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Thread: Looking for a bridge

  1. #1
    Deacon M100A Minorkey's Avatar
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    Default Looking for a bridge

    My poor no name mando has been a dust collecting wall hanger for a couple of years but I got the itch to play again. Trouble is its intonation is terrible. And its all down to the crappy bridge it is fitted with. There are no saddles to speak of, and having watched some youtube videos I loosened the strings and put the bridge where it should be, measuring from nut to 12th (179mm) allowing a tiny bit more for the bass strings. (It also has a zero fret which never comes into play, no idea why its there!)
    Its in tune, but not at the 12th. I just get buzz from the G and D strings past the 7th fret. The bridge won't go any lower. So time to swap it out for a new, properly shaped bridge. I'm on a very tight budget which is why I only have a cheap mando, but I figured I could get a replacement bridge for around £10 (I'm in the UK)
    Just need a good online supplier in the UK...
    Pic of the bridge here:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CJ35v8CA...d=q36qa9463fw2

  2. #2
    Registered User poul hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

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    Last edited by poul hansen; Jan-10-2021 at 3:26pm.
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  3. #3
    Deacon M100A Minorkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by poul hansen View Post
    if you have fretbuzz you wan the bridge to be HIGHER to clear the next fret.

    You only measure the distance to the bridge, for a start position, then you intonate by using your ears or a tuner. Look it up.

    Saddles of hardwood is almost standard and work well.
    Its not fretbuzz, its from behind the bridge. The bridge is set very high with no way of lowering it. Its also not shaped. Just a flat top. And I watched a video where you measure from the nut to the 12th fret, then that same distance from the 12th to the bridge. The 12th fret effectively divides the scale length in half. Makes perfect sense.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    As above, lower equals more buzz if it’s a matter of buzz at the frets, but looking at the photo, the top of that bridge looks very suspiciously flat. If the strings don’t fairly sharply contact only at the fretboard direction, they will buzz. That is, the top of each ramp is toward the fretboard. So make sure that the grooves toward the tail drop off in that direction. Don’t be afraid to cut, carve or file down so that the only hard contact is on the fretboard side.
    Also, the zero fret is what sets string height up near the pegs, not the nut. IMHO it’s a really good thing on most instruments. The grooves behind it (the nut), only locate the strings sideways, and they must be lower than the zero fret, or else- guess what? Buzz. You can check string height at the first fret with, say 3-4 pieces of paper or any 0.010” equivalent, and check that all strings have hard contact with the zero fret.
    In sum: the strings have to have single-point, good contact at both ends for intonation and no buzz. You can make that bridge work, as long as the strings don’t also need to be lower. Figure maybe 1/8” at fret 12 as an initial goal, higher if the fretboard isn’t particularly flat.

  5. #5
    Deacon M100A Minorkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    I'm just gonna buy a new bridge and be done with it. Its not carved and doesn't lower or raise when the screws are turned. As for the zero fret, the strings never come into contact with it. It serves no purpose on this instrument.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    And, the 12th fret divides the distance from the zero fret to the leading edge of the bridge, not from the nut. On some instruments the two aren’t terribly close together.
    And... unless you are skilled, use the higher frets, and have a much better ear than most, the bridge intonation by individual strings isn’t necessary. A single ridge of bone, plastic, or wood has been fine on these instruments for centuries.

  7. #7
    Deacon M100A Minorkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    And, the 12th fret divides the distance from the zero fret to the leading edge of the bridge, not from the nut. On some instruments the two arenít terribly close together.
    And... unless you are skilled, use the higher frets, and have a much better ear than most, the bridge intonation by individual strings isnít necessary. A single ridge of bone, plastic, or wood has been fine on these instruments for centuries.
    The zero fret doesn't come into play. No matter where where I fret, it never acts as a fret. I have a mini guitar for the kids. It has a zero fret. When I fret at the first it acts like a nut. It works. It doesn't on the mandolin.

