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I decided to give my guitar a well deserved clean, but when I came to remove the low E string, the bridge pin was a bit stuck so I resorted to using pliers, which turns out to have been a very bad idea.

I now have a stuck and broken bridge pin:

Stuck and broken bridge pin

The lower half of the pin is stuck in place.

What is the best way to go about removing a broken bridge pin?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't think the pliers could have been that bad an idea - if it was that stuck, not sure what would have worked better.

At this stage you only have one simple option, but you need to be careful:

  • Get a Dremel (or similar small power drill) and place it alongside the bridge. Using some tape, mark on it the height of the bridge, minus half a millimetre or so. This will let you know when to stop so your drill doesn't go into the guitar.
  • Drill into the pin. If you can, drilling 5 holes in the pattern you see on dice helps to weaken it significantly.
  • Use the drill bit to cut between the holes you have just drilled
  • At this point you should be able to pull the string, and empty the fragments out
  • If fragments are stuck, an Aero Duster or similar compressed air container should allow any stuck pieces to be blown out
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Thank you for the suggestion. I didn't have a small drill to hand, but the idea of weakening the broken pin was the right way to go. I ended up taking this approach with the tools I had available and finally got it free. – bcpettifer Oct 22 '12 at 21:43

Have you reached into the sound hole and tried to push it out from the inside?

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Yes, this is definitely a good place to start if anyone finds themselves in this situation. Unfortunately, in this case it didn't help (I ended up breaking the utensil I was using to push with, the pin was really stuck). – bcpettifer Oct 22 '12 at 21:38

Since the photo shows the string is still there, I would try first to push the string so if possible pull it from the inside, then clip cut it so there is no string piece at all in the peg.

That's because the string applies pressure from the inside of the peg, by expanding it.

Once so, it should be easier to get the peg out, first pushing it out from the inside.

If even so can not be pushed from inside, the next thing might be to drive as slow speed a small diameter drill using the string hole in the peg as a guide. Do not use any drill even close to the diameter of the peg. Step up in drill sizes. Once the peg wall is reduced, it weakens and should easily come out.

I wouldn't use a dremmel, because of its high speed, even to drive a drill bit, for that case.

Also, once you have drilled a certain size, you could then, by hand drive a small diameter screw (only enough turns to grab the peg, not tight), and THEN use pliers to grab the head of the screw and pull peg and screw out together.

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Thank you for the detailed answer. There is some good advice in here, especially trying to push the string back into the body of the guitar to release some pressure. – bcpettifer Oct 24 '12 at 23:13

The best option here to not damage your guitar is to unwind all strings and push thr pins fron the inside. What worked for me is by using a coin with 2 fingers to push the pin out. The coin is easy to take out in any case that it slips from your fingers. Goodluck!

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The classic fix is to reach into the sound hole and push out the pin from the inside using a coin. See the bottom of this page: Extracting Tight Bridge Pins.

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