View Full Version : one foot vs. two foot bridge

Mar-10-2004, 10:40am
has anyone out there gone from a two foot bridge to a one foot bridge?...what happened tonally?...

anyone have opinions on what the full contact one foot bridge offers 'generally' in regards to tone? does it tend to emphasize lows----highs-----or mids----?

just curious for some opinions....I've received a few but nothing specific "some like it some don't" #or "if you like that kind of thing" but no one has mentioned what changes occurred....be it good or bad...

Scotti Adams
Mar-10-2004, 9:18pm
Jason when I got #20 I took it back and had Ben fit the bridge so it was touching all the way across...every mando I have had has had this done....it just makes sense to me that the more contact the bridge has the more it produces....others will say that the bridge touching it in two spots produces more because it has less mass to let the top vibrate...I tend to believe my theory....people also say that the lighter bridge will produce more and that a bridge that has contact all the way across weighs more...well there was alot of weight taken off of #20's sanding it to fit flush.#6 is flush also....

Mar-11-2004, 12:06am
After reading Red Henry's bridge page, I divided the foot of the bridge on my Givens, and I shortened the contact areas on each side to about an inch and a quarter. The end to end length is about four and three-eigths inches. This has dramatically improved the tone and more to the point the volume. The mandolin had not been particularly loud before and is now much better.

I believe more of the top is free to vibrate this way.

Before I modified my bridge, I cut two squares of flexible plastic about an inch long, and the width of the bridge. I put one under each end of the then undivided foot to hear what that sounded like. This was quite easy - an old credit card is a good thickness. I liked the results enough to take a file to the bridge.

I have also replaced the Brekke bridge on a Weber with a Loar style bridge with the same feet - better, sharper sound. I replaced a non-adjustable bridge on an oval hole Gibson with a good adjustable bridge with the same size feet and like the change in volume.

In each case volume has increased. Tone changed, too - each mandolin seems clearer sounding. How much clearer varies.

As with almost every other modification to improve the sound of a mandolin, the benefits (change in sound) are realized in the ear of the beholder - they are subjective. I am pleased, and I recommend trying this if you want to change your bridge.

Using the plastic gives a simple, reversible way to try it out.

Wilson Drysdale

Mar-11-2004, 8:14am
thanks wdrysd

I've emailed back and forth a few times with Red and his take on things is really interesting. I'd like to hear the before and after if I could and he mentioned he's really working on that being available soon.

I'm just curious more than anything...volume is always an advantage but I seem to look for a darker, rounder sound, all the while not losing any cutting power...maybe a contradiction...

and scotti...I'm anxious to see and hear #6...looking forward to it.

Mar-11-2004, 9:32am
My Flatiron has a string-distance to the top that's a little shorter than most. I had problems getting the traditonal bridge bases and tall saddle to fit without having an unacceptable action (string height at fretboard). I wasn't impressed by the Brekke or other Non-Traditional types so I talked to Danny Roberts at Gibson to discuss options. I asked if grinding more off the base to get the whole rig lower would be acceptable and he told me it would be fine.

BTW, Danny said when Sam Bush sends his in, he insists that the base be grinded down until the enitre base if fitted to the top.

Mar-12-2004, 10:21am
can anyone else chime in here?....

Scotti Adams
Mar-12-2004, 10:25am
..ya thinkin about sanding your bridge down Jason?

Mar-12-2004, 11:36am
I'm not sure...hard to say

if it would yield a little more in the bass or low mids I'd be all for it because that is what I go for. Most of the playin I do is within a duo or trio and never for flat out volume or 'cuttin power' though I have no problem with that at all with #28

I'm just wondering what kind of starting point a full contact bridge would have

I recently played a Heiden and a Gil that had full contact bridges...both sounded thick, with plenty of highs though, but thick in the bass....and I didn't have to dig or adjust my right hand attack as much as I do with some instruments to get that sound....

just makes me wonder there must be a reason that it is done and I want to know if that reason is in regard to the lows or mids typically. Don't most Gils come with a full contact bridge?...

Scotti Adams
Mar-12-2004, 11:58am
..My Gil did....hey..buy you another bridge to experiment with....maybe if we sweet talk Ben he could fit it for you while you are here...maybe he could bring the tools he needed and do it on my workbench in the basement...

Gail Hester
Mar-12-2004, 4:06pm
BTW, Danny said when Sam Bush sends his in, he insists that the base be grinded down until the enitre base if fitted to the top. [QUOTE]

Every Sam Bush Model Iíve seen has been manufactured this way, contact along the entire bottom of the bridge. They all sounded really good too.

Mar-15-2004, 11:27am
When Kenny Blackwell set my mando up. We talked quite a bit about this. It is his opinion that the bridge "feet" should not extend past the tone bars (if yours is tone bar braced)you can check this for the most part with a cheap dental mirror. Which is the IMHO the reason the "Givens" mentioned above came to life. Both my F and A6 are this way and loud. I can't chime as to benefit of the bridge making contact all the way across the face. Both of mine have divided feet and work for me.

Mar-15-2004, 10:37pm
I ended up with a "full-contact" bridge by trying to fit the bridge feet quickly with my Dremel tool! (It ended up taking longer, BTW) It really improved the sound. I'm sure much of the improvement came from a good fit (finally), but some may be attributable to the full contact. I'll have to try "shemming" it as wdrysd mentioned sometime to compare.

Mando Medic
Mar-16-2004, 12:38am
I have experimented a lot with bridges and I find that a one foot contact is the preferred sound for me. I want a full tone with good volume. I prefer the Monteleone one piece bridge, but unless you're carrying .010 ebony shims, It's a stinker to adjust. My solution is the Brekke bridge. Wood to wood contact and adjustable. Though the Brekke does not improve all instruments, if you're looking to eliminate harsh trebles, then it's a solution. I think it does dampen the volume some though. On my Collings I have a Loar style Collings Adjustable and will try a Brekke on it soon.

I have experimented with one and two footed bridges and again for the tone I'm looking for(dark and woody) I prefer a one foot. I tend to vein out the wood in the middle of the bottom of the bridge footprint and this allows for faster fitting of the foot. Kenc

Chris Baird
Mar-16-2004, 11:01am
In general the lighter stiffer bridges will produce a brighter tone where a heavier more flexible bridge will produce a darker tone. The mid to upper register tones are a factor of the top and bridge. The lower register tones are much less influenced by the bridge and more influenced by air resonance and top/back coupling. It seems to me that the two footed bridge is an attempt to drive the top in an area that is more flexible.

Mar-17-2004, 11:15am
I appreciate the input...

anyone else out there tried any of Red Henry's bridge designs?..