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Thread: Bridge length?

  1. #1
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Bridge length?

    There seems to be a fairly consistent length for bridges. What does varying the length do to the tone?
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Bridge length?

    I think this is one of those impossible questions. It may dampen some vibrations but depending on the instrument that could be good or bad. I think the lengths used are determined by structural integrity and stability. Shorter bridges would have a bigger tendency to tilt. Longer ones would involve more time fitting. Without a clear benefit they have stayed in a fairly narrow range. That said some bowlback mandolins have much longer bridges.

  3. #3
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge length?

    Yes and that is what generated my question but the obvious difference being my bowlback is a bent top not carved and my A is a carved top. But it got me wondering. I remember when the discussion was the benefit or not of feet vs no feet on a carved top instrument.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Bridge length?

    If you are digging into bridges....look up some of the old Red Henry threads. Then settle in. I know I spent at least 6 weeks playing with variations of lengths, thicknesses, weights, cutouts, wings, feet, solid....and then different materials. Everything affects the sound. But your ears go numb and you get very, very sick of restringing.

    Then buy a Cumberland and stop right there.

    I know it is different with a bowl...but still.

  5. #5
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge length?

    I only know of anecdotes. Some people say X inches of length sounds best, others dispute that. I don't know of any blind listening tests or anything approaching science to indicate what differences there might be. I suspect that bridge mass is most important, and perhaps internal damping of the bridge material, but to tell you the truth, I don't know.

  6. #6
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge length?

    It's hard to argue with what works but I just get curious.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Bridge length?

    You like to putter. Experiment and see what happens. If you find anything, let us know.

    I just replaced a good two footed adjustable bridge on an old Gibson with an original style replica solid bridge with adjustable saddles. I was pleased with the results. The treble response is brighter and crisper than it was with the adjustable bridge. I can't guarantee that the effect would be the same on another mandolin, though.

    For the record, the base on the adjustable bridge was 4 1/2" long by 3/8" wide. The feet are 1 9/16" long. The early teens style bridge is 3 13/16" long by 9/32" wide.

    Is the tonal difference due to the length, the width, the solid foot, the overall solid construction, or the mass? I don't know. Probably each factor plays a part.

    It would seem to me that a longer bridge would spread the stress on the top over a larger area than a shorter one. But there are limits to what would be effective. The ends of the long ornamental bridges on early upper line Martins are too far away from the strings to carry any significant load.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jun-15-2021 at 12:43am.

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