strat type wooden bridge... good idea?

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Leandro Muñoz
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Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:06 pm

strat type wooden bridge... good idea?

Post by Leandro Muñoz »

Hello. The matter is I've been dealing with a too long project developing an electric guitar with midi and alike usability and recently (like an hour ago), realized the aproach to isolating the strings on the bridge was all wrong: instead of making those like-sleeping-bags for each string and some other things Im ashamed of telling, why dont you just make the bridge on a damned hard wood, and make some reinforcements here and there for the tremolo working, and for not cracking the wood?

So, if anyone has had some work with wooden bridges for electrics, specially with tremolos, please consider giving me some advice on donts and dos....

good days, and aloha

David King
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Re: strat type wooden bridge... good idea?

Post by David King »

Leandro,

I've done many a fixed strat and tele bridge in African blackwood. The saddles are generally brass or aluminum. Grounding the strings requires some thought. If you want a wood trem bridge, that's a whole other endeavor that may not actually work out. You need access to a machine shop at the very least. African blackwood is probably your best bet though it's possible that pink ivory might also work.
I would copy a Hipshot tremolo bridge design with hardened steel pins for the bearing surfaces. I'd probably stick with aluminum for the tremolo block for a common grounding point unless you need to isolate the strings electrically. In that case blackwood will also work.

Leandro Muñoz
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:06 pm

Re: strat type wooden bridge... good idea?

Post by Leandro Muñoz »

Oh OK, nice to know you've done some... the matter is I have to isolate the strings, so the block is going on wood also... do you think the surface and the block should be taken from the same block of wood? I was thinking that the wood growth on the block would benefit it, going upwards, and on the plate body-neck-wards... The strings would be grounding through the electronic system...
Id love to remake holes thinking on the Hipshot but the guitar's been working with a Wilkinson and also have saddles and etc...

About the wood I'm going to try with a "granadillo" that is an endemic wood from my country Colombia, but if it doesnt work I'll have to be searching for some ivory as you say but some "palo de sangre" from Amazonas may be another choice...

Thanks for your time David :)

David King
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Re: strat type wooden bridge... good idea?

Post by David King »

Leandro,

There are plenty of SA wood species that would be able to take the abuse. Vera or lignum would be obvious choices. Cumaru, curupay and katalox also come to mind. Here's a good reference article: http://www.wood-database.com/wood-artic ... est-woods/
I would read the descriptions carefully as some of these woods are very prone to splitting (snakewood is a disaster).
If Granadillo is all you have access to it will probably work.
I have always made my bridges with the grain running from side to side, same with the tremolo blocks. The bridge plates are a little thicker, 4-5mm but the rest of the parts are more or less identical to their metal counterparts.
The metal saddles can be isolated from each other with a layer of tape between them. I'm not familiar with the need to electrically isolate the strings unless you are also segmenting the frets and wiring them into the system. I would never have the patience to work with these though I'm sure someone around here has done it.

Leandro Muñoz
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:06 pm

Re: strat type wooden bridge... good idea?

Post by Leandro Muñoz »

Oh, great reference!!! thank you! Seems the granadillo we work with is Cocobolo, really nice wood... something close to the Verawood. Seems to me a good option as Ive already worked with it.
About the grain, Im not sure if I understand you right, but really side to side? wouldnt it be prone to cracking by the effort of the springs towards one side, and the strings towards the other? or well, Im not sure (as I kinda translate some terms to spanish, as I really dont talk about wood in english with friends doing wood), if side to side means -if taken the neck as a reference point-, the grain running in the direction of the fret-wire, like going from 6th to 1st string....??? that way the block? I can see the bridge-plate, but really the block? ... if it works I dont have anything to say, but its quite unexpected...

About "wiring the frets into the system", do you mean grounding through the frets the electricity? "caramba" , long work, but as a matter of fact Thats what Im doing but not for grounding, for making controlled passes of conductivity through an Arduino (www.arduino.cc if maybe curious). I can talk some about it if you want.

Thank you very much for your time! :D

David King
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Re: strat type wooden bridge... good idea?

Post by David King »

Leandro,

You might be right about the string and spring tension being too strong but what i didn't tell you is that I make the bridge plate with tall sides that help reinforce it. That said you can certainly make it with the grain parallel to the strings. You just want to avoid the strings splitting down through the endgrain where they go through the holes behind the saddles. It probably won't be a problem as the wood is hard and the string tension is not very high.
Use machine screws and cut threads to attach the sustain block to the bridge plate as they are much stronger than wood screws.

Wired frets are definitely an interesting approach, I hope you'll post photos of everything here as you go along.

Leandro Muñoz
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:06 pm

Re: strat type wooden bridge... good idea?

Post by Leandro Muñoz »

Ohhh, I now understand what you mean... because of the hole the exercised tension gives a path to the wood to crack... if it has worked for you, I'm going to give it a try, and I'm also thinking on a expanded design for the plate (towards the sides), on a 5mm wood maybe shortened on the saddles place to not change that much the strings elevation respect to the nut...

Machine screws, yes, was going to try with the ones on the wilkinson I have, thanks for the reassuring.
Ok, I'll be posting photos, hope to write-post soon!

Thanks again!

David King
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Re: strat type wooden bridge... good idea?

Post by David King »

I'd be prepared to change the neck angle or rout the top to make a pocket for the extra bridge height.
You can reinforce the wood where the strings exert the wood-splitting pressure via a metal grommet or eyelet imbedded into the holes.

Leandro Muñoz
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:06 pm

Re: strat type wooden bridge... good idea?

Post by Leandro Muñoz »

Hello, here again, couldnt work with the Granadillo up to now, but I have some pieces of Ash drying, from the type of chinese Ash that grows here in LatinAmerica. Have found that it is catalogued as semi-hard wood. Do you think it could work? I'm thinking about leaving the plate on 7mm, and giving some 19mm to the block... about the routing on the top, I thought about routing the plate itself leaving some kind of parking spaces for the saddles (in fact, in spanish you say "carrito" for saddle, so carrito=car, makes for the pun :) ) and everything else on 7mm... how do you guess this approach?
I wish David would read this :)

David King
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Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:01 pm
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Re: strat type wooden bridge... good idea?

Post by David King »

Leandro,
I am reading it but I don't know what to say other than try it out and hope it works for you. I use a milling machine to make my bridges and we used the metal saddles from Hipshot. I'm sure you can make a wood saddle but it won't be anything like the metal ones. I tried bone saddles but they all broke in half eventually from the string tension. African blackwood is stronger than bone. Vera or Lignum would be ideal if you can find some of either of those woods. Ipé?

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