Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 30

Thread: Large Thumbwheels?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    38
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Large Thumbwheels?

    Yes, I've seen photos of Bill Monroes well worn F5 and have often wondered why no one nowadays makes a bridge with the large thumbscrews like Bill's mando. It looks cool ! I mean, it just seems like it would be easier to adjust height as you would have more of a radius to turn, plus it looks so retro.

  2. #2
    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    University Place, WA (with no university and very little place)
    Posts
    4,032

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels ???

    Mine has very small, hexagonal wheels and a wrench to turn them. Make adjusting very easy, even with strings at tension.
    Bill
    IM(NS)HO

  3. #3
    Registered User George R. Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Helena, Montana
    Posts
    2,745

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels ???

    Quote Originally Posted by billhay4 View Post
    Mine has very small, hexagonal wheels and a wrench to turn them. Make adjusting very easy, even with strings at tension.
    Bill

    Would that be a Weber?
    2010 Weber Yellowstone

    I maybe wrong, but it is highly doubtful.

  4. The following members say thank you to George R. Lane for this post:


  5. #4
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Beaverton, OR, USA
    Posts
    949

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    I have heard that the large thumbwheels were replaced because it was thought that their mass was damping vibrations that should be transmitted to the soundboard. Smaller thumbwheels have less mass, ergo ...

    I have also heard that it is quite debatable as to whether or not the small difference in mass makes a detectable difference.

    Finally I have heard that big thumbwheels look old fashioned and clunky while little bitty thumbwheels look modern and sleek.

    Me, I would like to trade some little bitty wheels for big clunky ones and try them out for myself.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

  6. The following members say thank you to HonketyHank for this post:


  7. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    20,981

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    Bill's mandolin went through many repairs over the years with some oddball parts entering the mix. At one time it also had (at least on one side) Handel F-4 tuners. A while back David Harvy made a copy of Bills mandolin and did use the big wheels. If you like them you can probably buy guitar wheels at Stewmac and put them on your bridge. The original bridges on the Loar signed mandolins had small wheels.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    20,981

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by HonketyHank View Post
    I have heard that the large thumbwheels were replaced because it was thought that their mass was damping vibrations that should be transmitted to the soundboard. ...
    I doubt the man got that granular.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  9. #7

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I doubt the man got that granular.
    Agreed. If Monroe wanted "more sound" he would just play harder..............

  10. The following members say thank you to Jeff Mando for this post:


  11. #8
    String Plucker Soupy1957's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    1,821

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Agreed. If Monroe wanted "more sound" he would just play harder..............
    and lean into the mic more!!
    Breedlove Crossover FF SB
    “The weather was so bad even my iPhone was shaking!”
    -SDC

  12. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,123

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    The larger thumbwheels were thinner than the smaller ones so there was less threads on the screws to hold the tension. At least from the ones I have seen over the years.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  13. #10
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Tavistock UK
    Posts
    3,886

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    The size of thumbwheels supplied with new bridges seem to be all over the place recently - some are so small they're un-turnable, but others have been really quite large. For those that want to experiment look for M3 "thumb nuts" on ebay.

  14. #11
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    2,077

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavy View Post
    The size of thumbwheels supplied with new bridges seem to be all over the place recently - some are so small they're un-turnable, but others have been really quite large. For those that want to experiment look for M3 "thumb nuts" on ebay.
    US made bridges use 1/8" thread, not metric.
    Adrian

  15. #12
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Manchester - Lancashire - NW England
    Posts
    13,570

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    George - I think that billhay4's mandolin must be a Weber. There was a thread on here quite a while back in which Verne Brekke joined in. I mentioned that the hex. on the Weber bridge was too shallow & too soft (brass). The small wrench is hard steel & one false slip could round off the soft brass hex.corners - Verne Brekke agreed with my idea that a steel thumbwheel/hex. might have been better. Having thought about it since then & realising that some folks do like to raise the bridge height without slackening off the strings,that maybe we could do away with the knurled thumbwheel altogether, & simply have a steel hex. which if deep enough (top to bottom) could be turned using the steel wrench without damaging it. Certainly it could be offered as an option ?.

    Personally,i prefer the idea of stainless steel thumbwheels instead of brass which soon tarnishes. For a mandolin with Gold hardware,the hexes could also be Gold plated = they won't tarnish,but the effect of a steel wrench on them might not be too good. However, i do prefer to loosen the strings to make raising/lowering the bridge as easy as possible anyway,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  16. #13
    Registered User Henry Eagle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Leer, Northern Germany
    Posts
    1,113

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    US made bridges use 1/8" thread, not metric.
    The Montana Gibsons used M3 threads; US-made? Don't know.

