View Full Version : touching the bridge?!

pick up the world
Oct-20-2005, 11:03am
do you're mandolin teachers too say that you shouldn't touch your bridge oor tailpiece??? my does and thats a problem for me. and another question: did bill monroe touched the bridge?

thanks for your answers

pick up the world
Oct-20-2005, 11:06am
oh sorry, i see that I wrote some bad grammar out (is that correct).
Hope ya understand what I meen

Oct-20-2005, 11:27am
John Reischman(sp?) says he lightly touches the bridge, keeps his wrist straight, and uses a firm grip on the pick.
I know he can't play and his tone is terrible, but he keeps trying.

Celtic Saguaro
Oct-20-2005, 11:45am
Touching the bridge will cut the volume of your mando. If you know a banjo player, have him put a clothes pin on his bridge to demonstrate how a little extra weight on the bridge can change things. But, if you can live with your mando playing quieter, I'm sure the rest of the world will, too. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Oct-20-2005, 2:31pm
You can touch it or not touch it depending on what sort of sound you want. There are various 'palm muting' techniques (normal stuff for electric guitarists) which I use all the time.

A lot of people are concerned with getting only one (or two) types of sound; I want the widest pallette on tone/attack/effects as possible. The way you produce some of these might be characterized as wrong technique by those with the one-sound focus. Myabe it is wrong when it is accidental or randomly produced, but when it is a willful and controlled, it is "extended technique" (to borrow from the terminology of wind players).

Niles H

Peter Hackman
Oct-21-2005, 12:59am
Touching the bridge will cut the volume of your mando. If you know a banjo player, have him put a clothes pin on his bridge to demonstrate how a little extra weight on the bridge can change things. But, if you can live with your mando playing quieter, I'm sure the rest of the world will, too. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif
I'm not sure, but I believe I tend to touch the "g foot"
of the bridge ever so slightly. Don't think it makes
any difference at all. Also my right hand position
varies a bit, e.g., if I'm tremulating on the
lower strings I tend to turn my
hand slightly backwards
with the effect that I touch neither
the bridge nor the pickguard.

The muting effect that others refer to would occur
if youre touching the top of the bridge, I suppose.

Oct-21-2005, 7:51am
What I think most teachers are getting at here is not really volume or tone as much as it is technique. If you anchor your wrist on the bridge sure you'll lose volume but more importantly you lose a lot of the range of motion in your pick hand. One it adds unwanted tension and two you are stuck in one position. It is ok lightly brush your strings on top of the bridge while playing as long as you are not muffling the strings but try not to anchor your wrist. A sucessful right hand technique involves as least some wirst movement along with a little forearm movement otherwise you would never be able to swtich strings very good(like skipping strings/cross picking). So if you anchor your wrist you are losing your forearm motion, just ask Sam Bush how important forearm motion is, it's key in his technique. When I started out playing 3 years ago I did anchor my wrist until my teacher Pete Frostic of OSFT showed me that not matter how hard I work at is I will never play as fast and cleanly if I continued to do so. One thing that really helped me was an arm rest. It completely lifted my arm off the mando which stopped me from anchoring the wrist and in return I picked up speed, tone, volume and over all just better right hand motion.

So I would say don't anchor, lightly brushing is ok though

Celtic Saguaro
Oct-21-2005, 10:01am
Yes, I think lightly brushing is fine. #I agree with your argument, Dfyngravity, but you'll hear people with strange technique claiming they play just fine when they are really tying themselves up in knots. If they know it's affecting the sound, and with this bridge business it is, sometimes they'll be more willing to listen to the technique arguments.

You are correct, Pete. Touching the base is less of a problem, although it does not eliminate it. #The base of the bridge tends to vibrate more in step with the whole top than the top of the bridge does. And just to be clear a mandolin bridge is much heavier and less affected by touching than a banjo bridge is. #But, the effect is still there. It's simple physics.

As always, if it makes you happy, play anyway you want to! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

pick up the world
Oct-21-2005, 1:31pm
wohow!!! a lot of answers. THanks folks, you helped me verx much!!!
keep on picking http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

pick up the world
Oct-22-2005, 6:53am
okay im not really touching the bridge i touch the strings behind. (i hope you understand what i mean
I know that if you touch the bridge it doesnt sound that good (only sometimes and on the electric guitar(p.m.))

Oct-22-2005, 7:28am
I touch the bridge and behind the bridge with the edge of my hand. I don't hear any difference at all in tone playing 'freehand'. There is a HUGE difference between "anchoring" and touching with mobility. Here's what I think. (http://www.johnmcgann.com/techtips.html) If you think my tone is bad, sorry about that!

FWIW the difference between not using a Tone Gard and using one is WAY stronger than any incidental 'bridge muting'-I think that would only happen if you really anchored your hand, which just seems to me like very limiting and inefficient technique. Without the 'gard, you are muting the back!

The bridge resonates from the top down, and my hand is touching on the strings below the bridge. It seems impossible to play 'with your hand on the bridge' without getting the Al DiMeola muting effect anyway!

Sam and Bob Appelbaum both play a lot from the forearm and it works for them. YMMV!

More than a few of us are dampening the strings behind the bridge with little rubber grommets- a nickel apiece at the hardware store- which makes you chop much drier without the overring. Sam has been doing a similar thing for many years. Now, whatever effect on tone that would have (if any) is compensated by the nice, dry attack without "overring".

pick up the world
Oct-22-2005, 7:32am
exactely. thats how i do it too

Oct-24-2005, 1:33pm
Hmmm - the "Mandozine Right Hand Study" link makes some interesting reading. #I must admit that I'm surprised to see all those big names touching the top of the mando.

I'd always thought that the conventional wisdom was "Use some fingers to anchor if you want but you might find it limits your right hand movements."

I always used to anchor the heel of my right hand pretty firmly on the strings behind the bridge, but found that if I wanted to play further up the strings I really suffered from not being able to rest my hand anywhere. #I tried practicing this but wasn't making any headway until I went cold turkey and didn't let myself anchor my hand at all, wherever I'm playing on the strings.

That was about a year back and I'm only just now finally starting to surpass the speed I was at when I stopped anchoring the right hand. #I think I get more volume and a cleaner sound out out of the instrument now. #The heel of my hand is still in contact with the strings from time to time but it doesn't use them for support as before.

I have been wondering though - I think I can still improve a lot in the speed department yet, but I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to compare with the masters in this respect without some way of steadying the right hand.

Maybe a finger or two on the top of the mando for the quick numbers is in order? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif