#1
I took out a Guild Starfire (with Bigsby vibrato) that I got as a teenager in the 1960s, and had not played for decades, and set out to restring it. Removing the old strings was easy.

I was surprised, however, after removing the last string (in this case, the 1st string), that the bridge popped out.

So, I see it is some kind of movable adjustable bridge.

In case anyone wants more info on the guitar, it is a Starfire III (there are also letters st or sf after the III), The serial # is 2221 , and that is preceded by two letters that I cannot make out so well, I think CK.

Anyhow--where can I find tips on how to deal with a movable removable adjustable bridge like that--how to place it, adjust it, etc.?

(Of minor interest, but since I mentioned the guitar details, I have heard something about the Starfires being popular items these days. Just out of curiosity (I have no plans to sell it), how much would my model sell for, in good condition, if anyone here knows?)

But mostly, I want to know how to deal with that bridge.

Thanks in advance.
#2
Sounds a bit like a tunamatic type bridge, the strings hold it on so it will fall off if you remove them all.
There should be some wheels on under the bridge when removed, these scew up and down to adjust the height of the bridge.
Pictures would be good just to check if it's the same.
Sorry can't help with the value.
#3
Quote by Delboyuk_01
Sounds a bit like a tunamatic type bridge, the strings hold it on so it will fall off if you remove them all.
There should be some wheels on under the bridge when removed, these scew up and down to adjust the height of the bridge.
Pictures would be good just to check if it's the same.
Sorry can't help with the value.


Yes, it is just like that. The bridge is only held in place by the strings. And iit does have the wheels.

Of course, it is obvious to see how the wheels work, to raise and lower the bridge. But there are other questions--like bridge placement? There are no guidelines or anything on the guitar, showing where the bridge should go. I guess if I had changed one string at a time, I would not have to worry about that. But I took off all the old strings (as I wanted to clean the guitar before restringing. the bridge popped out, and now I don't know exactly how to place it.
#4
Quote by Delboyuk_01
Sounds a bit like a tunamatic type bridge,


According to Wikipedia (click for link), the tune-o-matic bridge is different from mine, and from what you described, as it screws into the guitar, whereas mine is, as you described, only held in place by the strings. The picture on that Wikipedia page also looks quite a bit different than mine.

Unless tunamatic is something different than tune-o-matic, but I am guessing you meant the same bridge.
#6
It sounds like a floating bridge. They can be a pain in the ass sometimes.

Although, I wouldn't be able to make a proper recommendation without pics.
Actually, I go by Dave, but there are already too many Daves on this forum.


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#7
Quote by Delboyuk_01
Yeah, sorry, I did mean tune-o-matic LOL. Pictures of yours would be a great help though.


OK. I have uploaded four photos. I don't know if it will work,and we will see them here or not. If not, I will try again.

A photo of the bridge straight on. Another from the bottom of the guitar (bridge side). Another from the top of the guitar (headstock side). And, in case anyone is curious, a photo of the whole guitar.

Very unusual bridge. It is what came stock on the instrument though, in the 60s.

When I took the photos, I had restrung 3 or 4 of the strings, and still had 2 or 3 left to do. (Now they are all done.)

I ended up just doing it by intuition and ear. Measuring the height of the ends of the bridge (despite its weird shape), one side higher than the other, so I put that side towards the bass. With all the strings on, I had to adjust placement by intonation--that the strings fretted at the 12th fret should sound an octave higher than the open strings.

If anyone has more specific info regarding this bridge, it would interest me.

Also, I don't understand the purpose of a movable bridge, held in place only by the strings, which could leave it subject to,movement, etc. I do understand the utility of an adjustable bridge. In fact, if that works well, it would seem the best thing for all guitars, not having to worry about adjusting the bridge action through sanding the saddle, propping it up, etc. Why aren't all bridges adjustable these days? It seems like a good concept.

But movable? Why? There is only one location that is correct, in tune, etc. Why not fasten the bridge at that location, rather than letting it move around?

One more question, for those who look at the pics, regarding the pickups. (There are two of them.) There are several little screws on the top of each one. What are those for?

(Sorry if some of my questions sound rather newby-ish, but it has been decades since I have touched the electric guitar, although I have been playing acoustic.)

