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Thread: Felt under the bridge feet?

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    Registered User mzurer's Avatar
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    Default Felt under the bridge feet?

    I recently bought an old Orpheum from somebody. The bridge was not set properly - I took down the tension on the strings and moved it into a place that seems pretty good to my ear for intonation. Based on the impressions in the finish, it had been in the other spot for quite a while. But I also noticed there is felt between the bridge feet and the top! While it's compressed enough that there's certainly vibrations being transmitted, I can't help but think it would be better off without it. Anyone seen that before? When I change the strings I thought I'd pull it off and see how the volume and tone change. It's a non-adjustable bridge that's looking a bit torqued at the moment so I'm also considering having it replaced and set up by a pro...

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    Felt under the bridge feet isn't a great idea, you are correct. Somebody that didn't understand the physics probably thought it would save the finish a bit. Post a picture. Most of the old Orpheum labeled mandolins I've seen were Strad-O-Lin genre mandolins.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User mzurer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    It's this one: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...57#post1608357

    I'll take a pic of the bridge before and after - I'm a little afraid the millimeter or two of rise the felt is providing may bring the strings a little too close to the frets when gone and induce some buzzing up the fingerboard.

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    its a very very long song Jim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    Yep, lose the felt!
    Jim Richmond

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    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    Definitely remove the felt, but make sure afterwards that the feet are seated well to the top.
    Never say "bouzouki" to a TSA agent...

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    Quote Originally Posted by mzurer View Post
    I'll take a pic of the bridge before and after - I'm a little afraid the millimeter or two of rise the felt is providing may bring the strings a little too close to the frets when gone and induce some buzzing up the fingerboard.
    If that's the case, you could shim it back up with wood. Not an ideal or permanent solution, but it's still better than felt.
    Keep that skillet good and greasy all the time!

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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    Joseph Curtin, one of the most highly respected violin builders today, does little thin shims under his violin bridges on purpose. Here's a link to the article which explains why he started doing that, as well as how. For this who don't know, his violins are among the highest-selling modern violins price-wise, when they come up at auction.

    http://josephcurtinstudios.com/sound...-foot-veneers/

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    I don't think he's using felt.

    I've seen people raise bridges with Popsicle stick pieces and it sounded ok. As long as it's hard enough and fitted the wood veneer shouldn't affect the sound.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    Would felt under bridge 'warm' up an overly bright mandolin?

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    If you soak the felt in lighter fluid and then ignite it, yes it would.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    Possibly an uneducated choice to raise the bridge. But definitely a poor choice for a material to do so. A popsicle stick isn't a poor choice for a temporary fix. You may either replace the bridge or find a luthier to add a strip or the correct wood to the bottom of the bridge then fit it to the top. Luck ... R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    I have used maple laminate for fixed bridges in winter if they get too low. It can easily slide under and flexes to shape as necessary. It is still a hard wood and seems to not change the sound. It can also come off in the summer humidity when the instrument swells and action comes up.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    FWIW... Maybe 6 or 8 years ago, one of our more respected luthiers (wish I could remember who - I think it was here) described using the sticky end of post-it notes as temporary shims to determine how much extra height a bridge needed. And that they were dense enough to serve as a temporary fix. Considering that paper (or better yet, card stock) is reconstituted & compressed wood, that made sense to me.
    - Ed

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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    If you soak the felt in lighter fluid and then ignite it, yes it would.
    Yes, I believe that technique is covered in the "Jimi Hendrix for Mandolin" dvd ...

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    I have used maple laminate for fixed bridges in winter if they get too low. It can easily slide under and flexes to shape as necessary. It is still a hard wood and seems to not change the sound. It can also come off in the summer humidity when the instrument swells and action comes up.
    That seems like a lot of trouble to go through just to avoid humidifying your instrument in the winter time. Usually if the top has contracted enough to cause buzzing, it's a sign that you're stressing your instrument and it needs humidity. Shimming the bridge will correct the action issue, but the instrument is still operating outside of its design parameters.

    I would worry that over the course of many repetitions (i.e. seasonal cycles year after year) eventually it's going to open up a seam or crack the wood from that much movement.
    Keep that skillet good and greasy all the time!

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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    I do humidify, and try to keep it at 50%, summer is extremely humid and I don't have air, so all my instruments swell in the summer. Since I like low action it doesn't take much to make it buzz or play hard. I am old and have hand issues so low action is a must. You can also play faster and much easier keeping action as low as possible.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    Wow, that's an interesting situation, pops1. I think I'd still be worried about long-term effects on the instrument if it's showing that much dimensional change between seasons. If you can't bring down your summertime humidity, then maybe it's better to just call that the "normal" range and bring up your wintertime humidification so that it stays more in a state of equilibrium?
    Keep that skillet good and greasy all the time!

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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    If I brought up the humidity in the winter the windows would sweat and start rotting at some point in the future. 50% in winter is as high as I dare go. Summertime I play a cruise on the river every week, if you think it is humid on land try a couple hours on the Mississippi in an open boat. It can get easily in the 90's, tho most of the time it is much less. When you sweat sitting still you know it is humid. My Brentrup changes several 16ths of an inch between summer and winter and I carry a couple of tools to adjust the bridge when it needs it. Once in a dry opera house concert I had to raise it on stage between songs, we got there early in the afternoon for sound check and by show time several hours later it had moved. As I say I keep it as low as possible so a little movement may need adjustment.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Registered User Buck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    If I need to raise a bridge I glue like-wood to the bottom and reshape it follow the original profile. On an ebony bridge it's nearly undetectable. You can buy "seconds" guitar faceplates in rosewood and ebony for nearly nothing. They're thin so it's easy to cut a short section and bend it to fit the bridge base while clamping and glueing.

    On non-vintage bridges I have sometimes drilled holes in the base to compensate for the extra weight of the shims. Not sure if that's helpful or not. I could be overthinking that....
    Todd Yates

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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    I have also added wood to the bottom of fixed bridges, my problem is I set them up for myself so they are low in the summer and when winter comes they lower in action and will buzz. If I set them up for winter I don't like playing the higher action that comes with summer weather. The shim works well, does not change the sound and is easy to put in and out. I am talking about a 20's Supertone here, I don't play it much, just leave it in the shop to play when I feel like it. These days I have a 60's Gibson that has been X braced by someone. I have done a fair amount of work on it to make it play and sound decent and have been picking that up lately and letting the Supertone sit, strings are way old now and I need to change them for a better sound. It's still a cool old mandolin.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Felt under the bridge feet?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Somebody that didn't understand the physics probably thought it would save the finish a bit.
    ...or it was in winter.

    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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