Intro: Guitar: Locking a Floating Bridge
Have a floating bridge on your guitar and sick of being stuck in one tuning?
Wanting to change tuning without having the hassle of adjusting springs and tricky tuning techniques?
Want a fuller guitar tone?
Then this Instructable is for you!
I will show you how to make a bridge lock cheaply and easily using a single scrap of wood and some tools from around the house!
Step 1: So Why Would We Want to Do This?
OK, so first things first, what we are going to accomplish here is to stop the bridge from being able to freely move (basically we are going to stop it from doing what it was designed to do!)
Why would we want to do this you ask?
Well this design of bridge does not allow the user to tune the guitar differently from what it has been setup to be without having a grueling task of tuning, changing spring tensions, tuning again, changing spring tensions again and so on and so forth till the bridge is sitting properly on the guitar! and that all if you don't break a string while trying to tune the guitar normally!
Other benefits of locking the bridge:
- The bridge will be in contact with the body of the guitar, therefore you get a warmer more full tone!
- When bending a string the other strings will not go out of tune!
Step 2: Tools and Materials
There is only a few tools you need to create the lock...
- Scrap piece of wood (size of the scrap piece of wood will be determined in the next step!)
Step 3: Preparing the Guitar
Firstly de-tune all your strings so they are very loose! (this will prevent your bridge from flying off when you take off the springs in the back of the guitar)
Once the strings have been de-tuned your bridge will sink into the guitar, this is normal and OK its just your springs pulling your bridge down!
Now turn the guitar over and unscrew any plates that are covering the inner parts of the guitar. take out the springs and your bridge will be free to fall out of the guitar so be careful not to lift the guitar up and the bridge go flying and smashing into something.
Step 4: Making the Lock
Measure the cavity that is free in your guitar accurately and draw it out on the scrap piece of wood you have.
If you have an oddly shaped cavity like i do then this is a little harder, but take your time and make sure your measurements are accurate.
Cut the piece of wood out, remember its better being a little big and filing the excess down then being too small and having to start over!
To make the hole for the bridge to sit in, i took out the lock once i had got the correct shape and it fit nice and snug in the cavity. I measured how far the bridge sat from the top of the cavity and marked it onto the lock.
Then i found a drill bit closest to the size of the bridge (closer you are, the less filing you will have to do!) and drilled holes along the lock to make the free space for the bridge to fit in. This would be easier if you had a scroll saw but not many people would have them in their house! so having to make do with the drill and the file becomes your best friend for a while.
Once i had the bridge sitting in the lock snugly (remember to make the bridge only just fit into the lock, you don't want any free movement!) I marked out and chiseled the channel for the spring to fit.
Once the channel was cut i placed the single spring onto the bridge and tightened the spring holder so the spring was very tense. (this will make sure there is definitely no movement and it will allow the earth to be circulated to the bridge. this means not having to re-solder wires!)
Step 5: Extra Tips and Notes
Re inserting the bridge when the lock is in place:
At first i found this a little tricky, but i found the trick to it;
Unscrew the two posts that hold the bridge in place full so the bridge can be pushed against the posts without being in contact with the lock.
Slowly then screw the two posts down while guiding the bridge down into the lock, this is easier when the strings are completely loosened or even better taken off.
Tune the guitar as you would normally, you do not need to do any special tuning like you would normally have to with a floating bridge! Play the guitar for a bit, you may need to re tune the guitar a couple times while the lock and the bridge are getting settled in. Once the lock has settled the guitar will stay in tune great!
If you find that the guitar doesn't stay in tune very well, don't go straight and blame it on your lock! after messing around with the bridge and loosening and tightening the strings they can ware out and un tune very easily. Go out and buy yourself a new set of strings and try them out! before blaming the lock!
Step 6: Finishing Up
I'm very happy with my bridge lock, as I'm constantly changing the tuning of my guitar it is very handy not to be having to spend an hour + messing around with springs and the crazy tuning techniques that come with having a floating bridge.
I also found that where the bridge is connected to the body of the guitar i got a warmer more full tone out of the guitar.
Let me know how you go! Leave a comment with any questions!