Gibson's bridge, why is it designed to be adjusted by plier but not flathead screwdriver?

VergDan

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
28
I noticed that on Epiphones (or other cheaper Les Pauls) the bridge can be adjusted using a flathead screwdriver from the top, while most Gibson bridges have to be adjusted by pliers from underneath.

It seems to me that using pilers has more hassle, you can scratch the guitar's finish easily. Why was it designed and kept like this, is there any advantage?

magnumcort-epiphone-les-paul-st-1-bfa8fe41-qnfs.jpg
gibson-nashville-tune-o-matic-bridge-nickel-large-5-67866.jpg
 
Last edited:

rjwilson37

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2010
Messages
8,342
Reaction score
6,820
I think you mean Pliers, not sure what Pilers are. Plus, I just use my thumb to loosen or tighten. You may have to loosen the strings on the one side you wish to adjust if you want to go up, going down is easy.
 

VergDan

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
28
I just loosen the strings and spin the knob by hand then retune.

You mean the actual height adjustment on the posts.

They don’t call them thumbwheels for nothin’…
I made this post because I watched a Gibson's Youtube video on how to adjust the action. Gibson's master luthier recommended leaving the string tension on and using a plier, but he did put a cloth or something on top of the body to protect the finish, and I just thought, well that's a bit more work.
 
Last edited:

VergDan

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
28
I think you mean Pliers, not sure what Pilers are. Plus, I just use my thumb to loosen or tighten. You may have to loosen the strings on the one side you wish to adjust if you want to go up, going down is easy.
Oops my bad.
 

rjwilson37

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2010
Messages
8,342
Reaction score
6,820
I made this post because I watched a Gibson's Youtube video on how to adjust the action. Gibson's master luthier recommended leaving the string tension on and using a piler, but he did put a cloth or something on top of the body to protect the finish, and I just thought, well that's a bit more work.
Hmmm, never heard of using Pliers on the thumb wheel for adjusting bridge height, so much easier to use your thumb, I mean that is what it is designed for.
 

rjwilson37

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2010
Messages
8,342
Reaction score
6,820
no.. No... NO.... There is only one way to skin a cat!. :laugh2:
 

Big Monk

They call me Derek. Formerly EpiLP1985
Joined
Feb 4, 2011
Messages
1,173
Reaction score
1,849
I use an old wrench for taking the blade of my old circular saw. I have the hex end wrapped in gaffers tape and I use that.

It has about a 35 degree angle on it and works well.
 

bytemare

Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Messages
98
Reaction score
126
I noticed that on Epiphones (or other cheaper Les Pauls) the bridge can be adjusted using a flathead screwdriver from the top, while most Gibson bridges have to be adjusted by pliers from underneath.

It seems to me that using pilers has more hassle, you can scratch the guitar's finish easily. Why was it designed and kept like this, is there any advantage?

View attachment 605214 View attachment 605215

Great question, the Epiphone bridge and tailpiece don't fall off either when you change the strings, unlike Gibson. I've seen some Gibsons, probably the HP, where you could use an allen wrench to adjust it
 

rjwilson37

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2010
Messages
8,342
Reaction score
6,820
Great.... Now we will be calling it a Plier Wheel, a Wrench Wheel, a Spanner Wheel, Allen Wheel, and even a Pilers Wheel. :rofl:

Sorry I couldn't resist. My Bad... Haha
 

Tim Plains

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2008
Messages
14,232
Reaction score
11,757
I made this post because I watched a Gibson's Youtube video on how to adjust the action. Gibson's master luthier recommended leaving the string tension on and using a piler, but he did put a cloth or something on top of the body to protect the finish, and I just thought, well that's a bit more work.
I'm no master luthier but raising the thumbwheel seems like a bad idea at full tension. I would never do that. Reminds me of a tech I saw cutting strings without loosening them.
 

noodlingguitars

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2021
Messages
281
Reaction score
361
I made this post because I watched a Gibson's Youtube video on how to adjust the action. Gibson's master luthier recommended leaving the string tension on and using a plier, but he did put a cloth or something on top of the body to protect the finish, and I just thought, well that's a bit more work.

I just went and saw the video you're talking about. Note that he's only talking about lowering the action. As mentioned above, you shouldn't really raise the bridge while under tension - you can strip the threads in the post and cause all kinds of issues. Also, using pliers can mar the thumbwheels which just looks bad (and screams that an amateur worked on your guitar).

Onto your original question - if you take a look at newer Nashville bridges, those allow for a hex key to adjust as well - look at around 8:35 in that video and he shows you that. So to Gibson's credit, they do improve... sometimes (and then they go backwards and install ABR-1s on all the standard models).
 

VergDan

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2021
Messages
44
Reaction score
28
I just went and saw the video you're talking about. Note that he's only talking about lowering the action. As mentioned above, you shouldn't really raise the bridge while under tension - you can strip the threads in the post and cause all kinds of issues. Also, using pliers can mar the thumbwheels which just looks bad (and screams that an amateur worked on your guitar).

Onto your original question - if you take a look at newer Nashville bridges, those allow for a hex key to adjust as well - look at around 8:35 in that video and he shows you that. So to Gibson's credit, they do improve... sometimes (and then they go backwards and install ABR-1s on all the standard models).
I didn't get to the part where he shows the Nashville bridge, thanks for the info!
 

noodlingguitars

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2021
Messages
281
Reaction score
361
20220426_105051.jpg


Here's one from a Tribute with the hex adjustment posts. Nashvilles are a beast of their own though because of the wider body... I can't stand top wrapping but on this particular guitar, I couldn't get the bass e to clear the bridge without the studs being stupidly high (i.e. my bridge was higher than the top of the knobs!)
 

John_P

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2013
Messages
175
Reaction score
128
Gibson's master luthier recommended leaving the string tension on and using a plier.

No real "master luthier" would do that since such advice basically is in conflict with best practices.

Wobbling bridge posts (Nashville), bent bridge posts (ABR-1), stripped threads and bridge sag are well documented symptoms of a ToM bridge manhandled under severe string pressure.

When string pressure is too great, so that it's not possible to turn the thumbwheels by hand, that's an indication that the setup is not optimal or that the thumbwheel design is not adequate. (The Gotoh OEM bridge used by Epi requires a screwdriver as the undersized thumbwheel doesn't provide sufficient leverage to turn the oversized threaded post by hand). In either case you would have to reduce string bridge pressure before adjusting the bridge; either by adjusting the setup or by slackening the strings.
 

Latest Threads



Top