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Thread: L&H Model A string spacing

  1. #1
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default L&H Model A string spacing

    I feel awkward asking this question because I honestly don’t know enough to “know what I don’t know”. I am completely ignorant in all areas of mandolin construction. So here goes: I have an exquisite and cherished Lyon & Healy Model A. It is wonderful in all respects. Recently I realized that the course spacing near the bridge is wider than my other mandolins. This becomes quite noticeable when playing tremolo across two or more courses. It would be quite nice to have that spacing be identical to my other mandolins. Is that a ridiculous idea? What questions should I be asking? What are the considerations a luthier should take into account to make such a change properly? Are some “principles of physics” designed into the original mandolin violated by such an idea? Please forgive my obvious ignorance and thank you in advance for any observations.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    1995 Flatiron A5 Artist (B. Weber) #95072333 (Thomastik 154-S strings)
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia (Dogal R92-M strings)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: L&H Model A string spacing

    You can narrow the courses modestly with no consequences to the sound of the instrument as long as the work is done conscientiously. If you do so, you will notice that the outer courses will be a little farther from the edge of the fingerboard as you move into the upper registers.

    Do maintain sufficient spacing within the pairs so that the doubled strings don't rattle against each other.

    And no, there are no acoustical "principles of physics" involved in Lyon & Healy's original choice of spacing.

    If the bridge is original, you may want to have a new bridge made with the spacing that you like and put the original bridge in the case pocket. The instrument is somewhat valuable and collectable, and that way you do not compromise the original bridge. Also, if you later decide that you prefer the old spacing, you can just re-install the original bridge.
    Last edited by rcc56; May-19-2020 at 10:41pm.

  3. #3
    Mandolin & Mandola maker
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    Default Re: L&H Model A string spacing

    Changing the string spacing is not going to change anything about the sound if it is done properly. The original bridges are one piece Ebony so you will need to have a new bridge made.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
    http://www.petercoombe.com

  4. #4
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: L&H Model A string spacing

    Peter and rcc56 - thank you. I am surprised, for I truly had a “gut sense” that this might have been an idea that somehow violated the integrity of this instrument. I have always felt that obtaining this instrument was a stroke of remarkable luck and playing it a joy - it is a vintage instrument to be respected and cared for, for generations to come. For that reason any adjustments are preceded with caution. With your bolstering of my confidence I shall approach our highly capable local luthier and proceed further (and, as you say, retaining the original bridge. I do appreciate you both jumping in and responding. Thank you again!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    1995 Flatiron A5 Artist (B. Weber) #95072333 (Thomastik 154-S strings)
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia (Dogal R92-M strings)

  5. #5
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: L&H Model A string spacing

    Do either of you know if Vern Brekke is still making bridges? Or can you recommend someone in the US to make a full contact one piece bridge blank which I could then take to my luthier? I am drawing a blank on google. Maybe most luthiers make their own blanks??? Thank you!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    1995 Flatiron A5 Artist (B. Weber) #95072333 (Thomastik 154-S strings)
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia (Dogal R92-M strings)

  6. #6
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    Default Re: L&H Model A string spacing

    I make my own. It's not hard to do, but it does take a bit of time.
    Whenever possible, I prefer to have an original in-hand to use for a pattern. I have seen at least 3 or 4 variations on L & H bridges.
    You can PM me if your fellow does not have any ebony for a blank.

    I know of no one who makes replicas for antique instruments except for the adjustable Loar style bridges that are available, and those still must be fitted.

  7. #7
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: L&H Model A string spacing

    Rcc56 - ahhhhh, got it. Learning a lot here. Next stop, talk to the local luthier. Thank you for the input - I really appreciate it!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    1995 Flatiron A5 Artist (B. Weber) #95072333 (Thomastik 154-S strings)
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia (Dogal R92-M strings)

  8. #8
    Mandolin & Mandola maker
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    Default Re: L&H Model A string spacing

    Vern Brekke does still make bridges, but I would not use one of his bridges on a vintage Lyon and Healy. One piece Ebony is the way to go, and as already said, they are not difficult to make, I make my own from a template of an original. They do need to be fitted.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
    http://www.petercoombe.com

  9. #9
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: L&H Model A string spacing

    Hi Peter - I would only use a one piece bridge, but I thought perhaps Vern would make a duplicate blank of the original for me. What I am hearing from you both though is that luthiers generally make their own bridges - and I expect, now, that when I contact my local luthier, he will suggest that as well. The good news is that now I understand better how these things are normally approached. I am 100% with you, as I said above, “ it is a vintage instrument to be respected and cared for, for generations to come”!!!!!!!! Thank you both again for your help. It is a marvelous thing to be able to use an internet forum to talk to people with your expertise!

    I cannot get rid of this thumbnail - sorry. The arm rest has been removed.
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    Last edited by Tim Logan; May-21-2020 at 5:49am.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    1995 Flatiron A5 Artist (B. Weber) #95072333 (Thomastik 154-S strings)
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia (Dogal R92-M strings)

  10. #10
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: L&H Model A string spacing

    Well, I learned a lot from you both and appreciate your input. I have decided, though, to leave the bridge as is! I just cannot bring myself to make a change from the original layout of the instrument. Recken when I play multi-course tremolo on it I will just “stretch” the picking a hair! Thank you again gentlemen!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    1995 Flatiron A5 Artist (B. Weber) #95072333 (Thomastik 154-S strings)
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia (Dogal R92-M strings)

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