I will post links to the attached photos below:


Bridge Straight Ahead

Bridge from Bottom

Bridge From Top

Full Guitar
Last edited by maikii at May 15, 2011,
#8
Quote by obeythepenguin
This guide helped me a lot: http://www.frets.com/FRETSpages/Musician/Guitar/Setup/Archtop/ArchtopSetup/atsetup.html

The floating bridge is really a holdover from acoustic archtops, which are of course inspired heavily by violins... anyway, I want to say it's something to do with energy transfer. The vibrations of the strings are transferred to the top through the bridge, and any hardware to hold the bridge in place would slightly dampen these vibrations, limiting the acoustic sound. A floating bridge also gives a bit more flexibility for adjustments. That's just a blind guess though, and like I said, it's probably more for tradition than anything.

Pics aren't working, by the way, but I know the guitar you're talking about and I'm incredibly jealous


+1 this is what you need
Quote by valterra
You traded him a sword for the guitar? You do realize that a smart person would just agree to the trade, take the sword, slay you with it, keep all of the loot and call it a day, right?

....What are they teaching you kids in school these days?!
#9
Quote by obeythepenguin
This guide helped me a lot: http://www.frets.com/FRETSpages/Musician/Guitar/Setup/Archtop/ArchtopSetup/atsetup.html

The floating bridge is really a holdover from acoustic archtops, which are of course inspired heavily by violins... anyway, I want to say it's something to do with energy transfer. The vibrations of the strings are transferred to the top through the bridge, and any hardware to hold the bridge in place would slightly dampen these vibrations, limiting the acoustic sound. A floating bridge also gives a bit more flexibility for adjustments. That's just a blind guess though, and like I said, it's probably more for tradition than anything.

Pics aren't working, by the way, but I know the guitar you're talking about and I'm incredibly jealous


Are violin bridges movable like that?

I don't see how it could make the bridge height more adjustable?

It seems like a tiny movement of the bridge could screw up the guitar's intonation. Seems like a risky idea.

Just checked the pics. One works (the full guitar, but you cannot see the bridge will on that one), the others do not. I'll try to fix the other uploads soon.

Thanks for the response.
#11
Almost every hollowbody archtop with a TOM has a floating TOM. Reason being their bodies cannot support the mounting studs.
The string tension will be more than enough to hold the bridge into place unless you're putting quite an amount of force onto the bridge but then you'd be damaging the guitar by then.
Bridge placement is all dependent on string intonation.

If the bass side is high, pull it back. low? move it towards the neck. Same with the treble side, and if all of the strings are off by about the same amount move the whole bridge. [loosen the strings slightly during any of the times you move the bridge. so you dont kill the strings or your guitar body.]


I know my mate ObeythePenguin had already had this up quite nicely but i wanted to post anyway. >_>
People in the pit take my post way too seriously.

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#12
Yes, I know that you adjust the height of the bridge with the wheels on each side of it. I think I said that already, and that I think that is a good idea, and that it would be nice if all bridges were adjustable. Adjustable (height) does not have to be movable though. (The tune-o-matic, for example)

You write that the floating bridge is good, so that one can adjust the intonation. Yes, moving the bridge will make the twelfth fret octave flat (further away) or sharp (closer). I do not see why that would need to be adjusted, however. There is only one correct placement, so that the strings will remain in tune all the way up the fretboard. Why shouldn't the bridge be fixed at the correct place?


Quote by obeythepenguin
Yes, they are. So are the bridges on hammered dulcimers (they have 72+ strings and usually two or three bridges). Side note: I met a dulcimer player one time and couldn't help but ask how often he restrung. He answered that every couple years, he takes all the strings off, dusts underneath, resets the bridges and restrings, which can take a couple days to do. I asked why he didn't change them one at a time, and he could've killed me...


That's what the screws on the side are for.


I honestly like floating bridges, because they're easy to adjust when you know how. Too flat? Push it this way. To sharp? Push it the other way. It's certainly much faster than adjusting solidbody bridges one saddle at a time. And once you have the strings on and tuned, they'll stay in place, especially with heavy strings like I use.

The worst kind are really flat-top acoustic guitars, because you do pretty much everything by shaving down the saddle -- action, intonation, etc. Shaved too much off? You have to start all over. Granted, you don't have to adjust these things often, but it's a real pain when you do.

You can always put sticky tape or something on the bridge to help keep it in place.


Personally, I find ImageShack easier than trying to do attachments (just a tip)
#13
Quote by obeythepenguin
I know the guitar you're talking about and I'm incredibly jealous


As said, I have heard that it is a popular guitar. And that I don't know much about electric guitars, playing mostly nylon-stringed acoustics.

Therefore, I am curious--what about the Guild Starfire makes it so popular these days? I don't think it was an expensive guitar at all when I got it around 1967 or 68. (I know my Dad, and he would not have spent a lot of money on it.) (The amp I got with it was really crummy and cheap. Don't have that any more.)

