View Full Version : Bridge Fit

Feb-04-2004, 10:25am
I have a new A-9 Gibson that sounds and plays great. When you hold it up to the light, you can see a few very tiny spots of light under the bridge feet. Is this something that should be remedied or could it be the grain of the top? Do I need to take it to a luthier for a better fitting? Would appreciate any suggestions/comments on this matter.

Chris Baird
Feb-04-2004, 11:13am
It should be perfect. There should be no light anywhere in the contact areas.

John Zimm
Feb-04-2004, 5:28pm
I was wondering about this issue myself. When I was looking for a new mandolin I played one that had an ill-fitting bridge. I asked one of the repairmen if that is something that he could fit more closely, and he said he thought it would not make much difference. I am inclined to disagree, but I am not an expert. Far from it, in fact.


Feb-05-2004, 12:13am
I had a small gap at the two ends of my bridge and thought, that won't matter much! Then I later sanded it down to a perfect flush fit and found out it did matter, sounded a little more full and louder, but best of all you are not thinking about it and wondering "should I fix it?" Just fix it, you will feel better about your mandolin if anything! JD

Feb-05-2004, 2:16am
I asked one of the repairmen if that is something that he could fit more closely, and he said he thought it would not make much difference.
One of the things that's supposed to be done during set-up, whether it's on a mandolin, a bass, or a fiddle, is to get the bridge-feet to fit EXACTLY.

Any place where it's not in full contact is losing you volume, and probably tone.

The feet are the only linkage between the strings and the face of the instrument.

If they didn't touch at ALL, you'd get NO sound at all.

The closer they come to not touching at all, the closer you come to getting no sound at all.

Do yourself a favor have nothing more to do, AT ALL with that guy.

He is, as you described, a "Repairman", rather than a "Luthier".

A real luthier, who knew anything about instruments with bridges that aren't glued on, would never have told anyone something like that.

Feb-05-2004, 7:57am
Well that issue is settled; I need to have a fitting. Now the thing is WHO to have do it? Is an authorized Gibson repairman trained to do work on any type of instrument? I want someone who will take the time and care that I would if I knew how to do it myself.

Feb-06-2004, 3:18pm
This is not intended to be an affront to anyone, but a serious question: shouldn't the bridge feet fit EXACTLY on any new mandolin? #Particularly one that costs over $1200?

Based on the comments in this thread, the fit of the bridge to the top is one of the key aspects of good tone and volume. #Why should the owner of a brand new instrument be confronted with the need to find a luthier who can refit the bridge?

I read in another thread about how some A9's sound a good bit better than others. #I wonder if this (and other such quality control issues) may be part of the reason.

Feb-06-2004, 3:25pm
Well, I thought of that myself but I guess that's just one of those things when you mass produce.

Feb-06-2004, 3:36pm
Gibson says they don't mass produce mandolins-- they say they make 'em by hand. #There are threads on this board in which they make these statements.

...runs for cover...

Feb-06-2004, 3:37pm
Maybe not but they sure put out a few more per year than guys like Montleone, Ratliffe, Wood, etc.

Feb-06-2004, 3:39pm
amen to that brother:D

Feb-06-2004, 3:41pm
But I still see light under my bridge!! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mad.gif aarhgg!!

RI Jim
Feb-06-2004, 4:41pm

Luthier Vandross
Feb-11-2004, 12:23am
I'd like to see a video of Gibson building a mandolin, from picking wood, to closing the case.

I'll bet it more resembles NASA than a woodshop. I have seen how they make their upper electric guitars... yikes!

The instruments are nice enough, maybe somewhat over priced.. but they all need a proper setup... they play good enough to buy, the dealer is supposed to up-sell you a pro setup, by a 16 year old kid, with pliers... you know I am right.. heh


Feb-11-2004, 8:11am
I don't have a problem with the instruments quality. I love it. It has a deep, woody tone and plenty of volume. Everywhere I have taken it, I hardly get to touch it because everyone else wants to play it. My only thing is I would like to have the bridge "as it should be" if that means having it worked on.

