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Thread: Low mass adjustable bridge?

  1. #1
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    Default Low mass adjustable bridge?

    Has anyone tried a low mass adjustable bridge using a sandwich of ebony (or) rosewood with spruce (or) cedar? Getting ready to give it a shot, and looking for tips.

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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    I have lowered the mass on bridges by removing wood in various ways and measuring to see where I am. It made a difference for me with a lighter weight bridge.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    It made a difference for me with a lighter weight bridge.
    What difference?

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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    I was trying to change the G string to be more resonant. I think the lighter weight allowed the strings to drive the top more to accomplish this. The lower the pitch the more power it takes to bring it out. It takes more power to drive a sub than a tweeter, same principal. Anyway the lighter bridge gave me a better balance across the strings, with the G not so dead sounding.
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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    Most bridges are around 15 grams. I'm not sure that qualifies as a heavy bridge.

    I always suggest this little tip when people wonder what a difference mass makes: Take a little piece of clay, about 5 grams, and place it at various places on the bridge, make sure it doesn't touch the strings. Listen to how the 5 grams does or does not make a difference in the sound.

    If adding 5 grams causes you to hear a change, then taking away 5 grams will as well.

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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    Mine was heavier than 15 grams by several grams. It was my goal to get it down to the 15 grams.
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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    Mine was heavier than 15 grams by several grams. It was my goal to get it down to the 15 grams.
    Thanks, Pops, that’s the magic number I was looking for.

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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    Where the weight comes off proves quite important, too.
    Stephen Perry
    www.giannaviolins.com - Primarily violin family
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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Perry View Post
    Where the weight comes off proves quite important, too.
    So where should it come off?
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” ≠ “Accidentals”

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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    I took it off the saddle on my non-adjustable gypsy jazz guitar, and that seemed to work. Actually hollowed it out. But it contacted the top directly, not standing on two metal posts. I did it on my adjustable jazz guitar as well, and the saddle collapsed after a couple of years.

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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    If I take anything off the saddle it's only to fine tune where it sits on the adjusting wheels and a slot in the middle underneath between the holes for the posts, but keeping the height. Mostly I want to remove wood from the foot.
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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    If I take anything off the saddle it's only to fine tune where it sits on the adjusting wheels and a slot in the middle underneath between the holes for the posts, but keeping the height. Mostly I want to remove wood from the foot.
    Was the bridge that you were adjusting (i.e., reducing the mass) a standard ebony two-piece mandolin bridge? If so it sounds like you chose to remove wood from the top of the bridge base then (i.e., not from the bottom of the saddle)?

    BTW was it a full contact bridge or did it have two "legs"?

    Finally did you have any objective tool for assessing your success or did you have to rely on your impressions before and after?
    Bernie
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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    Bernie, it was a two foot bridge, normal with adjusting posts. I took enough wood off the make it full contact, or extremely close. I played the mandolin with the bridge for months before changing mass. I also cut a groove in the bottom of the foot except the ends so it wouldn't show. Mr. Woodley did this on a mandolin I had and I used it to lower mass. I took some off the saddle, if you think of the bottom of the saddle in thirds the full length, I took out the center third, or the center, up to the area where the posts go, leaving that entire area where the saddle sits on the wheel untouched. Hope that makes sense. I liked the mandolin much better after than the several months I played it before the weight reduction.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    Bernie, it was a two foot bridge, normal with adjusting posts. I took enough wood off the make it full contact, or extremely close. I played the mandolin with the bridge for months before changing mass. I also cut a groove in the bottom of the foot except the ends so it wouldn't show. Mr. Woodley did this on a mandolin I had and I used it to lower mass. I took some off the saddle, if you think of the bottom of the saddle in thirds the full length, I took out the center third, or the center, up to the area where the posts go, leaving that entire area where the saddle sits on the wheel untouched. Hope that makes sense. I liked the mandolin much better after than the several months I played it before the weight reduction.

    OK thanks. I know the bridge thing has been discussed so many times and beaten into the ground but I'm thinking about either buying or making a standard 2 piece adjustable bridge out of hard maple for an F-model just to try it out for myself.

    The mass will be approximately half of an ebony bridge of the same size -- but of course you are giving up density going from ebony to maple so the trade-offs might just cancel out.

    A lot of experimentation has already been done on this of course -- particularly all the work of Red Henry years ago.

    But the wheel has been invented many times........
    Bernie
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  26. #15
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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    A lot of experimentation has already been done on this of course -- particularly all the work of Red Henry years ago.

    But the wheel has been invented many times....
    Yes well I was part of that, and tried all sorts of things. The original Brekke is a light weight adjustable bridge. or at least lighter than a Loar style of bridge. I found that you can take wood off and make the bridge lighter, but there is a limit where the sound deteriorates. With the Brekke I found that was about 11gms. The Loar style bridges I had at the time were about 18gms. The Maple bridges to me sounded great at first because of the higher volume, but they do have a bright and hard sound that gets tiring in the longer term.

    See - http://petercoombe.com/jaamim4.html
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
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    Default Re: Low mass adjustable bridge?

    Quote Originally Posted by peter.coombe View Post
    ...The Maple bridges to me sounded great at first because of the higher volume, but they do have a bright and hard sound that gets tiring in the longer term.

    See - http://petercoombe.com/jaamim4.html
    Thanks Peter! That is a most interesting little tome there.

    Lots of methodical work and much food for thought. I really think that the non-adjustable bridge is not something I want to deal with -- for all the reasons you mentioned. That said don't most classical mandolinists, like violinists, work around fixed height bridges all the time?

    The issue of maple being a "two-edged sword" is a real concern. I have a mandolin that I would like to wake up with more volume but it is already on the bright side. So going maple might not be the most productive pathway? Maybe trying for a lower mass ebony bridge is a more promising approach?
    Bernie
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