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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    If I'm understanding correctly, you must lower the strings at the nut (either by filing the nut slots deeper or sanding the bottom of the nut) so that the strings do contact the 0-fret. Otherwise you will never get good intonation. There are likely bridge problems too, but you must first get the strings to contact the 0-fret. I always use 0-frets & it can be surprising how low the nut slots must be. I could be misunderstanding, but if you have a 0-fret & the fretboard is properly laid out for it, the strings must contact it to obtain good intonation.

    Good luck - Earl Tyler

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  10. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    Minorkey: I did a quick search on UK eBay and there is this person selling an adjustable bridge. I don't know the quality but it might be better than what you or a place to start. You still probably have to fit it properly to the top. Earl (above) is correct in his assessment of the zero fret.
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    Deacon M100A Minorkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    Its funny but I thought zero frets were only fitted to cheap instruments,as this mandolin is. But its common on high end mandolins also?

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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    The idea behind zero frets is that the fretted notes sound the same as an open string.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  13. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by Minorkey View Post
    Its funny but I thought zero frets were only fitted to cheap instruments,as this mandolin is. But its common on high end mandolins also?
    Some of the finest Italian bowlbacks made at the turn of the last century had zero frets.
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    Deacon M100A Minorkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    The idea behind zero frets is that the fretted notes sound the same as an open string.
    I know how they work. That's how I know that this one doesn't

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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by Minorkey View Post
    I know how they work. That's how I know that this one doesn't
    That would be the first thing to fix then.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  17. #15
    Deacon M100A Minorkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    That would be the first thing to fix then.
    But that would mean lowering the action at the nut, and its quite low as it is.

  18. #16

    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    With a zero fret, the nut is only there for string spacing. The strings should be resting firmly on the zero fret.

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    Deacon M100A Minorkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    With a zero fret, the nut is only there for string spacing. The strings should be resting firmly on the zero fret.
    Right, I got you. This might be beyond my abilities, and I have no money for a luthier.

  21. #18
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    It might not be, either (beyond your abilities). Armed with a copy of the Rob Meldrum ebook, a few simple tools, and some good advice right here, many things are possible

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  23. #19

    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    The other nice thing about zero frets is that (within reason) its difficult to cut the slots in the nut too deep. If you possibly can, though, deepen the slots with the nut off the instrument. Royal pain if you accidentally damaged the zero fret, and nearly impossible to get the slots deep enough without taking the nut off.

    Your bridge looks home made and half finished. No reason why you shouldn't have a go at completing it, the worst that can happen is that you get it wrong and have to buy a new one as you plan to anyway. A sharp knife and a smallish file would be adequate tools, plus probably some sandpaper. Second (or 3rd or whatever) the Meldrum document. Read before doing anything.

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    Deacon M100A Minorkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    I'm useless with my hands. All thumbs

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    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    Minorkey, just to be sure, even if you get a new bridge, it will have to be fitted to the top. I seriously recommend going through Rob Meldrum's set up e-book, which is a worthwhile endeavor because doing a decent set up will vastly improve the playability AND tone of your instrument; even a "cheap" instrument. A good set up includes fitting the bridge with no gap between the top and the bridge feet, adjusting the bridge height both while fitting it to the top (sanding down the feet) and with the thumb wheels, and adjusting the nut slots and it's really NOT hard.

    I started out like you with a cheap mando and doing this set up not only gave me the confidence and knowledge to do minor things on my instrument but also made it sound and play a lot better. But you will have to spend a little bit so be prepared. Aside from your new bridge, you will need:

    Rob's book (which is free, you just have to email him)
    new strings (you could probably use your old ones but new strings make a world of difference)
    Sand paper in various grits
    Feeler gauges
    Small files

    Including the new bridge, this can probably all be had for less than $50 USD which I believe is roughly 40 Euros per the current exchange.

    Do a search of the forum for "Rob Meldrum e-book" and you'll find his contact info in there somewhere
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  28. #22
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    I'd say this situation right here falls under "nothing ventured, nothing gained".

  29. #23
    Deacon M100A Minorkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bridge

    I think I'll wait till I can get a set up done with my local set up guru

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