Bridge Plates on Martin Guitars
The bridge plate is a small, thin block of wood, usually made of mahogany,
maple, or rosewood, roughly the same size as the bridge, and glued inside
the top, opposing the bridge, to stiffen the top and provide a hard
surface to keep the ends of the strings from wearing through the top.
Some of the earliest Viennese Style Martins with ladder bracing had
rectangular maple bridge plates, while some had no bridge plates at all,
even with pin style bridges.
Early fan braced Martins also sometimes had rectangular maple bridge
1840's Martin & Coupa Guitar
1840's "Renaissance Style" Martin
Early X braced Martins had thin mahogany bridge plates notched through the
braces, with tapered ends.
Spanish Martin Style 28
During this period of experimental X braced guitars, Martin started using
trapezoidal mahogany bridge plates with ends tucked into the braces,
which continued to be used for several decades.
1840's Spanish Style Martin
c. 1846 Spanish Style Martin Guitar
c. 1840's Martin "ZigZag" Style 28
c. 1840's Martin "ZigZag" Style 21
c. 1860's Martin Style 2-24
By the 1880's, most Martins were built with trapezoidal maple bridge
1886 Style 3-24
1894 Style 1-26
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