Volume 61 - New Years Resolutions

Written by Patrick Podpadec on . Posted in Northcoast Voice




Stay in Tune  vol#61

By Luthier Patrick Podpadec

 Well another year has come and gone. I hope that everyone had a great Christmas and a safe & fun New Year. Every year I always try to set out a new plan or goal to reach.Last year didn’t quite add up. There were a few things that I wasn’t able to accomplish. I could blame the economy but that almost seems too easy. I’ve never been the kind of person to dwell on the negative so now it’s time to shake off the past and look towards the glorious future. I have found that it’s not good to complain about the things that I “did not” accomplish. It’s much more productive to concentrate on what I have done and what I can do to make my life and others around me better. I am very excited about all of my new goals for the upcoming year. I’m sure you are too. I have been writing “Stay in Tune”articles for the North Coast Voice for almost three years now and have decided to take it to the next level. This year I am setting up a Repair school. I have talked about this before and I have got some good feedback from people who have heard about it. I think I have worked out how this is going to take place. Each class will be a “hands on" working study that will be 12 hours long. This will be broken up into three hrs per week for 4 weeks. Each month will be a new topic or specific repair which students will have the opportunity to learn the proper methods for performing the task at hand. There will be a limit of three students per class to in sure that everyone gets my full attention. Also my shop is small and I want to have a work space setup for each student. Some of the topics will include “Making a New Bone Nut”, “Gluing a Loose Bridge”, “Making Jigs And Fixtures”,“Tools for the Luthier”, Etc. Classes will start on March 1st and I will be posting a full schedule, pricing, and registration details in the next article. You can contact me any time through my website www.liamguitars.com or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. I would like to encourage early registrations to ensure a seat in the class that you want. Again, the limit for each class is only 3 people at a time.


I had to build a few bridges this past week. Most of the time I will have to replace the standard“Martin” style bridge (the most common style found on acoustic guitars). Occasionally you will come across different styles and it is good to have some knowledge on how they are cut. This past week I had two challenging bridges to make. The first one is called a “pyramid” bridge. This style is typically found on older prewar instruments,although many newer reproduction guitars are using this style too. This bridge gets its name from the “wings” of the bridge having pyramid shaped ends. They are a bit more difficult to shape due to the sharp angled facet cuts that make up the pyramid. It is important to cut each facet of the pyramid in the right succession for maximum accuracy. As long as you don’t make the cuts too deep,you should be alright. It does take a steady hand and a bit of practice. I was able to cut a very nice sharp edged pyramid by just using a sharp file. It didn’t take very long at all. I had to be careful to not to rock the file too much because it is easy to cutaway too much and then you’ll find yourself swearing a lot and having to start over. I used a very nice piece of Brazilian Rosewood from my private stock so I did not want to be doing it twice. The other bridge was a pinless style bridge on a 12 string guitar. This means that there are no holes drilled through the top of the guitar and no bridges pins to break, loose,or get stuck. That all sounds good, but this type of bridge has its faults too. By attaching the strings directly to the bridge and not the body of the guitar you are constantly pulling the bridge off of the top with over 200 lbs of pressure. It usually doesn’t take too long (approx1-5 yrs) to loosen itself from the top. It also could take some of the top with it when it goes. What most companies do is try to fix that design flaw by adding another. They decided to put screws or better yet, nuts, washers and bolts. So even if it comes unglued or warped it probably won’t come off (unless it breaks on the grain line that the holes for the bolts were drilled, which it always does). As you can tell, from a repairman’s point of view,I feel this style of bridge has the potential to be problematic. I have seen some successful pin bridges, just not too many.


After a mad dash to get 5 or 6 instruments done for Christmas I have been rearranging my new shop in the past few weeks during the holidays. Building benches and setting up tools is probably the most fun for me. Of course I’ve changed my mind (or maybe I just “rearranged” my mind) a couple different times now to decide the best location for this machine, or the lighting needs to be brighter for that, and “Gee I sure could do a better job if I bought one of those”! I guess I’ll just add that to the new set of goals that I have set out to accomplish. The list is getting pretty big and the first week of the year over already. I better hurry up and get back to business. One more quick wish for the new year.... Stay in Tune!

Thanks Again!

Patrick from Liam Guitars / Wood-n-Strings