Postponing a Viking funeral

Finally an opportunity to post something about guitars!

A little while back, Tim dropped in his Hagstrom Viking. After a good deal of gigging round Germany, the neck was very loose, and shifting unpleasantly in the pocket. Closer examination revealed the neck block had slipped, and string tension had deformed the arched top and back plates. To return the guitar to it’s original problem would have been prohibitively expensive, but since the neck block seems stable, a carefully shaped shim will do the job to keep the neck in place.

Whilst it’s here, Tim also wanted to upgrade from the cheesy stamped TOM to an archtop style bridge.

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The new bridge is shaped to fit a much more dramatic arch than the Hag’s, so it only contacts at the very edges - no way it can work well like this.

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Out comes the blue tape, and the bridge is taped and the curve of the top marked onto it with a pencil. A quick trip to the disc sander, and a few shavings with a plane, and it’s already much closer. Still a way to go though - and gaps will lead to reduced sustain and volume so a perfect fit is the aim.

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To get there, some 120 grit paper is taped to the guitar top, and the bridge is rubbed back and forwards until it had been sanded over the whole width. After the 120 grit, I repeated the process with 240 grit to refine the fit.

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Et voila - perfect fit!

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The job didn’t finish here, because the new bridge is significanlty taller than the original. So, I made a tapered shim to adjust the neck angle for a nice low action. The shim tapers from about 3mm to a feather edge, so the neck is fully seated on wood, rather than raised up on a shim at one end of the pocket. I much prefer this method to the old standbys like a folded business card or a matchbook, and think it’s beneficial to tone and (particularly important in this case) stability.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures of this before I put the neck back on, but you can see the results - with the guitar strung up, the action is spot on, with scope for adjustment in either direction. Should keep this Viking fighting fit for a good while longer…

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11 Responses to “Postponing a Viking funeral”

  1. Patrick Says:

    in the last photo the base of the bridge looks black, more black than rosewood. did you use an ebony stain on it for that o is it just the photo?

    could you use the ebony stain for finger boards to make a cheaper rosewood bridge take the look of ebony?

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