FRETS.COM Illustrated Glossary

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Belly Bridge
© Frank Ford, 9/6/98 Photos by FF

In about 1930, shortly after steel strings had become standard, Martin designed a new bridge to handle the high tension. The belly bridge is about 1-1/2 inches wide at the center, while the older rectangular "pyramid" bridges were only one inch wide. We now call this modern bridge the "belly bridge" because of the bulging area behind the bridge pins:

Notice the large gluing surface behind the bridge pins. This gives a lot of extra strength to hold the bridge in place, and adds to the stability of the guitar top in general.

Not to be left out, Gibson redesigned their bridges on several models, and came up with this variant:

The "reverse belly" bridge has the entire row of bridge pins right at the back edge, allowing almost no gluing surface where it is needed most! So they use a couple of small bolts, hidden under the pearl inlay dots directly in line with the bridge pins. Even with the bolts, these bridges are not nearly as stable as the Martin design.

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