you go that way. You can certainly try the brass plate but check for the hole spacing to be accurate on both the plate and the bridge. As mentioned above, you can make your own brass plate easily enough and that will guarantee the spacing will match.
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby John Steele » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:49 am

Steven;
There was an article in the latest GAL pub where Alan Skipper modified a spade bit to allow it to cut conical shaped washers from maple for just such a repair. Might be a good candidate for your situation.
John
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Bob Francis » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:36 pm

John Steele wrote:Steven;
There was an article in the latest GAL pub where Alan Skipper modified a spade bit to allow it to cut conical shaped washers from maple for just such a repair. Might be a good candidate for your situation.
John


IF you go to the GAL site and click on this isses preview you'll see a picture of it about half way down the page.
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:06 am

A countersink bit with a stop collar mounted could probably be used to make the recesses in the old bridge plate for the discs to fit into. As with any "home made" tools you would want to test them out on some scrap before risking the guitar. The StewMac tool looks like a good one to have if you do much repair work. Although they say it pays for itself with the first repair, you will need to do a couple before you can pay yourself ! <g>
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Re: 1940's Gibson j35 bridge plate

Postby Steven Wilson » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:32 pm

Thank you all for the replies
I am going to get the plate saver tool. I have another guitar(low value) that I was going to replace the plate but can use to test. I haven't pulled the plate on such a vintage instrument so i want to do the right thing.
Thanks
Steven
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