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Thread: Bridge material

  1. #1
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    Default Bridge material

    Why does it seem most mandolin bridges are ebony? Why not maple? Guess there are bone bridges out there.....Just wondering why mostly ebony.
    Last edited by cobraman428; Apr-30-2012 at 9:30pm. Reason: fix

  2. #2
    Registered User Grommet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge material

    Ebony wears extremely well. It is also pretty traditional. Aluminum has been said to work also. But take a look at Red Henry's site about DIY non -adjustable bridge making. He favors maple, but other woods have also worked well. Many of us have tried making them. I currently have a maple one on my beloved plywood beater. I think it was an improvement over the rosewood one that came stock, but I went for it because I needed a slightly taller bridge.

    Scott

  3. #3

    Default Re: Bridge material

    Quote Originally Posted by cobraman428 View Post
    Why does it seem most mandolin bridges are ebony? Why not maple? Guess there are bone bridges out there.....Just wondering why mostly ebony.
    Because over much time and extensive trials, nothing else has (sonically) surpassed it, much like the use of maple for violin bridges. This is not to discourage experimentation, however; lots of us have tried out maple mandolin bridges, and you might like it.
    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
    And London never fails to leave me blue
    Paris never was my kinda town
    So I walked around with the Ft. Worth Blues

  4. #4
    Registered User 8ch(pl)'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge material

    I use Beech.

  5. #5
    Registered Mando Hack dunwell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge material

    Quote Originally Posted by cobraman428 View Post
    Why does it seem most mandolin bridges are ebony? Why not maple? Guess there are bone bridges out there.....Just wondering why mostly ebony.
    I like maple and Shedua for my solid bridges. I also will make a solid bridge with a bone saddle on the top sometimes, these are great for getting in a PickUp-The-World type under-saddle pickup.

    Alan D.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Bridge material

    I feel it depends on what you're after - if you are making a traditional American mandolin its quite possible ebony is the best material, but if you're not other options may be better. On my mandolins I have tried all manner of combinations for the body of the bridge and the saddle of the bridge - I hasten to add by bridges are not of the adjustable two wheel type - take a look:
    http://www.nkforsterguitars.com/nkfo.../mandolin.html

    Over the years I've tried ebony, maple, even mahogany and even spruce for the main body, ebony, maple and bone as the saddle. I've made saddles that sit "on" the body and those that sit "in" like the saddle of an acoustic guitar. It's an area worth experimenting with.

    nigel



    http://www.nkforsterguitars.com/nkfo.../the_book.html

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    Registered User Steevarino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge material

    Over the past several years of mandolin bridge building, I have also tried using a number of wood species. All of these bridges were made in the traditional "Loar" design. Some woods that come to mind are: Gaboon ebony, Macassar ebony, East Indian rosewood, Brazilian rosewood, various maples, birch, beech, sycamore, and Honduran mahogany. I even made some balsa wood bridges for Charlie Derrington a few years back. I have no idea what he was up to, trying to prove a point to someone, I would imagine.

    Some of these "wood-detours" were to fill orders for customers, but most of them were just experimentation. As may be expected, I always go back to ebony, which just seems to be the best material, overall, for mandolin bridges.

  8. #8
    Registered User bryce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge material

    I'm about to try a Honduran rosewood one. The peghead and fingerboard are, so I thought I'd match them.
    David Houchens
    bryceinstruments.com

  9. #9

    Default Re: Bridge material

    Quote Originally Posted by Steevarino View Post
    As may be expected, I always go back to ebony, which just seems to be the best material, overall, for mandolin bridges.
    From the man who has quite likely built more (and knows more about) mandolin bridges than anyone else in the history of the world....
    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
    And London never fails to leave me blue
    Paris never was my kinda town
    So I walked around with the Ft. Worth Blues

  10. #10
    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge material

    There is no universal "best"—only different. But in over 40 years of experience, the great majority of serious players I deal with end up emphatically preferring ebony. It's about durability and clarity and damping and so on. Don't ask me, ask them!

    Bridges are simple and cheap to experiment with. If you really wonder about the "truth," try them all and make up your own mind. Just make sure whatever you make or put on there really fits the top of the instrument.
    .
    ph

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    Paul Hostetter, luthier
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    www.lutherie.net

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Bridge material

    Don't forget the bone saddle, Paul!

    Malcolm

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Bridge material

    I've seen a bakelite bridge. Also, Indian made mandolins often have a plastic bridge with a fretwire saddle.

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