Sometimes the bridge of a guitar will come loose and start to pull away from the body. This is a serious issue that definitely needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Stay tuned while I explain why it matters and how to fix a loose guitar bridge.
The Role of the Bridge
Let me start with an explanation on the role of the bridge. Obviously, it holds the strings, but it actually does quite a bit more than that. Underneath the top, there sits another piece of wood that lies where the bridge does. The two of them are glued to the top and serve to provide stability and strength in that area of the top. In the process, they stiffen the top and provide support for the bridge pin holes (where the strings attach). The also spread the tension load from the strings out over a much larger area than just the bridge pin holes. I’ve read (from a luthier) that they also help direct vibrations to the proper places on the soundboard, but that’s beyond my personal experience, so I can’t really comment on that.
So, if the glue joint begins to fail, the bridge will begin to pull up off the top. The tension from the strings drives this. It usually happens on the back edge or corners. The result is that the torque from the strings begins to be distributed unevenly on the top, ultimately causing the top to distort, stretch, and pull upward. Now we are talking about some serious damage to your guitar.
A loose bridge will also impact your sound, in addition to potentially damaging your guitar’s top. Your guitar will begin to sound dead. It will be quieter and somewhat more “thin” sounding. The problem is it gets progressively worse, and you may not even notice it until it is too late.
Testing for a loose bridge is quite simple, actually. Take a small piece of paper and try to insert it between the back edge of the bridge and the top, like in the photo below. If it slips between the bridge and the top, you have a problem.
As you can see, my Taylor is just fine. In fact, my other guitars are good, too. Which means I don’t have a loose bridge to actually show you. Lucky me! But I think you get the idea of what it would look like.
Unfortunately, I do NOT recommend you attempt this repair at home. Take it to a guitar repair shop and let a professional tackle this. It costs a bit more money, and takes more time, but if you catch it soon enough, it will save you more expensive repairs later on.
So, grab your guitar(s) and a piece of paper and test it. It’s that simple, and a great way to protect you baby. Do it! Now!
Hope this little tip helped. If you have any comments, please leave them below. In the meantime, keep playing. Music makes the world a better place.