#9: How to “DE-rust” A Fender Tele Bridge….

Oh My….

Look what arrived today, requiring some TLC Guitar Maintenance.  This is the bridge from a Fender ’62 RI Telecaster.

DSC_7384Some people Suffer from particularly sweaty hands, the skin oils and salt in sweat act as oxidising agents, resulting in the rapid rusting of iron and steel.  in the steel trade it’s known by the rather vulgar name of “Piss Finger.”  I remember lending a friend my pride and joy Les Paul Jimmy Page guitar, as I was feeling super keen I restrung it for him and he used it for one gig.  When I got the guitar out of the case the next day, the strings were unplayable – rusty and sharp (see the dangers of that here…).

Clearly the previous owner of this guitar had this problem, but had failed to wipe down the guitar adequately after use.  Fret wear was also evident – probably accelerated by the use of rusty strings


DSC_7385Step 1:  Carefully disassemble the bridge – make a mental note of how it goes together – or take a picture on your phone!  Be careful with rusty parts as they may have become “bound” trying to force the parts will result in a problem of broken screw heads etc – a worse position than current!  If some won’t move, try soaking them in WD40 for a few hours and then try again.





Step 2: Carefully remove any rust from the chrome tray.  DON’T be too eager to reach for the wire wool!  In this case, gentle scraping with the end of flathead screwdriver broke the rust away from the chrome which was pretty much intact underneath.

Finally a little metal cleaner “Brasso” in this case did the rest of the work.  The metal cleaner has minor abrasive qualities and will remove gold plating quite quickly, but the chrome on this part was pretty tough and cleaned up nicely.



Step 3: Soaking all the disassembled parts in WD40 – gently shaking them against each other – you can see the rust being dislodged.

The 3 bridge saddles were the worst, and a little work with a small wire brush was needed to remove as much of the rust as possible.  The problem here is getting in the grooves of the saddles.  These old style Fender saddles are actually cut from a length of bar stock, and the grooves are therefore actually an AF screw thread.  Time for a “Great idea.”



Step 4: The “Great Idea” was to find a nut from an old effects pedal – of the correct size and thread gauge.  I held this in a vice and then screwed the bridge saddles through this with plenty of WD40, and a nail as a lever through the post holes of the saddle.

“Hey Presto” – the threads had all the rust removed.  This left behind the steel, OK , still marked by the rust, but no longer rusty.




Step 5: Carefully reassemble the bridge parts. – I usually clean all the parts with Smudge Off and a POSH Guitars budget cloth.

I usually dip all screw threads in Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly).

Don’t use too much – otherwise it just attracts muck, but as the screws wind into the threads they are lubricated – preventing binding in the future.



DSC_7402Step 6:  Reinstall on the guitar – restring and Rock Out!

Happy Days




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2 Responses to “#9: How to “DE-rust” A Fender Tele Bridge….”

  1. Dan Nullmeyer says:

    As a guitar tech and someone who currently owns about 60 or so guitars I just use coke as in the soda drink for rust removal as WD 40 can be quite harmful on guitar parts it also leaves that nasty lube all over everything.

  2. Dave Rice says:

    Hello Dan, I recently acquired a similar tele, a 1985 MIJ TL 62 ..the saddles seem to look okay as far as rust, the chrome bridge plate is very oxidized though , can just about see serial # ..Would using Noxon be an alternative to Brasso to brighten it up or just leave well enough alone ? thanks, DR

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