How to clean rusty '66 Telecaster bridge?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by David Barnett, May 18, 2019.

  1. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    This is the original bridge from my 3FEB66B Telecaster:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It's been off the guitar for more than two decades, because of rust and string breakage issues.

    What is the best way to clean this up, so I can put it back on the guitar where it belongs? And is there a good way to de-burr the string holes? With this bridge/tailpiece, the guitar had a chronic string-breaking problem, especially the un-wound strings. They'd always snap right where the string emerges from the body.

    Bonus points for any suggestions that utilize a Dremel Moto-Tool (and recommendations for the proper attachments for the job...) since I have one of those.

    I'm more interested in utility than cosmetics on this project, since the guitar is far from mint anyway. The bridge looks a lot better today than my memory of what it looked like when I stuffed it in a bag and hit it in a drawer sometime in the 1990s.
     
  2. rob2

    rob2 Tele-Holic

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    ...this is not in bad shape at all!...
    I use a file cleaning brush with brass bristles by hand usually on the saddles etc...the springs look excellent,poassibly not original...
    The burrs can probably be worked out with a selection of needle files followed with fine emery paper rolled up....600
    For rust on the flat part of the bridgeplate I would use timber,cut the ends off lollipop sticks and coffee stirrers,its abrasive but not enough to scratch the chrome plating and encourage further rust...some flakes of plating will come off though.
    Rinse everything in naptha afterwards....
     
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  3. Deeve

    Deeve Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Wait - this sounds like reverse-relic ing.
    As such, I'm registering a protest.
    :eek:
     
  4. Toadtele

    Toadtele Tele-Holic

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    I wouldn’t touch it much. File some contact points if necessary. But. It’s beautiful. As is.
     
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  5. tessting1two

    tessting1two Tele-Meister

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    I would certainly verify that all the screws turn freely and add a drop of penetrating oil if they are binding; then take everything apart and clean the threads. After that maybe a light surface cleaning with naphtha on a paper towel to remove debris, but nothing more aggressive than that.

    For the string holes my "trick" is to use a little bullet-point rubber silicone polisher on a dremel (rotary tool) and only polish the small area where the string touches. As a side note, the rubber silicone polishers also work great for polishing the tops of bent-steel Strat saddles as well as oxidized pins on vacuum tubes.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    No, only functional restoration. I won't go any farther than that. You've all convinced me.

    Again, I was surprised when I pulled it out of the drawer tonight that it didn't look nearly as bad as I remembered the last time I saw it sometime in the 1990s.

    But the saddles and the holes are string-breakers.
     
  7. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    Will I find these in the Dremel section at Home Depot or Lowe's, or will I have to send off for them?

    Do the different colors denote different grades?
     
  8. tessting1two

    tessting1two Tele-Meister

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  9. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you know someone who handloads ammunition they will have a chamfer/de-burring handtool for prepping cartridge case mouths. You could use the chamfer side (on the right) quite nicely on your project.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. wyclif

    wyclif Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm not surprised you've had lots of string breakage with that bridge. Threaded saddles were one of the worst design decisions Fender ever made. And they did it because the threaded material was cheap, which is a bad reason to make any design decision.
     
  11. Ripradiant

    Ripradiant Tele-Afflicted

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    Are you kidding... wipe the dust off it and keep the patina!
     
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  12. skunqesh

    skunqesh Tele-Meister

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    66 brdg 01 - Edited.jpg 66 brdg 03.jpg

    just tossing in my 2c

    I've got two teles with original threaded saddles - I mostly play rhythm, typically 10s for string gauge, and I've got a heavy hand.
    Never broken a string on 'em - but they are pretty worn in (grooved from years of string wear)

    Definitely look into gently chamfering / deburring anything that looks rough, but I hope you keep that patina.


    ps
    the intonation looks a little off - I reckon you'll dial it in once it's back on
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
  13. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Holic

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    SRV used pieces of rubber tubbing to prevent string braking on the edge of the stringhole.
    (a nice way to test if it is the edge off the stringhole)
    little key diamond files will do some good work to and more precise than a fast turning dremel.
    glass fiber brushes can help with rust on pickup magnet poles and other chrome parts to
     
  14. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

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    If you don't like the ageing, sell it to someone who does. The patina is highly valued by others
     
  15. wyclif

    wyclif Tele-Afflicted

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    Another way to find out where the string is breaking is to simply leave it on until you can pull it back as far past the saddle as you can. It will be obvious whether it's the breaking on the saddle or the string hole edge.
     
  16. bb_matt

    bb_matt Tele-Meister

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    I really don't get the 'relic' on purpose thing - it's like taking a new pair of jeans and ripping holes in them, riding over them with a truck, or dragging behind - you haven't earned it, so it's just not real.

    But this is different - I'd agree with others who say just do some light tweaking, as this bridge has 'earned' it's rust.
     
  17. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    I bought a sixteen year old MIM that had spent a lot of time in a damp basement. I had heard that Jay Leno's Garage guys use crumpled aluminum foil and vinegar to scrub bumpers where the low acid is enough to lift rust off the chrome and the aluminum foil won't scratch the chrome. I used it on these pieces and it worked fine. I do check other parts on the hidden areas just in case the coating does get scratched.
    Rinse with hot water and let dry then coat with auto wax to protect it from further corrosion.
    The original pits remain, but it cleans off the rust bloom spreading over the the surface quite well.



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  18. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Keep the patina provided everything works well
     
  19. rangercaster

    rangercaster Friend of Leo's

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    If you remove patina, you affect the value ... As seen on Antiques Roadshow ... You clean very carefully and leave the original finish and wear intact ... If you care nothing for value or such, you could have it re-plated ...
     
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  20. KG7IL

    KG7IL TDPRI Member

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    I can't ... I can't bear to read any more.....
    NO... NO....NO.... Don't use the Dremel. Put the Dremel down and walk away from the Dremel.....

    NO.. on the reloading burring tool. NO NO NO.

    Flitz polish at best.... It's only original once. Spend a lot of time before you mangle original parts.

    Use a magnifying device and see what's going on.
     
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