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Installing a Wilkinson bridge on a solid body electric guitar requires that the user have some woodworking experience. You must make several measurements to make sure you are drilling and routing in the proper places or else you will ruin your guitar and it will not be playable. Wilkinson bridges allow you to use the tremolo arm to lower the pitch of any note that you play by pressing on it, which can add style and dramatic flair to your soloing technique.
Place the template for the Wilkinson bridge on the guitar in the position where the old bridge was located. Use a scribe to mark the area that will be routed for the bridge. Measure multiple times to ensure that the new bridge location is dead centre of the pickups and neck, as even one-quarter of an inch off will render the install useless.
Drill two half-inch diameter holes through the top wood to use later to line up the template for the spring cavity. Use a drill press for this to make sure the holes are drilled straight.
Rout the space for the tremolo block. The tremolo block goes through the body and is accessed through the back spring cavity. Follow the scribed lines and hog out the wood using a Forstner bit. This will allow you to plunge into the material and remove the required 1-1/18 inch of material.
Flip the guitar around and place the spring cavity template in its proper location using the two 1/2 inch holes you drilled in Step 2. Route out the spring cavity using the Forstner bit that you used for the tremolo block to 5/8 of an inch in depth to accommodate the springs for the Wilkinson tremolo.
Drill the two holes on the top for the retention screws for the tremolo. These two screws are just under 1/2 inch in diameter and must be drilled at the locations of the template. Use a drill press as these must also be perpendicular to the top. Drill them to the depth indicated in the instructions, roughly 1/2 inch.
Slide the Wilkinson tremolo into place and screw the two retention screws in to hold it there so it does not move when you access the back of the guitar. Screw the spring plate into the wood on the left side of the spring cavity. Attach two screws, one of each side of the spring plate, and slide the other end into each side of the tremolo block.
Re-string the guitar and tune it up. Plug it into an amp and check the intonation by using a tuner to match the pitch of the open string and the twelfth fret of that same string. Move the saddle of each string forward or backward to match them perfectly. Snap the whammy bar into its hole and use it to see how well the guitar stays in tune and how much movement you can get by pushing down so that the bar touches the top wood of the guitar body.
- David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images