If you’ve ever owned a hollowbody floating-bridge jazz guitar, you know the dangers of changing strings without accidentally shifting the bridge position. What’s even scarier is that even under full string tension, the bridge can slide around the top of the guitar when struck, potentially affecting your string alignment and intonation and causing your guitar to play out of tune with itself. Fixing the bridge can eliminate this problem if you have the skills and special tools. Poke a floating drill hole in the top of the guitar at very precise locations. If you don’t know how to do this, it’s best left to a professional. OK, let’s go!
Here is the original bridge setup on a vintage Silvertone archtop. It was sliding everywhere and the owner was tired of taking care of it so they asked us to nail down the floating bridge for them.
When you’re stuck on a floating bridge, it’s absolutely critical that your guitar is properly tuned and intoned, especially if your bridge isn’t adjustable. I did a PLEK fret level and setup first to make sure the guitar was in tip-top shape before pinning the bridge. Then I marked the bridge position with low tack tape.
I made some special tools specifically for this type of work. These small brass stamps that fit into the foot of the bridge and are used to mark the location of the holes to be drilled in the top of the guitar. I drilled holes in the foot of the bridge and then installed the punches in the holes.
Next, I carefully lined up the bridge on the guitar, referencing the tape I had previously placed, and pressed the dies into the top. The punches create small holes to guide the drill into the guitar.
I used our drill press to drill shallow holes in the top using the guide slots from the brass punches.
Next I made some small dowels to glue into the holes in the guitar top.
The bridge now snaps into place perfectly! No more slipping around! Hooray!