Chris Baird
Feb-11-2004, 11:32am
There is a Gibson factory tour at frets.com. Looks like a lot of hands on building to me.

Feb-11-2004, 11:40am
I don't mean to imply that Gibson's aren't hand made and if you will review the topic you will find no such claim. Mass production has to do with volume not craftsmanship. I'm refering to numbers of instruments put out compared to independent makers. Besides folks, why would I be singing the praises of a Gibson if I thought they were a cookie cutter maker? Let's get back in the road on this thing.

Chris Baird
Feb-11-2004, 11:48am
I was replying to luthier vandross's post.

WV Mike
Feb-11-2004, 12:34pm
First of all, I want to disclose that I'm a new mando student and not educated in instrument setup, etc. #I will share my experience with my mando.

I purchased a new Michael Kelly Firefly Classic about five #months ago off eBay. #This was during the transition time that MK was going to a dealer network. #My first piece of advice for others would be not to buy your first instrument off the Internet. #It may have been different through an established dealer.

My bridge was not properly fitted with lots of light on both sides plus the action was pretty bad. #I contacted the Pres. of MK. #I wanted to see if I could take it to a shop and have MK cover it under the warranty. #

He was cordial but responded that bridge fit wasn't that important and that most <$1M mandos come without the bridge installed. #I don't disagree with that, but I expected more. #I took my mando to a local fiddle shop and had it fitted perfectly plus a setup for around $35-$40. #I could tell the difference in the sound. #I've since sunk another $100 in it (my personal decision) for an Allen tailpiece and a bone nut. #Those changes were substantial. #I'm really happy with it after these upgrades, and still only have about $650 in it.

I would think that your dealer (or another Gibson dealer) would take care of it for you. #I would be surprised if they would not.

Good luck, Mike

Feb-11-2004, 12:58pm
I apologize to all if I came across sharp. Not my intention, just trying to get back to my origional quandry.

Luthier Vandross
Feb-12-2004, 12:04am
And I don't mean to bust Gibson so hard, they are quality, just not standing in the shoes they have worn in the past.

It's hard to live up to the reputation.


Feb-12-2004, 2:05am
I hope one of you guys that knows about bridge fitting/set up will help out Jeremy if you live near him, on this same page of the Cafe...his Bush model is messed up somehow or other, and I feel for the kid...
I set the bridges on my own mandos and it took //hours//, mostly because I made myself take my time, and they are perfect...close to perfect is not acceptable when talking about bridge base/feet contact...

I personally feel //any// independant maker or factory that sells an instrument they feel is worthy to put strings on, they should fit that bridge before it leaves it's place of origin...

Sellers saying things along the lines of "it don't matter all that much" are right...to them, it does not matter anything at all...but you are the player, and whether you spend $500 or $5000, it matters.

Feb-12-2004, 2:16am
Doesn't say a whole hell of alot about Gibson's new "repair" service either. Jeremy often defends Gibson and their boys here on the cafe, and look how they send back his axe; you would think that in his case at least they would have been more careful.

Feb-12-2004, 9:46am
I've said this before on other threads and I'll say it again on this one.I've learned to be very careful who I turn my preciuos ones over to.It is just so hard to find someone really competent.For example,I had one of my mandos that the bridge wasn't mated perfectly to the top.You could see a little daylight under each side.Also wanted the tailpeice moved over some,so that the strings would be better "centered" on the fingerboard.It was just a matter of "cosmetics"to me.Not a big job,I thought,and one I probably could have done myself.But I wanted it done right,so decided to let a "professional" do the work.The bridge was no better fitted when I got it back than it was in the first place.The strings were a little better centered on the fingerboard,but were far from perfectly centered,and the tailpiece was also cocked at a bit of an angle.This guy supposedly makes custom guitars and has an excellent reputation as a "repairman".Some might say"Take it back and make him fix it right" Not me.There is no way this guy is going to get his hands on another instrument of mine.If I need any repairs in the future,I'm taking my instrument to Gruhns or First Quality or somewhere like that.I don't care if I have to drive half way cross the country.That's how important this stuff is to me.Seems like someone started a thread awhile back about a list of competent repair people.Wonder what happened to it?