Is the body solid wood? If so, what kind? Should it be humidified in dry weather?

What kind of pickups are those? (Visible in the photos). I'll repeat this question--what are all the little screws on top of the pickups for? (They look like they are for adjusting something, but I have no idea what?)

Thanks again for the input.
#14
Out of curiosity, I googled Guild Starfire III Bigsby, and came across http://www.chicagomusicexchange.com/products/Guild--Starfire-5-Cherry-1967.html">this one for sale.

Not the same model as mine, from the pic. It has a double cutaway, mine is a single. The color is different too.

I am amazed at the price though--$2995! I am sure that when mine was bought at the local music store in the 60's it did not cost more than $100 or $200 dollars or so. It was not an expensive instrument.

What makes the Starfires so popular now?
#15
Thanks again for the reply.

Most guitars by far do not have a movable bridge. Therefore, you cannot change the placement of the bridge when you change to a different string gauge. Yet, those guitars remain in tune when changing the string gauge.

Once again, I am not at all asking why have adjustable bridges. I think that is a very good idea, to be able to change the height of the bridge, without sanding it, propping it up, etc. My question did not refer at all to adjusting the height, but only to changing the placement of the movable bridge. I think there is only one correct placement for the bridge on a particular guitar, doesn't matter the type or gauge of strings, etc.

Regarding the pickups--so each screw affects the pickup of the string above it? If one, for example, thinks that a particular string is not picking up as well as the others, what adjustment should one make to the pickup screw below it? Tighten or loosen?

Thanks.

Quote by obeythepenguin
If you change string gauges, you'll need to reset the intonation. If you dramatically adjust the action, you'll probably need to reset the intonation. Temperature and humidity can also affect it.

It's not something that needs to be changed often, I'll concede that. But I like the fact that it's relatively easy on a floating bridge, because when I do need to adjust it, I usually don't have the patience to do each saddle one-by-one.


I'm guessing it's a laminate, but you should watch the humidity, as with any guitar.


They look like humbuckers, probably the stock pickups. The screws are connected to the magnet underneath, which picks up the strings' vibrations and converts it to an electrical signal (I've probably mangled that explanation a bit, sorry). On a lot of pickups you can adjust them in case one string isn't picking up as well as the others.


The price is probably because it's a relatively rare vintage instrument, and lots of people want one. It doesn't have to be high-end if it's rare and popular enough.

Personally, I just like hollowbody guitars, especially from the 1960s. I'd love to get my hands on a Starfire bass for a Chris Hillman or Jack Casady kind of sound, though unfortunately there's not much of a vintage market where I live...
#16
Quote by obeythepenguin


The price is probably because it's a relatively rare vintage instrument, and lots of people want one. It doesn't have to be high-end if it's rare and popular enough.


OK, but is there a reason (or reasons) that lots of people want them, besides that it is vintage, rare, etc.? Is there something better about the guitar than other hollowbody electrics? If so, what is it about the guitar itself (overlooking vintage, etc., for the moment) that makes the Guild Starfire so popular?
#17
Quote by maikii

Most guitars by far do not have a movable bridge. Therefore, you cannot change the placement of the bridge when you change to a different string gauge. Yet, those guitars remain in tune when changing the string gauge.

Generally speaking, most electric guitars do have a moveable bridge. You should examine a few pics and make note of the adjustment screws. On some guitars (ie a Strat) these move the saddles individually, up and down, back and forth. On some guitars (like a Les Paul) the whole bridge moves up and down via adjustment posts on each side, and the saddles only move back and forth.

For sure, there are also lots of models that do have non adjustable fixed bridges. This would be closest to what you are looking for. (Try checking out some PRS.) On most of these, you can raise and lower the bridge, but you can't adjust the intonation.
Quote by maikii

I think there is only one correct placement for the bridge on a particular guitar, doesn't matter the type or gauge of strings, etc.

In my experience, I need to adjust the intonation just going from 9's to 10's.
Quote by maikii

Regarding the pickups--so each screw affects the pickup of the string above it? If one, for example, thinks that a particular string is not picking up as well as the others, what adjustment should one make to the pickup screw below it? Tighten or loosen?

Correct. Turn it so the screw head moves closer to the string (counter clockwise). You should not really need to adjust these. I don't know anyone personally who does, but I don't know everyone either.
#18
Completely unrelated, and most people have already been able to get you in the right direction somewhat, but-- You were around in the 60s? Oh, how I envy you!