Replacing a Classical Guitar Top, Part Two
After installing the new redwood top and re-glueing the fret board extension on the 1991 Manuel Contreras guitar, it was time to make a new bridge.
I chose a nice piece of East Indian rosewood from my stock and ripped out a piece. I made the bridge to be a very close copy of the original Contreras bridge, a large tie block with a deep valley between the block and saddle slot, the owner wanted a piece of bone to top the tie block.
I prefer to install the bridge before I apply any finish to the top, it is easier for me to clean off any glue squeeze out, there is less damage to the finish if I do it that way.
Several years ago, I purchased a vacuum pump and vacuum clamp for glueing the bridge, both items were well worth the money. No longer do I have to fuss with clamps and worry about the risk of a bad glue-up!
Once the bridge is glued on, I can shape the fret board to optimum geometry for a proper string action, which means the guitar will be easy to play. This is a fret barber, its purpose is to thin the tang of the fret wire that I install. If the tang is too wide for the fret and I hammer it into the slot, the extra width will eventually force the neck into a back bow.
The fret slots are .023" wide, the fret tangs are .035" wide, you can see how quickly that extra width will force the ebony to move, giving the neck a "back bow", or a crown in the middle of the fret board.
I haven't put strings on the guitar yet, I want to complete the French polish on the top and finish cleaning and polishing the original lacquer on the back and sides.
Stay tuned for the next post about this project!
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