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Bulge at saddle

Well, first I am taking on repair/building guitars as a hobby, any suggestions for reading/reference materials. So far I have modified a SG copy body, not sure who made it when I got it, it was stripped down, and a few cigar box guitars.

I recently was given a 1960 something Hummingbird knock-off, no identification I am assuming it was a Global product. I had to reset the neck because it had sat in a closet with high tension on the strings so the neck began to separate, and now there is a considerable bulge at the saddle, I steamed it and got it closer to level and let it sit for a week or so, as soon as I put the strings on the bulge was back and it makes it difficult to keep it in tune and the action is way too high. I believe it is only like a $20-40 guitar so it has been a good learning aide and I am not afraid to try whatever to make it enjoyable. Do I need to take the top off and find a way to reinforce that area, there aren’t any broken brackets?

I like its look and its age makes a good story but I am not sure what to do with it if I can’t play it, I could strip it down I guess but I am not quite ready to do that, any advice would be appreciated.
Thanks for your time,

You have been fooled by a classic sleight of hand. Guitar tops are not flat. Many are curved by having curved braces installed at the factory, and those that are made flat at the factory, curve up with string tension. Your problem is the neck set. You repaired the joint between the neck and the body. You needed to have removed wood from the neck joint to aim the neck at the bridge top. On a wooden instrument, every time the weather changes the wood changes shape. If it bends away from the string tension it will bend back. If it bends toward the string tension, the string tension will hold it into the new shape. So, over the years, the neck bows forward. Bow in the neck can be straightened by a good truss rod. Bowing across the neck joint is addressed by taking the neck off, refitting it, and regluing it at the new angle. When the action on an old guitar gets impossibly high, Everybody looks at their guitar, and their eyes are drawn to the top, which they notice, for the first time, is not flat. They deduce, as you did, that their problem is the bulging top.

Tops can be bulged by loose braces, and loose bridges. Those things can be reglued using various lutherie magic. Once the braces and bridge are tight, the top is as good as it will ever be. Aim the neck at the bridge top and your work is done. It is possible to remove a back and rebrace a top. And, you might do it as a lutherie exercise, but it is not the repair solution to what is wrong with this guitar.

Steve Mason

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