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Thread: Cracked Bridge

  1. #1
    Registered User temporus's Avatar
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    Question Cracked Bridge

    Hello. New to the board. I recently pulled out my mandolin to try learning again. And after tuning it up, I gave it a once over and I noticed that something didn't look right on the bridge. It appears I have a crack in the upper portion of the bridge. Click image for larger version. 

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    (Sorry if the picture is not great, was hard to get the phone to focus on the bridge instead of the strings.)

    Is it possible to just replace the upper portion? Or is that not worth the effort and just change the whole bridge? The instrument is playing as is, but I assume that the crack is just going to get worse the more I try to play it. Are these bridges standard? My mandolin is an older model I bought in the early 90's. Kentucky KM 160.

    Thanks.

    Ed

  2. #2
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    If you keep your instrument humidity-controlled I would just put a wood shim between it and the base but don't glue it to the base for when you do decide to replace the bridge. There are several places to buy a new bridge. You will want to double-check the post spacings and will probably have to tweak intonation but that isn't that big of a deal. Or go to a luthier. One of the pros will let you know if gluing it up is a possibility. I don't know if that would hold well or not to be honest with you if it was mine, and I was going to change it, I would probably try anyway. Actually, my mandolin is fairly stable year-round so I would probably put the shim in and glue it all up.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    It won't hold to try and glue it, but you could change just the saddle. You may have to do some work on hole alignment, but you might not have to, depends. As John says you can put a shim under the crack and play it for a long time as long as you don't want to change the action. Then it is simply making a new shim, or if tapered adjusting it.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  5. #4
    Registered User temporus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    I can try the shim. But if I want to change out the whole bridge, is it just a generic bridge? Are they model specific? Is that something I should be able to do with a little patience, or is this something I need to see a luthier about? I'm not afraid to try, if it's the kind of repair I know won't permanently damage the instrument.

    Thanks,

    Ed

  6. #5

    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    If you can get the glue in there and clamp it, I don't see why that wouldn't fix it permanently.
    Richard Hutchings

  7. #6
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    I don't know how standard they are but there are places that will sell you the new bridge to a spec you need and you could use the base you have. I can't remember the names of the places that sell them. I made my last one myself.
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  8. #7

    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    I'd go with the shim idea, should be fine for years.

    In fact, I've got some "temporary" repairs on some of my guitars that are now going on 35+ years.......and someday I may get around to fixing it "right!"

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    I used to try to glue cracked saddles back together. I've tried four different kinds of glue with no long-term success. Some gave way immediately, while the one that held up the longest might have lasted a year. Now, I always replace a cracked saddle.

    Kentucky mandolins are products of Saga Music. Saga sells four models of imported adjustable bridges under the Golden Gate brand. List prices range from $6 to $16. They do not offer the saddle alone. In your case, a Golden Gate bridge is probably the most practical option.

    The only places I know of that sell just a saddle are Axiom Inc. and Greg Boyd. Axiom charges $26.50, Greg Boyd charges $35.

    Carving a saddle from scratch is do-able, but time consuming. If you do try to carve one from scratch, drill the holes before you thin your blank to reduce the chance of splitting the blank.

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  11. #9

    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    If you get a new bridge you should fit the bridge to the top by sanding it carefully against the top. The bridge is usable as purchased but fitting it will make a world of difference in the sound. If you can fit a piece of paper under the corners or edge of the bridge it will make a significant difference in the sound. It is best to get the bridge located so the harmonics match, place a piece of tape at the location before you sand so you stay in the same spot as you fit it. And use fine paper such as 220 or 320 grit.

    Given the minimal cost of the Golden Gate bridge, shims or glue seem kind of pointless.

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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    With a little luck, the saddle from a new Golden Gate bridge will fit on your current bridge base, and you won't have to modify anything.

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  14. #11
    Registered User Tenzin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    If you're interested in upgrading, and putting a bit of money, I'd recommend you speak with Bruce Weber at https://www.montanalutherie.com/ . I have a Kentucky that came with a rosewood bridge & saddle (which many would say is too soft a wood to do a proper job of transferring sound). I replaced both the bridge and the saddle. It's not terribly difficult to sand to a proper fit and get it placed for proper intonation, but a luthier shouldn't cost too much. I my case, the tone & volume were a vast improvement. Of course, YMMV.
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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    Trust me I've had many cracked saddles and tried to glue them-didn't ever hold long! I've never shimmed under one but if your going to take your time with a shim I'd personally just fit a new bridge on using a Stew-mac or Cumberland Acoustics jig-remember to use a small level! If you just want to replace the cracked saddle, you best find out what make the bridge is because different saddles will not line up with the base posts!

    Being an older Kentucky I have no idea what bridge is on there?

  16. #13
    Registered User temporus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    I went ahead and ordered the Golden Gate, should arrive by tonight. If I carefully clamp the two bridges together, I should be able to use the old one as a guide to sanding/shaping the new one, yes?

    Thanks everyone for the advice.

    Ed

  17. #14

    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by William Smith View Post
    Trust me I've had many cracked saddles and tried to glue them-didn't ever hold long! I've never shimmed under one but if your going to take your time with a shim I'd personally just fit a new bridge on using a Stew-mac or Cumberland Acoustics jig-remember to use a small level! If you just want to replace the cracked saddle, you best find out what make the bridge is because different saddles will not line up with the base posts!

    Being an older Kentucky I have no idea what bridge is on there?
    I don't understand why it wouldn't hold. We use glue for wood to wood joints all over this instrument. You have experience that contradicts my thoughts on this. That's just weird and I don't know what to do with this info.
    Richard Hutchings

  18. #15

    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    I glued a crack in the saddle portion of a bridge. Lasted a couple of months. More than one luthier has told me they never hold. One of them rummaged through a parts drawer and came up with one and gave it to me. It happened to fit.
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  19. #16
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Hutchings View Post
    I don't understand why it wouldn't hold. We use glue for wood to wood joints all over this instrument. You have experience that contradicts my thoughts on this. That's just weird and I don't know what to do with this info.
    I think there is so much down pressure that it just gives, usually always right by the bass or treble post holes so there isn't much wood there anyway and when you get some age with all the years of pressure and such they give right in that spot. I've tried it a few times and no luck? Maybe someone else can do it but I sure didn't.
    And after trying a few times to glue with all the time spent, one might just go with a new bridge altogether or just swap out the saddle and fit it-my thoughts anyway.

  20. #17

    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    Maybe a better design with a bit of a curve instead of that 90 degree cut might be a better way of making them.
    Richard Hutchings

  21. #18
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Hutchings View Post
    Maybe a better design with a bit of a curve instead of that 90 degree cut might be a better way of making them.
    Yep I've seen this done on an F-5 mandolin and its held since the late 1960's.

  22. #19
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    You can add me to the list of people that have glued cracked bridges and had them fail.
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  23. #20

    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    Many years ago I had a saddle snap during a gig. It happened with a Fishman M-100 bridge with the piezo pickup embedded in the saddle. It made a lot of noise when she let go. I've stayed away from Fishman bridges ever since. Get a Cumberland Acoustics bridge properly fitted to your mandolin. Trust me, you'll be much happier.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

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  25. #21
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    Fitting the new saddle by clamping to the old one will get you close, but fit it to the top of the mandolin properly before using it.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  27. #22

    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by lenf12 View Post
    Many years ago I had a saddle snap during a gig. It happened with a Fishman M-100 bridge with the piezo pickup embedded in the saddle. It made a lot of noise when she let go. I've stayed away from Fishman bridges ever since. Get a Cumberland Acoustics bridge properly fitted to your mandolin. Trust me, you'll be much happier.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL
    Ken, have they done anything in particular to address this issue? I was just on their site and though their bridges appear to be very nice to look at, I don't see how they are any better functionally.
    Richard Hutchings

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked Bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Hutchings View Post
    Ken, have they done anything in particular to address this issue? I was just on their site and though their bridges appear to be very nice to look at, I don't see how they are any better functionally.
    Well its sort of the traditional way to go, loads of bridges are still original and going strong on early to mid 20's Gibson's, instead of the 90 degree cut one could use a curve on the inside angle of the saddle as I've seen this done and its held since the late 60's so that's only 50 years so time will tell?

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