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  1. #1

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    Hello everybody,

    I need to ship a thinline archtop guitar, and I was wondering--is it necessary to remove the bridge while doing this? If so, what sort of tape is safe to put on top of a nitro finish to mark the bridge placement?

    The reason I ask is because this website here: archtop.com: shipping your guitar suggests that you actually don't remove the bridge on thinline guitars.

    Thanks for the help!

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  3. #2

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    I have never removed a bridge on a guitar that I have shipped and I have never received a guitar with the bridge removed. I just loosen the strings slightly and put a thin piece of cardboard between the strings and the fret board and body so that the strings can’t dig into the frets or pick ups. Personally I wouldn’t worry about marking the bridge placement. If you leave the strings tuned a full step down it shouldn’t move.

  4. #3

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    Are you asking about a guitar w a floating bridge or for example a stop tailpiece on a Gibson 335?

    I always remove floating bridges, if the box the guitar is in takes a big shot in the area of the bridge it could easily damage it, you're focusing a lot of force in a small area, not ideal, seen it many times.
    But for a stop tail or similar, if you pad that area a little should be fine.

  5. #4
    It’s a guitar with a floating bridge.

    that’s what I was thinking as well..

  6. #5

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    I see people marking the position of the bridge all the time when taking it of, but in 99% of the cases, the ‘dents’ or notches in the f-holes mark the position where it should be:



    (Here on a violin but you get the point.) No need for marking it with tape, pencil or sharpie!

    Personally I would remove the bridge for transport, if the guitar lands on its top, the bridge is prone to take the blow. (Although a good case should avoid that.)

  7. #6

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    PS: archtop.com advises to remove the bridge. I think by thinlines they mean semis a la 335 with fixed bridges....


  8. #7

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    I just packed a Super 400 last night. This is what I did, and it is the best way I know of.

    The recipient didn't want the strings I had on it, so I removed them. I took the bridge off and taped it to the bridge bass with painter's tape so the post wheels won't turn then put it in the compartment. I removed the toggle switch and likewise put that in the compartment. The tailpiece is wrapped so it won't gouge the top. Lastly, and very importantly, the headstock is tightly wedged with firm packing above and below to prevent flexion forward or backward when dropped. It is packed rigidly under pressure front and back.

    If the buyer wanted the strings, I'd leave them on. If not, toss them. Once I received a guitar in which the strings got loose and scratched the top.

    The most dangerous time in an archtop's life is shipping.

  9. #8

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    Marty, is the Super 400 a surprise Christmas present for me? If not, why not?!

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Marty, is the Super 400 a surprise Christmas present for me? If not, why not?!


    ... Ssshhhhh Rob - - you'll ruin the surprise and spoil everything !! You know what to do when it arrives- -pretend you had no idea, etc etc

  11. #10

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    I've seen it done both ways with hollow archtops, thin and deep. Haven't had a problem so far, but the sample size is small. I think it's better to remove the bridge and stow it in the case pocket. The strings can stay in place, but something needs to be used to prevent the strings from striking the top. A piece of cloth, perhaps around a piece of plastic foam padding, works well for this. It can be held in place with tape, placed over the strings and onto the padding. Absolutely pad underneath the tailpiece. I also think it's better to remove the pickguard, because those do not handle sharp blows well. The danger there, IMO, is mostly not to the pickguard itself, but to the top and/or side of the guitar, where a screw could be ripped out, or the top hammered in. To me, this is more likely than damage from the bridge, because the pickguard is so much larger, therefore more force applied to smaller areas. I have received guitars with the strings still at full tension, more or less in tune, without damage, but I wouldn't want to bet on it. On a semi-hollow, the block is under the bridge, and protects the top from damage. The pickguard is still a little vulnerable, though. On the few shipments I've made, I follow archtop.com's advice. He probably handles more shipments in a week than I have ever been involved in.

  12. #11

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    "I removed the toggle switch and likewise put that in the compartmen"

    Is this a triple pu toggle like on a Switchmaster? I could see taking that off but not a standard switchcraft toggle.

  13. #12

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    I’ve shipped loads of archtops. I used to remove the bridge, but after talking to many others who deal with archtops, I stopped have probably shipped over 100 archtops since then. I now tape the bridge in place with 3M blue painter’s tape and loosen the strings. I have not had a single instance of damage as a result. If packed well, the guitar will be unable to move at all within the case, negating any chance of the bridge causing additional pressure to the top should there be a shock to the guitar.

    Interestingly, the most common cause of shipping damage to any guitar in my experience is a failure to secure any loose item that ship with the guitar. Loose parts or accessories can rattle around and cause significant finish damage.

  14. #13

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    I've done it both ways without problems. Lately, I've just been putting the bridge in the case pocket in bubble wrap, along with the endpin (the only major shipping damage I've ever had was a '63 BKC that apparently was dropped off a loading dock, cracking the tail block.) Here's the most recent thinline I've shipped, ready to go:

    Do I have to remove the bridge when shipping a thinline archtop guitar?-byrd-packed_01-jpg

    Danny W.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    "I removed the toggle switch and likewise put that in the compartmen"

    Is this a triple pu toggle like on a Switchmaster? I could see taking that off but not a standard switchcraft toggle.
    Why, yes it is.

    Nonetheless I have received a guitar once with the toggle switch depressed into the top.

  16. #15

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    ok I remember the guitar now....

  17. #16

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    Here's a couple of pics from my packing last night.


    First, how many things can you spot that may get smashed into the top?

    Do I have to remove the bridge when shipping a thinline archtop guitar?-1-jpg


    Next, this is the headstock packing I did. You don't want any plastic to touch the nitro. Notice the neck does not rest on the support under it. That will only occur when the case is closed. There is uniform pressure under the entire headstock to prevent cracking at the neck/headstock area.

    Do I have to remove the bridge when shipping a thinline archtop guitar?-2-jpg

    There is a final layer of protection to put downward force on the headstock when the case is closed.

    Do I have to remove the bridge when shipping a thinline archtop guitar?-3-jpg


    I don't claim that this is the best, but I've never had the same damage twice. There are lots of thoughts on packing. I haven't had any in years actually.

  18. #17

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    No thoughts at all, or just no thoughts about packing, in years?

  19. #18

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    One thing to do is mark the bridge bass with a small dental pick underneath. This allows the person to know what side bridge is oriented. It can make a difference slightly and while normally it is obvious sometimes the saddle gets taken off. I suppose the key is to publish specs to mark bass side.

    I mentioned this because I recently made a new saddle for my new super 400, had a tunomatic and I wanted ebony. I notice Gibson did not mark the orientation like I am used to seeing and really in the end it did not matter but it did make me think a bit a first. Normally my mentor Hollenbeck always marked the bass side and a few weeks later I worked on a Hollenbeck and had to take all the hardware off for cleaning and sure enough the little mark just gave me instant success.

    Remove the bridge from a floating type set up it just makes it safer. Also if a player is not comfortable with getting the guitar set back up it is worth a few small dollars to take it to a pro for set up. That can be good just to get another eye on the guitar you bought and while many players are capable of setting up there guitars it should not cost much unless something needs real work.

  20. #19

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    I bought a used Epiphone Sorrento, laminated thin archtop online from a national retailer and it was shipped from the west coast to the east coast via UPS. Guitar was tuned up, and naked in it's hsc and that was packed in an unlined cardboard box. The guitar was fine, and that was my experience.