Modifying a Vintage Style Telecaster bridge plate
Have you been thinking about installing a vibrato on your vintage Telecaster, but love the stock bridge? In many cases, it is possible to modify the stock bridge plate to accommodate the new string path! Although we make a Telecaster kit which comes with a new bridge and plate, some folks prefer to modify their existing setup. In this article, we are going to focus on the steps needed to modify a vintage 3 barrel ‘ashtray’ style Telecaster bridge.
The tools we used to complete these modifications were:
*Rotary tool (we used a Dremel)
*Dremel 1/4″ and 1/2″ sanding drums-60 and 120 grit
*Metal hand files (1 squared edge, 1 curved edge)
*Safety glasses, gloves
The first step is to remove the bridge from the guitar (photo 1). Next, we need to mark the new string path on the back of the plate. As the strings will continue along the line of the saddles, this was easy to do (no longer a string through, but along the same straight line as they were over the saddle). To do this, we carefully placed the bridge into a vice (with a cloth surrounding it to prevent any scratches) and used a straightedge to continue the line started by the saddle groove and marked it with a pencil (photo 2). After double checking the line,we are ready to break out the power tools. Whenever cutting, grinding, or polishing metal, we suggest wearing protective eyewear as well as gloves to prevent injury. Using the 1/4″ drum with the 60 grit disc, we started removing a portion of the back of the plate (photo 3). Making sure not to make contact with the saddle mounting screws, we made 6 semi-circles in the back of the plate (photo 4). The next step is optional; you could leave the 6 semi-circles, or you can grind off the center tops to reduce the ‘wave’ look. For this we used the 1/2″ drum–again with a 60 grit disc (photo 5). Next step is smoothing out the contours with the 120 grit drum and hand files (photo 6). That’s it! When smooth, the bridge is ready to be reinstalled on your guitar.
Have a Telecaster with a newer style 6 saddle bridge? It may be possible to modify your bridge too! Check out the other article HERE. Have you done a similar mod on your guitar? Share it with us via Facebook HERE.