  17. #14
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Statesville, NC
    Posts
    2,697

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    I think the large wheels look a little bit like 24" alloy wheels on an old Buick. YMMV
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” ≠ “Accidentals”

  18. The following members say thank you to Philphool for this post:


  19. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Silver Spring, MD
    Posts
    100

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Eagle View Post
    The Montana Gibsons used M3 threads; US-made? Don't know.
    I just measured an original Gibson adjustable bridge. The thread size, as others have said, is (US) number 5 by 40 threads per inch. This appears on the US National Coarse Thread series table as 5 (1/8) - 40.

    Not sure why a Montana Gibson bridge would be metric M3 x 0.5.
    This would be slightly smaller in diameter (0.118” versus 0.125) And have a finer thread (50.8 versus 40 per inch).

    Also, the material in the original is not steel or brass, it is nickel silver like some of the other hardware such as the pickguard support wire.

    Great discussion, I love this minutiae.

    Mark
    Mark Lynch

  20. The following members say thank you to MarkELynch for this post:


  21. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,123

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    The finer thread would be a plus as more threads to support the force.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  22. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Crested Butte, CO
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    I find it hard to believe anyone would have to turn the bridge wheel so hard that it would slip, stripping the corner off the bridge wheel. When adjusting the bridge on my Weber up or down, it is such a delicate maneuver I would have to work hard to have the wrench slip and strip any corners. Just sayin.
    2014 Weber F Style Yellowstone HT
    2014 Weber "Special Edition"
    2012 The Loar LM 500 VS

  23. #18

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    My Breedlove -- Oregon made -- uses a .050 allen wrench to adjust. As noted above, with the wrench supplying some torque advantage (lever and a place to stand) it make fine tuning the action under string tension very do-able.
    <><><>><<><><>
    Start slow, fade early

  24. #19

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    The finer thread would be a plus as more threads to support the force.
    Finer threads are also shallower so generally this is not true. With an extremely thin nut finer threads may give a benefit but usually the benefit is finer adjustment not more load carrying.

  25. The following members say thank you to CarlM for this post:


  26. #20
    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    University Place, WA (with no university and very little place)
    Posts
    4,032

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels ???

    Would that be a Weber?
    No. A Jacobson.
    Bill
    IM(NS)HO

  27. The following members say thank you to billhay4 for this post:


  28. #21
    Registered User Henry Eagle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Leer, Northern Germany
    Posts
    1,113

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkELynch View Post
    Not sure why a Montana Gibson bridge would be metric M3 x 0.5.
    This would be slightly smaller in diameter (0.118” versus 0.125) And have a finer thread (50.8 versus 40 per inch).
    I remember 20 years ago, when I measured the bridge on my F5. The whole bridge was smaller, lighter than original Loar bridges, and the threads were 3 mm ø brass.

  29. #22
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Manchester - Lancashire - NW England
    Posts
    13,570

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    From Paul Hird - "I find it hard to believe anyone would have to turn the bridge wheel so hard that it would slip,..".

    Hi Paul - When i tried it,i wasn't turning the hex. hard. Under full string pressure,the hex was 'hard to turn'. The wrench slipped off the hex. & rounded a couple of the corners off. IMHO - if that can happen,there's something wrong with the design 'as it is',& Verne Brekke agreed. A steel hex. wouldn't have been damaged so easily,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  30. #23
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia
    Posts
    7,055

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    I'm a bigger fan of the hex nuts and the use of wrench.

    I mean it's like almost never I fuss over the action. Get it right and play!

    f-d
    ¡papá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '84 1N, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  31. The following members say thank you to fatt-dad for this post:


  32. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,123

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    I carry a couple tools to lever the saddle slightly to turn the wheels under tension. Depending on summer or winter the bridge is lower or taller I will have to use different tools, but it is simple and seems to work well. When my hands were stronger I would spend a lot of time getting the fit of the saddle to the wheels and could lift the saddle under tension with just my fingers, can't lift it anymore, but sometimes on a good day I can lower with just my fingers. I have thought many times of changing the wheel to a nut, just haven't felt the need yet.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  33. #25

    Default Re: Large Thumbwheels?

    Well, since so many Café folks have used our bridges, I'll chime in here and let you know that the thread size we have used on Cumberland Acoustic bridges is indeed #5-40. About 20 years ago, Charlie Derrington handed me three bridges off of true Loar era mandolins. He asked me if I could make them just like that, they would start using them on their current line of Gibson mandolins. The thread size on those bridges was indeed #5-40, so that's what I went with.

    About materials and plating, our thumb wheels are brass. They are then plated either nickel, gold, or occasionally silver. Also, staying with original specifications, they are .09" thick and 3/8" diameter.

    Those who have veered from both the thread size and the spacing between the posts haven't done mandolin players any favors. I can't tell you how many requests I have had for "just the saddle". A fair request, because that's the part that usually needs replacing, and fitting a new bridge base isn't required if you can just replace the saddle. Problem is, if the thread size or hole spacing is different, we cannot replace just the saddle.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •