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Restoring a 1908 Martin O-17

II.  Removing the bridge

wpe2.gif (30720 bytes) The next step in disassembly is to remove the bridge.  With an older guitar like this it is not very difficult, although it had been poorly reglued at some time in the past.  In this case we worked a spatula under the bridge and it more or less popped off.   Sometimes the spatula method works best if a little heat is applied to the bridge to soften the glue.  For this we use another of the silicone rubber heaters.   (we got these from Luthiers Merchantile, since they are selling them in sizes and shapes which are designed for guitar makers.  These heaters are also available in a wide variety of sizes from the Watlow company.) 

The chisel is in the photo to suggest another very effective (but frightening to beginners) method of removing bridges.   The chisel is sharp, and the bottom (i.e the flat or non-beveled side) has a very slight bevel on it so it will not dig in.  We then simply put the chisel at the edge of the bridge and give it a good whack.  Do this all along the edge on both sides and the bridge will come off quite cleanly.  I first learned this technique from Stu Mossman, and when he showed me I just about fainted since it looked so dangerous (to the guitar).  But it works.  I recommend that beginners not try this on good guitars until they have practiced and, even better, seen someone with experience do it. 

wpe4.gif (29530 bytes) The bridge is off!!





wpe4.jpg (10569 bytes)   Here is another photo of the top with the bridge removed.  It helps to show just how badly damaged this instrument is.







wpe5.jpg (6440 bytes)  Here we are beginning to remove the back.  The back was originally glued with hot hide glue -- and although it has been very badly repaired over the years, most of that work was done with hide glue (lots and lots of it).  This makes the process easier since a little heat and moisture will enable us to separate the glue line.  We use a broad palette knife to apply the hot water and to separate the joint.



wpe6.jpg (5658 bytes)  Here is a photo of the treble rib -- as you can see it is too far gone and we will be replacing it..




wpe8.jpg (7194 bytes)   Here the back is almost off. 





wpe4.jpg (12481 bytes)   One thing we found when we got the back off is that it is initialed and dated on the top with the initials FHM - which we believe was Frank Herbert Martin.  Way cool.  This photo doesn't really show it, but it is there - very faint.

This photo shows one of the major challenges in this restoration.  The linings are very delicate, and since I will be replacing one rib, I will have to salvage the existing linings or find a way to duplicate them closely.  This one will take a bit of thinking.



This website and all of its content, text and images are copyright 1997-2011 by Charles A. Hoffman.  All rights reserved.

2219 East Franklin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN. 55404

choffman1@mn.rr.com or choffman@hoffmanguitars.com

(612) 338-1079