Cutting Slots in a Classical Guitar Bridge

The world is full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It, 1976

More wind today, gusts up to 80mph, all of us who live here at the headwaters of St. Vrain Creek have been wondering when it was going to get breezy.

I don't know why I spend so much time on this blog, there is work to be done. Today was a day to make another bridge, this time for the Douglas Fir/Maple Martinez copy that I really need to finish and get out of the studio. Another piece of padauk, a small back saw, a clamp and a piece of Spanish cedar for a straight edge.

I am duplicating a modern style bridge that I had on the guitar, but the top was starting to cave-in, I had glued it on incorrectly the first time.

A few licks with the saw and a chisel or two and the slots are done. Yesterday, I cut the slots with a table saw, which always bothers me because of the noise and the chance of a digit engaging the saw blade. I decided that I would make this bridge the old fashioned way, entirely with hand tools.

After using a huge new and wonderful SawStop cabinet table saw I don't like using any other table saws. I've seen how quickly the blade is stopped by the brake on the SawStop, a $5,000 saw is cheaper than $250,000 plus in hospital and therapy bills.

A few more hits with a file, this bridge will be done, except for gluing on the piece of bone that tops the tie block.

3 bridges-ebony for the blond guitar, the padauk bridge that I made yesterday, the one made today and the one that is being replaced. To shape the bridge wings I use a variety of files, such as an old hoof rasp left over from my days as a horseshoer, a chainsaw raker file (the best file for this job) and a file used to sharpen auger bits.

Presents in the mail today, this book on Andres Segovia, which was outrageously priced at $55, I bought it because Volume 1 is out of print and sells used for almost $300! And I got fretwire for the blond guitar and the spruce/walnut guitar. No more excuses, I have to get to work.

And then I need to sharpen my tools.

YouTube for the day, here is an amazing young guitarist, Asya Selyutina.


  1. That was a wonderful performance by Asya and the video production the best I've seen for any classical guitarist.

    What was the support mechanism she used? I like the Neck-Up strap. What she had looked to be floor mounted but I couldn't tell.

    Keep the videos coming!

  2. Hey, Tico!

    There are many guitar supports out in the world these days for classical guitars. Back when I was a young student all we had was a foot stool or a Dynarette cushion that strapped to your leg. Today one can chose from the following brands-A-Frame, Gitano, GuitaRest, LegRest, Litchfield Guitar Support, Neck Up, Ponticello, Efel, Ergoplay, Tukeva and of course Dynarette, just to name a few. I haven't had a chance to check into any of the new ones, maybe at the end of the month when I go to the Boulder Guitar Society meeting.

  3. Nice work. That looks like a well-made table vice there, Wilson.
    What's Norman Maclean saying about us folks on the Isle of Wight - we're an awful long way from Missoula!

  4. Hi, Rob!

    The table vise is a Chinese copy of the old Parrot vise, made for Shop Fox sold through Stewart-MacDonald luthier supplies and I really don't like it, there are better vises out there, but it works. When I posted the Maclean quote I was wondering how many bastards there are in Missoula these days, there weren't so many there 30 years ago! I think Maclean would have loved the Isle of Wight!


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