The electric guitar is easily the most popular instrument of the last 100 years, and has given birth to new sounds, new forms of music, and introduced to the world the concept of “rock star”. It has also inspired endless navel gazing; an endless hunt for the perfect mousetrap. Due to it’s rather modular design, many have sought to improve upon the form by swapping out parts, replacing the original “inferior” designs with the latest and greatest “superior” design – oftentimes dictated by current fad of the moment. Some of these new upgrades are truly inspired, providing real improvements, whilst many are simply just plain silly, providing no tangible difference, and depend on marketing hype to lure the gullible into making a foolish purchase (My current favorite absurd “upgrade” is this heavy duty brass trem claw. SRSLY?). Occasionally, I come across a new component that does exactly what it says, and is a marked improvement over the original design: this week I was asked to install a ResoMax Harmonic Bridge System into a 1964 Gibson SG, owned by my pal John Lisi (of Deltafunk fame).
John’s SG had been modified a bit over the years, and was currently outfitted with this wrap around tailpiece:
As you can see, there’s no way to intonate each string individually. This bridge was designed for string sets with a wound G string, so John’s plain G was running very sharp. Intonation issues aside, the guitar just felt flimsy and sounded thin, which John suspected was caused by the bridge, which didn’t exactly inspire confidence. Time for an upgrade!
The ResoMax bridge comes with it’s own specialized bridge posts, which didn’t thread into the existing bushings embedded into the guitar. They would have to come out and be replaced with the ResoMax bushings. I removed the pickguard, and started scoring finish away from around the metal bushings, so that when they were pulled they wouldn’t pull away any lacquer.
Next I pulled out my trusty knob puller, which is also great for pulling bushings like these. I threaded the proper bolt through a couple of washers and into the bushing, and then loaded it up in the knob puller. So that I wouldn’t damage the finish, I cut a hole in a piece of cardboard and placed it under the knob puller – this was very important, as the amount of downward force would prove to be pretty significant.
These bushings were really in there tight – they didn’t want to come out! This job would have been really difficult without the proper tools – but eventually the knob puller won out:
I hammered in the new ResoMax bushings, which were of a slightly different design, requiring a little bit of modification to the pickguard. The original bushings were flush mount, but the new ResoMax bushings have a larger lip at the top, and don’t sit flush with the top of the guitar:
The original holes in the pickguard were too small for the new bushings, so I had to widen them slightly. I used a step bit rather than a standard drill bit – it wouldn’t catch and cause tear out, and would make a perfectly sized hole:
Here’s the installed bushings with the pickguard back in place. Looking good!
All that was left was to drop in the new bridge, set the guitar up, and set the intonation for each string. Pow!
I’ve got to say, I’m pretty impressed with this bridge. I see so many poorly designed ideas come through my shop – it’s refreshing to see something so well thought out. It’s properly radiused, the saddles have a wide range of adjustment, it’s ergonomic, and it’s even got a couple of small magnets that hold the bridge onto the posts during string changes. Cool!
This SG is now playing in tune, probably for the first time in decades. It feels a lot more solid to play, and I’d venture to say that it sounds better. Huzzah!