Acoustic Guitar Bridge Plates
The bridge plate is an integral part of the internal support structure for an acoustic guitar. As part of the bracing system, it helps to support the instrument top and resist the pulling force exerted upon the instrument by the strings.
Typically made from a piece of hardwood, such as Maple or Rosewood, it provides a firm place for the ball-end portion of the guitar string to rest against. The strings are then held into position by the bridge pins.
Worn / Damaged Bridge Plates
Poor drilling during its manufacturing, lazy restringing technique, and/or heavy use, can leave a guitar’s bridge plate in less than perfect condition.
When viewed from inside the instrument, a damaged bridge plate may be missing wood around the bridge pin holes, or the string’s ball-ends may appear to be compressed into the plate rather than sitting on top of it. If the plate is damaged, the top has less protection from the pressure placed upon it by the strings pull.
Since it is hidden inside the guitar, out of sight of the average player, damage often goes unnoticed for a time. Eventually, the resulting weakness may begin to effect other aspects of the instrument, such as a cracked or lifted bridge.
Potential Signs of a Worn Bridge Plate
Owing to the hard to reach location, and delicate nature of the job, damaged bridge plates can be difficult and costly to replace. A replaced bridge plate may also have an effect on both the tone and resale value of a vintage instrument. As such, it is definitely worth looking at the bridge plate as part of the vetting process before purchasing a used instrument.
A common repair for a damaged plate is a handmade maple “cap” glued to the original plate. While this can certainly be an effective reinforcement, there are a few considerations: (1) It requires tools and shop time to make. (2) An appropriately sturdy wooden cap adds quite a bit of thickness to the bridge plate. (3) It is difficult and potentially damaging to remove after installation.
Mitchel's PlateMate Offers A Quick Fix
Mitchel’s PlateMate is designed to protect your guitar’s bridge plate from damage caused by ball-end strings. It helps to prevent costly bridge plate replacement.
Much like a bridge plate cap, this simple .032″ brass plate is held in place by the strings and the supplied adhesive backing. It installs in minutes. Should the need arise, it can be removed nearly as quick!
The solid brass provides a durable surface for the ball end to rest against, sparing the wooden plate from additional wear and tear and providing an alternative to an otherwise invasive repair.
While adding a metal plate underneath the bridge may seem sacrilegious to some, it is not without precedent. For several years, many extremely popular Taylor Guitars equipped with the expression system contained a similar metal plate as the basis for an electronic “string ground“. Brass also is the alloy used for the wrap wire of “80/20 bronze” acoustic guitar strings, and has been widely used as a material for string nuts and electric guitar saddles.
Choose The Right Size To Fit Your Guitar
Mitchel’s Platemates are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate most common string spacings. Before ordering, it is important that you measure accurately; It is easy to do.
Place a ruler (1/32″ or 1/64″ graduations recommended) close to your guitar’s bridge pins to measure the distance from the center of the 1st string to the center of the 6th. The number recorded is your string spacing. Some popular spacings are listed below as a general reference.
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About Guitar Repair Long Island
Guitar Repair Long Island is the area’s premier destination for fretted musical instrument care and maintenance. Owned and managed by Erik Salomon, the shop is dedicated to providing quick, honest and reliable service. The staff at Guitar Repair Long Island has a combined 25+ years of professional guitar repair experience. Sharing the knowledge that we accumulate in this focused pursuit is at the core of what we do. Contact us with any questions or book your appointment today.