Fixing the bridge on a 1932 Martin Mandolin.

Our pal Cristian brought in a beautiful 1932 Martin Mandolin in to the shop, which had one of the ugliest bridges that we have seen.  The bridge had been “repaired” by an unnamed tech who, to lower the action, dug huge trenches into it, and chipped out the centers as well.  The action was still high, and there was no real way to go any lower from the top side.  Normally we would just make a whole new bridge, but Cristian wanted to keep his mandolin in as original condition as possible – so we fixed his existing bridge instead.

First we took the bridge off, and put it in our handy Stanley Multi-Angle Vice (one of our favorite and most useful tools in the shop).  Here you can see how bad off the bridge had become over the last 80 or so years.  Yikes!

We had to even out the divots, to give us a clean area to work with in order to make patches that would fill the voids:

Then we shaped some ebony plugs to fit:

We sanded and polished the plugs and blended them in to the original bridge shape:

Then we used a pinch Fiebing’s Oil Dye (which is normally used for horse saddles, but works great on wood) to blend the new wood with the old:

Once the bridge fix was finished,  we took off a large part of the base to lower the action while still having a nice tapered top, installed it on the mandolin body and slotted it for the proper string spacing and radius:

Here it is all strung up and ready to go:

It looks good, sounds great, and is ready to rock for the next 80 years.  Thanks Cristian!

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