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Routing a bridge cavity

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by teesquared, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. teesquared

    teesquared Guest

    Jul 15, 2010
    One of my favorite basses is an Aria Pro Elite ll.
    It is a late Korean model and does not have the classic high mass Aria bridge and it is surface mounted. I feel the action could drop another 1mm or so but the saddles are already set at their lowest setting. The poly lacquer on the Korean models is much thinner than on the MIJ models.

    Can anyone offer me some points on tools, templates and setup to perform this job. I'm thinking that a cavity of 3mm will provide enough depth to sink the bridge and adjust the saddles not at their minimum. I don't have a lot of tools but I am thinking of getting a budget hand router for this job.

    Advice anyone? Step by step would be awesome ;)

    Many thanks in advance

  2. countbassiedad


    Apr 29, 2010
    No affiliations
    Not familiar with the bass but if bolt on can you shim the neck (flat shim) instead? I've used credit card type material to shim Fenders to clear a mudbucker.
  3. teesquared

    teesquared Guest

    Jul 15, 2010
    Unfortunately its a through-neck which is part of the appeal.
  4. mech


    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    If the bridge is like this one I would file slots in the bridge saddles before routing a recess in the body. The danger of chip out on a body with hard paint is pretty high and you'll probably have better than $125 in tools by the time it's all said and done. The template will have to be accurate and accurately located since you can't adjust the string margin as on a bolt on. It wouldn't have to be off much to have a result that would be very difficult to fix without a refinish.

    Decent small round files can be found at pawn shops/flea markets for cheap and if you file a slot a little too deep the saddle can be raised.

    Pic is from epay.
  5. teesquared

    teesquared Guest

    Jul 15, 2010
    Thanks Mech.
    The bridge in the picture is an old MIJ Matsumoku type.
    This is like the one on my bass.
    I did try as you suggested with some small files and there was a noticeable improvement but not enough. Since the adjustment screws are very close to the fulcrum where the strings make contact I didn't go very deep the first time. With a crude measure I think I took off about 1mm only. I think I'll try your advice first and take them down further. If I mess the bridge saddles the replacement bridge is not so expensive as a mangled body.

    Many thanks.
  6. mech


    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    I don't think it would hurt to remove the fulcrum entirely. I would file a ramp slanting toward the ball end anchor so it would be shaped like a ramp and form a good break point. That could be done with firm linear strokes. I wouldn't leave a flat spot. Trying to round over the slot so it's contoured like a barrel saddle would be good too but would be more work if more than the fulcrum needs to be removed.

    This should be able to be done without totally removing the strings. Wrap some masking tape around the neck at the 1st fret to keep the strings from coming off the tuners. That will let you slack off on the strings one at a time and remove the ball end to work and then put it back in and tune to check your progress. I'm sure the intonation will also change by a few cents since the witness point will move.

  7. teesquared

    teesquared Guest

    Jul 15, 2010
    Thanks Mech. The last time I removed the bridge and clamped the saddles one bu one in my vice sandwiched between to sheets of hard rubber. It was easy to do that way, but meant 10-15 minutes minimum to test the cuts. Did this twice before I ran out of steam.

    Next time I'll try it your way and mask very well to avoid any chance of random file marks.

    Nice responses, thankyou.

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